IT’S ME AGAIN / RECIPE: GRINGA-ASIAN CUCUMBER, CARROT AND BELL PEPPER SLAW, July, 2015, Brooklyn, NY

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The hardest part about blogging is to continue to keep blogging. Owning my own restaurant, starting a fledgeling Esty business (future post about this soon!), and what I like to think of as, you know, a life, I don’t find much time to write new posts. Also, as the boyfriend always reminds me, I’m lazy. I often spend my one day off a week snuggling with my puppy, watching bad television (in particular USA shows “characters welcome!”), trying to recharge for the coming week. It’s not like I haven’t thought about blogging, I have several to-do lists and notes on future blog posts that I just never crossed off. So it’s time to stop writing about to-dos and just do!

I really like blogging, not just to share but also to document my experiences and interests! My future self loves going back-  remembering the fun times, good food and (what I hope are) pretty pictures. I have a couple of recent trips (New Orleans, Miami) I can’t wait to post about as well as several weddings and adventures (ALASKA) coming up! Future me would totally be missing out if I didn’t write about these experiences and I hope future you guys will like them too!

Much like blogging, the hardest part about eating healthy is to continue to eat healthy. I don’t really want to get too into my health issues in this post, but now that it’s been over 5 months (!) since my surgery, I haven’t been the best at sticking to the Party Girl Plan. Vacations, especially those to food destinations like NOLA, really take a toll on my eating habits (YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE). Moreover, SUMMER, takes a toll on eating habits! All I want is hot dogs, pizza, cheese fries (though I have yet to eat any) and ice cream!  Even with the (more) occasional cheat, I try to keep my regular diet on the healthier side. Lots of juices and non-dairy smoothies, lots of veggies and humanly raised meat. Yes it is somewhat expensive to eat this way, but I put my money where my mouth is, and my tummy and I are happier because of it.

Today I’m sharing a recipe for my go-to healthy slaw! I’ve been eating a lot of grain bowls recently – usually brown rice or quinoa topped with lots of veggies and  a marinated protein. I often make these gringa-Asian inspired, with sriracha roasted broccoli, garlic soy bok choy and edamame. I will make a sesame-miso-ginger dressing to top it all off but in this hot weather, if I’m in the mood for something lighter, this slaw is the perfect condiment. It also makes a great side salad. It’s tangy, crispy and super refreshing. I’ve made it dozens of times and it never fails to please!

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Gringa-Asian Cucumber, Carrot and Bell Pepper Slaw

INGREDIENTS

1 large carrot, julienne (cut into little strips)

1 large cucumber, julienne

1 small to medium bell pepper, I prefer yellow or orange, never green, julienne

1 bunch scallions, finely chopped, whites and greens

1 tbs salt

6 tbs rice vinegar

2 tbs sesame oil

sprinkle of sesame seeds — to your liking!

DIRECTIONS

1. place chopped carrots, cucumbers and pepper into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. mix and let sit for 5 minutes.

2. drizzle with rice vinegar and sesame oil and toss

3. add chopped scallion, mix and refriderate covered for at least a half hour.

4. when ready to serve, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with cilantro (if that’s your thing)

***This recipe makes enough for six grain bowl toppings or two large salads.

***Slaw will keep in the fridge for one to two days, depending on how fresh your veggies are!

Here are some recent photos just for fun!!

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2 MONTHS POST SURGERY – THE PARTY GIRL PLAN / RECIPE: CHOPPED BABY KALE SALAD WITH CHILI CUMIN CHICKEN, April 2015, Brooklyn, NY

It has officially been two months since my surgery! The swelling and intense pain are almost entirely gone – I still have cramps and the occasional bad day if I push my body too hard. My surgeon says the procedure went flawlessly. He removed all the lesions, but, like cancer, endometriosis cannot be cured. Without treatment I’m succeptible to a relapse at any time. Because hormone therapy is the only medical option to stop the disease from coming back I just went through some tough decisions that I’m going to discuss on the blog today.

My surgeon recommended another hormonal IUD. This option involves the least amount of hormones because it is centralized right where the disease occurs. As I briefly discussed in my last endometriosis post – having the previous IUD inserted was the most painful experience of my life, arguably worse than the surgery itself. I was not keen on going through that again. But it was better than the other options. Hormone replacement pills (not birth control pills) would mean three times as many hormones and would almost definitely make me gain weight (way to play my vanity card, Doctor!). Hormone shots or a progesterone implant were too permanent – I couldn’t remove either if my body didn’t react well to the dosage. My surgeon was super gung-ho about the Mirena IUD and explained that my last one was situated low in my uterus and was rubbing against all the endometrial scar tissue that just happened to be clustered in the same place. This was why not only the insertion process but the entire month with the IUD were so incredibly painful. He guaranteed an easier sonogram-assisted insertion this time so he could actually see that it was in the right part of my uterus.  I still wasn’t convinced.

The boyfriend grew up in a homeopathic home – no vaccines, no over-the-counter medicines- and he is one of the healthiest and strongest people I know. When deciding what my next steps should be in this healing process I turned to his parents, specifically his father, Theo, for advice. Theo is a massage therapist, juice enthusiast, reike master, and a genuinely awesome, extremely healthy man. When I was first diagnosed with endometriosis Theo found this homeopathic website forum for women with the disease. There were a handful of cases where women had completely cured themselves of the disease by going on a diet similar to the cancer diet (no meat, no legumes, no sugar, no alcohol, no fun), alongside a juicing, supplement and yoga regiment. While these stories were incredible and inspiring, to be honest, I didn’t know if I could give up one of my greatest loves – FOOD – to cure this disease. Many of the stories were from women with stage-four endometriosis, whose only option after numerous surgeries was a hysterectomy. I’m still in my 20s, I love meat, cheese, pastries and BOOZE. I knew I couldn’t follow a strict enough diet to actually cure my disease.

Then I spoke to a family friend, Halina, who is a gynecological-endocrinologist, i.e. a fertility doctor. I mentioned my interest in a homeopathic remedy. I told her I wanted to find the cause of my disease – stress, diet, lack of sleep, and she chortled. Endometriosis doesn’t have a root cause, she told me, I couldn’t cure it with diet and exercise alone. If I didn’t intervene soon with hormone therapy I ran a high risk of reoccurrence that would lead to more surgery and, even more frightening, a very real possibility of future infertility. My chat with Halina ultimately led to my decision to get another IUD, along with a new diet and lifestyle. My surgeon kept his promise about the second insertion; it wasn’t anywhere near as painful as the first. All I needed was one day off and a couple days in stretchy pants to recover. It’s been five weeks now and I’ve had some pain, (nothing compared to pre surgery cramps) and am hopeful for my future. Now I can focus on my new “diet” and general lifestyle changes!

When I was first trying to decide which healthy lifestyle path to take I looked at two popular diets – Paleo and the Whole 30. My bar manager, Megan, had been Paleo for a month, was feeling amazing and lost 13 lbs (which I didn’t even think she needed to loose). Another girlfriend of mine and one of my blogger crushes, Elsie from A Beautiful Mess, had similar experiences with the Whole 30 diet. Both intrigued me but neither would work for me as a sustainable eating plan. No condiments, dairy, whole grains, or alcohol ever?! I could do that for 30 days but what about the rest of my life? I wasn’t doing this to lose weight, I was doing this to get heathy. I had to find a way to eat well without depriving myself. And so I created my own diet plan pretty much based off  Michael Pollan‘s book In Defense of Food whose motto is  “Eat Food. Mostly Greens. Not Too Much. I’ve cut almost all processed foods from my diet – no flour, nothing from a box, only whole grains, little to no dairy (and mostly goats’ milk products)) and whenever possible organic/antibiotic free/free range. I allow myself organic condiments such as tamari/soy sauce, sesame oil, miso paste, vinegar, raw honey and maple syrup. Over the past two weeks I cut all carbs  (just to see if I could) and it went extremely well – though I found myself missing quinoa and my Ezekial bread avocado toasts. I’ve still been drinking alcohol (almost always in moderation, minus a couple fun nights). I’ve cheated a couple time – at a friend’s engagement party I had a tiny little pig in a blanket or a bite of the boyfriend’s Philly cheese steak – but always small amounts and I have never felt guilty.

What I like about my non-diet diet plan, or if you will, The Party Girl Plan, is that it’s easy, sustainable, and allows me to continue eating foods I love. I don’t feel deprived, hungry and have almost entirely lost my cravings for rich foods and sugar! This coming from a girl who would eat a bowl of pasta and day and at least one package of sour candy in bed every night (with the boyfriend…) I feel healthier, stronger, and so far I’ve lost 10 LBS, plus my bowel movements are incredible! If you’re looking to change your diet, this is a great place to start.

In addition to eating well, I’ve started to move my body more. After lying in bed three months straight it feels so good to take walks and be on my feet. I’m not allowed to lift anything heavy or run yet so I’ve started practicing yoga, which I always thought I hated. BIG THANKS to my girlfriend Karla, who, along with our friend Ashley, runs Sync Studios, a Yoga and Cycling Studio in Williamsburg. Ashley has taken time out of her own busy schedule to do privates with me until I get my strength up. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be confident enough to take classes. And when I’m feeling super strong the boyfriend and I want to do Insanity (we’ll see if that actually happens!).

From now on I’m going to try and share recipes that are Party Girl Plan friendly! Below I’m sharing a recipe for a super filling chopped baby kale salad that has been a staple of mine these past two months. Feel free to switch out the butternut squash for any other type of squash or sweet potatoes – also if pistachios are a little too expensive (I steal them from my parents’ house)(Sorry parents!) pepitas work well too. And one last shout-out before I share; the chicken in the salad is inspired by a fellow Fieldston Alum/food blogger/healthy eater Pheobe Lapine, from Feed Me Pheobe. My good friend Lily turned me on to her blog and it has so many yummy healthy recipes (my favorite is her Carrot-Ginger dressing!) you should definitely check it out.

ALSO special thanks to the boyfriend for taking these fun photos of me and Misses Loretta the dog on his new camera I got him for his birthday. Clearly it was a present for both of us!

Chopped Baby Kale Salad with Chili-Cumin Chicken, Roasted Butternut Squash, Pistachios, Chia and Hemp seeds in a Miso-Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette (What?!)

INGREDIENTS

For the Chicken:

1 chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

tbs coconut oil

For the Salad:

about 2 cups baby kale

1/4 butter nut squash, roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 375° for 30 minutes

2 tbs pistachio nuts

1 tbs hemp seed

1 tbs chia seed

1 tsp really good flaky salt

For the dressing:

1 1/2 tbs melted coconut oil

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 small shallot, minced

1 tsp white miso

1 tsp maple syrup

PREP

1. cover chopped chicken in chili, cumin and salt and let sit for a couple of minutes. Heat pan and cover with coconut oil. Throw in spiced chicken and cook through, about 8 minutes, making sure you flip those little guys to get a nice brown on all sides.

2. while chicken is cooking make dressing, I recommend doing so in a jar, as it emulsifies the ingredients best. throw in shallot, oils, vinegar, miso, and maple syrup. shake vigorously and taste to make sure it’s just sweet enough!

3.to assemble salad- roughly chopped (I know, it’s already baby kale, but things taste better chopped, trust me), top with butternut squash, cooked chicken, pistachios, seeds and salt. drizzle over dressing (it’s rich you don’t need to much) ENJOY!

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LOS ANGELES, October, 2014, Los Angeles, California

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The boyfriend and I went to LA in October. My little sister had just started her Freshman year at USC and the boyfriend has an office in LA so can work there any time. Plus he’d never really been and we have tons of friends to visit there. My mom, stepdad Robert (but we don’t really use terms like “step” and “half” in my family, as I’ve written about in earlier blog posts) and other little sister Sofia also flew out. The boyfriend and I stayed in Silver Lake with our good friend Tyler (you may remember from “My Week With Tyler” post). We saw a lot of friends, went to USC a couple times, including a football game (woah is USC different different than Oberlin)(Also you can’t drink at college football games and all people do is complain about how they can’t drink), I spent some  quality time with the fam and we all ate way too much (I mean, what else are you supposed to do on vacation?!). We even got to borrow our family friend’s JEEP CONVERTIBLE, so I was in full fledged “Clueless” mode (I may or may not have played “Kids in America” every time we got in the car)(and then dressed up as Cher Horowitz two weeks later for Halloween). My parent’s stayed with my Aunt Barbara in Studio CIty and she threw an early birthday BBQ for Robert and I invited all my friends. Studio City is technically the Valley so I had the chance to use the phrase “Looks like we’re going to the Val party”, which I said way too many times.  It was a fun trip and instead of giving you an entire run down here are some things I did/liked:

Mohawk Bend: This “vegan” restaurant was our first stop when we landed, still intoxicated after the plane ride. I say “vegan” because the menu has a plethora of “non-vegan” options, which they clearly mark “NV” (really). We got over the “LA-ness” of the place when we realized they had over 70 California beers on tap and the food was really good. Just try to forget that you’re eating veganaise and no matter what anyone tells you the “Buffalo Colliflower” does not taste like chicken wings.

The Real Inn: Our family friends who loaned us the Jeep recommended this place. By the way their names are Christine and Scott and they are awesome and have a awesome house in Laurel Canyon. Across the street from the beach in Malibu, right off PCH, this place is a fried food paradise. It’s an old school fisherman’s hub right by the Malibu trailer park and a defunct motel. I had chicken fingers because I don’t eat anything that swims, and even though they had a strong taste of fried shrimp, it still rocked. Definitely not the Malibu hot spot you think of but my favorite kind of place.

Lyft: Sure they have these cabs in NYC and Chicago but I really loved using it in LA. Anyone with a (newish) car and drivers license can drive so you meet a whole cast of characters while hitching pretty affordable rides. Plus it’s a great alternative to Uber and there less than ethical practices. (Literally too many links about this to post just one)

Sqirl: Everyone I know is obsessed with this place so I had to try it. Located in Silverlake, it’s a little lunch place that was apparently famous for its jams is constantly packed, serving strong coffee and fresh organic food. I had yummy shac\kshuka but should have ordered more bread. It was good, we tried to go again but the line was too long.

LACMA (LA County Museum of Art): I felt a little silly going to a museum in LA when I never take time to go to the amazing museums all over my own city but the boyfriend and Tyler were working and I felt like being a tourist (plus the Getty was closed). They have a very cool permanent collection of modernist: Picasso, Miro, Warhol, etc… as well as some interesting installations. My favorite was a light installation by James Turrell that made you feel like you were being abducted by aliens.

Waze: This app is the shit. It’s like google maps + twitter. It never lead me wrong and saved the boyfriend and I from countless fights driving around LA. Once again, this app is available all over, but people are super active on it in LA and is super helpful in such a driving heavy city.

Bottega Louie: My baby sister (the USC Freshman) wanted to go here. It was over the top but super delicious. Bonus points for every blogger ever posting photos of their beautiful desserts. Also pink himalayan sea salt shakers on every table. Plus every blogger and there mother LOVES this place.

Native: All week long I was trying to find a dress to wear to my friend’s wedding the following weekend and I stumbled into this place and found the perfect one! Right across the street from the Celebrity Center (Scientology is weird) in Franklin Heights, this little boutique is super cute and has great prices. They also gave the boyfriend and me beers while I tried on dresses.

Korean BBQ: For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the restaurant we went to and neither can Tyler. He says to look up “All you can eat Korean” on Yelp and this will be the top place. We gathered a bunch of boys and my one girlfriend and we ate all that we could plus some. I was beefed over on the plane ride home the next day.

Playa Provisions: It was my last day in the LA and we still hadn’t been to the beach so we decided to go on the way to LAX. Tyler took us to this adorable restaurant in Playa Del Carmen, everything homemade, organic and beautiful. Just across from the beach and 15 minutes away from the airport. It was the perfect goodbye meal.

We also took a little nudey photo shoot with Tyler and I may have posted a photos from it. But don’t worry, it’s super tame.

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