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Monthly Archives: July 2009

Nope, that’s not some typo or weird alien language in my title. It’s me trying to phonetically spell out a very popular Chinese saying – “yeet hay”. Before I go any further, let me backtrack. So this past week I have been experimenting with how my body reacts to nuts and nut butters and dried fruit. I love cashews and almonds and raisins but my problem is, once I start eating them I can’t stop. So I generally try to keep them out of the house but lately I’ve been having so much fun making my own Lara bars and nut-based desserts, that I’ve brought in all these bags of pine nuts and almonds from Trader Joes – yikes! Other than my increased consumption of these delicious foods, I have been eating my normal salads and juicing every morning. Well, last night I developed this painful canker sore in my mouth and today, I have a second one. I have a deep gut feeling that it’s due to me going overboard with the nuts. So now, I am “yeet hay”, which is a saying my mother taught me and it means your body has too much toxicity and “heat” and imbalanced energy. I know it sounds a little nutty (no pun intended) but I really do feel like I have this bad heat energy permeating throughout my body and my mouth – ugh! So what’s the best way to counter this “yeet hay”? With cooling foods like cucumber and celery and light greens. Wish me luck, I can’t stand canker sores! I’m unable to eat much because it’s painful. I think I am going to lay off the nuts for a little bit.

My coworker saw my lunch today and exclaimed, “Ohmigod you’re so funny! That looks like something from a restaurant!” to which I smiled and responded, “Yep. That’s exactly what I want.” OK OK so it’s not exactly restaurant style but it’s close, right? Presentation-wise maybe? Flavor-wise, it was simple but delicious – just another reason why I love raw food. You learn to appreciate the flavors of fresh and seasonal produce so much more that you can do without the oils and the dressings and the sauces. Don’t get me wrong, though, I love dressings and sauces but for me, a salad dressed with some lime juice and sea salt works just as well. So here is my lunch: a bed of mesclun greens with sliced bell pepper, avocado and a couple of Ak-Mak crackers because they are so tasty and provide the perfect “crunch” that I like with my salads. I know the crackers are not raw but frankly, who cares? It’s more important to enjoy your meal than to stick to rules and regulations. I brought this salad plate from home because even though I was at my desk for lunch (as I’m sure many of you are as well), I wanted to have a pleasurable dining experience. Call me dorky if you want πŸ™‚

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As I have slowly entered this blogosphere of raw foodies, vegans, etc etc, I’ve noticed so many of them have had the pleasure of dining at Pure Food & Wine, a popular and beautiful eatery in NYC that makes everything raw. I have the cookbooks from Pure Food & Wine but have never dined there and doubt I’ll be back in NYC anytime soon. Darn! Luckily, my friend just got back from NYC and I asked her to stop at One Lucky Duck Juice Bar and Takeaway, which belongs to Pure Food & Wine and houses many yummy to-go items like raw crackers and sweet treats. Look what she got me! The famous Rosemary Quackers, Cheesey Quackers, Wild Atlantic Dulse, Cacao Powder, Blonde Macaroons, and these adorable heart shaped chocolate chip cookies. Sure, you can order these online but to be honest, I didn’t want to pay the shipping and handling fee (which, in my opinion, is alot!) This is as close as I’ll get to One Lucky Duck and Pure Food & Wine for now…but I’m so grateful to finally have these goodies in my hand πŸ™‚ YAY!

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Me and working out just aren’t the best of friends. I have 100% respect and admiration for those that consistently go to the gym or partake in physical activities. After all, a state of good health can really only be achieved by a balanced mix of eating right and exercising. It’s just that simple. And I know it. The only problem is, I’m not consistent. I’ve done everything from yoga to pilates to cardio kickboxing to actual boxing to hitting the weights to running. You name it, I’ve done it. And I’ve never kept at it. For me, the problem is I’m somewhat of an extremist. It’s all or nothing and this is something about myself I am trying to change. Whenever I started to get into a working out zone, I’d hit the gym or do activities 6 days out of the week. Then I’d get burnt out and scowl at the sight of a treadmill or my running shoes. On and off. On and off. That’s the way it’s been.

Now I’m ready for a change. I’d rather workout and exercise 3 times a week for the rest of my life than overdo it. And it’s all about consistency for me. So I have to keep at it. Now what’s my workout personality you might wonder? Well, I like yoga as long as it’s making me sweat. I’m not really into the calm, peaceful, zen yoga stuff – it’s a little too boring for me and it makes me more stressed because I’m just thinking about other things (but that’s just me and I have mad respect for those that do this type of yoga.) I love pilates – great for the core. I really enjoy kickboxing because it’s intense and a great stress reliever. I don’t like to run. Actually, I HATE running. I also hate crowds, which is why I avoid the gym and over-filled classes. So what does that leave me? You guessed it. A personal trainer. I know, I know. It sounds like such a luxury to have but I found a great guy who charges on the cheap since he has a home gym. And my plan is to see him twice a week, do cardio on my own once a week, and then a yoga/pilates dvd at home another night. It’s an expense that I see as a health investment. So it’s worth it to me. Just like organic and healthy produce is. I had my first session today with Drew, the trainer, and told him “Look, I don’t want bulky muscles. I just want to lean out and firm up.” He’s been great so far. Very soft spoken and nice. And he kind of looks like Tom Brady. Kind of. More of an awkward Tom Brady haha.

I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow since we did all these arm moves and squats. I haven’t worked out in god knows how long and I’m really really out of shape, it’s pretty sad. I have another session on Friday so wish me luck! Gotta stay consistent, Melissa!

Lunch today consisted of green, green, green! A bed of fresh mesclun greens, green bell pepper and a whole sliced avocado mixed in. For my “dressing”, I used a couple squirts of macadamia nut oil (expensive but worth it if you’re looking at the cost per use), some lime juice and celtic sea salt. Healthy, nutritious, light and filling all at the same time. To this, I also added a baked sweet potato, dressed ever so lightly in some goats milk butter and sea salt (didn’t get that picture, sorry!)

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I’m known for taking a zillion pictures whenever I go on a trip. For example, I went to New York a few months ago with my two girlfriends for work and I snapped 720 shots on my Canon. This past weekend, Chris and I drove up to Los Olivos, CA to go wine tasting for a day and night and I came home with 252 pictures waiting to be uploaded. Well, come on. I’m asian! We take lots of pictures! Haha. Just kidding. But I definitely do fit that “asian picture taking person” profile minus all the peace signs and cheesy grins (though I like to do that every now and then to really bug my boyfriend.)

This weekend’s trip was fantastic. Why did we go? Just because. We don’t really follow the rules of the universe and go somewhere romantic just because it’s Valentine’s Day or do something special if it’s someone’s birthday. We like to do things just because. We stayed at the Hotel Corque (highly recommended if you plan on going to Solvang anytime soon because they just remodeled the building and all the rooms are practically brand spanking new!) Saturday consisted of wine tasting at 10am but we were running on empty fuel (except for a morning fruit smoothie I whipped up before the drive) so our wine tasting adventure ended earlier than we had hoped with me passing out for a nap at the hotel. Heat + long drive + lots of wine tasting = tired Melissa. We had nine wineries on our list and we were able to make seven…. not bad, right?

Anyway, I’ll stop talking and let the pictures speak for themselves. I love being so close to wine country – just another beautiful thing about living in California I suppose πŸ™‚

I felt like I was in a Steinbeck novel.

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Here’s the hotel – Hotel Corque. Go there!

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The entrance to Rancho Sisquoc Winery, which I highly recommend. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere so don’t freak out if you think you’re driving into no-man’s land…

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The famous Foxen Winery – I’m sure you’ve seen their wines if you’re a wino. Great stuff but we weren’t ready to shell out $50/bottle quite yet so we did their tasting and exchanged a few chuckles with the friendly wine man behind the bar. Oh, did I mention you get to keep most of the glasses from the wine tasting? Not bad if you don’t have wine glasses to begin with.

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It’s hard to get lost around here. Follow the signs.

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Me being coy at Fess Parker. We didn’t do the wine tasting there since it was so freakin’ crowded with those giant tour groups but we had to make a potty stop so…thanks, Fess Parker!

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Firestone Winery, home to Andrew Firestone & Co. (aka the Bachelor). This was about where the room started to spin for me. I’m not proud of it and I definitely learned my lesson: EAT BEFORE YOU DRINK!

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Fast forward to dinner at The Ballard Inn, which was SOOOO romantic and cozy with excellent service and a beautiful setting. We dined out on the porch of the inn and feasted on all things non-raw and non-vegan, ha! And you know what? I loved every single bite of it. I’m human πŸ˜€

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We split the seafood tomato bisque that was creamy, dreamy and yummy in my tummy! It was topped with a swirl of creme fraiche, slow roasted tomatoes and herbs.

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My entree was a shrimp mousse-crusted sea bass on a bed of creamy garlicky risotto with a side of sauteed broccolini.

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Chris ordered the scallops that came with a side of greens and sliced apple and a Thai style sauce.

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The next morning before we left, we hit downtown Solvang (all three streets) and had breakfast at some Belgian cafe. I ordered the Belgian waffle because, duh, they are SO good and Chris got Crepes Benedict (way way too rich and heavy for me but it was nice to look at.) We strolled around the streets then decided to take off for some more wineries before driving back to LA.

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Here’s me infront of the vineyard at Kalyra Winery, another place I’d recommend. Also, scenes from Sideways the movie was shot there.

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We were blown away by the winery atΒ Melville. GORGEOUS property.

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Babcock Winery was right next door. Literally. So we cruised on over and finished our last wine tasting there – NINE OF THEM! Thank god we split all the tastings on Sunday.

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Who’s that goofy looking couple?

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So here’s the rundown on the wineries, if you’re ever in the area and need suggestions. These were actually recommendations from our friends who love wine but to be honest, none of them really appealed to us in a super fabulous way. I hate to admit it (and maybe because I’m such an amateur at wine) but I far more enjoyed the bottles of Chianti and Kim Crawford whites we got from Trader Joes and Beverage Warehouse.

Rancho Sisquoc: beautiful setting for a fun picnic. If you’re going here, be SURE to buy food before you drive because this place doesn’t sell snacks or food (such a shame, too, since they have great picnic seating) and we didn’t see a grocery store in sight. The wines were pretty good. We bought two bottles of their Riesling but then again, I’m a sucker for Riesling anything. They also carried a good Merlot, if you’re into reds.

Foxen Winery: the wines were good but not good enough to make us go ga-ga for the $50 bottles. The bar man was friendly and easygoing. Didn’t like the fact that their “bathrooms” were porta potties (gross!) and their indoor tasting room was fairly small. We had to squeeze our way into the bar in the outdoor tasting area. But it has a very pretty view in the back area and a cool little tiki bar setup.

Curtis Winery: this came so highly recommended by our friends but, wow, what a disappointment. Their wines were so-so but the service was AWFUL. I repeat, the service was AWFUL. We kept waiting and waiting and waiting and the girl forgot about us at one point…or was she just ignoring us? Either way, I didn’t have a good experience here. Hopefully, the next will be better if we decide to go back.

Firestone Winery: HUGE. Lots of people. But attentive service and friendly staff. As for the wines…um, this is when things started to get fuzzy for me. Don’t quite remember but I was having a good time.

Kalyra Winery: Very friendly staff and cool ambience – tropical, island-like. Wine was good. If you enjoy dessert wines, you’ll like this place. We tasted an orange Riesling that made us both gag from the sugar content. Yes, there is such a thing as too sweet!

Melville Winery: The property was amazing and well-kept. Beautiful beautiful. The lady behind the bar was super nice and knowledgeable. Wines were good but again, not good enough for us to buy.

Babcock Winery: Sat on a mini hill. Very pretty but the staff wasn’t quite so friendly. Wines were just mediocre to me. The plus was that you got nine different tasting instead of the average five.

If there is one thing (of many things) that brings a grin to my face, it’s when when I know I’ve done something to influence someone. Take my sister, for instance πŸ™‚ I don’t know if she was already taking pictures of her food before she became a frequent contributing editor to Pastries & Bacon, but it makes me smile how she delightfully arranges her meals now just to capture a shot for me. I present to you her dinner from this evening: broiled salmon, Japanese rice with toasted sesame seeds and steamed veggies. Love how that rice got molded into a little cylinder shape, sis – thanks so much again!

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