“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

I am getting good at this quarantine life- wake up, eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, sleep…repeat. It’s pretty easy. In between eating and walking, there are conference calls with my students, lined up text threads to respond to, and food on the brain. I wish I was as popular as I make myself out to be, but it’s really only the same 3 people calling and texting!

Anyway, this time in solitude has brought out creativity in the kitchen. Creativity with whatever is left in the freezer, as I am not trying to Scotchgard myself to visit a grocery story, in the current condition! Although, my purple rubber gloves are the hottest accessory this season !!

Week one of quarantine was easy. I had my lot of groceries, and whatever I could scrounge up at my parent’s house. I made black bean tacos with all the accoutrements.Vegan and gluten free macaronni and alfredo sauce with fresh veggies. Even a vegetarian’s dream St.Paddy’s day meal, baby tricolored poatoes, streamed brussel sprots and pearl onions atop a mixed green salad with lentils and balsamic reduction.

Tacos
Vegan/ Gluten free Alfredo with Veggies

Now in isolation, I have that one bag of fresh kale, and frozen veggies, dry beans and lentils, and a Brita for days! How could I forget to mention the pasta made from green lentils, kale, broccoli and spinach? Stop salivating!

Green lentil, spinach, broccoli and kale pasta

At any rate, as long as the weather stays nice, I will sure get my intake of vitamins D,C and A (even if some are fortified)! Until next time. Stay healthy and safe.

Cauliflower riced stuffing with celery, carrots, onions, parsley, garlic, craisins and brown lentils

“No food will ever hurt you as much as an unhealthy mind.” ― Brittany Burgunder

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As a recovering food restrictor and exercise bulimic, these last few days have been trying. My cabinets and freezer are stocked for the next ten days. My running shoes have become my date of choice, as I have been venturing outside in solitude at least twice a day. The idea of food and my next meal, always on my mind. I have never had this much food readily available since living in college dorms.

Fears are irrational, and mine don’t fall short. First, I fear keeping more than 3 days of food in my house under normal circumstance. Second, I have no snacks because then comes my other fear of binge eating.

Finding a balance between eating, not eating too much and healthfully replenishing essential fuel my body needs, for the 10,000+ steps I have been taking daily, has not been easy. I have noticed myself making excuses if I don’t want to finish eating something I have made. I tell myself, “I will eat it later. That way it is two meals, instead of one.” I rationalize my thoughts by deducing I will have more food in the long run.

This is not a healthy relationship with food. This is not a healthy relationship with thy self. I know I am not the only one feeling this way. You are not alone. Take it one meal at a time. That’s all you can do.

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful.” Anthony Bourdain in 2005

Those marks, they are grease stains from the poutine. Oh yeah, and I dribbled some Bellini, on myself, during the second round of the first Happy Hour of my trip. Stop 1, Vancouver BC. Boy, have I missed this beautiful city.  I was just a mere 4 feet tall, last time I ventured to these parts. Too young to really appreciate the beauty. The nature. The food!

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My heart is happy. My belly full. Life, beautiful. It started when I was greeted by an old family friend who showed me around this wonderful city, nearly 22 years ago. Only that time, I had pizza at Mcdonald’s and had my first Frosty at Wendy’s. Let’s just say with age, my palate has become a little more refined. Or at least, a bit more picky!

 

Happy hour started at Cactus Club Café. Frozen Rose, Frose, need I say more? Then a frozen Bellini. I chased that down with chimichurri guacamole and edamame. I did not dip the soybeans into the guac, that was the job of the deliciously spiced chips.

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I nearly missed dinner reservations, but I am ecstatic I did not. That would have been, blasphemy! Missing a meal, not anymore! I live to eat and eat to live. And this meal was to die for! Prego, on the Crystal Symphony, is a must if you are ever on the Seven Seas! Buffalo mozzarella Caprese and gluten-free kale ravioli. Grazi, and Prego!

pregocheeserav

 

Still in port, I woke to fruit for every meal, and the best accompaniment; a latte with a shot of Bailey’s! I’m on vacation! The fruit didn’t do the trick. I took to my feet and walked to, Gas Town. I was in Canada, so I had to have Poutine. Gravy on top of fries, and vegan cheese on the gravy. Did I mention, it was gluten-free and vegan? So good. Another reason to fall in love with Vancouver. The plant based eating scene can be found at, MeetMeet. Pleasure meeting you! Until next time, Vancouver.

 

Life is a nacho. It can be yummy-crunchy or squishy-yucky. It just depends on how long it takes for you to start eating it. John Updi

There is never a time in my life when I need a reason to eat nachos. However, Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful time to indulge. I have been known to order nachos at places that do not even serve them. If I notice chips and salsa are on the menu and also items with cheese, sometimes I ask if the kitchen is able to combine the ingredients. It only makes sense! Especially, if they are going to be taking my money, I might as well be eating something I want! I had nachos at a steakhouse and even a French restaurant. I can tell you, the kitchen staff was not the happiest, but my belly was! I have found some hidden gems throughout Los Angeles that have delicious plate of chips smothered in cheese and topped with guacamole, beans, tofu and even fajita style vegetables. I have also been fortunate enough to find places that carry completely cruelty free nachos. These places offer vegan cheese a top tortilla chips and covered in cashew Crema, non-animal taco crumbles and love. I have become creative in finding places that will break baked tortillas into chips, forgoing the extra calories forged by the frying process. This makes them healthy, right?

 

sharkys

Sharkey’s Woodfire Grill is one of my favorite places to eat this simple, yet bountiful dish. Sharkey’s offers all sorts of organic and nonGMO options on their menu. Also, this establishment is vegetarian and vegan friendly, by adding protein such as tofu to their menu.  If you catch them on a good day, they will create a work of art on the baked tortillas!

 

 hugos

 

Another eatery that caters to all walks of life (vegan and carnivores) is Hugo’s. Hugo’s serves some of the most delicious vegan nachos. These nachos are soy free, dairy free and animal free! When you come during happy hour, they are half off, totaling a wopping, $4.00.  I have to say, this place in general, is one of my all time favorites.

 

 chevys

 

Chevy’s Fresh Mex, is a chain restaurant that serves not one, but three types of nachos. Nachos Grande, Fajita Nachos and Skillet Nachos. The last of the three, is presented in a cute individual castiron skillet. Don’t let the size fool you. The smaller portion, still packs a punch of flavor. During happy hour, this item can be stolen for only $5.00.  The best part, happy hour is from 3PM until Close, EVERYDAY!!!

 

 

Two other happy hour indulgences that are easily accessible almost everywhere, is the Yard House and Cheesecake Factory. Both chain restaurants, these nachos can easily be polished off by 2 to 4 people. The Yard House chicken, can be substituted for soy chicken. I recommend asking for a side of buffalo sauce. It really kicks up the plate to another level, and makes it saucy in more ways than one! Then there is Cheesecake Factory. I mean, melted cheese and cheese sauce atop homemade chips. I ask for double guacamole instead of sour cream, for no additional charge. I ass black beans, and begin to sink right into the booth!

 

 

 

 suncafe

 

Lastly, another vegan restaurant that always delivers, is SunCafe. BEST VEGAN NACHOS, EVER. Add the vegan taco meat, I dare you. Mic drop!

 

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money. — Cree Indian Proverb

 

In the grand scheme of things, is there really such an idea of coincidence or are the products of our indiscretions, all in the power of consciousness? The earth beneath my feet , the love surrounding my being and the answers in the wind, are all priceless. Yet at what cost do we spend our time taking for granted, what is life? It is no coincidence that I visited , Tree People and ate at Urth Caffe on the same day. Hill top views of Los Angeles and farm to table service, with organic and sustainable eats and coffee.

Coincidence that I enjoyed both places a week before, Earth Day? I think not. Tree People, and a hike on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Tree of Life and the picturesque environment, was the perfect place to take a moment and give back to Mother Nature; all in one. Teaching my students about pollution and drainage into the ocean, is one way the future generations learned that day, and one more memory to- Never Forget. I believe everything happens for a reason, and exactly how it is supposed to. Even thinking about the name of the caffe, Urth! It’s all serendipitous.

tree2

 

Enough philosophical jargon. Let’s talk about food! Pizza, kale salad, sticky bun, lattes and PB and J. Need I say more? That chili oil though! All the accoutrements and even the ability for adults to order off the kids menu; without question, a wonderful afternoon. Choosing a place to eat for old friends and new friends alike, Urth Caffe was an enchanting experience.

“Fasting for Yom Kippur is pretty much the only time I wish I was eating Matzah on Passover.”

 

The week of hunger has passed over. See what I did there? Passover, the time we commemorate the Jewish Peoples exodus out of Slavery. Passover, the time Jews are hopeful for the Exodus out of hunger! I love this time of year. A time of family. A time to remember. A time to reflect and be thankful. The Passover table is decorated to remind us of the new beginnings, Jews struggled to attain. After all, even in 2018, we recognize, no one is free if others remain oppressed.

seder table

I love this time of year. I feel most creative in the kitchen. As a vegetarian, observing Passover can be a challenge. The monotony of matzah and peanut butter, leaves my mouth dry and my stomach unsatisfied. The thought of filling in snacks between meals, can be quite disheartening, this time of year! As my ancestors are of Ashkenazi descent (Eastern European), my protein selection is minimal. No beans, soy, corn, rice, legumes, etc. However, the idea is that no one puts their own health at risk, so I turn to the Sephardic (Jews from the Middle East, Spain, North Africa and Iberian Peninsula) tradition and alter my food choices by creating a hybrid between both ethnic divisions. Matzah nachos are a staple for me! Unleavened bread smothered in cheese, topped with beans, salsa and guacamole. I almost forget the cardboard like vessel, holding this masterpiece together!

This time of the year is very special to me because it is the one time of the year, my Mom and I cook together. I cut and prep all the vegetables and fruit, while my Mom makes the fluffiest matzo balls. They are so light. When you bite into the round pillows of heaven, the balls literally melt in your mouth. One day, I will learn how to make dumplings so soft and delicate, instead of dense and chewy!

 

Next year, in Jerusalem.

rosenthal

“Great is eating for it distances those who are near, and brings close those who are far.” (Talmud, Sanhedrin 103)

For the first time in my life, I did not feel at home in my neighborhood supermarket. I grew up going to Pavilions , but today was my last day shopping at the one in Burbank . After walking down every aisle, I finally found someone who could answer where kosher food was. It was not on any sign. When I asked where I could find food for Passover, he told me the display had been torn down for the stores’ construction and remodel. There were 2 large Easter displays. I am a Jewish Woman who went to a private Catholic university, (USD) University of San Diego. My major was Ethnic Studies with a concentration in: community, policy and justice. I love life and all who are part of mine. When is the human  condition going to stop being conditional? When my dad asked the butcher shop for a lamb shank for the Seder plate, the butcher said, we don’t carry Passover stuff year round. It starts on Friday!!! Thank you, Ralphs Grocery for catering to everyone.

pav

 

Thank you, Pavilions for asking for my contact information and reaching out to @lilgrlbigapp. I hope in 2018, all can #celebrate on your instragram feed this year. #passover #passover2018 #homemade #vegan #glutenfree #lilgrlbigapp @jewishfoodsociety @jewishfood @jewhungry @sojewlish @jewishjournal @thekitcut @thefatjewish @jewishfoodexp @jewishway @jewishfoodhero @world.jewish.travel.food

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The saying goes: “The belly carries the feet”
(Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit 70)

 

“Feed a cold and starve a fever, goes the old saying. “

I have been under the weather for a handful of days. But that has not stopped me from eating. It got me thinking, is it healthy to eat as much as I have, while not feeling well? On average , I drink at least 100 oz. of water per day. When the doctor told me to drink lots of fluids, I wanted to say to him, and what, float away? It always happens that when I am sick, I do not want to drink nearly as much as I do normally. But eating, is another story.bakeries,

 

I knew something was wrong, when my 16 oz. latte from the morning, still filled the plastic cup a quarter from the bottom. I did however feel the need to rush down to the Viktor Benes Bakery and purchase an almond croissant. That light and delectable pastry kept me going until 7:30 in the evening. I mean, there was a little snacking on mac and cheese (from Dickey’s BBQ), at the professional development meeting I attended after work.  Once my tummy was full, I headed to the doctor and began treatment for strep….

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After a two and a half hour nap, I finally mustered up enough energy to make some soup. It was  lovely. Creamy tomato soup from, Imagine Soups. All vegan and embellished with sautéed garlic and spinach. I added a dash of red pepper flakes, onion powder, and salt. It was divine.

soup

I woke up this morning, and was not too hungry. I still enjoyed a glass of orange juice, followed by some water. I had a banana with peanut butter, to sustain me through my morning meeting. I also had my new favorite beverage, Bubly Grapefruit Sparkling Water.   Around 11, I  ordered a vegan tofu tostada from, BluJam Café. I devoured the masterpiece. It was like, I hadn’t eaten in days. I relaxed for a bit, and as I am writing this piece, I cannot decide if I want fresh pasta with delicate marinara sauce or an enchilada style burrito! Either way, I think I am feeling better!

“Wait. Why am I thinking about Krispy Kremes? We’re supposed to be exercising.” ― Meg Cabot, Big Boned

It’s about to get real. I had been so regimented for so many years. Every morning, a rice cake with peanut butter and a banana. Lunch, a mixture of greens with some bean or lentil for protein. A snack of nuts or dried fruit. I swear, I had it made. Or, I had a boring life.

I deprived myself of:  sweets, (fried) pastries and donuts (anything with sugar and processed), for years. I thought I could be healthier if I didn’t eat those things. Then I began to restrict even more. From May to November 2009, I dropped 45 pounds. For the first time since I was 14, I fell below 100 pounds.  That was no life.

I love food. I love all vegetarian and vegan options (minus the mushrooms and eggplant!).

I have reached a point in my life where I can balance what I eat and how I work it off. I spin at least 4 times per week. The other days, I watch Food Network on the elliptical. I’m not perfect, but if I want to eat something, I do. I never had a Dunkin Donut before starting my current job. I also did not eat a donut without regret for about 4 years. Now, I am able to enjoy a donut at least twice a month, as many birthday celebrations are feeding grounds to young hungry children, craving sweets. The leftovers inevitably make it into the office. If I walk by and want one, I take one (sometimes two). If I walk by and don’t want one, I leave it. I have found peace with the tantalizing fried dough. I’m not afraid to talk about it anymore. In fact, for those who are struggling, you are not alone.

russian

 

“Those pizzas I ate were for medicinal purposes.” ― Amy Neftzger

Make your own pizza, is the new Color Me Mine. I have been able to indulge in vegan pies, gluten free crust, high quality cheese (if I am feeling it) and artisan toppings galore. Everything from artichokes, kale, kalamata olives, spinach, fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella, sautéed broccoli, roasted garlic, I could keep going! That balsamic glaze, though!