How Does Your Vegetable Rank?

April 19, 2014

I came across this PDF from Food Day and I love this concept. Even though I think if you’re eating mostly vegetables anyway then that’s a better start than most folks. But in case you’re reallyyy curious about how vegetables “rank” I’d say check out this super condensed pdf and make sure to get those servings of fruits and veggies into your diet!

Vegetable Rank

Vegetables, Ranking

 

Interviewing Mark Bittman, New York Times Food Writer

April 8, 2014

Did I ever tell you guys that time I interviewed Mark Bittman? You know, the same guy who started the Minimalist column, has written several books including How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. You know, super casual right? ;) (By the way I’m totally humble bragging bragging, but it’s Mark Bittman!!)

Interviewing Mark Bittman

For those unfamiliar with Bittman, I would highly recommend checking out his column in the New York Times where he writes mostly about food policy and investigative pieces about the most pressing food issues of our time. This guy is no joke, friends.

What I love about Bittman is that he plays no games. He tells it how it is, sometime to one’s own discomfort and I totally respect that. You could chalk it up to the fact that the guy is a New Yorker through and through, but whatever it is, we need more voices like his.

In this hour long interview (I would suggest listening to it while you cook this) myself and another Jewish Food Justice Fellow ask Mark Bittman questions about food stamps, sustainability and local vs. organic food. It was an incredible experience to be able to ask one of my food heroes some of the questions I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past few years, and I feel totally blessed to have had this opportunity. I hope all enjoy this video and please feel free to leave some comments below!

Thank you Mark for spending time with us and sharing your expertise and wisdom!

Thank God It’s Monday

March 17, 2014

Hey bellpeppers!

I was planning to post a meatless Monday recipe from my semi-new Plenty cookbook (Ottolenghi can’t stop, won’t stop), but instead I wanted to offer up a bit of reflection, since today is my birthday!

birthday

Birthdays are so strange. We celebrate the anniversary of our own birth, a moment in time none of us remember, yet in fact shape our whole existence.

I was walking around San Diego yesterday just thinking about birthdays, and being born, and coming into the world. Everyday of our lives we are learning, growing, doing, shaping, making, expanding and we do this without ever pausing to reflect on how wonderful it all is!

This birthday I am taking the day to think about all of the amazing things I have accomplished (which I rarely ever do), the places I’ve traveled, the people I’ve met and cultivated relationships with, the work I have done, the things I have created, the moments of laughter and joy, the moments of crying and despair, my truly remarkable family that accepts my never-ending madness, my friends who I care so deeply about, my boyfriend who has been my source of happiness for the past five years, the many many people I meet and move on, the way my body is growing and changing, and how even though we congratulate one another on being born, what we are really saying is- I’m happy you were born and that we came to know one another.

I am taking my anniversary day of myself to congratulate myself on all the successes, the ups and downs, and just being in the world. I’m so excited for the next 26 years of life and all it has to offer. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes, and for being so incredibly inspiring to me every single day. Here’s to another expansive year filled with creativity, love and happiness bursting at every twist and turn!

 

Moments from the Weekend

March 10, 2014

I spent the an amazing weekend in the desert at Joshua Tree National Park with six of my fellow fellows. What an incredible weekend hiking, cooking, skill-sharing and rejuvenating in the blissful desert sun. Here are some of the moments from the weekend. I hope you all had relaxing weekends and are ready to jump into the work week :)

DSC_0191

DSC_0198

DSC_0238

DSC_0287

DSC_0293

DSC_0300

 

DSC_0190

DSC_0205

DSC_0243

DSC_0252

Food News Friday

March 7, 2014

Happy Friday everyone!

Jim Weil, FRAC, Washington

It’s been an especially busy week for me, and for food in the news. This past week I attended the annual Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and Feeding America anti-hunger policy conference in Washington D.C. The conference had over 850 anti-hunger advocates from around the country in attendance for a 3 day snow-filled weekend. The conference was not only informative, but it was really inspiring to see what others in the field are doing. I was especially impressed with a food bank in Maine that purchases directly from Maine farmers as a way to support their local farm economy, provide farm fresh food to their clients, and also look into ways of preserving the harvest (it’s not sunny San Diego over there!)

Snow, Washington

All in all, between the sessions, meeting interesting folks and exploring D.C. a bit I had an amazing time there. Even the below freezing temperatures didn’t throw me off, though I’d likely want to prepare with snow boots next time!

Food News

Now on to the news! It’s been a really busy and exciting week for food this week, so let’s get to it:

  • Food Labels: The USDA just announced a overhaul of the federal nutrition label. Advocates have been pushing for changing in this for years, and it’s finally happening! They are getting rid of “calories from fat”, making the number larger, identifying added sugars and putting a small label on the front of packages. This is really big news, and I could not be happier that this is finally happening!
  • California Bans Inhumane Eggs: As you all know, I always try and eat eggs that are organic and cage free. In the sea of organic products and confusing labeling (see above), it is the one thing that I am always in staunch support of because I understand the difference so clearly. California is passing a law that all eggs need to come from chickens that have room to stand up, turn around and extend their wings. Pretty simple right? Think again, six states (Iowa, Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri) are suing California. Should be an interesting legal battle.
  • California’s drought continues on, Obama signs legislation for a drought information system, and Californians are happy for the rain, but it makes little dent on agriculture. (yikes, its dry out here!)
  • Almost 500 products contain an additive that is found in…. yoga mats. Apparently it helps keep bread squishy, same as your yoga mat. Yikes. Just another reason to commit to a whole foods diet.

That’s all for now, bellpeppers. This weekend I am heading to Joshua Tree for a camping trip with my fellowship. I’m so looking forward to being out in the desert, unplug for a few days and restore and rejuvenate after a very busy week! How about you guys, any fun weekend plans? I’ll see you all here next week, for a very fun giveaway! Stay tuned!

Rituals

March 5, 2014

Have you ever felt like there wasn’t any time during the day in between emails, phone calls, running errands, maybe chasing after your kids or doing homework, catching up with friends, and the many other things that catch our attention throughout the day- to really focus on your craft?

I’ve been feeling this in full force as of late, and wishing that I didn’t need to sleep. Do you ever meet people who somehow fit so much into their day? It’s pretty infuriating.

Daily Rituals, Routine, Artists

I picked up this book about Daily Rituals of artists, writers and other creatives throughout history, and cannot put it down! Mostly it’s helping me realize that everyone- really everyone- goes through rough patches, procrastination, frustrations, road blocks and the like.

Our rituals, whether they are taking a walk around the park, waking up at 4am, standing while writing, or in my case owning up to the fact that writing is useless after the sun goes down- makes us that much bolder, and maybe, just maybe, we can accomplish something that we are proud of.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction describing Franz Kafka’s frustration with his work:

“Frustrated by his cramped living situation  and his deadening day job, he complained, ‘time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.‘ …For most of us, much of the time, it is a slog, and Kafka’s subtle maneuvers are not so much a last resort as an ideal. Here’s to wriggling through.”

Here’s to wriggling through bellpeppers! Tell me, what is your daily ritual for work? Have you been able to move past any frustrations in your craft or daily life, from a minor change? I’m so curious to know!

 

Community Garden in South Africa

February 21, 2014

Happy Friday Everyone!

South Africa, Community Garden, Farm, Food Justice

I received a friendly email yesterday from Justin Rose, a student in South Africa who made this short film about community gardens and food access in his home country. The video, 12 minutes of beautiful veggies, tells the story of three individuals learning to reconnect with the land, including one who used to work as a supply chain manager for McDonalds.

South Africa, Community Garden, Food Justice

I got the chance to ask Justin a few questions about his motivation for creating this film- his answers are below.

Why did you decide to make this film? Tell us a bit more about the process:

South Africa is a country of contrasts and divides in many respects with food being no exception.  Over-nutrition, under-nutrition and malnutrition are all common features, and connections between people and their food systems seem to be getting weaker and more remote by the day. While inequalities are everywhere apparent, Nature’s Happy Meal focuses on the positive actions that individuals in different communities are taking to help reverse this trend and reconnect people to the food they eat.   

South Africa, Community Garden, Food Justice

Ntsako and I were inspired to make Nature’s Happy Meal both because we are each keenly aware of the importance of sustainable food systems in South Africa, and also because we met three remarkable characters: 

Barry, whose life has completely turned around based on a renewed relationship with food; from managing the logistical supply chain for MacDonalds and KFC in South Africa, to designing and running a beautiful local farm that is the focus of an alternate community committed to healthy and sustainable living.

Daniel, a wonderful guy and among the most knowledgeable and capable agriculturalists I’ve met, was forced by his okra seeds to carry them with him on the journey from his homeland of Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Jackie, whose garden in Oceanview has become a real center of activity for the local community and provides a safe place for positive learning for many at-risk children in the Seven Sisters housing estate.

We hope you enjoy it!

Justin and Ntsako

 

Nature’s Happy Meal from Barefoot Workshops on Vimeo.

Thank you Justin for sharing with us! If you want to know more about the video, check out the film’s facebook page and the community garden facebook page.

Why Home Made Food is Better

February 17, 2014

I came across this video the other day and just knew I had to share it with you all. Michael Pollan’s advice about home cooking, isn’t about being a foodie, or being elitist, or any typical food related things people tend to espouse.

Rather it is an honest way of talking about the food we eat and how it relates to our health. Put simply, if you made the same food at home as what you are buying (french fries, cakes, burgers, etc.) you would probably eat it much less. Because let’s be real, that shit takes too much time.

Don’t let me tell you though, watch the video for yourself:

What do you think? Do you agree with Mr. Pollan, or should there be a different rule of thumb when it comes to healthy eating?

DIY Sunday: Homemade Rustic Cornbread

February 16, 2014

Farm, Pie Ranch, Organic, Eggs, Vegetables, California

One of my favorite farms in California is Pie Ranch in Pescadero. I’m a bit (read: very) biased, because my very dear friend Tamar lives and works there. Pie Ranch is an educational farm, whose property happens to look like a slice of pie. They grow all the ingredients needed to make a delicious pie, and have a very cool apprentice program there.

Pie Ranch

Each time I go, I have an amazing time, enjoying the breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean in Northern California, and the calm, humble lifestyle that is farm-living.

Pie Ranch

Pie Ranch, Goats

Farm, Chickens, Pie Ranch

Over my winter break I had a chance to go back and it wouldn’t be right if Tamar and I didn’t cook up something delicious in their outdoor kitchen. We ended up making a raw cabbage salad with tahini dressing, roasted candy-striped beats in a vegetable sauté, and this bomb cornbread from fresh milled corn from the farm. Farm fresh doesn’t even begin to describe it. 

DSC_0192

DSC_0206

Between drinking delicious raw cow’s milk, chasing turkeys back into their pens, collecting eggs, walking around the stunning property, playing with goats, getting to know dulce the cow, and baking this seriously awesome cornbread- I’d say that I had a pretty stellar time. In fact, I can’t wait to go back.

Pie Ranch, Goats

If you have a chance to make it to Pie Ranch, please do! And make sure to stop by the adorable farm stand that Tamar runs and pick up a slice of pie!

Homemade Rustic Cornbread

Cornbread, Pie Ranch, Homemade, Recipe,

Note: We used a cast iron skillet for this recipe, but I imagine you could bake it in a regular loaf pan as well. The timing may be different, but be sure to check on it until it is golden brown. This recipe comes from the Pie Ranch recipe index, where they teach youth how to cook delicious farm-fresh food. 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 + 1/4 cup buttermilk (you can use milk with one tsp of lemon juice or vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons high heat oil (such as safflower, canola or sunflower)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F
  2. Put 3 tablespoons of oil into an iron 12″ skillet and coat the pan.
  3. Place oiled skillet in the oven while you prepare ingredients
  4. In two separate bowls, mix dry and wet ingredients well to uniform consistencies. Next, add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry and still until just incorporated. Be careful not to over mix- a few swift strokes does the trick!
  5.  Remove the hot skillet from the oven and pour the mixture in. You want to spread it so that it is even in the skillet.
  6. Return it to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on top.

DSC_0248

DSC_0250

Chocolate Zen Balls with Coconut + Peanut Butter: A Valentine’s Day Treat for Those Who Hate Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day bellpeppers!

Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls, Flax, Healthy, Valentines Day

Here’s the thing, I’m really happy for anyone out there who actually enjoys this holiday, gets to dress up go out on a nice date, or takes the day to appreciate their friends and family and all those wonderful people in your life that you love. That is great. For me- eh, I’m not so into it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and family and of course mr mish- but the whole parade of Valentines Day? The let-me-feel-bad-about-myself-because-I’m-single-and-I-dont-have-a-Valentine: Not really my thing.

What is my thing? Chocolate. It’s a cause I can get down for, except of course if it’s made by slave labor. Shocking fact, I realize. Most chocolate in the world is made by slave labor, which is why fair trade chocolate is actually pretty important.

Zen Chocolate Coconut Balls, Valentines Day treat, Healthy Dessert

But that is not this post. This post is chocolate and peanut butter and coconut and flax and sesame seeds and oats and honey and dates- this post is zen balls. Popularized by E Street Cafe in Encinitas (the loveliest little coffee shop in downtown Encinitas) and a new staple in my house, for sure.

These balls are nutty, wholesome, just a hint of sweet and can be left in the freezer until you’re ready to serve them. Feeling zen already? I thought so. I used to make a version of chocolate-coconut balls back in India, but they were more crushed cookies with chocolate, then this more nutritious version. I love these, because they are clearly dessert but you don’t really need to feel guilty about it afterwards.

And let’s be real. You don’t want to feel guilty while you are watching episode after episode of House of Cards and eating copious amounts of zen balls- oh wait, that’s not your Friday night plans? Well, it certainly is mine.

Chocolate-Coconut Zen Ball Recipe

In a perfect world I would have added carob nibs, pecans, and walnuts. Point being, if you have different seeds or nuts in the house- this recipe is very forgiving and can be substituted for other things. And if coconut is not your thing- just skip it! Be sure to add in another dry ingredient in its place. 

 Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter you prefer)
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/2 desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp honey (you can use Agave or maple syrup to make it vegan)
  • 1/2 Kamut
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • a few dashes of cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup of desiccated coconut to roll the balls in

Fill a bowl with the dates and boiling water and let sit while you add in all the other ingredients into a large bowl. You want to dates to be soft and mushy so it can become a binder.

In a separate bowl add the kamut and pour a bit of water onto it, but not covering. The water will quickly be absorbed and the kamut will crumble easily.

Add the sesame, flax, cacao powder, peanut butter, coconut, and honey into a bowl. Drain the dated, chop them up and add into large bowl. Add in the crumbled kamut and the rolled oats. Throw in a few dashes of cinnamon and a sprinkle of salt.

Mix together all ingredients with a spoon so that all the ingredients are well incorporated and you have a bowl full of brown mush (delicious!).

With you hands start picking up bits of the “dough” and roll into 1″ inch balls. Have a plate with the extra desiccated coconut near you to roll the balls in. Set aside on a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

Once you’ve gone through all the “dough” and made your balls, you can place them in the freezer to harden. I left it overnight since I did this super last minute, but 2 hours should be enough. If your pressed for time, they will still be delicious no matter how hard they are.

Wow, hard balls. I went there.

V day, Zen Balls, Chocolate, Coconut, Healthy, Dates, Dessert

Happy lovey dovey day bellpeppers!