Atlanta Jewish Times Article - I am published!!

I am so excited!! Next week an article I wrote is running in the Atlanta Jewish Times! I am thrilled as you can imagine and will post a link to the article once it goes live. In the meantime, I wanted to share the content with you. I hope you enjoy!

My husband and I left New York in the midst of the economic crisis in 2008. We needed a change. We wanted to live somewhere where life felt “easy” and cereal didn’t cost $7 a box. We decided to do what any rational couple would, we chose a far off place where we knew no one and could live that laid back lifestyle we sought after. We moved to Atlanta.

At first glance, Atlanta was great. Everyone smiles and holds the door open for you. No one cuts you off and flips you the bird. Neighbors race over to welcome you with homemade cookies and bottles of wine. Life was good. Except one thing. WHERE ARE THE JEWS??

Growing up in Queens, New York, a corned beef sandwich and knish were easy to find and no one looked at you twice when you said you were fasting for Tish B’av. I grew up in Bayside which is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the nation. We had bar mitzvah season, all the kosher Chinese food you can eat and exposure to all sects of Judaism. Moving to Atlanta, of course I knew Judaism wouldn’t be as prominent, but I didn’t prepare myself for what happened next. I became a minority.

Adjusting to my new surrounding proved to be more difficult than I expected. I missed good deli and frequenting my favorite kosher lunch spots where pizza and French fries were the norm. My old office was closed for practically the entire month of September and all of the women swapped recipes for brisket, charoset and rugelach. In my new position here in Atlanta, I work for a global corporation and our office is home to 300 employees. There are three Jewish people in the building. Myself and the two Attorneys - talk about irony.

At first I was disgruntled by the fact that the Jewish way of life isn’t engrained in southern culture until I realized something. When you grow up submerged in a culture where your religion is “popular,” a naiveté exists that allows you to believe your way is the way. Perhaps moving to Atlanta under the notion that I would find lox and bagels at every deli and people would see my necklace and say “Love your chamsed!” (Rather than, “What is that hand supposed to be around your neck?”) was naïve.

I began letting go of my cynical attitude and embraced my new surroundings. My husband and I joined the “shul circuit” and thankfully found one we can see ourselves becoming members of and we have begun hosting holiday meals in our home. The truth is that it feels good to be “special.” I enjoy answering questions about Judaism to my new friends and having them over for Shabbat dinners.

Moving to Atlanta has taught me that just because you’re not “popular” doesn’t mean you don’t matter. Sometimes in life you have to accept that while you cannot change your environment, you can change how you flourish within it.


Tardy for the Party!

Please excuse me – I feel like I’ve arrived tardy for the party. I have no idea why it has taken me this long to try the infamous Lara Bars, but now that I have I can say with confidence that I am completely hooked.

Doing a quick Whole Foods run the other day, I saw these puppies and decided to give them a whirl after reading about them on some of my favorite blogs (including Tina’s post on Carrots N Cake and Katie on Chocolate Covered Katie.)

Boy was I not disappointed. I barely made it out of the store before I ran back and grabbed a few more flavors including Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cherry Pie and Carrot Cake.

By far the best thing about these bars is that they are so pure. Being allergic to soy has been my main reason for abstaining from eating anything out of a package – believe it or not, everything from cereal to bread has a ton of soy products in them! But not Lara Bars – most bars have less than 4 (yes, you read that correct, FOUR) ingredients.

They are perfect for anyone with food allergies OTHER than nuts as that is usually one of the main ingredients. They are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, vegan and kosher! They taste so delicious you will never know you’re eating something that is actually good for you.

In fact, the Lara Bar has become such a phenomenon that a lot of people out there have begun making homemade variations of the tasty treat. I found this recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie and I think I’m going to give it a whirl!

• 1 c walnuts (120 grams)
• 1 and 1/3 cups pitted dates (230 grams) (If you want a sweeter result, up the proportion of dates.)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder, depending on how much chocolate flavor you want

1. Chop/blend all the ingredients, using a food processor, Magic Bullet, etc. (No need to blend the dates first; I just blend everything all at once.)
2. Roll into cutey-pie little balls. (Use plastic wrap if you need to.)

Food for thought (sorry for the obvious pun!) - Have you ever tried a Lara Bar? If so, what are your favorite flavors??


You're Never Too Old for a Lunchbox!

About a year ago I decided to start bringing lunch to work in order to save $$ and calories. Going out for lunch can cost upwards of $10 each day, and cost you exponentially more around your waistline.

Around this time, I discovered an ingenious product through a website called Laptop Lunches. They make these adorable BPA free “bento boxes” for kids and adults alike. Take a look around their website – it will tell you where you can pick yourself up one of these cute bento boxes and even supplies you with creative lunch ideas!

Today I’m rolling with a spinach salad which includes avocado, cranberries, slivered almonds and crumbled goat cheese. Since I didn’t feel like grilling some chicken for protein, I included some 1% cottage cheese topped with even more almonds, some cut up watermelon and a Caramel S’mores Cup that I made the other day (hey, everything in moderation right?!?).

All in all, a great lunch that filled me right up after an intense lunchtime workout (I love getting out of the office for an hour in the middle of the day to hit the gym!). Squeezing in an hour long workout during the day leaves me energized and super productive for the remainder of my day.

I'm interested to hear what everyone out there thinks. Do you bring lunch to the office? If so, what is your go-to meal? What about working out at lunch? If you do get moving on your lunch hour do you think it improves your productivity??


Caramel S'mores Cups - Holy Deliciousness!!

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened - I replaced with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesace plus 1/4 cup safflower oil (vegetable oil would work fine as well)
1 egg
24 rolos, unwrapped - I think it goes without saying, but you can never be too sure...
72 mini marshmallows (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips - I used Hershey's Syrup

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.

Make cookie dough as directed on package. Shape dough into 24 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place 1 ball into each muffin cup.

Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven; firmly press 1 candy into center of each cookie until flush with cookie top. Top each with 3 marshmallows. Bake 2 to 4 minutes longer or until marshmallows are puffed. Cool 10 to 15 minutes. Loosen edges of cookie with small metal spatula and remove to cooling racks. Cool completely.

*If you're using the Hersey's syrup like I did, just start drizzling! If not....
Melt chocolate chips in microwave on High about 1 minute or until softened. Gently put into plastic sandwich bag and squeeze bag until chocolate is smooth; cut off tiny corner of bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle chocolate over marshmallows. Let stand until hardened, about 10 minutes.

Review - these were Uh-Maz-Ing!!!! Seriously, make them. You won't regret it. I know it's not technically a s'mores because there isn't any graham cracker, but you won't care after the first bite. Make sure you serve them warm. Enjoy!!


Think Pink All Month Long

As many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In memory of Bryan’s mom Elyse, we are passionate supporters of the Susan G. Komen Foundation through annual donations and volunteering. This year I created a corporate team through my office for the Komen Atlanta 5K. Nearly 50 of us showed up with friends and family to run and my company was generous enough to donate $5,000. All together we raised nearly $10,000 for Komen Atlanta.

The wonderful thing about getting involved is that anything you do has the ability to make a difference. A great number of companies are doing their part to support various breast cancer funds and some are offering some adorable products for purchase.

In the spirit of football season, I had to mention the NFL. The National Football League has recently developed a campaign, "A Crucial Catch", in partnership with the American Cancer Society, to focus on the importance of annual screenings. Throughout the month of October, NFL games feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink apparel to raise awareness for the campaign. In addition, on-field pink ribbons are displayed, as well as special balls and pink coins. All of the apparel worn at games will auctioned off at NFL Auction, and proceeds will benefit charities such as the American Cancer Society. Be sure to check out some of the super cute pink apparel on sale through NFL here.

To find out other ways to help, please visit the American Cancer Society's  in your area, please visit their site today.

We all have the ability to make a difference. Don't wait.

To view my previous post related to Susan G. Komen, click here


The Memories We Fail To Capture…

Just the other day I was organizing picture albums and an interesting thought struck me. What happens to the memories we fail to capture?

There are the obvious memories we always remember:

An engagement:

A wedding:

The start of a New Year:

The last time you saw your loved one:

But what about the great memories that we don’t take pictures of? What about the meal that brought friends & family together or a moment that made you laugh so hard it brought you to tears?

Bryan and I do a solid job of taking the obligatory pictures at the most opportune times – i.e.: vacations, weddings, holidays – but what about the other hundreds of days every year that pass us by without ever getting documented?

The thought that so many of these wonderful memories get lost over time has been enough motivation for me - a new camera is officially on my wish-list for my 27th birthday!

Are there any memories you wish you had captured? I’d love to hear them!