On Friday, I turned 25 years old. I couldn’t believe it myself really. Everyone around me reminded me that I have lived a quarter century. The designer I am currently working for, said jokingly, “You are 25, and what have you done?” Of course I took the comment with all the humor it was meant to bring, but at the same time I felt myself reflecting on what I’ve made of myself in my lifetime. As a true pisces, I am a dreamer, who may need a little push to be brought down to reality. Although I tend to dislike the realities of certain life’s musts (finances, big purchases, not so lovely jobs or people), I have recently learned how to deal with them, making my day-to-day life happier. Instead of putting the big decisions and problems to the way-side, I have tried to work with them so that I can bring more even-ness to my emotional and rational sides. So, in my 25 years, I feel as though I am still learning and always evolving to try to be the best version of myself. This doesn’t mean that I will continue to try to be perfect version I once aimed to be, but to be accepting of my ways so that I can know how to approach situations in the best way I possibly can.
For my birthday dinner, I had no set plans. I usually would come up in my mind with a scenario of how I hoped the occasion to pan out, but on Friday, I decided to just be. When I was exhausted from the hard week and days work, I drove home, with no set agenda of what was to come. My brother called, saying he was open for dinner and was in the mood for indian food. I didn’t care where I went, instead I wanted to be with some of the people who mean the most to me. Two of the three most important men in my life, my boyfriend and my brother, were there with me to celebrate my 25th year at a not-so stellar (service-wise) indian restaurant. We shared samosas, naan, and I ate a delicious green coconut vegetable curry. I came home with a full belly and full heart.
The next day, V and I were lounging around, when I brought up the idea of heading to my new favorite veggie spot, Cafe Gratitude. Like last time, I went with a cooked dish, instead of the tasty sounding (and looking) raw dishes. This time I had the “I AM FORTIFIED” with sautéed seasonal vegetables,kale, quinoa or local brown rice topped with a choice of sesame-ginger, garlic-tahini or thai- almond sauce. The waitress suggested ordering two of the sauces, the garlic-tahini and the sesame-ginger. I wish both sauces were served on the side, but the garlic-tahini was already poured all over the dish when it arrived at the table. However, I was very pleased with the warm bowl filled with quinoa, kale, and veggies like butternut squash and mushrooms. Instead of taking out the camera, I decided to focus on the moment, without the visuality that a camera brings. V went with the “I AM WARM-HEARTED,” -Grilled organic polenta with fresh puttanesca sauce, topped with cashew ricotta and brazil nut parmesan. Polenta is one of the dishes that remind V of his childhood, and he seemed very pleased with his meal as he finished every last bite. Since my last visit to Cafe Gratitude, I have been desiring another one of their amazing desserts. Always one to order a chocolate based finish to my meal, I went with the “I AM BLISS” when my waitress said she had finished one in a mere 3 seconds the night before (not so sure if that is possible). It was a CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CREAM TORTE with Chocolate hazelnut mousse topped with whipped cream on a pecan, choc-chip crust.
It was the best birthday dessert I could have hoped for with a lovely nutty crust and not overly sweet creamy chocolatey center. Next time I will have to grab one of their sweets, a truffle or rawmond joy, for the road.
And I am grateful for a happy and healthy 25 years of life. I am grateful for all the people in my life who have made an impact on me. And what have I done? I think the more important question is, what will I continue to do in my life? How will I try to affect those around me in the way they have positively affected my life?
Now, I am off to a rainy sunday lunch with my best friend from college and all I can think about are the sweet potato fries ahead. Hope you had a lovely weekend. Happy almost spring!
-What are you grateful for?
-What have you done, and hope to do? Do you think that is a loaded question (of course it is!)?
This summer, I was helping a friend on a film that was filming mostly nights for two weeks. It was right in the middle of two projects, and before I knew it, I had a cold. It was summer and yes, I had a cold. Filming all nights for more than a few days never leaves you feeling good. I told a friend/coworker and she said, “you need to start eating real food.” The funny thing is that I was. I ate oats per usual most days with healthy fats and fruit. Lunches and snacks of salads, sandwiches, nuts, dried, and fresh fruit were considered not “real food” in her mind. This confused me. She told me I was living the “LA mentality of eating” and that hurt. Usually, I try to laugh off people’s claims that plant-based diets are unhealthy, but she was a friend. Not wanting to get all defensive, I told her why I eat the way I do and that normally, I feel great. I said that my cold was bound to happen from being overworked and decided that it wasn’t worth discussing further. She still continued to try to feed me the craft service food consisting of licorice (and other candy), cookies, granola bars full of hydrogenated fats, and chips.
I am not the kind of person who forces others to eat the way I do, so I was shocked that she was trying to make me eat foods that make me feel worse. It was hard and I was hurt, but I’ve learned since to just be quiet. I wasn’t attacked, but more upset by her non-understanding. In the past I have felt attacked and I’ve talked about it before. It is hardest when it is from those we love and other times, it isn’t worth discussing.
So when the day started yesterday, I was craving some “real food.”
After the delicious bowl of buckwheat I had at Body in Santa Fe, I was determined to find some. Remembering that I had seen the kaia brand before on Whole Foods shelves, I stopped by the night before with luck. They had two choices of buckwheat granola, the Dates & Spices, and Raisin Cinnamon. Supposedly, they also have a Cocoa Bliss, but I couldn’t find it.
In the morning, I poured a bowl of the Dates & Spices that I topped with coconut milk, banana, raspberries, and almond butter that Lynn gave me (how did she know I was without my favorite nut butter!?).
I wasn’t as confident it would keep me as full as my typical morning steel-cut oats, but it did. I didn’t love the date chunks because they were a little too big and hard, but I still adore the buckwheat. Next time, I may try another flavor.
A few hours later I met up with a best friend I went to high school with who moved out to LA almost a year ago. Although she is not a veggie, she was intrigued by the restaurant I brought up, Real Food Daily, especially since it was across the street from where we were shopping. The menu was a little confusing at first, but I had fun describing cashew cheese, vegan sour cream, and tempeh to her. Leading by example that vegan food is delicious is really the way to do it. Ironically, she had a tastier meal than I.
I ordered the RFD burger, described as a tempeh vegetable patty with sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato on a rustic roll. It came with a side salad and I requested cashew cheese on the burger. There were much more creative things on the menu, but like good italian restaurants, where the bread has to be good for it to be a quality restaurant, I feel vegetarian places should have a great veggie burger. Unfortunately, this burger left much to be desired. It was not my kind of burger. My friend tried half and she said it resembled raw meat because of the red color. Of course I didn’t let the color throw me off, but it was the texture that I wasn’t a fan of. I prefer a firmer veggie patty and this was just a little to soft for my liking. The side salad had a ginger dressing with maybe tahini. It was tasty.
My friend Erin had the Spicy BLT wrap with tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and spicy vegenaise in a spinach wrap. I had a bite and much preferred her lunch. After having a vegan BLT the day before, I went a different way, but hers was pretty tasty with the spicy dressing. It would have been even better on sliced bread, a little heartier maybe. The best part was that she thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now I feel bad writing this after not loving the veggie burger, but the cookie was not the best either. These are better. The cookie was a gluten free vegan chocolate chip cookie. Maybe it was the gluten free flour or not enough fat, but the cookie was much too cakey for my ideal cookie. I like a chewy crispy chocolate chip cookie and this just wasn’t it.
Of course we still ate our halves and were left satisfied with some sweetness to finish off our lunch.
The experience outside the restaurant afterwards left a much worse taste in my mouth. As a new yorker, I am used to homeless men and women, but was not expecting someone to spit towards me while reaching for my friends purse, causing me to run into ongoing traffic. We left dry and safe, but it was a little too much reality for me yesterday. We were both in a little bit of shock from the situation.
That didn’t stop us from seeing the movie 127 hours, which was much more intense. I should have known this from the start when I heard it was directed by Danny Boyle of 28 days later and Slumdog Millionaire fame. The true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston getting caught under a boulder while climbing alone was a reality I could never imagine and James Franco did a flawless job portraying the horror. He brought the movie along alone and I was squirming in my seat the entire performance. Yes, that isn’t your typical good movie scenario, but I was emotionally affected in a good way. I definitely recommend seeing this heart-wrenching story and amazing acting.
Afterwards, I rushed over to meet V for a late dinner of sweet potato fries, pita and hummus, and salad. It was really just a way for us to relax at a bar near the studio he is filming by missing rush hour. I am already having a real hard time with it. LA needs a real subway system ASAP.
- Do you give up on a restaurant after a not-so-great dining experience? Do you give it another shot? I am definitely still intrigued by Real Food Daily. I just might not have made the best menu choices and overall enjoyed the atmosphere. Next time I will try the Santa Monica restaurant since we dined in the West Hollywood one yesterday.
- Have you seen any good films recently? I know that the good ones usually come out in the next few months, but I haven’t been too interested in seeing many of those out now.
- Do you feel like you get criticized because of the way you choose to eat? How do you handle it? I’ve since told my friend more about why I eat the way I do and she really has adjusted her words and thoughts. I know it is hard to get everyone to understand that you eat for not only your health, but also for your mind, environmental beliefs, etc., but sometimes it is worth it to discuss.
I can’t remember when I first read about 105 degrees. I am a big fan of Pure Food and Wine in NYC (raw food done right) and wanted to try the midwestern version of haute raw food. The night before leaving Detroit, I had searched my travel source for veggie food, Happy Cow, and was reminded of this wonderful mecca of all things raw food. It was getting dark when we arrived and we were quite hungry. Naturally I forgot to take a photo of the exterior of 105 degrees and my 50 mm lens, but it was like nothing I expected for Oklahoma City. Next door was a yoga/ballet studio, and the surrounding buildings were all modern to the core. I love hippie-esque veggie food havens, but I really adore the modern cleaner aesthetic as well.
This was my mom’s first time experiencing a raw food restaurant and I am happy to report it lived up to the hype. She told the hostess that we would like to be seated to view the kitchen and we both wanted everything we saw the chefs prepare. Watching raw food chefs prepare the food is a completely different experience than your typical open kitchen. The chefs pulled things from dehydrators, blended sauces, and expertly and artistically stacked components of each dish.
The menu really overwhelmed. Everything sounded amazing but we finally decided on two appetizers and one entrée to share. After all, we knew dessert was a must. Raw desserts are almost always delicious.
The kimchi dumplings with a sesame ginger foam were like nothing I’ve ever tasted. The filling was a nut cheese that was flavored with ginger. I can’t wait to recreate these.
Next, I tasted the Mezze starter. Raw Falafel may just be the best falafel I’ve ever had. My mom and I definitely detected almonds in the mix. They were warm from the dehydrator and delicious with the raw hummus. The other components were “eggplant bacon,” and a hemp seed tabbouleh. The eggplant bacon was smoky and crispy. This is another reason I dream of owning a dehydrator (or I will bake in my oven on the lowest temperature with the door open).
Somehow, I completely blanked when it came time to order our main course. I knew that I wanted to forgo the heirloom tomato lasagna because of trying a raw version before at Pure Food and Wine (great!). My mother took the reigns and ordered the Pad Thai (Vegetable Noodles, Enoki Mushrooms, Candied Almonds).
The dish really was this neon, matching the spice factor. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any enoki mushrooms, but I still thought it was a great meal. The vegetable noodles were zucchini, which I’ve prepared many times at home with my spiralizer. Honestly, I wish we opted for some of the other choices. Some things I saw that looked delicious were:
Butternut Squash Ravioli, Wilted Spinach, Wild Mushrooms, Savory Ricotta
Open Faced Portobello Sliders 3 ways, Lettuce, Tomato, Cashew Cheddar
Caramelized Vegetable Pizza, Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Onions, Kalamata Olives
The best part of the meal (in my chocaholic opinion) was our dessert. The Gianduja Tasting included Hazelnut Fudge, Hazelnut Budino, Hazelnut Butter Cup, Hazelnut Semifreddo, and Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake. I will say it often, but raw desserts are some of my favorite things to eat. Chocolate in its pure form with fruit, nuts, and coconut is all you need to be satisfied. I have never been a cake lover, but a dark chocolate flourless cake person. The fudge and semifreddo were my favorites. I am not usually an ice cream person but the semifreddo with hazelnut flavors reminded me of the nutella gelato I ate in Tuscany when I was sixteen. We left full and happy.
I am now seriously considering getting one of Matthew Kenney’s books, especially Everyday Raw. The connecting shop was filled with all sorts of raw food treats, eco jewelry, kitchen gear, and cookbooks. We also peered in the academy window before leaving for the night. Learning how to create these wonderful raw meals is such a culinary art unlike any other. I would love to try it someday.
If you are ever in Oklahoma City, please go to 105 degrees. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Next up on my road trip will be Amarillo, TX and Santa Fe, NM. I must tell you though, I am still thinking about Santa Fe. It is a place I am dreaming to return to.
I am getting settled in our little temporary home in the middle of Topanga Canyon. We had no internet or cell service until today, but I can’t wait to spend more time exploring LA’s neighborhoods while thinking of a place to move to next. I’d love suggestions.
Hiking for cell service has happened these last few mornings. This isn’t the kind of hiking I am used to. I’ve hiked at Runyan Canyon before, but hiking just behind our place in Topanga means strenuous inclines and no people in sight. I’ve even gotten frightened a few times from hearing rustling along the trail. Unfortunately, the beautiful view gets ruined as I head back and meet many downhills that kill my knee. Hiking uphill doesn’t seem to bother my knee at all but the way down hurts the whole way. Tomorrow I am trying a yoga place a few miles down the canyon that our neighbor teaches at and I hope that doesn’t create any pain.
-Do you do yoga when trying to get over an injury? Any suggestions on types of practice? I’ve been a hot yoga devotee in the past but it has been a long time since I’ve done any classes. This studio has many types I have never tried and I am up for trying a variety.
-Have you eaten at a raw food restaurant? Or made a raw meal? Do you have any favorite recipes or places?
As mentioned in the last few posts, I have had to make a big life decision rather quickly and here it is: I am moving to Los Angeles. There is no real rush because I am not yet signed on my next project, (hello freelance life) so I have decided to drive west. V had to leave abruptly for a series, but we’ve been talking about possibly moving to LA for the winter, since the Detroit film industry definitely dies down in the winter months. Last year we were out west for just a month or so, but this year we will probably stay longer. Who knows, maybe we will stay out there since our lease runs out right after the new year. He is a California boy and I am most definitely a New Yorker, but I do love the state of California after spending my middle school years there. Another perk is that I will be able to run outdoors all through the winter. Yes, that is a real reason I am excited. The hiking, biking, year-long farmer’s markets…it is all so appealing. LA is also home to many of my favorite vegetarian and veggie friendly restaurants. I can’t wait for some delicious M Cafe and visiting more restaurants that I have yet to eat at. Although I miss all my friends and family in New York dearly, there are a few of my college friends in LA, and my brother, who I haven’t lived close to in 10 years.
I’ve never driven that far solo, and am lucky enough to have persuaded my mother to travel halfway with me. In preparation, I have spent the last few days at the parents, organizing plans and routes. This morning, I was happy to find some irish steel-cut oats in their pantry and many honeycrisp apples in the fridge. On the stove top, I mixed in some organic light coconut milk (another parent’s pantry find), half a banana, chia seeds, and ground flaxseed (I came with the chia but they already had flax). When I couldn’t find any vanilla, I searched the spice rack and sure enough, found vanilla beans. I scraped half a bean into the oats while still cooking and heated up half an apple sprinkled with cinnamon on another burner. I’ve mentioned before, but I love cooking at my parents because they have an amazing old AGA stove.
They also have my favorite latte bowls (I have the little ones for prepping) in every color imaginable. My mother and I both have an affinity for kitchen goods, and she made sure to show me her recent finds and gifts (thanks to my lovely Aunt for picking up an olive tree cutting board while in Italy).
Since I’m currently working on emptying out my fridge, I brought over leftover roasted veggies. The parents always have veggie burgers in the freezer in case I come for a visit, which I used to round out a lunch.
While the car was getting a check up for the road trip ahead, I stopped in the local gourmet market for a snack. This Pure NRG bar is made just a few miles from my parents home. Usually I am not a fan of carob, and opt for pure dark chocolate, but this bar really surprised me. Maybe it was the coconut flour and flakes, but I didn’t find the carob overwhelming at all and actually enjoyed it.
When dinner rolled around, I centered it around the dumpling squash I also had picked up while out. Oh, and there were GT’s Kombucha too! That needs to be mentioned since there have been months of an unplanned Kombucha famine.
Isn’t she beautiful? She is local and organic too.
The other component I wanted to use was the lacinato (or dinasour) kale my father picked up at the farmer’s market on Sunday from my favorite organic farmer.
The kale was sautéed with this stoneground Inglehoffer mustard and I loved it. Wanting to eat with my parents, I threw together this local and tasty dinner for one in a hurry. I roasted the squash in the highest oven of the AGA to cut down the cooking time and used Michigan’s eden baked beans (organic and bpa free) to fill the squash.
Other things going on in my kitchen:
The two pie pumpkins on my counter needed to be roasted before I leave. I sliced and deseeded them, and then baked them for about an hour at 350 degrees. All I wanted was some simple pumpkin puree for morning oats.
I see some pumpkin oats taking over my morning meals these last four days I am in the midwest.
Considering I had taken off most of the summer from running, I started slow and with low mileage. Unfortunately it might not have been little enough, because instead of aggravating my consistent left shin or foot problems, I have a new-to-me pain. Although I’ve heard the words “IT Band Syndrome” before, this is a first for me. The pain has appeared on the outer side of my right knee on each run. Even just running 3-4 days a week, totaling 10-15 miles, I feel pain. Honestly, I’ve been doing most of my runs on a treadmill because Detroit isn’t necessarily the safest city to run alone in. I’m hoping that running outdoors on dirt and grass will help it heal.
Other strategies to let it heal:
- Cross training to keep building my endurance
If you have any advice, I’d really appreciate it.
Thanks for all the brownie advice on my last post. I am thinking I might have to wait a little before baking some fudgy brownies, but I can’t wait.
How do you keep your attitude positive when sidelined by an injury early into training? There were a few half and full marathons I’ve really been intrigued by and I don’t want to write them off yet. At the same time, it is pretty discouraging to be caught off guard by this new injury so early in my training. Of course I am not a doctor, and am not sure that it is ITBS, but the pain does nag in that general area. I even feel pain going down the stairs.
What is your favorite road trip food? Do you pack sandwiches, fruit, bars, etc? Do you stop places? So far, I am stopping in Des Moines, IA, Denver, CO (to see a best friend and get my mom on a flight home), and Richfield or St. George, UT (anyone know which is better?).
Have a grand week!