Thursday, September 12, 2013

My way to say sorry for the year

I am sorry for:

-for not having work
-for not calling people
-for any lies I have told
-I haven't kept in touch with many friends
-I am sorry I can't think of more things to be sorry for

I know there are other aspect in life I need to apologize and I have my personal apologize to give to the people in my life and will do so personally. This is my list for Yom Kippur, this is what I am sorry for.
Tomorrow I begin my fast, I will put aside my love for disney and the urge to go to the openning of the halloween season, I will walk with my nother to shul, I will say my prayers ignore my urge workout, mediate and contemplate.
I ask Hashem to forgive me for many of my actions, to open his book and consider me not as an enemy or someone who has dissappointed but as someone who has worked hard to try to be what he has expected in me.


To all of those who are fasting tomorrow have a safe and quick fast. For those who are asking for forgiveness and saying there prayers I hope you are forgiven and I hope your prayers are answered.

Tomorrow night we ask for redemption and for a new beginning
Till Next Time
Nicoly!


Friday, August 30, 2013

Rosh Hashana 2013



   As you may all know my life is filled with thoughts, contemplations (yes there is a slight difference between the two), memories, and dreams. Soon Rosh Hashana is arriving. In fact, it comes on the eve of September 5th and will be celebrated with going to services, probably at Tifereth Israel Synagogue and dinner with way to many people at my house. I know if you don't know what Rosh Hashana is you probably are all confused with the introduction sentence and the rest of this mediocre paragraph. To be honest like this paragraph I don't even know how to take on this Rosh Hashana other than to explain my what it is and hopefully I will figure out where to go from there.

  The reason I started about contemplation is because Rosh Hashana is all about contemplation. It is about deeply thinking and thoroughly observing what was in the past and what shall be for the year to come. Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, with the literal definition being "head of the year." It is a time when we celebrate the creation of the world and Adam and Eve, and think about how we have lived our lives and pretty much list the reasons why we should ask for forgiveness when yom kippur arrives. In all honesty if you look at the high holidays which actually begins before Rosh Hashana although people believe other wise. Elul is like the Thanksgiving of the Jews (NOT RELIGIOUSLY) it's in the sense the prelude to Rosh Hashana like Thanksgiving is the prelude to Christmas. Elul is the Lunar month before Rosh Hashana, the last month of the year and in all honesty nothing occurs and nothing should occur between the first of Elul and Rosh Hashana. Elul is a month of making lists, thinking, and planning. Rosh Hashana is the time where contemplation and prayer takes place. Elul is the true time you look at everything in your life. For example this past month I have been looking at my life and planning. I have planned to finally face may fears of mine. I have grown closer to my parents already which was my goal in the past, I have finally started the process of joining the U.S. navy which I have wanted to do since sophomore year of high school and I am  beginning to realize that although change is not what I wanted to accomplish spiritually and emotionally it is what has occured in my life.

   I also have been contemplating the future and have been. I realize that I am one stubborn biznatch when it comes to what I see in my future and although I have preeched to myself and others that I am passionate about adoption in the future for myself I have to take into consideration the other people in my life. whether that be a significant other in the future, and especially my parents and family. I don't think people realize how important the thoughts and opinions of a brother, mother and father is to a person. If you haven't noticed although I call myself daddy's little girl I am also my mother's daughter and because of this put her intertwine her thoughts with mine. It's rather aggravating sometimes but what mother doesn't want her own grandchildren. Maybe I don't really have to think about that and Danny or Adam can be a great fathers some day to their biological children. The future for me as I contemplate this month and this coming new year is no longer a blur but puzzle pieces of numerous puzzles scattered together ready to be put together with the proper pieces to fit the image they were made to create.

  Rosh Hashana is about the past but not jsut about the f*** ups, and the regrets, the sadness and the forgiveness but it is also about looking at the good. It is about going back into the past year and thinking about the closeness that has occurred with my parents and my brothers, the success of taking the ASVAB test for the military, spending six amazing months in the Holy land, my second home and loving living life with my family there. It is about celebrating those moments as well. That is why we have Elul before Rosh Hashana. It is a month of listing all of that. Elul is the month where I make two lists. The good and the bad. Some years I will admit the bad out weighs the good but for the most part it has been a landslide with the good beating the bad.


  
To give you a small example of some things on my list, here it is: 
Good
  • getting close with the family
  • maintaining weight and health
  •  6 beautiful months in Israel
  •  Disney park annual pass
  •  Following my dreams
  • Becoming more and more happy with myself
  • An 82 on the ASVAB

Bad
  • leaving Israel
  • Not facing certain fears (just yet).
  • No job
  • There is no CafeNeto in the states


  
 Now on Rosh Hashana or really on the day before you begin to plan for the year to come. You can do that with lists, notes, a book, a journal or even a blog considering that is what I am doing. What’s my plan? Simply put it is to see where the Navy takes me this year. I am first going to enjoy my cousins bar mitzvah. This year my cousin Mikey, Michael becomes a man. To be honest I already thought he was a few years back with how mature he portrays himself but to see him go up to the ark hold the Torah and give himself to g-d as a man, as a soldier ready to do what he should do as a man is going to be so amazing and the fact that he is beginning the year he becomes a man walking to cure diabetes says it all. After his Bar Mitzvah, I get to have another amazing celebration. I also get to spend the beginning of this year celebrating weddings. First a good friend, Danny’s best friend is getting married in South Africa and although sadly I am not going to join him in South Africa I will get to celebrate here with them and I will be there in spirit. There are other weddings I get the privilege of spiritually celebrating but most importantly (when it comes to weddings), soon after my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah I get to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. I have been on the bleacher’s of my cousin’s life for years enjoying watching her be the role model that she is. Going from Jewish Academy to USC to moving to Chicago to further her knowledge in psychology so she can be the psychologist she strives to be and to be close to her now fiancĂ©. I have been there watching her father wake her up for school (which could take hours), I have made fun of her addiction to lemon and chips and I have been pissed when people in her life hurt her. Now I get to be there for one great day. These occasions right here are all I need in the next year.
   I think this is why I have been thinking and contemplating extra hard recently. Imagine all this good occurring in such a short period of time. Not just that but I have begun my own journey by taking the ASVAB and talking to a recruiter as well as place the dream of becoming a dietitian and a mother in my future (not this year though). What more could I ask for on this day?
   Rosh Hashana at the moment in my head is like a book of one of many classes taken at a college. I am reading the book for the class on Rosh Hashana and I ams tuck in understanding. So what should I do? Look at another book for another class called Yom Kippur. The last day of the high holidays (no, Sukkot is not a high holiday but a holiday that follows). It is the day you ask for forgiveness and I talk about forgiveness after planning and as does Hashem for in my opinion one reason and one reason only. You can’t ask for forgiveness, you can’t move on without knowing why you are moving on and why you are asking for forgiveness which is why you have from Rosh Hashana, ten days to think about that before Yom Kippur comes. SO I will leave you with that as my ending so I can celebrate Rosh Hashana and contemplate. I will eat my apples and honey, I will go to synagogue and in time maybe I will be able to share my reasons for saying sorry to Hashem (g-d), the people around me and myself.
 
Till Next Time
Nicoly!



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Health Mex Cuisine

   Mexican food has been a part of my life just as much as Israeli and Jewish cuisine. I grew up with a second mommy who lived up the streets, who grew up in Mexico and who would cook many different delicious foods for me on a regular basis one of those being my favorite brunch dish, Mollettes, a hard bread, split in two the core scooped out to make room for black beans, melted cheese and some salsa. I also live in San Diego where on every corner you have a Mexican or Latin restaurant roaming around. In San Diego if you go out to eat you are pretty much going for the california burrito, taquitos, or some delicious fish tacos. Unfortunately Mexican cuisine has the reputation of being not the healthiest cuisine to choose from and to be honest I have been a firm believer of that.

Recently I was reminded of how wrong I am in my thinking and my view of Mexican food in San Diego. It took two very different restaurants to prove me wrong. First, Casa De Pico, a large Mexican American restaurant in Grossmont center in La Mesa. A great restaurant to go to where you can see them making fresh tortillas the food is deliciously fresh and you have an array of options. Not only can you flip through and see varies styles of Mexican food but the menu also has sections for the vegetarian, those who are axing out gluten from their diet and for those who want to have an overall healthy (lo-cal) meal. Vegetarians can enjoy a tamale, enchilada, some salads and other options. The gluten free menu consists of salads, soups, ceviche, fish tacos and many other options and the healthy menu will include lo-cal fajita options, salads, fish tacos, chicken and black bean tostada and also more options. I have gotten a few different salads there, and it has been difficult because for me I am not only gluten free but have been sugar free (cane and processed sugars) for a long time now. Try asking for a salad dressing with no sugar. It's like your asking the waiter to find the solution that will lead to time travel. They will give you a puzzled look, ask you to repeat the order and then, reply with "Uhhhhhh..... Let me see what we can find." I will admit I have had two different experiences
when it comes to salad dressings at this place. Once the waiter returned with these prepackaged style dressing, you know those ones you get when you buy a pre-made salad at the grocery store. The second time I went a lovely waitress instead of acting puzzled comes out and says we don't really have many options but I can bring out some olive oil and balsamic or some lemons. That is always a win for me so I said yes.

 This last time I went to the restaurant to be honest I wasn't really hungry at all but I decided to explore their healthy menu a bit more. I am a sucker for Fajita style veggies so the fact that they have a vegetarian fajita option got me all jittery and then I saw it. My next possible option, the Mexican stir fry under 500 calories. stir fried veggies and shredded chicken over rice, I know where my next lunch out will possibly be but then again a gluten free fish taco is always a go to for me.

  My second restaurant experience that has reminded me of how wrong I am about one of my favorite cuisines is a restaurant that has been near and dear to my heart for many years. MyGuadalajara is a wonderfully home feeling hole in the wall style Mexican restaurant down the street from my home. If I wasn't eating Mollettes at my second mommy's house I was down the street at MyGuadalajara enjoying a conversation with the owner of the place or sitting with friends at the outside tables enjoying the weather. I would order the same thing almost every single time which was the carne asada plate (a plate of sauteed marinated beef from a flank steak or chuck). This plate would come with a plate full of refried beans with cheese on top, mexican rice, pico de gallo,  sour cream, guacamole, and either two flour tortillas or three corn tortillas. All of this doesn't sound to unhealthy when you just read it except for the fact that everything is
cooked in oil and if you really pay attention to words and you go to the refried beans, allow me to emphasize the RE part of the REfried beans. This means that it is fried extra (very healthy). guacamole can be very healthy and I have mentioned my love for the guacamole, but imagine getting 3-4 servings of a 100 calorie (give or take) per serving guacamole on top of a boat load of fattening sour cream then you get 3 servings of Mexican red rice, and tortilla's that probably are made with lard and have a calorie count of 150-200 calories each. This sounds so great. the only freebie you may get on that plate is the pico de gallo which is tomatoes and onions diced together with a little heat to it. This entire explanation is probably why Mexican cuisine has such a terrible reputation of being unhealthy. I will admit that I have missed this particular dish but to be honest what I have had missed the most is coming into the restaurant and enjoying the atmosphere.

  Last week I caved in, I let go of my horrendous fears and stereotypes and took my best friend down to MyGuadalajara. Ok, I will admit both the fears and stereotypes were still there I just decided to splurge and get what I wanted and not worry about it. Immediately upon arrival I was welcomed back to the restaurant by the owner working the cashier for the day and the cook behind her who has probably worked there since the dawn of it's time. This is a place where you go up to the cashier to order and then you sit and wait for a spectacular plate of food. Before the food comes out you get chips served to you with a house made salsa which is one of my favorite salsa to scarf down. The chips are ok, sub-par in my opinion but everyone is willing to eat them all just to have a big chunk of salsa placed into their mouths and soon after plates filled with colorful Mexican smells, colors and all around great flavors are brought to where we are sitting in a friendly manner. Of course as I opened the menu my eyes went directly to that mouth watering reminiscent plate, the carne asada plate. I choked up a little and started scanning the menu more. To my surprise I saw many options like fish tacos (again) which in this case is actually sauteed instead of battered and fried which adds probably the same (if not more) flavor then fried fish tacos with a lot less calories. I also saw chicken fajitas, grilled chicken with onions, salads, and also said to my self a carne asada plate without all the sides would be a decent option. My mind was set on something with chicken. The salad option they have there I can get with chicken and I can ask them to ax the sour cream and refried beans, grilled chicken and onions sounds just as delicious and fajitas are always tasty. I decided I had to go with the fajitas which also can come with corn or flour tortillas and my preference is usually corn tortillas. I get the order forgetting to ask them light on the oils and all the other requests. Now, here is when it is great to be acquainted with the people working the kitchen.... The plates were brought out as normal, the Fajita plate sizzling hot still cooking the chicken and veggies while my friends fish tacos also arrived. I looked down already remembering that I forgot to ask them to lighten up on the oil and noticed something different about the plate. I took a napkin ready to blot the chicken and did so and something was very different now. I was pleasantly shocked to see there was a minuscule amount of oil. I smiled for a moment and soon after for a split second dreaded tasting it because it might be to dry or even flavorless because that tends to occur a lot. I took the first bite hesitantly, started to chew and slowly gained my smile back. It was flavored and moist yet light. I am not one who knows how many calories that lunch included and I don't care I know it was light definitely lower than 500 calories and it was just as moist, succulent, flavorful and enjoyed as any Mexican dish.

  Walking home I was inspired to right this blog to say these next few lines. You can decide you will be the one cooking a Mexican meal at home and you can also decide to completely ax it from your life because of your fears or some ridiculous reason but eventually you will be like me and just cave in or you can take the next option. Forget about your fears, forget the stereotypes and just go to your favorite restaurant. There is no harm in asking for changes, there is no harm in letting the waiters and waitresses know your story and there is no harm in enjoying even the slightest splurge. You may even be surprised to know that a Mexican splurge or any splurge for that matter isn't really a splurge at all, it's just the way you bring joy in your life and to repeat myself there is no harm in that.

  I know I am going to remember my skills as a restaurant goer, I am going to enjoy the great times I have being surrounded by people who are loving their meals and who are providing that love of food and I am going to love life.

Till Next Time
Nicoly.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shabbat in Israel


Shabbat in Israel is like nothing you have ever seen. You may seem something nclose to it like in Utah where all the shops and restaurants close, everyone is with family and so forth but there is a little more to it. On Saturday in America people still go about there day as though Sunday is nothing and even on Sundays many stores are open in most cities, Even Salt Lake is starting to open it's doors on Sundays. Here in Israel Friday comes around and you know it. Thursday begins the smell of the chunt or anything slow cooked and delicious. It is a smell that changes through out the weekend up until Friday night when stoves and ovens turn off. In one house there is Morrocan style fish being cooked, in another A kibbutz style chunt and the door right next to us has the scent of mixed herbs that were just tossed in a soup. Friday noon time stores begin to close up until about 5 when everything is closed except for a few restaurants and cafes putting away their seats and closing the kitchen. Each place has it's owner lock the doors go to the cars and drive off to their homes where food is being cooked, the dinner table is being set and the family is on their way.


Saturday, Shabbat, the day after a fullfilling dinner (in more ways then one),  is a magical day. I go for a walk on this day usually and it is as if everything is shut down except for the gas station on Moshe Sneh on the way to the movie theater and the movie theater itself. The mall as well is open but it's stores closed. It's as though the dorrs were left open so that those who got bored at home or who have children who need to get moving can enjoy the Shabbat outside of their homes. The movie theater is open so they can enjoy something to do. Maybe the older kids need something to do so a movie is wise, or maybe the family can see a movie together while at the mall, or maybe just the parentals need to watch something more than just Sefer Hajungel, Alladdin or whatever they have up for their kids. There is still the feeling of it being a holy day. As you walk the streets, pray, watch a show or movie there is this feeling of closeness to your religion in some odd way whether or not you are religious or not. As I return from my walk I see the orthodox men returning from shul with there Talit still on, bag with Tefilin and a sedur on hand, some wish you a happy Shabbat and others look down at the ground because I am a female which I have learned to respect actually.

Eventually comes Saturday night. Night comes around, the three stars in the sky are seen and Tel Aviv is propably the first to bring the festivities. It's like a Thursday night on a college campus. the restaurants open first, then some stores, and of course as it becomes late at night the pups and clubs open their doors and just about everyone goes out to enjoy themselves.

Today is Friday, I am at CafeNeto in Ramat Hasharon, one of the last places opened on a Friday. I am watching people enjoy an early dinner as the kitchen begins to slowly clean up and close and at the bar the cakes and cookies in the display glass are being brought back to the kitchen and the coffee machine is about to be cleaned. I feel at home, I feel as though this is how life should be on a Shabbat.

I have one more Shabbat like this after this week. One more till I return to San Diego where Saturday is just another day. The Starbucks on Campus and at the Mall are open as with all the stores, seeing someone walking to and from shul is difficult to see because the closest synagogue is a reform synagogue where most people drive to shul if they go at all. This isn't something I am judging and it's certainly not something I look down upon but imagine a day where you can put everything aside, put work away, you already have food cooked and ready so you don't have to worry about what to cook or where to go to eat, your family is all at home so you can enjoy their company and life for a moment has stopped so you can contemplate spiritually and mentally. On this day you can just be happy.

For myself Shabbat in Israel has been a day where me and Hashem get to hang out. instead of praying to him and for him there is no questions, no begging, no thanking, just the time to say "Hey, what's up over on your side." He may not say much but from Friday afternoon to Saturday night It's just me and him, either on the streets or trails going for a walk, watching a movie, or just resting. Coming back to San Diego, I ask myself what can I bring back with me. It's like being in Real Life Fitness again. I am asked "What new habits are you going to take with you when you go back?" From here I am hopefully going to take my conversations with Hashem.

1 week and 2 days left!

Till Next Time
Nicoly!

Monday, June 17, 2013

goat cheese

   As my vacation here in Israel comes close to its end I contemplate what I will miss here. Of course I do miss the important things like my aunt and uncle, my cousins, and friends and the feel of being close to my religion here in the holy land. The truth is like most people the first thing that popped into my mind was the food. I know it is a horribly ridiculous notion that people especially a young female who has a food addiction would think about the food of Israel before leaving.


  I tell you this because I actually wanted to write a blog about a specific food in Israel that I will probably miss the most. The diet of an average Israeli is similar to the Mediterranean Diet. Israel has it's own rendition of the diet. It's emphasis is on Olive Oil (similar the Greek style diet), local fruits and vegetables like dates, pomegranates, carrots, and chickpeas, tomatoes, and cucumber, and what this blog will mostly be about and that is Israel's amazing cheeses and yogurts, specifically goat dairy. 

   I can remember the first time I ever tried goat dairy. It was here in Israel with Maya from New York about 10 years ago. We came to Ramat Hasharon from Hod Hasharon to visit my aunt and uncle for the weekend and to get away from school for a little bit. It was Friday night dinner; we had just eaten a feast for kings and queens, made of course by my amazing chef of an aunt. We laughed and dined, talked about the school and all the drama going on, I remember talking about the classes like my biology class and our monthly "discotechs" (when the school would put on a dance party for all those living on campus. As I was picking at the main course I was read to explode and then pass out but I knew what was coming next. Next was dessert!!! When I arrived at the apartment my fat a** went straight to the kitchen and noticed the delicious desserts that were left over from my aunts previous adventures in the kitchen and I was so excited for it. I can't explain this dessert other than saying it was this gooey cake like dessert made from pecans and other goodies. I noticed both my aunt and uncle went in to return the main course to the kitchen and bring out dessert. This was a perfectly normal thing considering there was a lot to bring back and a lot to bring out. There was this gooey goodness, an array of fruits and nuts and some chocolates and cookies. My uncle, and I don't know why he decided to do this but he came out with something I was unfamiliar with. It was a plastic bag with a white substance (no it wasn't a powdery white substance to fear). It looked like fresh almost crumbles mozzarella cheese. I was partially right with a small difference. This Mozzarella cheese was actually fresh goat cheese my aunt and uncle went to get at a goat farm up North. 

  
  Do you remember that scene in Ratatouille when Remy takes a bite of the strawberry and loves it, then a bite of the cheese and loves that just as much but then he takes a bite of both together and not only loves it but it is as though there is magic all around him because of this one bite. You see his eyes closed his mouth chewing and the colors of red and yellow dancing around him. That was just about what happened when I ate the goat cheese. My uncle in this calm yet excited tone comes out saying, "you have to try this cheese, you have never eaten cheese like this before." I looked at the bag and see a goat on the front and nearly ran away. I have heard of goat cheeses but I was so in my ways of eating real cows milk cheese. The fact is that when it comes to food my Israeli family can proudly say they are true foodies; so I trust them when they say try it. I slowly put my hand in the bag, grab a little more than a pinch of the cheese and in slow motion place the cheese on my tongue. That was the true magic moment for me. This goat cheese had this amazing sublte saltiness not like regular mozzarella. It was this pureness you felt as though this cheese was truly slaved over. Than you get the textural feeling that feels just like mozzarella with an after texture of this creamy buttery melt in your mouth goodness that you don't get from mozzarella cheese. I was sold! I ate that cheese by the handful. I ate it with the dates, with the nuts and all on it's own till that bag had nothing left. 


   A few months later I was back in the states searching for goat cheese that tasted just like the cheese I ate in Israel. Each time I found a cheese it was to expensive and to salty. Soon there was this new craze of healthy yogurts. First it was Greek yogurt, and later on in life people started realizing that many people had the issue of being lactose intolerant. 

Note: EVERYONE IS LACTOSE INTOLERANT. You start losing lactase, an enzyme found in your intestines that breaks down lactose (dairy sugar) at the age of two. Some people can eat dairy more than others and some use enzymes as supplements before they consume dairy. Yogurt itself has probiotics and enzymes added to it so it is easier to consume and digest, however there are still many who are extremely tolerant and even allergic to dairy. 

People found that it is easier for people to digest goat's dairy over cow's dairy. There are a few reasons for this occurrence. First is because of the size of the fat globules, which are smaller in goat's dairy making it easier to digest. The second reason is for the amount of medium chained triglycerides, which are more abundant in goat's cheese. MCT's are known to speed up your metabolism and lower cholestorol. Number three reason, the reason most people are familiar with is that goat's dairy has less lactose compared to cow's dairy, so the body doesn't need so many enzymes to help break down the sugars of dairy. Now if you are allergic to goat's dairy this last reason is key. Cow's milk is known for the various proteins. Goat's milk as well has many proteins but there is one in particular that is correlated to allergic reactions from dairy products and that is alpha S1 Casein protein which is missing in both goat and human milk. FYI, goat's milk is known as being one of the closest dairy to human dairy. 

Back to the craze of healthy yogurts: I think the craze truly began with the 100 calorie Yoplait’s, then came the Greek yogurt which was known to be healthier because of the lack of chemicals and sugar added to it. Of course if you are like me you would want to add some sort of sweet fruit, honey or stevia. Then as mentioned people realized there was the issue of dairy intolerance and the found that goat's milk was easier to digest and they began coming out with goats yogurt. Like many on the weight loss train I feared the regular goats cheese because of the amount of calories you would find but if you have a cup of low fat goat's yogurt it can only be about 80-120 calories and you can do so many things with it. 

You can make a parfait 
   1 c yogurt 
   3/4 c your favorite granola
   1 c seasonal fruit 
   Stevia (or any natural sweetener) to taste. 

Stir a little sweetener into the yogurt if it doesn't have any yet. Depending on the plating you use go with layers. Take a spoon full or even more of yogurt then a small amount of fruit and then a large pinch of granola and layer I would say about three to four times again it depends on what you are plating in. I always love having my last layer be a drizzle of the granola with a small amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and stevia. 


You can also just eat the yogurt straight up, stuff some mushrooms with some other cheese/onions/etc..
You might even want to make a sauce or dressing out of the yogurt or even use it over some tacos instead of sour cream. There are many options. I like to eat my goat yogurt straight up as is with a little stevia with it. 


Israel's goat cheese is some of the greatest. I have had goat feta, which has been great on salads, goat mozzarella in a caprese, and each morning I wake up with either a goat cream or yogurt with corn flakes fruits or a rice cake.  One of my favorite brands is Gad. They use a balance of technology, natural ingredients and farms to create 100s of different types of cheeses, yogurts and desserts. I love the Yogurt kveeshim (balkanik goat cheese) I will add stevia with it and have some fruit with it or have it with some seasonal squash.

What's really special about the cheese in Israel is something that people have been doing since even before Israel was a nation. Historically before modern day Israel was officially a state, Jews throughout the world known today as Israeli pioneers came to Palestine and created commune like villages called kibbutzim. Each kibbutz produced something different. Some have farms for fruits and vegetables like Kibbutz Tamar in the desert where they produce the most amazing Dekel Noir, Medjoul dates and others along with the most amazing garlic that I had the opportunity of cooking with. There are also small farms not related to any kibbutz. Israel is now officially one of the biggest, if not the biggest start up country in the world and that includes small farms and kibbutzim. Now as a kibbutz new comers who moved in weren’t always welcomed but people who wanted to come in to buy some fresh goat cheese was and that is what makes Israel different than other countries. Yes this is done in the states but really it's not common at all. It is a new thing for a person to go to a farm to buy there groceries but here I can either drive to Kibbutz Hazorea on the foothills of Mount Carmel to get my goat cheese or go to Naot Farms down in the Negev to buy the freshest cheese there is and believe me when I say for a weekend trip 100s of families will go to these farms for a great lunch and a shopping spree of cheeses and that is what makes the dairy of Israel so special.

I have to say I will have goat dairy products, I always have and I have been scarfing down dairy for years. With bread and pasta it is one thing that has been in my families dietary life forever. From my mother waking up with cottage cheese with bran flakes, to my father enjoying a coffee with some flavored cream periodically throughout the day and to me enjoying at a time a traditional cream cheese sandwich and now yogurt with fruit or a Greek salad with feta. What makes me miss the cheeses of Israel already is the freshness the purity and just the strong flavors that each cheese product has. Of course going back home is hard for many other reasons and believe me if I don't get on the plane back it won't be because I miss my yogurt. I will leave with this though: Sometimes concentrating on a materialistic unneeded product is not because of a shallow mind or because that is truly what is important in life but it is because of what that product represents. The cheeses here represent the culture of Israel that I love, the trips to numerous places I have taken with my family and friends here and the great meals I have enjoyed with those people. That is truly why I will miss the dairy. However, there is an extra love for the flavor so if you all want a foodie trip please consider Israel I won't even mind joining you.

Till Next Time
Nicoly! 



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A proud American boy singing his National Anthem

http://samuel-warde.com/2013/06/11-year-old-boy-nails-the-national-anthem-and-the-racists-go-nuts/

This link  will show you a video of an adorable San Antonio native boy singing the American National Anthem.  He wears a suit that is prepresenting the history and what the culture is (or I guess once was according to these biggots) and yes he does look Latin. A normal human being who has grown up to be open to all and not care about what someone looks like wouldn't even notice or care that he looks Latin. They would ask about the clothes this I get but the posts put out about this poor child is ridiculous.

He had a beautiful performance. and in a country where on the statue of liberty, the icon of freedom in America reads:


Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning,
And her name, Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome;
Her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor
That twin cities frame.
"Keep, Ancient Lands, your storied pomp!"
Cries she with silent lips.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

People can't appreciate this boys gift all because of his look. and in fact his look represents the fact that Texas was once Mexico and after we, as a country in the past took Texas from Mexico and made it a State the people kept to their Laten culture. Today the biggots of Texas would like to shove that in their closets with their skeletons and be ashamed of who should represent their state. by writing things like "I bet this kid is an illegal." or "F*** this Mexican singing the National Anthem..."

I understand that there is an issue with the immigration law and there should be some reform but don't bring down an American for looking like all Americans do, Like a person from a different country and don't shame anyone trying to become an American illegally or not.

Till Next Time
Nicoly!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

who should you listen to?

Ok so I am going to talk about what is the most important topic in todays world of nutrition (in my opinion). I am going to write about the rule of what not to eat and what to eat. After countless conversations with people who are vegan, vegatarian, people who are on the Paleo diet, and the Atkin's diet along with people who just want to learn how to eat right the question and answer always is DON'T EAT THIS!?!?!?

Let's look at it from a health nuts percpective, and by health nut I mean someone who in their own sense believes they are educating themselves, eating right and staying healthy in their own way. My vegan and Vegatarian friends for instance who in many cases have a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet when they learn to combine proper foods try to convince me not to eat meat. The negatives of eating meat are there don't get me wrong. For starters due to the acid by products of digesting meat has been correlated to Osteoporosis, Alzheimer's and in the Nurse's Health Study II eating a meal with red meat a day was linked to breast cancer. So scientificly there is some truth to meat being unhealthy. My Paleo friends and Atkin's friends mention cutting grains because our bodies may not beable to digest wheat or grains, these products are high in carbohydrates and calories and because sugar is an addictive cancer causing product. These also can be seen as true statements. I have even heard some people say cutting out fruit from a diet should be done because fruits are high in sugar and low in certain nutrients. To top it off there is a diet specifically telling you what you can eat with what. The combination diet (aka the don't combine diet) is a diet telling you, you can't eat fruit with other foods, proteins with carbs or fats, but you should eat carbs with fats, and protein with your healthy greens, and I guess you can have carbs with lightly startchy veggies.

Let's look at it from a client's perspective. The number one question I have recieved is should I cut out soy from my diet? The negatives of soy are mainly thanks to Monsanto and those who chemically and hormonally alter the products. Soy is such a processed object that in the end all you have left is probably the fat in the soy that has lost all it's nutrients. That is also a arguing factor against the product. Soy is "high" in fat and cholestorol. Another question is about corn, potatoes, and the low nutrient dense carbohydrates. The arguments are different for each product. For instance corn is another product drenched in monsanto hormones and chemicals, Potatoes are low in nutrients and high in starch, peas are high in calories and carbohydrates, pasta also high in calories and carbohydrates. A huge fear of course with many people are oils, nuts, and anything high in fat. I had someone ask me if they should stop eating Salmon and other fish because of the fat content. The cons of eating fish are two main cons. The first con is the obvious which is that in many fish there is a large fat content which can lead to weight gain. The second con is the amount of mercury in fish.

There are so many negatives to eating foods but the truth is that to all these foods I have mentioned but  there are probably also just as many positives to adding these foods into your diet. Adding meat to your diet may prevent a vitamin B-12 deficiency. B-12 is only found in meat and that includes most sources of meat going from lean turkey meat to a delicious rack of lamb. Speaking of lamb did you know the meat and the fat content of lamb is considered one of the highest sources of iron and considered one of the best ways your body can absorb iron.  Grains and startches also have positives to them Grains consists of carbohydrates which is actually also a positive. Sugars that are created in the body coming from carbohydrates are considered the second source of energy after the immediate use of simple sugars that you are hopefully  getting from your fruits. Grains also consists of protien. Quinoa for instance is considered the nearest grain to 100 on the absorbtion scale. Another grain, Amaranth is a great source of Magnesium and Phosphorus. As for fruit if you have a great balance of all types of fruit you can get just nearly every micronutrient. Take one of my favorites, The avocado (yes it is a fruit). A medium avocado can be about 320 calories (give or take) and consist of 975 mg of Potassium. Considering all the salt Americans get in their diet a great amount of potassium is necessary to balance the two out.

I would like to answer the questions asked by friends and clients. 173 grams of a baked potatoe can consist can have about 27% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C. It also consists of Vitamin B6, Tryptophan, Potassium and other nutrients. So having a small baked potatoe every once in a while may actually benefit you. Side tip there are other root vegetables to consider and other types of potatoes that have different vitamins like a sweet potatoe containing beta-carotene or a turnipVitamin K. Mix up the type of root veggies. Here is a great recipe brought to you by foodnetwork.com:

Ingredients
8 to 12 slender carrots, peeled and trimmed
8 to 12 baby turnips, peeled
6 to 8 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise in halves
1 or 2 large parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
1 or 2 medium onions, trimmed, peeled and halved, each 1/2 cut into quarters
1 or 2 large beets, peeled and cut into thick wedges
1 or 2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cut into thick wedges
1 celery root, trimmed and halved, halves cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put all the vegetables and the herb sprigs in a large baking dish. Season well with salt and black pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss them with your hands to coat them evenly.

Put the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve the vegetables from their baking dish or transfer them to a platter to accompany a roasted main course.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wolfgang-puck/roasted-root-vegetable-medley-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Pastas aren't exactly the easiest one to fight for considering the fact that pasta is my addiction but I can fight for it. Pastas are one of the top choices for runners and high fitness athletes for an energy boost like most grains. If you get multti-grain, whole grain, all natural, or other types of pastas made from natural non-white and less refined you can find many nutrients. A big seller today is spelt pasta which is haig in protein mangenese and phosphorus. Did you know that most pastas made by natural grains can consist of 6 grams of protein? Ya pastas and many grains consist of a good source of protein and fiber together. Now corn is known for being minimalistic in nutrients. Let me reassure you that even though it may not have the protein count of peas or other grains it still has some important nutrients, like Vitamin B3, Fiber and Vitamin C. If you get organic there will be a minimal amount of chemicals which will lead to beetter absoption of those nutrients. 
As for the fats in your diet like nuts and oils, please please please learn to add those to your diet. Nuts are a great source of long lasting energy, protein and nutrients. Each nut has it's own unique plus to it. walnuts are high in Omega-3 fats and Manganese to help the heart, cashews have Copper and also Mangenese, and almonds have also Mangenese, along with Vitamin E and Magnesium. Nuts as well contain Vitamins and Proteins and healthy fats. As for oils not only do most of them contain healthy fats and nutrients they are also a great weigh to mostion the skin, hair and body as well as cleanse the body. Make your own trail mix with nuts and grains add a little bit of maple and vanilla and you will have a delicious snack. 
The last food I will talk about is soy because of it's controversal appearance in the world today. Soy used to be considered one of the best if not the best vegetarian source of protein and should still be looked at in that way. Soybeans as I said took the negative route thanks to GMOs (genetically Modified Organisms), which means hormones and chemicals are added to the seed to modify the food so they are larger, last longer or grow in abundance but the truth is that it can cause the plant to lose it's nutrients and is contected to cancer. Today you will find organic and the best way to go is straight to the source. by organic soybeans, also known as Edamame. A cup is 130 calories and a great source of protein and energy. Another reason to have organic Edamame is for the women who have a lack of hormones themselves. Edamame naturally creates estrogene in the body. other choices aside from overly processed tofu is less processed soy products like tempe which can be a good option over meat. 

What does this all mean. Simply put it means what I fight for in the world of diets and nutrition. This means DROP THE DIET RULES!!! learn to listen to your body and eat the foods your body, your taste buds and your culture teaches your body. It's like in Millionairre Matchmaker where one of the guys would meditate before eating. He did this on a date which may be over the top but the whole point was to clear the mind and focus on what he was eating. If you read you mind and stomach telling you, you need meat don't be afraid to go for some chicken, or lean beef. If you feel as though you are in need of some quick sugar grab an apple or a banana and to keep your energy going for a run eat a delicious serving of pasta with a bolognese sauces with shaved almonds on top. and don't forget to grab a small bag of nuts for a snack at work. Now a days you can get those 100 calorie snack pack of nuts which is such a great way not to go overboard with eating nuts cause believe me I know if you have a big batch of nuts you can easily get through them quickly. If you want to be a vegetarian, vegan, or have a diet like the paleo diet or atkins diet or even the south beach diet do so. Putting yourself on a diet, using it as a guide like is a great way to keep control in your diet. It is also your way of keeping healthy and will give you pride in doing so. I do ask you though don't make assumptions that you have the same body as others or the same socie-economic abilities as others. I have a different diet here than I do in the states because here it is easier to go the route of a Meditarranean diet with veggies and oils but my body best source of absorbable proteins comes from meats so I have a serving of chicken, eggs, or red meat. red meat is something I eat about once a week so my iron levels stay balanced although if you want to be vegan or vegatarian kale, spinach and other dark green leafy veggies are decent sources of iron. how about economics in all of this. The truth is it can be more expensive to be on a Meditarranean diet because the protein is in nuts and fishes which can be expensive or being a vegan can be expensive because you rely on nuts tempe and other possibly costly products and some people due to costs see it difficult to buy organic so in that case they go for the typical cheaper grocery store brand. Although in the long run it can be more costly some people just don't have the money right at that time to buy all organic. 


Your diet should be your diet, it should change for what you crave, what is close buy and sold locally if possible and what you can afford. Educate yourself, go see a nutritionist or dietition (like myself) and make your own choices in what you eat and STOP listening to every fad there is. On a regular basis someone comes out with a crazy theory just to get their name out there and to be known. What they do say can be very true but it is only part of the truth.  So again Stop listening to everything and have your own diet plan. My don'ts for your diet: Don't eat chemicals you are unfamiliar and can cause harm and don't stress out about what not to eat and enjoy what you want to eat 

Till Next Time
Nicoly!