Just in case you missed it, I’ve moved! I can now be found at
See you there!
Hiiiii all my amazing blog friends! I know I’ve been MIA for almost a month now but I have missed you all terribly! I took an accidental-on-purpose blogging hiatus for a really good reason, I promise!
You see, when I started this blog, I was, suffice to say, a mess. I was deep in the throes of one of my darkest patches of depression. When I read some of my earliest posts, I see how lost and confused I felt, just six months ago. I had no clear direction in life, no sense of self or purpose. And my goodness I was fucked up. I’ve struggled with depression most of my life, clear back to elementary school, where I was bullied for my appearance and therefore obviously attributed how bad I felt to how I was treated by the people around me. In junior high school, I clearly recall exhibiting suicidal behavior, which interests me to this day because the one thing I’ve never had is the compulsion to actually die, but rather this intense desire to be someone other than who I am, someone happier and more adjusted. I never thought there was anything I was capable of doing to change myself, and for many reasons, therapy was an unacceptable option for me (although I fully support it if it works for you!), and I spent a lot of time hoping it would just “go away.”
At the worst of it, there were days at a time I would just lay in bed, doing nothing. The things I used to love – reading, music, food, my friends – didn’t interest me anymore. Social situations made me extraordinarily anxious, my schoolwork slipped dramatically, and I cut off nearly everyone in my life because it just seemed easier. I’ve dipped in and out of this anti-social behavior for years now, and finally I got fed up with it.
I’ve been a blog reader for a while now. When I became exposed to the world of raw foodism (through blogs like Green and Crunchy, Kristen’s Raw, and Choosing Raw), I was particularly struck by the direct connection between the food you eat and the way your body responds. I’d never been taught very much about nutrients or a balanced diet. At the age of twelve I decided I wanted to be a vegetarian, but I had very little support at home, especially when my stepfather began the Atkin’s Diet, which meant that basically he and I would eat completely opposite meals, and when it came to preparing food for the family, obviously my mother cooked for the person who made the money, not for the temperamental teenager, so I tended to fend for myself. I never ate breakfast, I was a carbzilla and inhaled sugar, breads, cereals, and pasta like it was going out of style without ever touching a vegetable. For many years, this worked out well, because I had a fast metabolism, and I stayed quite thin. But in college, like most of the rest of the world, I started to gain weight, especially when I lived on my own, because I absolutely did not eat right. Most days were a plethora of chocolate, cheese, and cereal, until I realized how horrible these things made me feel. I decided that there HAD to be a connection between what I ate and how depressed, lethargic, unmotivated, and tired I was all the time, and I decided to change that, using this blog.
For those of you who have been with me, you’ve actually witnessed the beginning of my healthy changes. I started eating breakfast, because of this blog. I started eating salads, because of this blog. I feel better, because of this blog. Because of all of you who have read my blog and supported me. Because before, I felt like I had no one to talk to and nowhere to let all these things out. To be honest, it wasn’t until I started writing here and getting feedback from others that I realized I had a problem that could actually be fixed. And truthfully, that’s why I took a blogging hiatus. I needed to know that these healthy habits I’d been building were real, not just fodder for me to write so I can hear myself talk.
And guess what? These changes are real. I feel happier and healthier and more motivated every single day. I’ve decided that in the fall, I will return to school to begin a new course of study: I am going to pursue my Master’s degree in nutrition. I hope to complete my Pilates certification over the summer so I can be teaching by the time I begin my nutrition studies in the fall. I feel like I have direction. Every time I tell my friends what I’m planning to do, they all exclaim, “That’s perfect! That’s so you!” I didn’t even know it, but now it feels so right I can’t possibly look back.
And with that, I’m happy to announce… I’m moving! Blogs, that is. I’m starting afresh, reclaiming my real name, Ilana, and relocating to a place that is happier and healthier and ready to go.
So, I hope you all follow me over to my brand new blog, Happy Healthy Hottie! Because, I’m hot, healthy, and happy, and getting moreso every single day, and want to connect with other happy healthy hotties like yourselves!
Thank you all so much for all your support and your friendship. I’m honored and privileged to know all of you, and I hope our relationships continue to flourish and grow.
(And those of you who have been so kind as to add me to your blog roll or your feed readers, please update your links so you can stay updated with me!!)
Guys, do you know about Tom’s Shoes? I’m sure by now you’ve heard of this amazing company. If you haven’t, go check out their website and read up on their mission, because they can tell you about themselves so much better than I ever will. When I first heard of Tom’s, I was in shock and awe, because never before has a business managed to so eloquently combine things I am passionate about into one brilliant product. Hello. Shoes made and sold through a sustainable business model with the intention of donating shoes to underprivileged children in developing countries.
I traveled to Nicaragua in January 2009 with fourteen of my peers to volunteer and aid in the construction of a pre-school in a rural community. I had some beautiful experiences there, but the crushing reality of the conditions under which these communities live has stuck with me as well. During our short stay, we would walk from the schoolyard, where we were living, to a family home in a community who cooked for us. Our walk took us fifteen minutes over a hilly and rocky path, and at night we would need to use flashlights for fear of hurting ourselves. That house was relatively close to the school, many children have to walk nearly an hour or more to make it to school. The community I stayed with falls under the label of “poverty” but not “dire poverty,” according to the World Bank method of rating poverty and inequality based on income and consumption. The wealthier families in the communities had a daily income of about $2 per day, and most of the children had at least one pair of shoes. I have not been to Africa or other direly impoverished communities in the Eastern Hemisphere, but I can imagine the necessity for shoes in these rural areas and fully support the Tom’s mission to place a pair of shoes on the feet of every child.
SO, of course, I have a pair of my very own. I love them quite a bit.
And here I am rocking these babies on a hike in Thailand. Yes, I went to Asia and I didn’t bring a proper pair of sneakers.
They’re amazing shoes because they are comfortable, light, easy to wear, and travel exceptionally well. I don’t wear them as much as I should. I love them. They also make great gifts! I bought a pair of brown corduroy Tom’s for my dad on Father’s Day last year, and he LOVED them! I get my shoe love from my father.
Also, yesterday was “One Day Without Shoes,” a call to action from Tom’s encouraging people to go barefoot to raise awareness of the necessity for shoes. I am a commuter in dirty dirty New York but I managed to get in some barefoot time on the quad…
Yep, Tom’s Shoes owns my heart.
You know what else owns my heart? Salad. Yep. I said it. I know, I used to hate salads but now I like – even love – them. Today’s was AWESOME.
A bed of shredded lettuce, cabbage, and carrots topped with steamed broccoli, string beans, enoki mushrooms, and marinated olives, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper.
All part of a bangin’ lunch, ginger tea and an apple rounding it out. I was cold and I wanted something warm so basically I said, “What can I throw into a steamer basket?”
First I did the broccoli, then tossed the beans in, then the enokis at the end for a quick steam. Bangin’ indeed.
Shabbat is coming in soon and I have a messy kitchen to take care of right now, so I’m off, but before you go please tell me: What is your favorite pair of shoes? You know you have a pair. I have a hundred (ish…okay fifty plus) pairs of shoes, and my favorite pair is…a pair of Havianas flip flops that traveled all over Thailand with me. They endured beautifully and I still wear them all the time. I’m the type to wear a pair of flops until they have holes straight through the bottom, and these are no exception. What are yours?
Yes, yes, I suck at blogging. Why, I’ve even gone so far as to award myself the Worst Blogger of the Month award. Look, I’m such a terrible blogger that I couldn’t even be bothered to make myself an award for it.
Na, but on the real side yo, I’ve been meaning to post about Passover, and then every day since then has been gloriously beautiful to the point that I have not wanted to come inside and sit down in front of a computer (I know, that nice), and then the idea of actually writing my Passover post, when I have so many pictures and ideas to sort through…Well, let’s just say…I’ll get to it, maybe. But I wanted to blogggggggggg. And I had a pretty foodie-full day so I thought I’d hit ya’ll up with some food visuals. You know, because this is a food blog.
Ssssoooooo… Lately I’ve been taking my bike out for an early morning spin, and it’s been a really great way to kick off my day. This morning when I woke to do my biking, I was thwarted by my market-loving stepdad (parentals spent the night) who wanted to hit up one of the Asian grocery stores around. Because obviously if it’s Asian it’s superior. But seriously…
After a quick French pressed cup of coffee, we were outie.
Well, off to the market.
Nothin like a quick stop in Asia before breakfast.
I have about a million and two pics from the market (and everyone was staring at me like what the fuck is this crazy chick doing snapping pictures on her BlackBerry in a supermarket at 8am) so I’ve had to be selective in my presentation.
I’m allowed to just let the pictures speak for themselves, right? One more tally on the “Worst Blogger” scorecard..
Like I said, this doesn’t do it justice. Aisles upon aisles of produce… Listen, ya’ll can have your Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and whatever else, I shop at local supermarkets (not national chains) and find amazing produce. Yahello. I came out with baby bok choy, green beans, spinach, broccoli, oranges, bananas, kiwi, papaya, grapes, various shrooms, um, some other stuff? and this…
Palm sugar? AKA, sugar crack? AKA, I’ve been dreaming of this stuff ever since I left Thailand? And now it is sitting so innocently in my cupboard. Honestly I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do with this but I got so excited to see it I grabbed it off the shelf and for under $2 it was mine. Aha.
After el mercado (I forgot how you say it in Thai…I forgot if I ever knew how), we came home for breakfast and then it was time for me to be on my way to school. Breakfast:
Overnight oats. Combo: Oats, banana, Better’n PB (no it isn’t), strawberries, cocoa powder, flax, seeds and nuts, raisins, a lot of cinnamon. So good. I’m just mixing EVERYTHING I want in my oats into my oats the night before, sticking it in the fridge overnight, and we’re a go. It’s the quickest thing ever, takes five seconds. And…so good. With grapes and coffee. Surprised? Nope, me either.
It was such a gorgeous day out! These are the days I can’t help but wander lazily around my quad or just set myself down under a tree and gaze around at the beauty of my campus. I really mean it. I love my school so much – neva gonna leave. Grad school, Queens College, whattup. See you in the fall.
Snd our clocktower….love the clock tower.
So my friends and I lazed about on the quad for a bit after classes and bitched about life and boys and getting older and whatever other things twenty-somethings have to bitch about, and then I walked home. I think my school is about a mile and a half (a little more, walking) from my house. I’ve done the walk before on several occasions, and they are always strangely blissful and serene. Today, no exception. Got home quite ready for a spring-inspired lunch.
Salad, orange, tea. My goodness I am predictable.
Really good salad though. Shredded lettuce, cabbage, carrots, topped with cuke, carrots, tomato, enoki mushrooms (new fave), grilled asparagus. The usual tehina-and-____ dressing is tehina mixed with Trader Joe’s Roasted Pepper and Eggplant dip. This is a winner.
In addition to my nice walk home, I went for a bike ride around the hood during sunset. I love taking it out for a quick spin, maybe three miles or so. It really gets me out of my head and out of my space for a while and it’s a refreshing break, or a really amazing meditative way to start the day. I’m about to become one of those urban bike people. I know it. Also, I put Glee on my BlackBerry to entertain me (yeah, my iPod has been laying neglected and uncharged in my purse for about three months now, my BBerry has Pandora and a shitload of Gaga MP3′s, what do I need my iPod for), and it was vaguely epic. Just vaguely. ”Don’t Stop Believin’” is a scary good bike riding song.
Then I rolled home forrrrr…dinner! What I’m discovering about myself as I continue on this little food journey of mine is that I am an uncomplicated person in most aspects of my life – clothes and hair, schoolwork, relationships, whatever, I don’t like to have to fuss with things. I like to just let things be and usually I am rewarded with beautiful results. Well, apparently my life philosophy and my food philosophy are one in the same. Uncomplicated. Now, I love all those recipes with a hundred steps and a thousand things to do and assemble and pieces and flavors and all that, and I even love to do them, but not all the time. Usually, it’s a matter of throwing a bunch of fresh vegetables on a plate and letting them speak for themselves. I’m not even one for complicated plating, although I for sure appreciate the beauty at a restaurant.
Well now after all that chatter about uncomplication, let me show you my amazing dinner that I was literally stoked to eat. I actually texted people to tell them how excited I was to eat this.
Does it get any simpler? Fresh grapes, a carrot, asparagus grilled with a touch of olive oil atop fresh spinach, steamed broccoli rabe, and mashed yam with cinnamon. A wedge of lemon squeezed over the entire plate made everything pop. This dinner made me the HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD. Then I turned on Top Chef and sat there proudly eating my fresh dinner while watching James Beard award nominees battle it out for the title of whatever.
I had this red-bean filled sesame bun for dessert.
Now I’m about to Skype with the boyfriend and go to bed. I got tired towards the end of this post. I’m lame. Worst blogger ever!
So tell me…if you had to give yourself an award. what would it be? What are you GREAT at? I want to knowwww!!
Miss you guys, truly. I *will* catch up on the thousand-plus entries that have piled up in my Google Reader over my past two weeks. You are all beautiful people – all of your comments truly warm my heart and I am so lucky I was able to share with you all even just these little pieces of our lives. Your comments on my post about my stepfather yesterday were really really needed and appreciated. Thank you thank you thank you.
With that, I’m off. Later later.
PS- look how freaking cute my kitty is.
Wow. Talk about being sucked into the vortex. Hi everyone, I’m still here, and thriving. I’ve been so busy! Tomorrow I will recap my Passover and my spring break (not much to recap, honestly, mostly just me in my backyard reading Harry Potter).
In Judaism, one of the highest forms of mitzvah, a colloquial term referring to an act of human kindness as well as a religious term referring to the 613 commandments given by God to be fulfilled by a Jew in their lifetime, is to honor the dead.
Five years ago on the last night of Passover, I was getting ready to go back to school for the last leg of my senior year of high school. I was probably catching up on some procrastinated reading, or else on the phone with my (now ex-) boyfriend. The latter is more likely.
I won’t go into details here about the sound of my mother’s voice shrieking for the phone, the sight of my powerful stepfather collapsed on the bedroom floor, or the panic in my chest when I heard the EMT radio in, “48 year old male, severe cardiac arrest, several attempts to revive, still unresponsive…“
I just know I switched off. I went numb. My stepfather, a popular local rabbi, young and “in” with the kids, one of the smartest men I ever knew, could not be…unresponsive. He and my mother still had a long life ahead of them to share together. This was a bad nightmare, had to be.
It wasn’t. The longest night of my life, watching my mother sobbing on my bedroom floor.
I called my best friend to tell him what happened. Shocked, he said, “I didn’t even know your stepdad was sick.”
“He wasn’t,” I replied.
But he was. He had to have been. A healthy man does not spontaneously go into cardiac arrest for no reason. And healthy my stepfather was not. Smart, brave, wise, spiritual, open, honest, giving, he was, but “healthy” was never an adjective one could attribute to that man. Obese, morbidly so, addicted to cigarettes and Diet Coke, the man refused to go to the doctor, and could not for the life of him seem to correct his eating habits. Two years prior to his death, he had seen great success on the Atkin’s diet, but for anyone who has tried Atkin’s, you might know it isn’t a successful lifestyle, it’s truly extreme. And an extreme diet of high protein and fat undertaken by an obese man with self-induced heart troubles is a recipe for disaster.
I know this now, honestly do. And I learned so many things from my stepfather, but one of the greatest things I learned is that if you are not responsible for your own health, you will pay for it. There is no magical solution, but a life-long dedication to a healthy lifestyle is a formula for success and happiness.
I think of him often when I consider many aspects of my future. Religiously, socially, educationally, he makes his presence known in the back of my mind (sometimes in the front) while I make decisions. He taught me about leadership, about acceptance, about charity. I always have spare change in my pocket just in case somebody needs something, which I learned from him and always consider it a tribute to his memory.
Today, on his fifth yahrzeit, the Jewish anniversary of his death, I honor his memory with my commitment towards a healthy lifestyle and a commitment to helping others around me become healthier in their lives for longevity and happiness.
I hope you all have a beautiful day. Wherever you are right now, take a moment to breathe deeply and open your body and your mind to clarity, accepting the wisdom the universe has to offer to you now.
Hi my lovelies! I have been basically commanded by my biffle to update my blog because he’s bored and has nothing better to do on the internet, so I’m indulging him. And also, I missed you guys.
I have an announcement to make: I am officially out of the Blog Closet. Because, you know, that’s a thing that exists…
Apparently, I have a creeper stalker named my boyfriend, who somehow “stumbled” across my blog.
Some of you may remember me agonizing over how and when and if I should tell him, and the rest of the people in my life. Well, he sidestepped my anxiety by finding it on his own, and though he thinks it’s “awesome,” he’s slightly jealous I’ve never cooked any of my “vegan specialties” (what vegan specialties?) for him (on a side note, he told me now he understands I have a running narrative going on in my head on a near-constant basis). That’s a major weight off my back, because although I’m not blogging anything secret or anything I don’t want people to know about, the whole, “So by the way, I have a blog,” conversation was one I wasn’t sure how to start.
Then today I came out to my family. My mother is concerned I don’t eat at all – of course I don’t live with her and she’s really just projecting based on the fact that at my age she suffered from an eating disorder – so I pulled out my cell phone and started flipping through pictures of my past several meals. Really helpful, no? She was impressed and asked if I have a website where I post my pictures, so I said, “Actually I do have an online food journal where I post my regular meals and kitchen adventures.”
So there you have it. I am out. The end.
And since this is now a “food blog,” here’s some food (today was hectic I forgot to photog everything).
Breakfast – using up the last of my leftover oats before Passover!
Awesome overloaded oatmeal – steel cut oats, 1/2 a banana, peanut butter, chocolate almond butter, raisins, raspberries, blueberries, cinnamon, cocoa powder.
There is a very high likelihood that I have eaten chocolate for breakfast every day this week. Oh oatmeal, I’m going to miss you over Passover. Quinoa for breakfast?
This salad also got scarfed down at some point – I timed my meals and shopping very well this week, using up the last of my produce and cooked leftovers tonight.
Insalata de ceci, spinaci, carota, avocado, i salsa condimento. Ok, I lied, I don’t know that many words in Italian. I just like the way Mario Batali says “ceci bean” on Iron Chef.
I also prepped breakfast for tomorrow that I remembered to photodocument. Basically I’m in the predicament of “there’s no food in the house and we’re leaving at the asscrack of dawn for lands unknown (aka New Jersey).”
After breakfast today, I still had these leftover oats.
Not wanting to toss them, I figured I could try to do a fake overnight oats preparation using precooked steel cut oats. I had all the makings right in the fridge, non-Kosher for Passover leftovers waiting to be used up.
1/2 banana, chocolate almond butter, oats. Unpictured, almond milk.
My basic “overnight oats method” (which sounds so much more official than what it actually is) includes me mashing up a banana with nut butter, then combining the oats, banana-nut butter mixture, and almond milk in a container.
I’m probably a weirdo but mashing up bananas by hand is one of my favorite kitchen activities. It’s up there with kneading dough – it’s a major release and gets out all my stress and frustration.
So then you combine the butter and banana like so
Honestly this can be eaten straight, as is. Banana-chocolate-almond butter. No complaints.
But I digress.
Add the oats to the chocolate mixture (I also added cinnamon), stir to combine, and into the fridge to sit overnight. I will return tomorrow with an update as to how this worked.
Since I’ve slept 4 hours in the past 48, I’m pretty exhausted. I’m gonna go for now but before I do, please tell me-
What is your favorite holiday? And why is it your favorite holiday?
Since I’m Jewish I’m woefully bereft of in-depth knowledge about the holiday traditions of other religions, so please share with me some of yours!
My favorite holiday is the Jewish holiday of Purim. We dress up, give gifts of food and drink and most importantly, are spiritually commanded to get as intoxicated as need be until you can no longer tell your best friend from your enemy. I’ll take it. Also, I am named after the heroine of that particular tale, Esther, and it’s a story I have always personally identified with.
PS- In honor of Lady Gaga’s birthday and my lack of shame and self regard…