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      Stories

      Food Fight!

      Food Fight!

      Remember when you were a kid and someone grabbed a handful of spaghetti and threw it across the table yelling, “Food fight!”

      I had another kind of fight with food. 

      We all experience at some point in our lives either a sense of self-love or self-hate that goes along with how much or little food we are eating, and of course what we are eating.  In addition, from a purely physical standpoint, the more we know about what foods we are ingesting or not ingesting, impacts how we feel throughout the day.  Lastly, understanding the ethical responsibilities, (eating where your values are), requires first knowing what your values are; how can we know what our food values are if we have been brainwashed culturally not to even question them?  What steps can we take to help us move to a higher thought process in the three above instances?

      Recently I’ve been “owning” the things I am.  As one of the fitness instructors on my fitness app says, (and it always makes me giggle), “hey Baby, own your sexy!”.  Well, I say, own your “healthy” and your “positive energy”, and own “the things you stand or stand up for”.  Being willing to be there for yourself is part of owning your sexy. 

      The second part of owning up to things for me is learning how to advocate for myself.  That means, knowing it is OK to say “no” to situations that, for whatever reason, aren’t a “100% YES” decision at that time.  And that goes for food too. Say, “NO, I’m not eating that", if it isn’t a clear “YES” for you in that moment.

      One interesting first step is to look at your life through the foods you ate vs. the foods you eat today.  Which ones stood out and what stands out now?  Which ones did you hate, which ones did you love?  Which ones were important to you?  Which ones are important to you now? 

      Can you see any patterns on how your life got better as your food choices got better?

      As an example, below is a list of the foods I ate over the years, favorites, or just foods that jump out at me as something that was a big part of my life:

      Ages 0-10

      Mom’s homemade bread with margarine (remember when margarine was considered healthy?)

      Milk that the milkman delivered in glass jars (yep, I dropped one of those once.  The glass shattered over every square over our kitchen floor)

      Orange juice and orange juice slushies (remember the cups you’d freeze with your juice in it, then you scrape each bite off with a spoon?)

      Mom’s tuna casserole (first time I tried making this on my own I didn’t realize you had to boil the noodles first.  Oops!)

      Ages 10-14

      Ice cream – heaping bowl of it nightly (my brother and I would swirl that ice cream around and around until it was soft and creamy)

      Donuts from the donut shop, especially the twisted glazed ones

      Oreos

      Big Sticks from the Ice Cream Truck

      Fizzies (these were like gold in elementary school; we used to trade for them)

      Ages 14-16

      Summer squash and green beans (couldn’t stand either of these and still don’t like them!)

      Marathon Bars, (milk chocolate, vertical pretzel shaped bars with caramel inside.  My fav! https://youtu.be/Evp187KImq4)

      Ages 16-18

      Plain yogurt and bananas with puffed rice and bran

      Hard boiled eggs 

      Ages 18-24

      Popcorn and Diet Coke

      Pizza

      Burritos

      Coffee

      Potato chips

      Ages 24-45

      Salad

      Avocados

      Gluten-free crackers

      Non-dairy foods

      Ages 45-55

      Arnold Palmers

      Sourdough bread as a treat

      Vegetarian foods

      Healthy protein bars

      Dark chocolate

      Nuts and dried fruit

      Organic corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas

      Age 55 to Present

      Vitamins

      Gluten-free foods

      Plant-based foods (I still eat fish occasionally, and eggs from cage-free chickens that our neighbor takes good care of.)  I’ve come to love vegan cheese, vegan yogurt, and the wonderful assortment of dips and spreads

      Water, and lots of it

      Better - A Butter Alternative

      Maura Bars

      Apple cider vinegar

      Nuts without skins

      Boiled and pureed vegetables

      Chai tea

      Seeds

      Oats

      Looking at this list, I can see 6 clear breaks that also signified major transitions in my life.

      I’m still not perfect, but the more I decide be present for myself and the more I decide to research and learn, the cleaner my food choices throughout the day are, and the closer I am to being my true self.

      It’s fun to look at your food history and get a new perspective on your life through food.  You can see how far you’ve come or you can see where you still need to go.  No judgement, just observe.  Try it!  I’d love to hear your history of food and how your values and self-care are becoming stronger and more loving with each choice you make.  What choices will you make today?

      My Mother Is My Greatest Inspiration

      My Mother Is My Greatest Inspiration

      My mother is my greatest inspiration.

      Despite the rain, it was Christmastime and spirits were high.   I decided it would be a good day to set up a table outside my mother’s real estate office in Pacific Palisades, California and see if anyone would like to order some of our special family bread that we made every holiday season.  I set up a toaster oven and proudly presented rows of our fresh, braided, homemade bread.  I wore an apron over a long sweater with bright yellow rain boots.

      An elegantly dressed woman walked up to my table.  I quickly greeted her.  “Happy holidays! Would you like a free sample?” I asked, and held out a piece of warm, toasted bread with thick chunks of melting butter on top.  One could smell the magical aroma of the fresh-baked bread all the way down the block.

      “Mmm,” said the woman, “smells delicious, thank you,” and after taking a bite, “Oooooh, yum!  I’d like to order two loaves.  This tastes incredible,” she said.

       The smile on the woman’s face made every moment worthwhile.  This was the beginning of my first business.  I was 14 years old.  I sold 75 loaves that afternoon within one hour.  But a little history first… 

      One of my greatest and most cherished memories was making this bread with my mom.  Every Christmas she’d make it, and she would always share extra loaves with our friends.  She taught me -- as well as her other four children -- how to do each step.  Making and eating this bread was the highlight of every holiday season for our entire family.

      After mixing the ingredients, she showed us how to knead the bread and incorporate air into it.  Then she’d put the big ball of dough into this huge yellow bowl, (the same bowl that she made the bread in with her mom), and cover it with clean hand towels and sometimes even a couple of down jackets! Then it was time to go to bed and let it rise over night.

      “Wake up, Honey, it’s time to punch the bread dough down,” my mom would say. The sun was just about to come up.  My legs dangled off the side of the bed.  I’d yawn, put my hand in my mom’s hand, and then suddenly we’d be in the kitchen, opening the oven where the bread had been rising all night.   “Wow, that looks like there could be a basketball inside there,” I’d always think to myself, as we’d remove the layers of towels.

      This was the most exciting part.  “OK, now gently give it a punch right in the middle,” my mom would say.  One nice punch and the dough would make a “poof” sound, and then slowly deflate back down.

      At this point we’d let it rise again for a bit, separate the dough into five sections, and divide each section into three thick strands.  Then we’d braid it, and brush the tops with a slightly-beaten egg and melted butter.  This would give the bread a beautiful golden crust.

      One day I announced to the family that I wanted to make this holiday bread and offer it to others, and always leave some extra for people in need who might be hungry.

      My mother always stressed the importance of being grateful for what was served to us, and how lucky we were to have food on the table. 

      You see, my mom grew up in Allentown, PA during the Great Depression.  Many people were left hungry.  Because so many people had their wages cut, my grandparents’ family struggled as well.  But still, my grandmother would make this special bread with plates of dinner and leave them out on her back porch for passersby who were hungry.  This is how people helped each other out in the 1930’s.   

      After each loaf was completely cool, it was wrapped in saran wrap, aluminum foil, and then covered with white tissue.  A thick piece of red yarn was tied around it, complete with a pretty bow.  The weight of the loaf and the texture of the tissue paper with the soft bow felt good in your hands.  The best part was the moment of giving it to someone -- that simple act of placing a loaf of bread in a person’s hands.  People who received these loaves knew how special they were. 

      As the youngest child of five kids, my childhood was filled with many happy memories around the dining room table, laughing and enjoying my mom’s amazing food.  Even to this day, food is still a major subject of conversation, especially these days on our weekly zoom meeting.  Sharing recipes of our favorite dishes and baked goods is a constant joy.

      My mother is an amazing baker and chef, as are all members of my family.  She inspired us as kids and still inspires us today with her amazing cooking and baking.

      Now I am eager to share what I’ve learned with you by making delicious vegan products.

      My Friend Sunshine

      My Friend Sunshine

      I was thinking what to write for my first blog post; actually, my first blog post ever. I could tell you about my history of baking, but my brain immediately went to a time when I befriended a cow, and named her Sunshine.  

      I was in my thirties, newly divorced, and I had decided to rent a farmlike studio in a tiny town called Penngrove in California.  There were five starving chickens running around that had been abandoned by the previous renter, (I had never even seen a real chicken before), a small covered area in the backyard, and there was a huge adjoining field with a big black and white cow in it.  

      This cow brought much solace into my life at a time when I needed a friend.  She was there for me in more ways that I probably even realized at the time.  Having come from the big city of Los Angeles, my heart immediately connected with these animals; it was a whole new world. 

      I researched what the chickens would need for nourishment and to make their habitat more comfortable.  I went and bought bales of hay and fixed up their lean to.  In a few weeks, they were looking very healthy and one day they started laying eggs!  It was incredible! 

      Every morning I would come out on my back porch with a hot cup of coffee, and a small, portable boombox, and I'd play my Bach CD's.  My new cow friend loved the classical music.  She'd start bucking and running in from the back fields all the way up to the fence where I would greet her with lots of "good mornings," caresses, ear rubbing and carrots.  I had become quite attached to Sunshine, and to my chickens, who loved to follow me around and jump up on my lap. 

      These were days of contemplation for me; hammock days, swaying in the Sonoma wind days, questioning and daydreaming days, writing, and reading Kierkegaard, Goethe and Rilke days.  Sunshine and I were buddies.  She had the most beautiful, soulful eyes I had ever seen.  I loved to watch her get so excited by the music.  Oftentimes she'd dance around and stare deep into my soul.  She was pure kindness. 

      But then it happened; I woke up and walked outside with my coffee and there was no Sunshine.  She was gone.  I went to my neighbor's door and asked, what happened to the beautiful, sweet cow that was here?  "Oh, they took her away this morning to slaughter," the man said casually, as if the mailman had just picked up a package.  

      This was my friend they took away.  Tears rolled down my face and my chest got tight. The next morning, there was an emptiness in the fields.  I kept thinking maybe she'd come back, maybe somehow something would happen and she'd be back, waiting for me to play the music, waiting for one more chance to prance  and jump with joy.  But she never came back, and I shuddered to think what her last moments were like and how scared and confused she must have been. 

      I started researching about cows and how they are treated in the food industry.  It was a real eye opener to say the least.

      Today, I am honored to be a part of making cows' lives better.  So, in memory of Sunshine, I want to say "thank you" to her for touching my heart and inspiring me to create dairy-free butter, and to you for taking an interest in my products.  Together, by choosing plant based foods, we can make a difference for a better world.