SUMMER VACATION IS HERE!
Which means lots of temptations in airport snack shops.
Stay healthy while on the road by packing your own munchies.
For 1 month I’m living out of the same suitcase:
1 week sailing in Nantucket
10 days in Todos Santo, Baja
2 weeks house/pet-sitting a hamster, cat & great dane
6 heart healthy foods in my carry-on
Homemade Instant Oatmeal. Fruit with a peel incase it rolls out onto the airport floor.
Baked sweet potato. Avocado. Hard boiled egg. Dates filled with almond butter and sprinkled with chia seeds
I always pack my own instant oatmeal (pictured above): oats, raisins, almonds, coconut and cinnamon
Just ask the flight attendant for a glass of boiling water. mix. wait. enjoy.
I recommend these packaged foods.
All provide lots of nutrients, vitamins and are minimally processed
If you always stock your pantry with these basics then packing for the road is simple
Staying healthy can be tough while traveling. There are times when you may not see any thing fresh and not from a package for hours, maybe even all day!
It’s important to plan ahead and pack healthy snacks for the plane and layovers. Your body is already working hard enough to stay healthy in the crowded dirty places…. Don’t add extra stress to your body by asking her to digest chips and soda.
It only takes a couple minutes to throw together a couple carry-on snack
Chia Seeds. These are a must. They fill you up not to mention super good for you! Think of flax seeds but on steroids. At hotels, when the breakfast is limited, add chia seeds to your coffee and grab a piece of fruit.
Oranges and Peel Fruit: Apples used to be my go to, but I find oranges are a safer choice. Like when fruit falls out of your purse and rolls across the airport floor, you can still peel and enjoy J Also, I find sometimes apples can be hard on a empty stomach.
Nuts and Fruit: hello. Talk about perfect carb, fat, protein combination…. And SO simple.
“My goal is to produce quality food and make healthy eating more accessible. I want to leave this world a little better than I found it” he says, and explains that “People in the States are just uninformed, they are given the wrong information and labels don’t mean anything” Talk about magic to my ears. Many people think about making a difference in the world, but few actually take action to do so. You can imagine how excited I was when Logan invited me to accompany him on his morning rounds at the farm? Even if it meant waking up before the roosters, this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
History: Logan’s parents moved from Santa Barbara to Todos Santos in 1985 to follow their dreams of becoming the first organic farmers in Baja. They now grow around 20 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs. His father now gets to enjoy surfing the Baja waves while Logan manages the 500 acres of ocean front family farm land! Yes, at the ripe age of 27, Logan is the brains, ambition, drive, sweat and muscle behind it all! Impressive.
So, the basil that you (and everyone in North America) bought this week from Whole Foods or Trader Joes… I PICKED on Tuesday May 7th! 6am and covered in dirt, I was picking the basil ya’all are havin in those Basil Gimlets!
Currently he’s shipping 20, 000 lbs of basil across the boarder a week. Can you believe it? And, it’s all grown organically, sustainably and picked by hand. To make matters even more impressive: Conventional farms grow on the same land for years, and never give the soil rest. Whereas, on Logan’s farm, he believes in letting the land rest for 8 months out of the year and changing the crop in the soil ever season. This is natures way of keeping the land free of bugs and critters. Also, when letting the land rest, there is no need to use heavy chemicals and pesticides like massive conventional farm.
At 10am I turned to Logan and said, “I’m pooped. I don’t think I can farm anymore.” He looked at me with a “Are you kidding, we’re just getting started” expression and lead me back to his truck, “Alright, let’s get breakfast” he said. “Now we’re talkin!”
Finish a day’s work with:
Authentic Baja fried empanadas filled with Slow cooked desert cattle.
A cold beer at his dad’s beach hut. Outdoor shower under a mango tree (that was solo)
Rewind to the beginning of the morning: Logan picks me up before the sun comes up. On our way to the farm we stop at a little roadside coffee stand where the fishermen stop on their way into town to drop off their fresh catch. There’s one option on the menu: coffee served with a carton of milk. We then followed a dirt road for about 10 minutes along the ocean before arriving to his farm. Every morning Logan picks up the workers who live in simple “shacks” on the farm…they all hopped into the back of his truck, looking quite happy and cheerful I must say. Maybe it was the gringa chica in the front seat, who knows? Between 6-10am, we had already picked and eaten, basil, green beans, cucumbers, bell peppers, asparagus, avocado, sweet corn, grapefruit, guava, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, herbs and saw a rattle snake! You’d be pooped too, right?
Curious to know what a farmer makes for dinner? It was so good, I’m still thinking about it. I’ll give you a hint, he shot a wild animal CHECK IT OUT HERE
Driveway to Heaven
What’s on the horizon for his future? Bringing the full farm-to-table experience to people. Allowing people to visit his farm and get the full experience as I did. Logan said he wishes to, “Create a platform where people can reconnect with their food. People don’t appreciate where their food comes from. We’ll get dirty, grow, pick, cook. It’s the full circle”
Did you know that hundreds of lbs of perfect produce is wasted ever day? Just thrown into the compost. You see, us Americans like our produce to look perfect, without scratches or natural marks. Whole Foods sends back the entire crate of produce if ONE cucumber in a box is a little boat shaped. Even though cucumbers naturally grow on the ground in a boat shape… they’re only straight because farmers hang them on vines. Anyway, getting off track. This is where the farm-to-table experience can come in. People can come to the farm and pick, cook and can the otherwise wasted produce. It’s perfect, right?
One might imagine how growing up on a farm in Paradise would inspire you to follow the path of your parents, however, it was professors at UCSB and authors like Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan who taught Logan the importance of sustainable and ethical farming practices.
Note: Logan’s parents played a huge role in inspiring him and still play a huge role in the success of their farm want to be sure that’s clear.
We ended the day with a beautiful dinner at Mac’s house. Couldn’t ask for a better last day in Baja!
And in the end, Logan said, “I hope to change the minds of people and inspire people, so that the world doesn’t get ruined before it’s too late”
Just Do It, video: When you need motivation to sweat HERE
Her Future: Change Yourself, Change the World HERE as I ask myself, “should I hop on a plan to Baja and help feed the hungry?’
Happy Mothers Day Weekend! I swear we do more than eat and drink…
Picnic at China Camp with Comforts Chinese Chicken Salad. Mom’s favorite dessert from the 60’s: Pineapple and marshmallow Whip (went to 4 stores before finding it…people really still eat this?). Mindee (my cousin/best friend) and I take our moms (sister) to the Lyon Street Steps for Champagne and A16 for dinner.
So excited to share with you a few appetizers (vegetarian and gluten free whootwhoot) that I paired with bubblies at the GastroVinos Food and Wine festival this weekend.
Pairing 4 appetizers with 4 bubblies from the Freixenet de Mexico vineyard.
First of all, absolutely LOVING the sun, sand, salty water, surfing, not shaving my legs in 2 weeks, dirty hair and chipped nail polish I could get used to this for sure! Never thought it’d be possible, but was actually sick of chips and salsa by day 3 and am seriously considering changing my name to Ceviche and Spice!
Anyway, to the important stuff… I was so honored when my best friend since childhood, Mac asked me to come down to Todos Santos as a guest chef and pair a few appetizers with a local Mexican winemaker of Guadalupe Valley at his annual wine festival. I fell in love with Baja wine 3 years ago when Mac and I toured the wine valley in Ensenada for a week, so being able to work with the wine makers and vineyard owners again has been such a wonderful experience. I was faced with a few bumps in the road though: Pairing food with bubblies is something I’m not familiar with. Had no idea what produce would be in season and local here. I don’t speak spanish or know how to drive a manual car. Where exactly would I be cooking food for 50 people. However, to my pleasant surprise, it all turned out fine, people like the food, and I didn’t crash the rental car! phew
The Menu and Wine Pairings:
(all ingredients were grown locally)
Nona’s Sevilla Green Gazpacho with Lime and Cilantro Gremolata and Crispy Tortilla (pictured) with Gran Resserva
Mamma’s Italian Sun Marinated Tomatoes and Basil Bruschetta with Rose
Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna with Avocado Creme on a Rice Round with Chardonnay
Stewed Strawberries andVanilla Chia Pudding with Semi Seco
Representing Californian Cuisine and my passion for healthy, clean, vegetarian food in Mexico has been such a wonderful experience. Thank you Mac!
Cornmeal Crust Tarts with Baby Kale, Currants and Pine Nuts
Meatless Mondays: Every week I create a vegetarian seasonal menu of 5 dishes (also gluten free!) and deliver to 6 clients here in San Francisco. Last week I had the pleasure of cooking for a few wonderful local bloggers too: Vanilla Extract, vmac+cheese, Polish My Crown and Sweet & Spark.
I have really been enjoying coming up with a new menu every week and having a chance to get creative with local, seasonal, Bay Area flavors. If you are new to my site, let me quickly explain my cooking style and philosophy… I keep it simple, fresh, clean and easy. You don’t need a measuring cup, ingredients can easily be modified to fit your taste preferences and you most definitely do not need to allocate your entire evening to making dinner. I use the most basic ingredients and techniques so even the newbie-chef will have supper on the table in no time.
Check out Last Week’s Menu. Was so delicious and worth sharing a few of the recipes:
Balsamic Roasted Portobellos, Raw Kale, Lentil and Pecorino Salad(BEAUTIFUL PIC)
Preheat oven to 425. Drizzle Portobello mushroom with balsamic and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile combine chopped kale, cooked lentils and pecorino. Dressing: Lemon, Balsamic, Honey, Mustard, Garlic, and Olive Oil. Slice the Portobello and top with the salad.
Half Avocado topped with Fava Bean, English Pea Feta and Mint Salad (PIC)
Shell the English Peas Fava beans and blanch for a couple minutes. Drain and toss with lemon, olive oil, chopped mint and lots of lemon zest. Gentle mix with crumbled feta. Serve over an avocado
Preheat to 300 and grease muffin tins. I used mini tins. Chop and Sauté 1 onion and 1 bunch asparagus (minus tips) in coconut oil. In a bowl combine 1 cup Ricotta, 1/4 cup Goat Cheese and 2 eggs. Mix in cooked Asparagus and Onions. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile sauté the remaining aspargus tips. When the quiches are done cooking allow to cool in tins for a few minutes on a wire rack before inverting upside down onto a plater to cool completely. Serve with the sautéed asparagus tops.
Cornmeal Crust Pizza with Chèvre, Sautéed Baby Kale, Currants and Pine Nuts
Cornmeal Crust Recipe HERE (note: I made in a sheet pan and cut into squares)
Meanwhile, soak currants in a little boiling water. Sauté chopped garlic and shallot in coconut oil. Add the Baby kale in batches. Add the water from the soaking currants to help steam the greens. mix in currants. Spread chèvre over the crust is still warm. Top with the greens. Wipe out the sauté pan with a paper towel and toast the pine nuts. Garnish the pizzas with the pine nuts.
ENJOY! All of these recipes are perfect examples of meals that can be easily modified that ingredients swapped to fit your likes/dislikes… donot make it too technical… you can’t go wrong here… BE CREATIVE! Chard in place of Kale. Almonds in place of pine nuts. Parmesan in place of pecorino.
Life is too short to not love what you do… and everything in your life.
Love the people in your life. Love your authentic self. Love the food that nurtures your soul. Love your body. Love your higher being. Love your freedom to choose. Love your capabilities. Love your imperfections. Love your hobbies. Love the little things that make you happy.
What I love? I live for travel, adventure, being the foreigner, getting lost and making memories with the people I love. Plus food & wine, of course.
These next 2 weeks will be full of my loves.
Let’s be real though. Leaving SF for 2 weeks and “stepping away” (at a very exciting time in S&S’s life) has not been easy for me. Allowing myself to “clock-out” is something I’ve always struggled with. I mean, I can’t even enjoy a movie at home without painting my nails, organizing the living room bookshelf, puttering and responding to a few emails (who wants a movie date with me? ha).
Relaxing has never been a forte of mine.
I think this is calling for another mantra…
Allowing work and play to live together, happily and without resentment and anxiety for one another.
These next couple of weeks will be a challenge for sure..
I see this as a perfect opportunity to practice balance.
Countless times I’ve chosen to stay home on a Saturday to create seasonal menus rather than join my friends for a night out. Or write content, proposals and plan events on a Sunday instead of watching the Super Bowl. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m passionate about S&S and I’m so grateful to have found a career that brings me so much enjoyment and pleasure.
What’s more important in life? Creating memories with friends on a Saturday night? Or creating menus for an event on a Saturday night?
My last night in Milan (and first night in Greece) may have been the most memorable of my 2 weeks in Europe – besides for of course Mindee and Peter’s wedding!
I’m a pretty easy going traveler – I really do not care where we go, what we see, where we eat, how we get there, when we get there or really anything at all…I’m just along for a good time! So for my last night I was not expecting much but was thrilled when Cecile got us a reservation at Temakinho and on the guest list to a party at Mercedes! Temakinho, is a snazzy sushi place famous for their fresh fish and Brazilian cocktails, Caipirinhas.
Mercedes launches a new car (don’t ask me what it was) and turned their dealership into a giant discoteca
About 40 minutes outside of Milan lives my friend Fabrizio. Apparently, he is a famous chef in the region – how exciting. We met last summer in San Francisco through a mutual friend, Daniella.
Anyway, I promised him I would stop by his restaurant the next time I was in Milan… donna della sua parola…
Daniella’s and my intentions were to help him in the kitchen and learn a few tricks… but to our pleasent surprise he insisted that we sit and enjoy a 3 course lunch – all ingredients locally sourced from within 20 miles!!!!
It was just Fabrizio, Daniella and me in his restaurant, enjoying lunch and broken conversation (Fabrizio does not speak a work of English!) while his sister and momma cooked and served for us!
After 3 hours, 2 bottles of wine, more gluten and pork than I’ve eaten in the past 5 years (seriously!) we slowly wobbled into the kitchen to learn how to make these amazing bread sticks.
1 kilo flour
200 grams extra virgin olive oil
25 grams of salt
25 grams of lievito
500 grams of water
roll out into cornmeal
bake at 300 for 20 minutes and then at 200 for 10
(I think! This was about 2 weeks ago – I should have written it down)
I just spent a week in Milan, soaking up the Euro energy, roaming the cobblestone streets and enjoying long nights on the Naviglio!
I’ll admit, Milan does not have a ton to offer… the city is crowded, polluted and well, not so glamorous. But despite it’s rough edges, Milan is one of my very most favorite cities in the world. Not only because I spent a chunk of my early 20s living there, but because it is a city with so much life, energy, possibilities, culture, beauty, architecture, art and not to mention amazing night life and food!
I was staying with my best friend who has a wonderful apartment right next to the Naviglio. The Naviglio is a canal that runs through the city, lined with bars and restaurants, where at 7pm the Milanese go to unwind and meet friends for an aparitivo (photo, top right). This is quite possibly my favorite Italian tradition! I could get used to this custom, no problem. Cape Town is a neighborhood favorite where they are famous for their Moscow Mules (photo, bottom right)!
I now keep Moscow Mule Makings in my fridge at all times, and I think you should too – they are so simple and refreshing on a hot summer day:
Vodka, Ginger Beer or Ginger Ale, Fresh Ginger Slices. You can even get fancy and add some cucumber of mint.
Late Lunch (top left picture)
Traveling is the best diet for me because I roam around cities for hours and completely forget about eating until I am famished and faint! One afternoon, just as I had been starting to feel HANGRY (hungry and angry) I stumbled across Botega Caffe Cacao. 9 euro included salad of choice, drink (I chose sparkling water), an espresso and a little in-house made dessert (strawberry slushy and a chocolate dipped wooden spoon). I’m telling you, it is not expensive to eat well and healthy in Europe. It’s not a class or status thing like it is made to be here in the states! Everyone can afford to eat their veggies in Europe – the way it should be (shame on America and our subsidized, corrupt food industry)!
Salad in a Bread Bowl
Well, not really bread, more like a giant crispy flat bread! And look at the adorable oil and vinegar packets. Italians also keep it light and simple with the dressings. Ranch is NOT found in Italy – see more secrets to staying slim living the Italian life here
Nicoise is my absolute favorite salad to get out at lunch – it has the right amount of protein to keep me fueled until dinner, but not too heavy leaving me feeling blah. Of course they added the mozzarella balls
Morning Coffee (bottom left picture)
Every Morning Cecile and I would enjoy a cup of coffee (American style – my style – big cup) at an adorable cafe downstairs from her apartment called That’s Bakery. By the end of the week our regular server asked me to stay and marry him, or he would move to SF – ha you gotta love the Italian men, so passionate!
I’m having trouble beginning this post… four times now I’ve gone to the kitchen to eat peanut butter out of the jar in an attempt to get my creative writing wheels turning
Turkey’s culture is so diverse I think it’s easier to just write a list:
Ancient. Modern. Secular. Allah. Conservative. Liberal. Spices. Herbs. Skyscrapers. Caves. Asia. Europe. Educated. Illiterate. Wealth. Poverty. Snow. Beaches.
Turkey, as we know it today, has been the home for many different types of people for centuries while under constant transformation and rule: Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Mongol, Ottoman…
Which explains its diversity:
From worshiping Greek goddess, missions by Saint Paul, the home to Mother Mary, the spread of Islam and since 1924, freedom of religion (as recognized in the constitution)
The people in Turkey also come in many different shapes and sizes. In the north you will find Turks with light skin, red hair and blue eyes, while in the south it is common to look dark and have Arab features.
In the east cuisine is inspired by spices from Asia whereas along the Mediterranean lots of fresh herbs and lemon are used
Traditionally, Turks are known for enjoying their afternoons at a cafe playing Tawula, Turkish Backgammon
and sipping coffee in the shade
while modern Turks enjoy expensive cafes on the water.
Turkish rugs hang at a store.
Behind on the hill is Bergama, ruled by Alexander the Great in 300 bc
At the acropolis in the ancient city, Bergama
With Turkey’s lush terrain comes an abundance of produce
Basically my heaven on earth at every corner (and cheap!)
Coastal cities on the Aegean and Mediterranean look a lot like Greece
with white stucco, blue window trim and bougainvillea
Many nights were enjoyed dinning on the water
with a large selection of regional mezes
and delicious seafood
The best octopus I have ever had! I insisted the chef come out to talk with me and share his secrets :o)
Mansions line the Bosporus in Istanbul
While fishermen still live on the boats in small villages
Turkey is mountainous and lush near the sea
while a little dry and hot inland
Not to mention the locals are incredible friendly
Traditional dance, pinkies together now, everyone!
and the service is great and up to western standards.
Compared to your coffee taking 30 minutes to arrive in Greece
After 3 wonderful weeks exploring the Aegean and Mediterranean coast, I must say I am very much in love with all that Turkey has to offer.
My cousin Mindee and I spent a wonderful week exploring the island Sifnos in preparation for her wedding that will be held there next summer.
Compared to Mikinos and Ios catering to the younger crowd looking to party, Sifnos is a much more laid back island with quiet beaches, lush hills ideal for hiking and luxury hotels and restaurants. Sifnos caters to the foodies and familes…making this the perfect location for Mindee and Peter’s wedding!
Throughout the week we met with the wedding planner, decorator and makeup artist and had many incredible meals along the way.
Sifnos is proud of their island specialties like creamy goat cheese, slow cooked lamb (8 hours in a ceramic pot) and chickpea balls and soup.
Everything on this salad, from the olive oil to the goat cheese, was produced on the island
I’ll share a few pictures and traveling tips for if you ever find yourself in Athens or Sifnos.
We happened to arrive into Athens on the day that protests and riots were taking place. If you pay attention to world news, you might recall Greece’s economic crisis. So, instead of taking the convient bus that runs from the airport to the city center, because rioters were blocking the streets, we took the underground. First bump in our trip, no big deal. We make it to our wonderful hotel, Hermes Hotel where we stayed for one night before making our way to the island. I recommend this hotel if not only for the amazing breakfast and perfect location to the old quarter, Plaka.
Dinner in the Plaka
Up at 6 am thanks to jet lag, we walk up the hill through the winding alleys between ancient stucco homes to the Acropolis
It’s 9 am on our way down the hill from the Acropolis and an old wobbly man on his way home from an early morning grocery run yells and points behind us, “Acropolis, that way!”
“We went!” I replied
We actually would recommend hitting the popular places before the tourists and sun come out
We took the 5 hour ferry to Sifnos and stayed in the port town Kamares for the first night on the island
For those of you who think you don’t like oysters because you’ve only experienced them raw (like I) it’s time you have a BBQed oyster! I’ll admit, it may just be the butter and hot sauce smothered on that make oysters so delicious. But whatever it is, I don’t care, they are amazing! So meaty and fresh, how have I been living life without these little fishy bites of heaven? Ok, that’s a little much, but, shame on whomever thought my first oyster experience should be raw. Shame on you. You’ve ruined me for the past 10 years.
A friend who’s currently living in Switzerland has returned home for a short two week visit and we figured what better reason to squeeze in some fun day trips and things we don’t do nearly enough (like hikes, Tomales Bay, movies, BBQs…)
I spent my last semester of college studying at Rangsit University in Bangkok, Thailand. At the end of my semester I stayed an additional 3 months to continue traveling, exploring and learning all that South East Asia has to offer. (Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and Hong Kong)
From the friendly people, unfamiliar yet alluring culture, peaceful religion, exotic and lush land, delicious food and ancient traditions, Thailand is unlike any other country I’ve been to.
Bangkok: old and new
when you give kids your camera to use…
always ask for permission before snapping a photo
road to the village I stayed at
bedroom at the village
host making lunch, pretty sure there was a baby pig in the soup
Be thankful for dryers. Be thankful for clothes.
my friends purse in our funky taxi truck through the mountains
street food of Bangkok
so sad I didn’t support this
fruit on the beach, I did support this
In a temple
Karen Long Neck Tribe
visiting the hill tribes
Our hut on the beach, $7 a night
My best friend Mei. When people asked how we know each other:
“Mei is from Tokyo I am from SF, we met 3 years ago in Milan.
Mei is now living in Petra, Jordan and I’ve been living here”
great wine, gorgeous scenery, delicious paella and beautiful people
Mac sniffing out the tannins
Mac, my brother since middle school, is living in Southern Baja and has recently started a wine distributing business and has just opened a wine shop
The Man of Guadalupe Valley
Known as “Mexico’s premier artisanal wine-growing region”
“save water, drink wine”
Visiting vineyards and wineries
Tornado rolls through the valley
Mission of San Bruno
Built in 1683, it was the first mission of Baja
Fresh fish tacos and ceviche for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Driving south on highway 1
Next stop? Taco shack on the side of the road please!
oh man, they just keep getting better
Dinner at Mac’s house in Todos Santos
Enjoying the sun shine
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