Category Archives: Cruelty-Free

Wellness First During the Holidays

BEFORE the most hectic part of the holiday season begins, start a breathing or mindfulness practice. I found two wonderful gurus during my cheffing days at Golden Sparrow, who are experts in mindfulness and have taught me the importance of quieting the mind – just in their presence. One is Dr. Michael Hynes, who is the superintendent for the PatMed school district. The other is Cory Muscara, who will no doubt be world-renown for his research and teachings. I’ve seen how their meditation and mindfulness practices have made them more approachable and calm in hectic daily interactions, so I know the benefits and effects of mindfulness. “I just didn’t have the time they had for meditating.” (Sound familiar?)

 

However minute the first step is, just take it. Not tomorrow, today.


I recently picked up my morning meditation practice, after about a year-long Loss of it. I emphasize the word Loss, because it really started to feel like I had lost a limb and had that phantom limb syndrome. I get up about 5:30 every day, shower and have to be at work by 6:30. I couldn’t imagine going to bed earlier than 10pm the night before and altering my entire schedule, so I could get up earlier than I already do. I stumbled upon www.truewellth.org recently and when they asked for our obstacles in a mindfulness practice, I explained my dilemma. The co-founder actually responded! He encouraged me to just start back with 2 minutes per day. Just 2 minutes.

 

Not to be outdone, I decided to go for 5 minutes (I’m kinda competitive, though I have no idea who I was being “outdone” by!). I’ve been meditating since 11/7, and can’t tell you how good it feels. I’m happier, I adapt to people’s moods better, and seem to be somehow influencing them in a more positive manner. I’m coping with all that has to be done prior to our move, despite being prone to anxiety. I’ve had NO panic attacks, in spite of holiday catering, working as much as usual at my PT job, adding meals to my already hectic client load so they can freeze meals when I leave, researching how to expand the meal delivery service I have, handle two catering and speaking events and a cooking demo, and oh yeah…pack an entire house in a 5-week span of time.

 

It’s just 5 minutes a day that I spend with myself, just being as still as possible. To be brutally honest, we ALL have 5 minutes to ourselves, regardless of the excuses we make. So start that practice today, because it’s so vital to your health, in ways you can’t imagine!

 

If you have more time, meditate longer, or squeeze in 20-30 minutes of exercise, as often as possible (preferably 5-6 days a week). Exercise increases our healthy gut bacteria, aids in digestion, literally makes you smarter, helps release happy hormones, and strengthens and tones your body. Walking is perfectly fine, if you can’t get to the gym or if like me, you don’t enjoy rigorous exercise. If you enjoy yoga, martial arts, or any Eastern philosophy, jump in asap! There are countless DVD’s and even free YouTube channels you can find…just get moving!

 

Eat well. You cannot stay focused and enjoy peace of mind, if your body isn’t being fed properly. If you want to avoid the holiday drain and demands, fruits and veggies are KEY to keeping your immune system balanced and working optimally. Chew. Chew. Chew. Enjoy your food and be mindful about what you’re ingesting and why. We all step outside of our normal routines during the holidays—the sooner you create a healing practice in what you eat, the faster you’ll bounce back when the season has ended. You may even find the desire to overindulge just isn’t there anymore. I promise that happens!

 

You may not even have to worry about those extra 5 pounds you gained during the holidays, if you’re prepared properly. (As an FYI, this isn’t a “normal human weight gain,” as we’ve been led to believe. The winter weight gain isn’t supposed to be gained and lost in a 1.5 month time period, it’s just poor eating habits!)

 

Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily practice asap. Take baths, enjoy essential oil blends, stop and breathe, and give yourself quick massages whenever possible. Live in the moment, and not in yesterday or tomorrow’s anxious activities. The holiday season didn’t start before Halloween as we’re also led to believe. It starts after Thanksgiving…honour the year and the Spirit of the season, by being GRATEFUL, joyous and caring every day. Falling out of the moment makes us anxious and worried, short-tempered, and miserable.
Sleep, sleep, sleep! I refuse to give up my precious sleep time, after all the research I’ve done over the years and especially recently. I need my 7 hours, as do you. Humans have not been designed for the insomniatic lives we lead, and it shows in our eating patterns, our emotional habits, and our brain capacity. Those who sleep more are more empathetic, are smarter, have better immune systems, and have less cravings. Sleeping for the right amount of time has allowed my brain to process the fears of our move in my dreams, leaving my waking mind and body free to do what it needs to do—help facilitate healing in others.

You deserve more, this holiday season!

 

As they say on the airplanes, put the air mask on yourself first, so you can help others. If you’re out of balance, you can’t possibly enjoy the holidays and spread good cheer.

P.S.A. (or Public Service Update!?!)

First, a moment of gratitude for you.

I never could have imagined the outpouring of love since I announced my departure, nor the feedback I’ve gotten from friends about how I’ve helped them on their journey. Some are private clients, some are clients of Golden Sparrow, and some are people I’ve met thru the years of teaching or vending at various fairs and events.

Second, with all that love, comes a host of questions that you have, as well as questions I have about the logistics of all this. To make this transition as easy as possible, I figured it was best to outline my thoughts, the moving process for a business, and what my plans are for us (meaning you and I, of course!). Is all the transparency necessary? In my eyes, yes…so keep on readin’!

The first test run of shipping food went out in today’s mail. It’s local (i.e. it’s going from the Islip post office to one in the Hamptons), so it’ll get there tomorrow. It’s a VERY rough version of what will happen, if this proves to be cost-effective for me to ship to you. The containers I used for the meals aren’t correct, as they just can’t sustain a long distance haul and couriers not being mindful of your meals. There’s very specific packaging you need, which is being researched. All during a holiday week, of course. 😉

The containers were a bit smaller than what I currently use and were a different shape. I was unfortunately only able to fit THREE meals in a large flat rate box. The meals did fit in the box well, even with the gel pack…but this is a large flat rate box, which costs about $18 to ship. That’s $18 for just the shipping itself, which doesn’t include the box, the insulation I need to use to keep the food at a safe temp, nor the gel packs themselves. We’re at a cost of at least $25, and that’s not including any actual food yet!

So it’s back to the drawing board, because that option doesn’t seem to be ideal. I need boxes and insulation that can hold at least 10 meals, to make it cost-effective. Unless you just want wraps, which will easily fit in that box! (That’s not a viable solution for me, by the way…I like making MEALS, in addition to wraps.)

But this was all a test of the insulation and gel pack, as well as how it arrives. Remember that initial disclaimer, though…I said this was a local delivery, so the whole kit-n-caboodle is in travel 1-2 days less than they will be when I move to Maine. Nonetheless, testing must happen at some point, and it’s better NOW than in Maine!

So with all that, here’s the basic checklist I need to accomplish before I can begin packaging and shipping food for you. (These are in no specific order, as some will happen simultaneously.)

  • Test run shipment (pending the checking off of this item!).
  • Work on two more catering events I have before I leave, slated for the week before we load the truck and leave.
  • I’m also STILL working on creating the program for you in January. It may be less refined and fancy than I originally hoped, but that’ll just give you a lower cost for the same value and content.
  • Find and price eco-friendly, biodegradable containers. I sanitize the ones I give you currently, and use them for quite some time before recycling them. That option is unfortunately not possible, once I shift to a postal-delivery service. I currently have a distribution company looking into containers that fit the bill of being biodegradable, lightweight, AND leak proof for travelling a distance.
  • Price out ice packs, shipping boxes, and insulation.
  • Find local grocery stores and health markets to find out what ingredients are available at a reasonable cost. Because of the nature of my business and the size, I typically pay retail prices…getting wholesale pricing in a different state, would offset the cost for the packaging!
  • Price out above said food ingredients.
  • Find a kitchen to cook in and price it. The laws are slightly different in Maine, but the basic process is the same as here…you need a commercial kitchen and a license for that kitchen, you need to have it inspected, and pay for all that fun stuff. This takes time, because you’re working with the government, and specifically the Board of Health. There’s also a handful of labeling laws to look into, which I don’t have to worry about currently.
  • Create a menu that’s seasonal, and based off the inventory stores in Maine carry. I’m looking into other supply chains, but there has to be a good local selection first, to maintain part of my Mission Statement of supporting local.
  • Find a post office/UPS location, and also research having it picked up by the courier of whatever kitchen I’m using. There are fees associated to the old “click-n-print” method, so finding a post office is the first priority in just getting this off the ground.
  • Restock supplies and food of inventory being used here, to lighten the shipping haul!
  • Research the legalities of a food business, which was put on hold when we found out we were moving sooner than expected. But hey, when the Universe calls, I’ve learned to answer. And I’m certainly not complaining about the new lifestyle in store for us! (We envision a snowy holiday season in new Pj’s and slippers, with a glass of Proseco or hot chocolate…looking out at acres of woodlands, evergreens, goats and moose!)
  • Unpack our personal belongings and get settled, as well as organizing the business equipment that needs to be stored until I find another kitchen.
  • Research payment methods and an ordering process, which means behind-the-scenes website updates.
  • Find new banks and establish a new business in Maine – I’m legally licensed here in NY and like a car, you need a license to where you live.
  • Work out a new meal prep/delivery schedule, to ensure food is being sent with the least amount of travel time.
  • Find a local delivery person here in NY who is similar enough to what I do, to potentially handle some, all, or a portion of my current client load. Being the only 100% plant-powered, organic/non-GMO delivery service is a great marketing feature…until you move, and feel an obligation to your friends who rely on your weekly feedings! I have a service I’ve found and will share with you shortly – I’m finalizing the details now. I have to know my lil seedlings are being cared for, once I’m not in close contact with them!
  • Recuperate! I WILL BE OFF for the last 2 weeks of December, at bare minimum. It’s the holidays, we’re relocating, and are quite exhausted already. We have 2 trips of driving in store for us, which are about 8-9 hours each way. The first trip is our car and a U-Haul, and the second trip is with our cats. That’s about 24-30 hours of driving in about a 4-day span of time, not to mention the load/unload of the vehicles, cleaning the house we currently live in, and the stress of driving 4 sedated cats for that length of time. But if you know us, you know we need our children to be under as little stress as possible. Having them with us when we load AND unload, is a bit traumatic for their little souls…so they’ll just be unloaded in an unpacked home, when they finally arrive!

And Then I Made The Offer…

For the last two years, my husband Rob and I have been looking to move off of Long Island. We’re not used to being in the same place or job for too long – it seems a decade is our max on anything. When you combine two creative people with LOTS of goals, ambitions, drive, and things they like to dabble in and Master, there’s little room for stagnation. There’s a lot of impatience, honestly.

We’ve travelled around upstate, visited PA, and toyed with the idea of North Carolina. I went to college in Mars Hill near Asheville, so I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountain region for 3 years. My parents lived and died in Asheville, and my aunt still lives there. We even recently went to Seattle, to scope out that area.

Our criteria for housing are pretty odd to most, but like you, we have some standards we require. Moving isn’t just something we will pick up and do.

Right now, we live in an over-populated town (300k+), on a busy connector road. We have the BEST situation possible, though…a great landlord who’s a friend and lets us landscape however we want (we’ve planted bushes, trees, cleaned a 10-year patch of leaves, we compost here, and love our property). We pay an extremely competitive rent, which makes a search for cheaper housing difficult, to be honest. We have a large house, which we fell in love with the moment we traipsed through the snow to see it. No one enters our home without commenting on how calm it is.

But we’re on a busy road. We have a lovely family next to us, who have 5 children (I believe) . 2 are near-teen girls, which we’ve discovered are pretty loquacious and jubilant. We’ve had tenants on the other side of us who swept the dirt lawn at 2-3am. We have a screaming kid two houses down, and a family across the street, who has 4 full-sized garbage cans out at the street 1-2 times a week (a family of 4–who has that much garbage, EVER!?!). We have people parking in front of our house constantly, though every home has ample driveways and their own parking lane on the street. We’ve had car alarms go off repeatedly from an electrical malfunction and then deny it’s their car, when politely confronted about it. We even had a neighbor decide to put her dog’s poop in our recycling bin as well as behind our bushes. Thankfully, it was in a bag, since we had to hand it back to her when we confronted her about it.

Every time we take a walk into town or around the neighborhood, it seems as if there’s an altercation of some sort. A crowd of young girls with adult chaperones bumped into us without apologizing. When we addressed it, it unnecessarily became a “thing” – you apparently can’t tell children how to have manners and respect in these days. (Are we too PC?) We’ve had a child stalk my husband at work. Literally…a 13-year old, who stared and followed him around. Had I not witnessed it when we went for a walk and we accidentally ran into the kid, I wouldn’t have believed it was possible. We had 10-year olds throw rocks at us for no reason, as we walked down to Islip beach. Our last venture 2 weeks ago, led us down to the same beach at night, only have a guy chastise us for not having reflectors on.

You know me personally, so you know I do my best to handle these situations in a peaceful and calm manner. However, you may not know I have a volatile temper, which a couple years of martial arts tamed quite a bit. You also don’t know I was bullied as a child – so most of these instances triggered that feeling again. After the peaceful talking didn’t work in these situations, my ego + Rob’s temper can equal a quick escalation that leaves me shaky and regretful we even left the house.

And you thought I was perfect! 😉

Rob and I want to advance our careers, and move into the next phase of our passions. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cooking – but I hate delivering. I may have time for podcasts and audiobooks to advance my brain power and relieve stress while driving, but the time wasted is counterproductive. Never mind the sheer 3-4 hours it takes me to drive 80 miles in heavy traffic! (The hugs from clients and their animals has made up for the time issues, thankfully!)

Dean Graziosi says to eliminate the things wasting your time, and focus on the things you love most. Well, I love writing, and I love cooking. With my schedule, I have little time for the aforementioned passion.

I’d love to build programs to help people heal the Mind, Body, and Spirit. I know so much more than just how to cook a healthy meal, which you probably know from the array of topics you’ve seen me teach at library’s, health food stores, and yoga studios.

Rob wants to dive further into creating movies and soundtracks. He wants to write and produce more music (you should see this guy’s resume that I recently helped him create!). None of those things are easy, when you live on a busy road. I remember it taking him a week of 2am recordings, just to create the voiceover for our Food Flix Cinema trailer.

We’ve been let down time and time again by business associates and “friends,” who didn’t have the integrity they spouted to have. We’ve watched as people proclaim to be one way, and live completely differently (I.e. don’t cry poor, when you eat out all the time, and don’t want to pick up extra shifts at work. Don’t claim to be a networking friend, when you do no promotion unless the other person does, and insist on the “like-for-like” mentality).

Sounds judgemental and preachy, I know. And perhaps it is.

The point is, we’ve been let down A LOT in the last couple of years, and it feels as if this island has pushed us away. The amount of trends we’ve had to endure over the last 12 years of living here is insane. I’ve worked with health food stores for a decade now, and he’s tattooed for a little longer than that. You’d think as talented as we are, we’d be millionaires in these fields. But getting people to stick to appointments, promises, and HOLISTIC, proven facts rather than the latest trend, is a difficult battle, to say the least. We’ve hit our limit.

My father raised me to detest fads (a fact I didn’t actual realize until Rob pointed it out a year ago). I’ve lived through the Mona vie trend, raw food trend, juicing trend, essential oil MLM trends, Acai bowl trend, Paleo fad, tattoo fad (as has Rob, obviously), and now the CBD oil trend. The list is endless, really.

Yet we both struggle to get people to understand nutrition, the importance of healing your body properly, and the real process of tattoos and food vs what’s being shown on reality TV.

Fate heard us.

During the summer, I happened upon a newscast on NPR, about the Live and Work in Maine website. The founder of the site explained how Maine was a great place to live, and was thriving economically. Since Rob and I had the New England area in our radar a few years ago and are looking to open our own business, the interview piqued my curiosity. I updated my resume, signed up for job alerts, and added a search to Zillow for a home. We started researching the different areas, pricing, and how the state was portrayed.

In early October, we took a visit to a log cabin we saw on Zillow. We were already in love with how the state operates politically, socioeconomically, and ecologically. We mapped out different areas, made notes on our interests, and looked at multiple factors for opening a cafe. The state proved to accurately portray its slogans…

“Vacationland.” “A great place to live and work.” “How life should be.” These are mottos of the state/license plate slogans. They weren’t kidding.

We made notes about which towns felt right and fit our criteria as we drove endlessly for 3 days. We envisioned where we could see ourselves living. There’s a different life and world out there, once you leave the island…I’m not from here, so I have less of a connection than Rob does. But even Rob’s outgrown the Long Island pride, having also lived out of the state for a few years and coming back to it. Life here just isn’t fulfilling for us anymore. We have no room for progression.

We felt a sense of calm in Maine…a sort of calm you become obsessed with feeling, especially when you think of how different it is to your current situation. We craved the freedom that came with open land, and a more rural lifestyle.

After several let downs and shattered hopes on homes, we happened across a place near Bangor (yep, yep – Steven King still lives there and yes, we visited his actual house when we were there. Could you visit a famous author’s home here on Long Island easily? Hmmm…).

I contacted the landlord about the home we saw 2 Sunday’s ago, and anxiously waited for a reply. He said the home was available, but there was a bit of a list of other rental inquiries ahead of us.

Rob and I were instantly in love with the home. Despite wanting to move in 6 months (April was our original deadline), we knew this felt right. Down to the core. I said we’d pay 6 months up front, and hit send. This was Sunday November 5, one week prior to me writing this to you.

It was the most terrifying thing I’ve done in probably 10 years. Maybe even 12 years, when I decided to sell my home in Florida and move 1500 miles up north, with only a PT job at a bagel store and Rob managing Starbucks.

After some further research and conversations with the landlord, it all fell into place. Fell into place so easily, you actually question reality. We have no jobs, we have to pack a house by Dec 15th, close our businesses/relocate them, and catch 1-2 outdoor cats we care for so that we can move them with us. We’ve fed them for years, and are now responsible for their well-being. Besides, they’re both black cats, we already caught one stray black cat here, and who doesn’t need 3 black cats!?!

We’re pushed into very uncomfortable places right now, to make these changes. I suffer from anxiety, if I’ve never told you – I’ve had a couple of panic attacks about it all. It’s the most illogical thing you can do, it seems.

But I remember the information I’ve sent you and told you through the years, about following dreams and listening to the Universe. You’ve asked how I get so much done. You ask how I’ve gotten to where I am. You ask how I maintain sanity. You ask how I have energy and manage to stay sane.

It’s time to use the tools I’ve taught through the years, take out my cahoonah’s, and jump from the safety net. If I want to really launch a program in January, now’s the time. We’ve financially set ourselves up, so we don’t have to work in the month of January. If I don’t distance myself from the mayhem of clients and cooking a bit, I’ll just never get to it. If I’m not FORCED to earn an income, I’ll delay it until the program is just perfect.

Time and time again, I read the best way to launch is to just DO IT. Don’t wait for perfection. Don’t wait for the perfect time or perfect website. Don’t wait for the ideal equipment and shooting location.

Just Do It.

I started my meditation practice last week. It’s been lacking, I’ve been craving it, and didn’t see how to fit it in. I had some short conversations with the founder of TrueWellth.org, and he urged me to just get in 2-5 minutes of meditation in the morning. I explained my struggle to him, because I’m up so early already and am so pressed for time, a meditation, yoga and planning the day as they suggest, are just impossible.

I know I have to meditate, if I expect to keep sanity over the next 6 weeks. If I want to stay organized, I had to list out our deadline, all the tasks required to meet that deadline, and when these tasks would be accomplished. I also had to delegate. (Who needs more time? Thank heavens I wrote that blog for you, so I could refer back to it!).

I have to maintain eating well, if I expect to have energy and wake up at the hours we wake up at every day. Never mind that I also need to have the strength to move a 3 bedroom house, drive 9 hours to Maine and back, and THEN move 5-6 cats to a new home.

We’re leaving “security.” But we also consistently tell friends to take the plunge and move, when it feels right.

I know I’ve been looking into shipping methods for my meal delivery service for some time now. I know we’re two highly intelligent, reliable, and talented people, who can EASILY find jobs. I also know we moved like this once before and when we both have our minds set on something, we can make the “impossible” seem to look so simple to everyone.

So stay with me even when I move…stay with the information I send you. Have patience as I continue to fill your needs. Stay in touch with me and tell me what YOU need me to do to keep you healthy and vibrant. You’re not a client, you’re a friend. You’re the reason this is even possible for us.

I appreciate you deeply. (I’m actually tearing up as I write this to you…)

Follow your dreams no matter how crazy they seem, but do it logically. None of this happened overnight, and it took us years of planning, saving, paying off business/personal debt, and logically analyzing all of our options. When the final part happened, the flood gates opened…so while it seems I’m just up and leaving (OK, I am), this is something we’ve been working towards for years. It’s why I wanted to build a program to “reach those I can’t,” which is part of my mission statement.

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Sherlock Holmes

Compassionate Catering 2017

The holiday season is upon us, and I’ve got a Compassionate way to share it with your family & friends…

As the world becomes more aware of the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, I am forever in debt to those who have served before me, and continue to pass along the messages of Hope, Grace & Ancient Wisdom.

Orders placed prior to 11/15/17 will receive an early bird discounts of 10% on this Compassionate Catering menu. For any questions, contact me at by emailing me at alicia@pandorasproducts.net.

P.S. you won’t even have to mention it’s plant-based, which may save you a lot of unwanted grief! (Because I do understand your position!)


 

Delivery fee included: Babylon to Sayville, Brentwood to Ronkonkoma

$3 delivery & $40 minimum: Northport, Huntington, Commack, Amityville, Smithtown, Patchogue (and surrounding areas)

$5 delivery & $50 minimum: Wantagh, Massapequa (and surrounding areas)

$8 delivery & $65 minimum: Rockville Centre, Port Jefferson/Station, Eastern Suffolk County (and surrounding areas)

So You Want More Time?

I’m sure you’ve heard that we all have the same 24 hours in each of our days?

But some people get more done…as if they’ve made special arrangements with a time wizard.

I get it, I get it, I get it.  I’m still baffled by truly successful people (some are mentioned below), wondering how they balance multi-million dollar companies, kids, spouses, teaching seminars across the planet, eating right, exercising, sleeping, AND enjoying lengthy vacations!

Yes, I still struggle with time management at times.  Especially because there’s MORE I’d like to do in life. (I know it seems ridiculous to some of you who know me well, but believe me, I could be more efficient and get more done!)

My mentor and I worked on this very topic in our first few sessions in 2016.  He gave me a list of experts in this topic, which led to months of research for me.  My #5 Tip listed below became one of my favourite tricks, because a good portion of my days are spent doing research.

How do I seem to constantly do so much and still study new topics?  How can I help YOU make that time available for yourself, so you can accomplish those big dreams you have, too?  (Notice I said “make” time, because you’ll never “find it” – it’s not just going to be dropped off by UPS one day.  I know—I asked our driver ha!)

  • I’ll share my mentor’s first piece of advice with you,
  • Some tricks I researched from various thought leaders,
  • Tools and apps I use or have tried,
  • And some thought leaders you can research further, to see who resonates with you.

The best part about all the techniques below is that by using them, I get my 6-7 hours of required sleep most nights, and am able to constantly learn ways I can add more value for you.

The First Step:

The first piece of advice my mentor gave me was to analyze my time.  You need to know what you do all day, and be truly honest about it.  In hindsight, I see how it’s impossible to fix a problem you don’t even know exists.  On the bright side, if you were a fan of mystery books or puzzles as I was as a kid (and OK, I still am), you’ll love playing detective on this!

I was resistant at first because when you have no time, taking MORE time to jot down what you’re doing all day is a complete pain in the ass.  But I also knew what I was doing wasn’t working, and asking for a mentor and not following his advice seemed asinine.  Maybe as I initially did, you’re asking how I found the time to jot down my daily activities when I didn’t have any time to work on goals in the first place.

Elementary, my dear Watson.  I didn’t find the time, I MADE it.  It became a Priority. You’ll achieve what you focus on – it’s that simple.

It didn’t take long to figure out I wasted A LOT of time endlessly running around.  (See Tip #5 below for the solution on that.)

The Second Step:

Utilize your time properly, once you’ve analyzed where you waste time. There’s power in this knowledge, and please be gentle with yourself if you waiver here and there.  Just imagine the confidence you’ll have when you realize the autonomy and control within your new day!  Imagine having more quality time with your friends and family, and still being able to create the life you want!

Without further ado, here are my 5 favourite Tips on managing my 24-hour day:

  1. 1. Detox from technology such as TV and social media.

Stop the madness and energy drain, please.  If you’re in the GenY/millennial crowd, this may be the most difficult Tip for you.  You’ve grown up knowing nothing BUT technology and social media.  I understand the theoretical good side of social media.  Unfortunately, I mostly see the amount of time and energy wasted on it.

If you have a small business, social media may be hurting you, when you are led to believe it’s there to help you.  Quite often, the algorithms are simply built against you, for too many reasons to explain here.  Regardless of how much you think you do or don’t use it, I’m pretty sure it’s sucking at least an hour out of your day.  Research suggests most people spend 4-5 hours PER DAY, watching TV.  If you spend less than that on TV, I would guess the difference is spent on social media.

I know, I know—you don’t use it that much.  20 minutes here and there, just a quick post and you’re off, etc..  (These are my own words, so I know all about it!)  But there are “social media cues,” as I call them – a story or a pic ya found on FB, IG, pinterest, and share with friends later in the day. In my daily interactions, I watch people glued to their phones.  (A little unknown fact about me…I LOVE watching people and studying them without judgement.  In high school, I used to go to the airport with friends at midnight, just to watch how people interacted with one another.)

Then there’s the Technology Vortex of texts, emails, social media (we all know what the IG or FB screens look like on someone’s phone and we all KNOW when someone’s on one of these platforms!).  It’s a constant borage of distractions coming at us all. Day. Long.

Do you know that waking and immediately checking your emails and social media can easily waste 30 minutes, while also altering your brain and mood for the day?  I do…I can tell you I wasted almost an hour, being hooked in articles and links in emails.

How many times are you thinking ALL DAY about what you saw, read, or heard on some technology-based platform?  So how can you focus on your next level of improvement, when you’re interpreting/misinterpreting what you read on social media?

Solution: disconnect more from social media by either taking a break from it for a couple of weeks as a few of my friends have recently done, or schedule social media as a reward for accomplishing the day’s goals.

  1. 2. Minimize phone triggers such as texts, calls, emails, and notifications of all kinds. 

This may be the only time I actually disagree with Brendon Burchard, when he suggests setting alarms on your phone for various self-improvement techniques.  (He may very well offer a solution in his teachings, but I haven’t run across it yet.)

It is my belief and experience that most people need to get away from their phone more, and not find other reasons to be attached to them.  If you have an alarm that says “get up and stretch!” every 50 minutes as he suggests (we all could probably stretch more), you may see a text or email notification instead.  You respond to that rather than doing your stretching, and you’re now stuck in the Technology Vortex.

All the phone triggers steal your brain power, alter your mood, and simply waste your valuable time.  Be honest with yourself – how many times are you checking your email/iPad, etc. per day?  (I’ll raise my hand here, because I do it when I’m bored!)

An interesting tidbit of info for you: research indicates we can only make a certain number of decisions per day.  Each time you click a web link or a pic, read an article, check the next Pinterest board, or watch the next video, you’re making a decision to continue.  You now have less capacity for making decisions that really matter to you and your goals.  Do you notice how tired your brain feels at the end of the day?

Solution: turn off all notifications in your phone settings, other than your calendar (or whatever reminder system you’re using).  Other notifications are nothing more than a trap into someone else’s agenda.

  1. 3. Find a Time Management System that works for you.

Apps such as Mindmapping, Wunderlist, or Asana, or thought leaders like Chalene Johnson or John Lee Dumas can all help you organize things in a list.  Using a daily planner is a great way to keep track of big goals and appointments—it’s a great visual tool and writing is proven to be more effective than typing in an app, when it comes to goals.  Besides, how can you accept (or reject) the next task or meeting thrown at you, if you don’t know what you already have on your plate?

When it comes to breaking down and WORKING those tasks, I prefer Wunderlist as my go-to program.  Here’s why…

  • You can easily share lists or tasks with groups and assign parts of projects to them,
  • Set up reoccurring tasks like yard work or bill paying,
  • Assign due dates for projects,
  • Allow (or not allow) notifications to remind you of your tasks,
  • Assign subtasks (e.g. I have a catering job, so what steps need to be taken?)
  • All completed tasks are saved for you. This feature is great for end-of-the-year-reviews, or unchecking an item you mistakenly marked as complete.

I’ve used paper for lists because I prefer paper books, lists for menus and shopping, etc..  But I find when it comes to big goals, reoccurring tasks, or keeping an eye on your progress, technology works best.  Are you keeping all those little pieces of paper, so you can review them at year end and track your accomplishments?

And no…I don’t have stock in Wunderlist, nor am I paid spokesperson ha ha. The app just works really well and is more user friendly than others I’ve tried.

Solution: get yourself a method of keeping track of what you need to do every day. It’s crucial to your success and time management!

  1.  4.Follow the ABCDE protocol. 

I can’t remember where I learned this great trick for prioritizing tasks – Mel Abraham, Steven Covey, Brian Tracy, or a medley of them all.  But first, you have GOT to have a task list (which is why I mentioned that Tip before this one)!

When you see your tasks for the day each morning, prioritize them by A, B, C, D, E…yes, you ideally review your goals and the day’s plans first thing in the am.  This is where that 30 minutes of waking and ignoring emails and social media REALLY come in handy!

  • “A” priority is something that needs to be done immediately, no ands if buts.  This is one of those tasks that will have detrimental effects if not completed today. You know, you don’t call in your insulin refill request, or you fail to call a potential client in a 24-hour window, etc. – I think of this priority as something that will cost me health or money.

This is admittedly tricky at first, because we have a lot of people who HAVE TO HAVE IT now.  (“It” being YOUR time and response.)  We’ve created a society built on instant gratification, so we feel if we don’t respond or get the customer serviced right away, we’re turning people away and they’ll be gone forever.  I’m here to tell you that’s OK.  If someone can’t wait for an appropriate amount of time for a response, you don’t need them.  Learn to balance what needs your immediate attention and what doesn’t.  If you want to succeed, you have to learn to say no (or start with “no, not right now”), and be proactive vs reactive.  Your life needs to be your agenda, and not the agenda someone else has created for you.

  • “B” tasks are urgent, but could be done tomorrow, if need be.  They still have some negative consequences for not being completed, but you won’t go into a coma from a glucose overload!
  • “C” tasks are things you’d like to do, but they can wait until later in the day. Maybe these are more of rewards for you, if you accomplish all your other tasks.  Don’t skip to these first, just to get something checked off your list, though.  You don’t build momentum as you may hope…you just procrastinate getting to the stuff that really matters!  As the saying goes, “Procrastinate Procrastinating!”
  • “D” tasks should be Delegated to someone else (or deleted, in my eyes). I believe this one really depends on how big your organization and task is, and whether or not you need an “E” on the list.  Hell, if a task keeps getting put off and rescheduled, wouldn’t it be in your best interest to just delete it?  Just remember that often, we can find someone to help us with a task we really don’t need to do—folding laundry or starting water boiling are two quick tasks I think I’m OK delegating to someone else!
  • “E” tasks should be eliminated, so you can focus on what really matters. Often, this is where the power of “no” comes in handy!

Solution: whether you use this method or your own, the best way to tackle tasks is to prioritize them, and start with the hardest tasks first.  Save the easy guys for the end!

  1. 5. Schedule blocks of time for similar tasks.

This seemingly simple tool is more powerful than you can imagine at first glance.  But guess what!?!  It’s not possible without the previous steps!

Grouping similar tasks will

  • Help you gain momentum,
  • Put you in the proper mindset for the tasks at hand,
  • Gets everything done faster,
  • And makes you more focused and less scattered.

If you have a list (see #3), have prioritized it (#4), you can now block out sections of time to do similar tasks.  If I have to call in an order, call a client, call a library to book an event, pick up an order I called in, ship an order from the post office, email a client and write a blog, I group similar tasks together.  I then place them in the day when I’m most likely to succeed.  Would I run errands during rush hour?  Probably not.  Would I call a library when they’re closed?  Pretty silly.  And yes, this is a typical day for me, and I imagine your days aren’t much easier!

If I call in a grocery order, go to the post office, call a client from home, THEN go pick up the grocery order, I’ve ended up wasting at least 20-30 minutes in driving to and from my house.

Stay focused during your blocks of time, too.  I know this is a potential struggle for you, and there are a couple of things that will help.  Regular meditation helps your brain focus.  Getting up every 50 minutes also helps, as does constant hydration.  As a reminder from Tip #2, don’t have your phone near you when you’re writing.  Don’t check social media while you’re running errands, driving or parked.  It’s just an un safe habit and you may forget where you’re going, or miss your turn/exit! Don’t laugh-it’s happened to me many times.

And do me a favour? Block time out to gain a skillset.  If you have a goal of any kind, there will be things you need to study.  Weight loss?  You’ll have to learn to cook healthy and efficiently.  New exercise routine?  You’ll have to learn new moves.  How much time are you blocking out for that learning curve?  If you follow the steps above, I promise you’ll have time to learn more…I take at least 2-3 webinars per month, and was never able to do this before implementing these habits.

Solution: many of us can use our commute time more productively, whether it’s a train ride or car drive.  How many hours a week do you spend travelling?  During all those hours, are you listening to the news or music that will affect you negatively (the same effect I mentioned about the effects the Technology Vortex in #1)? Or are you listening to podcasts, YouTube or Netflix (you don’t have to watch!), audiobooks, or music that helps calm you?  This painful commute is unavoidable in most cases and while not every moment is occupied with learning (the brain sometimes needs a break), it sure makes the damn drive more bearable!

Since a third of you were interested in having more time, I’m hoping these tricks help you as they’ve helped me.  Will this all take a bit of time to set up and learn to implement correctly?  Of course…every good skillset takes time.  Will it all go smoothly?  Of course NOT!  People won’t be available, you’ll play phone tag, you’ll have TRUE emergencies and last-minute dealings.

Your number one skillset with anything in life is being adaptable and flexible.  You’ll begin to see where you’re being overly-flexible quicker than you think.  You’ll know when it wasn’t really an emergency, but you needed a distraction (and sometimes, that’s OK too).  You’ll naturally adjust accordingly.

This is a constant work-in-progress for most of us.  Enjoy the process!  And always feel free to reach out with questions or to let me know how it’s working for you.

Do I really need to fast?

In short, yes…and maybe.

A cleanse (or fast, as I’ll refer to it from here on out) is an important part of many cultures, for the spiritual and physical effects.  Extended fasts are typically done during a season change, allowing the body to rest and fully be in tune with nature.  At the return to food, we ideally dive into whatever is flourishing during that season.

This is how I began my research and fascination with fasting about 20 years ago.  I fasted on Mondays back then, and would complete a 3-day Ayurvedic detox during the change in season.  Mondays were ideal for many reasons in the Corporate America world, because my job was demanding and kept my mind off of food.  Typically, Sundays were my cheat day, so I wasn’t as hungry the next day and/or knew my body needed a recharge.

At some point, I fell off the wagon.   It’s taken me the last 20 years to jump back on the bandwagon, and find a fast that worked best for my body and mind.

I’ve personally completed quite a few different types of detoxification programs, as well as led clients through them.  What I can tell you is that there are as many ways of going through a detox, as there are ways to meditate.  My favourite fast throughout the years is what’s known as an intermittent fast; this is simply an extended period of avoiding foods (typically 24 hours).

If you are a follower or fan of the Paleo diet, pay attention—this is how our ancestors ate.  Though we have research to prove this, common sense tells us our ancient predecessors didn’t have grocery and convenient stores nearby, and we weren’t all that great at hunting.  Thankfully, we figured out how to forage and eventually plant/gather!

From masteringdiabetes.org: “your body can stay alive for long periods of time with limited calorie intake.” In fact, if you want to live longer, perform fasts.

Regularly.

Eating is a metabolic process, and reducing calories reduces the process of oxidation/aging (if you don’t believe me, research calorie-restricting diets).  If you want to improve insulin sensitivity, perform regular fasts.  I’ll write about insulin sensitivity in a later blog, but for now, check out this wonderful site on diabetes for more information on an intermittent fast and a free guide about the research and benefits of performing one.  (It was one of their many webinars that I’ve taken, which led me to fasting and has in fact, reduced my A1C level .2 points in 9 months.)

Who needs to fast?

Anyone that has the ability.  I know that sounds ridiculous on the onset, but keep reading.

You automatically fast nightly when you’re sleeping (hence the word break-fast); we’re simply looking to extend the length of time you’re fasting, and do it consciously.

There are so many benefits to fasting, that I find there are few people who cannot handle a 24-hour cleanse.  Below, I’ll show you some options for a 24-hour fast that will make it a little more tolerable for most of the population.

For those with extremely unstable blood sugar or those who are seriously ill, I would urge you to only follow this under the observation of a physician or naturopathic physician.  If you just get “hangry” (angry when hungry) when you don’t eat, don’t just throw up your hands and say you have unstable blood sugar.  Even if you feel a bit shaky and you feel you’re “starving” when we haven’t eaten in a few hours (it will pass, trust me!) —know these feelings are often eliminated after a few weeks of following intermittent fasting.

Fasting is 98% mental, in my opinion.  You’ll be surprised how much your mind is actually in control of your hunger and your thoughts about food.  You’ll be surprised how many times you may unconsciously reach for food, when it’s not truly needed.

What is intermittent fasting? 

As stated above, it’s simply an extended period of time, when no food is taken in the body.  It provides a period of rest for your entire system.  It gives your body a negative-calorie deficit/negative energy balance, in which it becomes impossible to eat the amount of calories you have not consumed in the last 24-hours.  But this isn’t about weight-loss, it’s about optimal health…

There are 4 different ways to complete intermittent fasts: 

  1. The 12:12 method – fast for 12 hours and eat for 12, doing this daily.
  2. The 16:8 method – fast for 16 hours and eat only for 8, doing this daily.
  3. The 24-hour method – fast for 24-hours (dinner to dinner, for example) on the same day each week (I started with this process, performing it on Thursdays, when my work load was lightest and I had more time alone).
  4. The alternate-day fasting method which involves eating normally one day, and then eating zero or very low-calories (500 or less) the following day.  After about 1.5 months of doing the 24-hour fast above, I started fasting for 2 days each week, when I feel it’s necessary…the effects feel that good!

If this seems too difficult, you can also succeed by reducing calories as such:

  1. The 5:2 method – eat your normal caloric intake for 5 days of the week, and restrict your calories to 500 for women or 600 for men, for the other two days.
  2. 25% Calorie Restriction – reduce your calorie intake by 25% every day (a standard 2000 calorie diet would be converted to 1500 calories).
  3. 40% Calorie Restriction – reduce your calorie intake by 40% every day (a standard 2000 calorie diet would be converted to 1200 calories).

Choose what works for you, or perhaps combine them…it may be easier for you to follow these in the order I have them listed, or mix-n-match.  I personally find it easier to consume NO food and avoid the temptation altogether, rather than restrict calories and have to worry about counting calories each day.  For those who are used to calorie-counting, the calorie reduction methods may be best for you to start with.

A note: you may find it harder to stick with calorie restriction, as you will be hungry every day of the week.  With a regular fasting regimen, your body gets used to the fasting routine, and begins to actually crave the day of rest.  In my case, it certainly makes meal planning simple—there are too many days when thinking about what I need to put in my mouth is just too daunting of a task (ironic, I know!).

When should a fast be completed?

Let’s be realistic for a minute.  If you drive a school bus full of elementary children at 5am or work on Wall Street, a fast isn’t the best idea for you when working.  I’ve never studied a detox or fast that ever suggested working during a fast, though I am able to do it now (and as most of you know, I am a chef 6 days a week, so I’m cooking during the days I’m fasting—further proof that it’s mind over body!).

Fasting is best completed when you’re alone and/or can rest a bit.  Don’t try and run a triathlon when you’re fasting.  You need to be in a place where you feel safest and won’t be agitated.  If you’re reading this and saying that’s not possible, email me and let’s figure out HOW to make it work for you!

Where should a fast be completed?

Wherever you can mentally and physically handle it.  I do my fasts when I’m at work and at home, but I am also in a job that I love, and one that keeps me very busy.  Make sure you’re in a place where you can access a good amount of liquid, so you stay full and hydrated.  Your body often confuses the need for oxygen as a need for food.  Try drinking water when you’re hungry next—you may be surprised to feel the urge to eat dissipate.

As a friend of mine stated when doing an alternate cleanse I offer, “The last few days were a battle of mind over matter, mostly. Though there were times I was hungry some water and a little deep breathing helped that pass.  It made me realize how little we actually need to exist, and how much we consume in just indulgence. I know D has decided to start making better choices and realizes with the difficulty of this detox how badly he has been punishing his body.”

Why should a fast be completed?

Simply put, we eat too much.  Our portion sizes grow and grow, to the point where a healthy portion is often looked at as “chintzy” in a restaurant.  We snack constantly, which never allows our blood sugar to stabilize.  Eating frequently also never allows our body to burn fat, only glucose.  When your body can’t burn fat, it stores it and all the toxins that reside there.  When your body can’t burn fat, it becomes insulin-resistant, which leads to a HOST of other health concerns.

If you want a tad more information on frequent eating, check out Dr. Douillard’s blog on frequent eating here.

How should a fast be completed?

With intent.  Please communicate to your body about why you are fasting. There’s a mind-body connection that we are often lacking in our culture—a little self-talk goes a long way!

Have a plethora of herbal teas and pure water available!  I suggest this herbal teas anyway, but especially during a cleanse!  Dandelion and nettles are two powerhouse herbs for nutrition, and mint tea helps with headaches and stomach discomfort.  When you’re fasting, you can consume non-caloric beverages that include coffee, herbal tea, and water.

If you’re an athlete, intermittent fasting is still absolutely possible and recommended.  If you are familiar with Matt Frazier, you’ll know the No Meat Athlete is into rigorous sports, is 100% plant-powered and oh yes…loves his intermittent fasting!  There’s a bit more guidance on his site, which details the benefits and logistics of this process.

Also remember the power of oxygen.  Above, I stated that we often confuse hunger for thirst…the body wants oxygen, and breathing absolutely helps center you and cure hunger cravings during a fast.  I’ve found that several deep breaths during a bout of hunger (especially when driving), can help the urge for food to pass right by.

Are you convinced to give intermittent fasting a shot?  For your health, I hope so.  Trust me when I say it makes a huge difference in how you feel and think!

Nutritional Wellness FREE Library Event

Nutritional Wellness Free Library Event

July 20 @ 7:00 pm8:30 pm, Central Islip Public Library

What is wellness? For me personally, wellness is something we strive for with the whole of our being—it’s not just the pursuit of healing the mind, body or spirit individually.  I also believe we have a skewed sense of wellness in our culture, for a multitude of reasons too complex to be discussed here.  For instance, being thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy.  Conversely being curvy, doesn’t necessarily make you unhealthy. If you suffer from depression, it’s often not looked at as a condition or dis-ease, but rather as a “mood we need to get over.”  The point is, you can look well on the outside but be depressed, lonely and/or void of any spirituality; wellness comes in many forms and is ever-changing.

Wellness Model

Our system of medicine here in the west is concentrated on symptoms (allopathic medicine as it’s called, which is concerned with curing a symptom, rather than the whole being). For instance, we treat the skin for the condition of eczema, rather than the underlying cause (which may be a food allergy, seasonal allergy, leaky gut, so on and so forth). Wellness is being self-responsible for what is going on in your body and being self-AWARE of it.  It’s a constant striving for balance. We often forget that true wellness involves not only ourselves, but also our immediate surroundings, friends, family and our cosmos as a whole.

In 2003, it was estimated that we spent $1.4 trillion on health care annually. In 2010, that number jumped to about 2.6 trillion. That’s an increase of $1,200,000,000,000 in less than ten years!  In 2015, we hit $3.2 trillion dollars.  We are NOT getting healthier, and we have one of the SADdest diets of any country in the world (SAD=Standard American Diet).

I believe that two of our greatest challenges as a nation are diseases of affluence and confusion on health/what wellness truly means.  Never doubt the power of the media and books in deliberately making wellness more confusing for us…as well as those who have perfectly well-meaning intentions.

I like to think of Wellness as I view religion and politics…we all are saying basically the same thing, if we’d just listen to the core message.

So what is that core message?  Simply put, it’s eat fresh, whole foods as much as possible, and avoid refined carbohydrates, sugars, and genetically modified foods.  Please learn to ignore the daily blasts of superfoods and diet trends.

Remember above, when I said that Wellness is being self-responsible for what is going on in your body and being self-AWARE of it?  That means doing what feels right for YOU, regardless of the latest trend. Start listening to your body and how it reacts. Do you have problems metabolizing coffee, or can you drink a latte and go to sleep with no trouble?  (There’s a specific gene that handles that, by the way—it’s why the research can seem so opposite and confusing from one day to the next!)  Do you eat more than your coworkers, b/c you exercise more? Can you eat before a workout, or immediately after, or do you need liquid fuel instead?

Most of the diets or eating trends are focused on what you eat…we agree on that.  So why are we not focusing on getting our supplementation from food, rather than a pill?  Perhaps it’s because a large number of the vitamin companies are actually tied in to BigPharma.  Perhaps it’s because as a nation, we’re looking for a quick magic pill to fix all of our problems (and is why BigPharma has done so well in the last few decades).

So what’s my solution?

It’s best to get your supplements as a whole, and from food. Food is nature’s multi-vitamin!   And if you want to know more on Nutritional Wellness and ask questions, join me for the next Library to host this workshop, free of charge.  Just click here for more info and to RSVP… 

 

Pandora’s Lunchbox – weekly menu 06/19/17

Who: Do you want to lose weight?  Do you have little to no time to cook healthy?  Are you are confused about what healthy food even is? Do you hate cooking? Have you just started out with plant-based food, or are just curious about it?  Have you been plant-based so long that you just need a change?  Has your Dr. recently advised you that you need to change your lifestyle?

What: Pandora’s Lunchbox offers non-GMO, seasonal, plant-based, organic meal plans, customized to your individual preferences; an intake form is completed prior to delivery, to make sure your tastes and health concerns are taken into consideration.  Meals are typically (2) servings of grains, (1) serving of protein (soy, nuts or legumes), (2) servings of vegetables and (0-1) serving of fat. Pandora’s Lunchbox meals do not contain pre-packaged ingredients such as veggie burgers, vegan cheezes (unless hand-crafted by Alicia), sauces, mixes, etc. – the ingredients are custom-blended and created by hand, including most of the spice blends and dressings.  Click here to fill out a very short intake form, and see exactly what is provided with our services…it’s more than just delivery!

When: All orders must be placed 2 days in advance, to guarantee delivery.

Pandorable Menu: the last two items on this menu change weekly and is posted Friday, for the following Monday and Thursday deliveries.  The first four meals are set for the season, unless there’s an overwhelming demand for a new meal item! 🙂

Grab-n-Go Menu: this is a set menu available at local eateries and coffee shops.  Items from this menu are available for delivery Monday and Thursday only, and must be combined with at least 2 of the meals from the “Pandorable Menu.”

Grab-n-Go Menu Spring 2017 template use copyWhere: where is it being delivered?  Your work? Your home?  Since deliveries are specifically routed according to client’s orders and locations, there is no set time for delivery.  You will be notified when there is an ETA for your location. Please note if you are not available, your food will be left on your doorstep—please leave a cooler out if you will not be home; Pandora’s Lunchbox is not responsible for food that is stolen or not edible, due to weather conditions.  Please check your location below, for notes on delivery fees.  If you aren’t sure about the fee for your home or office, please feel free to ask!

Delivery fee included: Babylon to Sayville, Brentwood to Ronkonkoma

$3 delivery & $40 minimum: Northport, Huntington, Commack, Amityville, Smithtown, Patchogue (and surrounding areas)

$5 delivery & $50 minimum: Wantagh, Massapequa (and surrounding areas)

$8 delivery & $65 minimum: Rockville Centre, Port Jefferson/Station (and surrounding areas)

Why: Pandora’s Lunchbox knows how confusing it is to muddle through all the news, social media posts, and information your friends and family give you about nutrition.  We know how hard it is to eat whole-food, plant-based, clean meals that actually have flavor!  We know how hard it can be to get to the health food store or natural market, just to get your lunch or dinner! We’ve been where you are…frustrated.

How: The Pandorable menu is posted Friday, for the following Monday and Thursday deliveries (and is also emailed to the mailing list Friday morning).  Orders must be received by Friday evening, to ensure prep and delivery; text or email your order, and Alicia will do the rest!  If you have food allergies, sensitivities or dislikes, please advise.  We will accommodate any and all requests, as long as it’s stated when the order is being placed.  Any and all substitutions are welcome, at no extra charge!  Meals are delivered in recyclable to-go containers that can be reused– please reuse them properly, or return them to Alicia so they can be sterilized and used again.

Testimonials: Alicia has been making tasty creations for health food stores since 2006, when she worked for Sweet Caroline’s (previously in Bay Shore).  She has a Master’s Degree in Holistic Wellness, teaches workshops on various healing topics and has been involved in creating and studying raw, Ayurvedic, as well as cooked vegan foods since 2009.  She currently works at Golden Sparrow in Bayport as a plant-based chef.

Rec's 07-06-15 copy

Catering from 10-35 also available.  Please email or call for details.

Food Flix Cinema designs meals to match movie scenes

Updated

By David J. Criblez  david.criblez@newsday.com

"Re-Imagining the 'TV Dinner' Experience"

“Re-Imagining the ‘TV Dinner’ Experience”

Clockwise from left, David Jarmula from East Patchogue, Victor and Deborah Urbach from Huntington and Kara Sdraley from East Patchogue enjoy dinner and a movie, Food Flix dinner and movie night, Cyrus Chai & Coffee Company, Bayshore, Sept. 24, 2016. (Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)

Dinner and a movie — it’s a classic way to spend an evening, but watching a film while eating food designed to match key scenes is a new twist. Food Flix Cinema, held monthly at Cyrus Chai and Coffee Co. in Bay Shore, takes the movie experience to the next level.

“The food is inspired by characters or events from each film,” says owner Cyrus Kabir. “Every movie and meal is entirely different. But it always makes complete sense when you watch.”

HOW IT BEGAN

The series was born when Kabir decided to do something different with his shop after closing at 6 p.m.

“We wanted to use the space for more than just a coffee shop,” says Kabir. “In the evenings, we let the community use the space. It opens a lot of avenues to do something productive.”

Alicia Randolph-Lucchesi of Islip, who runs her own internationally themed plant-based food delivery service and provides wraps for Cyrus, pitched the idea of a film-themed dinner.

“My husband, Rob, picks the movies, then gives me cues on where a meal could be tied in,” says Randolph-Lucchesi. “We bounce ideas back and forth.”

WHAT TO EXPECT

Up to 20 guests are seated at a table in front of an 80-inch drop-down screen. Five-course prix-fixe menus are printed on a laminated place mat, which serves as a take-home souvenir along with an event button. Servings are plated in an old-school TV dinner tray and a course comes every 15 to 20 minutes. Homemade popcorn dressed in vegan butter and spices garnishes each table, as does Cyrus’ freshly brewed herbal tea.

“Rob will say, ‘This is a great scene. Can you do something with this?’ ” says Randolph-Lucchesi. “Then I will go through cookbooks and match it.”

Last month, the couple showed the film “They Live,” and in the scene where the late Roddy Piper eats stew, the crowd was served vegetable Hobo Stew. During Keith David’s fight scene, the chef followed with Frank’s Back Alley Kidney Punch Salad.

The evening is very social, not hush-hush like a regular movie screening.

“Everybody can see and hear the film, but it’s not so loud that you can’t have a conversation,” Randolph-Lucchesi says.

FILMS ON-SCREEN

Past screenings include “The Breakfast Club,” where breakfast food (a tofu scramble and roasted potato hash) was served, while “Jaws” featured Hooper’s Fish Tacos. During “Clue,” people ate Mrs. Peacock’s Monkey Brains (roasted cauliflower in Alfredo sauce), and “The Goonies” concluded with Chunk’s Rocky Road Bar for dessert.

This month’s flick is John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” where creamy spinach-artichoke dip with bread will be served when Nancy Kyes gets choked in the car by horror icon Michael Myers.

“We like to push them a little bit with the food and the movies,” says Randolph-Lucchesi. “People seem to like the originality of it.”

Melissa Sgambati, 27, of West Islip, has attended every Food Flix Cinema night except one, when she had to work. But Sgambati is such a fan of the event, she ordered the food as takeout and watched the film at home while eating the courses at the appropriate times.

“Alicia’s a great cook, and Rob has great taste in movies, so it’s a magical combination,” Sgambati says. “Each event is very curated, and they think of everything. I put it on my calendar every month.”

Compassionate Catering 2016

As the world becomes more aware of the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, I am forever in debt to those who have served before me, and continue to pass along the messages of Hope, Grace & Ancient Wisdom.  Stay tuned for early bird discounts on this Compassionate Catering menu, or contact me at by emailing me at alicia@pandorasproducts.net.

It’s almost holiday season, and we’ve got a Compassionate way to share it with family & friends…and PS, you won’t even have to mention it’s plant-based, which may save you a lot of unwanted grief!  (Because I do understand the dilemma, believe me!)

Comforting, Compassionate & delicious!

Comforting, Compassionate & delicious!