When I was in sixth, grade I met Jamila. She was exotic to me. Tall and beautiful. She fascinated me. She used to put on my bottom eyeliner in the bathroom at school because I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up yet. She also taught me how to wash it off. That was something we shared. A strict and sheltered upbringing.
She instantly became my best friend. The coolest thing about being kids are that you aren’t filled with prejudgements yet, or maybe it was another time. Yes, it definitely was another time, because I knew she was Muslim. We talked about it. I had never been brought up with a set religion. My dad was a Protestant, my mom was Presbyterian, but we never belonged to a church. I was never baptized. So hearing about her religion was nothing stranger than anything I had heard in any mangled teaching of every other religion I heard of through my friends. Religion was not practiced or discussed much in my household. So I never thought twice about what she or her family believed. I liked her because she was really nice to me and we had a lot of fun together. We had this thing, that was a part of her culture that if you stepped on the back of your friend’s heel you had to immediately turn around and shake hands. Like some sort of superstition that something bad would happen between the the two of us if we didn’t shake hands after a shoe shiner! I mean my father never would let us have a black cat… So superstition or not, we never tested it. We shook hands every time. What I would have done to get though middle school without her I don’t know.
We were sophomores when 9/11 happened. I didn’t know the day it was happening just how much it would change her life. I didn’t really start thinking about it until recently. How hard her life must have been after that day as an American Muslim
Where would I be had I not had that friendship?
What kind of judgements would I have rushed to like so many fellow Americans.
Jamila to me represents the Islamic Religion. She is a Muslim American and she Jamila represents a piece of me. I am a better person because of her. Bad people are bad people and Good people are good people. It doesn’t matter your religion. It doesn’t matter your race. It doesn’t matter where you come from. Do good on others, and don’t judge. Or else you might just miss out on finding your best friend.
It doesn’t take much to keep me happy these days… I’m learning to let go of pieces of me. I suppose like a lizard sheds its skin. I’ve grown so much over the years. It’s hard to let go, but it’s hard to carry such a weight of the world. I’m going to let others shine the way I got to. It’s hard for me to fathom the way we are always changing. We are always evolving. We are always getting older. I like to watch food grow. It’s so predictable. So easy to control. Life happens as long as there’s something to live for. Lucky for me, these plants can’t water themselves. Not quite yet.
I’m at a place in my life where I just need to sit and reflect. I don’t need to evaluate my decisions or over analyze my experiences. I have to remind myself everything had to happen the way it did it get to where I am today. I finally get to be. I get to be me.
So I haven’t updated since October. I apologize to anyone left in the dark, but the most amazing thing happened. I was once told a saying that “luck” is when “preparation meets opportunity”. My entire life I was preparing for an opportunity that came around the time I stopped updating.
One of the first restaurants I visited when I began my journey into raw foods opened a second location in Los Angeles. I jumped at the chance to apply for a position and took an even bigger chance by applying to work in the kitchen. I have a degree in Journalism, but no experience with culinary school. Everything I ever learned was from the web. So, I used what I had, my self published raw recipe book, and my dedication to learn everything I can about the culinary world of raw vegan food. So they took me in. After one night of washing dishes, my next duty was to separate micro greens.
Have you ever had that feeling of complete peace in you work? Even though I was standing there at the sink washing a separating micro greens, I was so happy. Like this is it. I’m about to learn from a master. Third night in, they put me on the line, and that’s where I’ve been ever since. Living, learning, and making food for some amazing people!
Au Lac– Home of Chef Ito. He’s been on a vow of silence for over 10 years. He’s taught me the difference between “purist” and “raw foodist”. He’s also taught me to break the stereotypes and categories many feel we have to label ourselves with. I never really understood the term “humanese” which I was introduced that first visit many years ago, until I entered his kitchen and when asked his ethnicity he answered he was “Humanese”. Owner Mai, has created the most amazing Plant-based Vietnamese Fusion restaurant and I am both honored and excited to be part of such an amazing place. I’m both learning and growing as a chef and I think you will see a major shift in my flavors and creativity all inspired by my new home and sanctuary that is Au Lac. Please come visit me if you ever find yourself in DTLA. Whether you are vegan or not, you will find yourself completely satisfied and impressed by our menu with both raw and cooked options: ) Plus, all the staff is amazing.
710 West 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
11AM – 11PM
So that’s it. No more excuses. I shall be updating a lot more consistently and stay tuned for more info on my live streaming cooking show on Mobli!!! It’s the coolest App! Tell you more about it soon.
This post represents a lot more than a delicious, refreshing, and satisfyingly spicy salsa recipe I’m sharing with you. You see I grew those Anaheim Peppers and tomatoes with my bare hands. I watered them all summer and trimmed their dead leaves. That lime, well I picked it from a tree while I was walking around a neighborhood. And that peach… That peach is an organic fresh from the farm peach I got at work. Besides the garlic and salt… garlic is what I want to grow next… this was pretty much free, minus the labor, seed, and soil. Those were some of the freshest ingredients around and that is super important. Food is meant to be eaten fresh and nothing is fresher than what you grow yourself. I’ll be offering gardening information very soon, so you can grow your own food.
Garden Peach Salsa
4 medium to large tomatoes
2 Anaheim peppers
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
Chop and dice all ingredients except the lime. Place in bowl and squeeze lime juice into the bowl. Add salt. Serve now or place in fridge to chill. Enjoy!
It’s so easy!! All it requires is a Food Dehydrator, and Food Processor.
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
Soak your nuts for 8 hours. Dehydrate for 12 hours for crunch or use soft for this recipe.
Add all ingredients in food processor and process for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is smooth. Pour or scoop out onto Teflex sheet or parchment paper. Place in Food Dehydrator for 12 hours. Remove Teflex/prachment paper and dehydrate for another 12 hours or until desired consistency. Cut into squares and top with a walnut!
I’ve been craving cake a lot lately, so I decided to whip up my first watermelon cake. You can eat the whole thing and feel bad at all.
Ingredients & Directions:
1 cup coconut shreds
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp coconut nectar
1 tbsp maca powder
2 tbsp cocoa
Blend coconut with water, coconut nectar, maca powder, cocoa together for about 2 minutes. Strain liquid into container and set pulp aside for another recipe, or dehydrate for later use. Next blend chocolate liquid with the avocados until whipped and smooth. Set in fridge an let chill.
1 small seedless watermelon
Slice both ends off watermelon. Then carefully slice around the rind to create round cake shape. Shave sides and ends to desired shape. Place scraps aside to juice or use in another recipe.
1/2 cup strawberries
De-stem and slice strawberries. Set aside to dress the cake.
Once you have everything prepared take and knife and frost the watermelon cake. Once the cake is evenly covered garnish the top and sides with the slices of strawberry. Slice and serve!
Here’s a simple recipe for Raw Strawberry Cheesecake!
1/2 cup Pecans (soaked and dehydrated)
1/2 Orange (juiced)
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 cup soaked almonds (overnight)
1/4 cup water
Put the ingredients for the crust in a food processor. Process until evenly mixed. Scoop into bottom of dish or pan. Place in freezer. Next take you strawberries and pour them into a high powered blender. Blend until smooth. Add almonds and blend adding water until smooth. Pour on top of crust and put in freezer for three hours or until ready to eat. For best experience, let thaw for 1/2 hour before enjoying.
1 cup pecans- soaked over night and dehydrated 48 hours
1/2 cup almonds soaked
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
2 tbsp coconut oil- split in 2
1 cup dates split in 2
1 coconut- water only
1 lemon- juiced
1 tbsp coconut nectar
3 tsp vanilla split in 3
1 tbsp Maca powder
dash of salt
Set aside about 12 dehydrated pecans for topping.
Crust- Mix 1/2 cup pecans, dates, 1 tsp vanilla in a food processor until evenly mixed and crust like. Place in the bottom of a pie pan and place in the freezer.
Filling- Mix 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup almonds,1/2 cup dates, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup coconut water, and 1 tbsp Maca powder together in a blender or food processor until smooth or desired consistency. Pour on top of crust and place back in freezer to harden.
Once hard, pop pie out of dish. Place pecans set aside earlier and place on top of pie.
Caramel- Blend 1/2 cup dates, coconut water, lemon juice, 1 tsp vanilla, dash of salt and macadamia nuts until smooth in a blender of food processor.