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Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a NYC based food and travel website that views various dining scenes and destinations through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated thirty-something.

xoxo, 

Lindsay

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Entries in Weight Watching (19)

Wednesday
Feb072018

Seriously though, is breakfast the most important meal of the day? 

...Well, depending on the day you ask me, I will either be the first to a) exclaim "yes" or b) blurt a hearty "hell no!"

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec312015

Reviewed: I tried Sakara Life, the Victoria's Secret Angels' meal program of choice. And here's what I thought...

Almost a year ago, I went to the doctor for my annual physical and learned that I have both fibroids and stage-3 endometriosis.  I was told that the only way to get rid of these painful annoyances would be via surgery and medicine.  And, while I did end up having surgery back in August, I have since learned so much more about each issue - most notably how your diet can effect symptoms and future growth.  While I was hoping to hear that dairy, red meat, pork, fried stuff, refined carbohydrates, and processed treats would alleviate me of my suffering, I wasn't too surprised to read which foods actually did make the list: Organic everything, seasonal produce, little to no caffeine and alcohol, dairy alternatives (no soy), complex carbohydrates (in the form of beans, superfood grains, etc.), raw honey, tea...I could continue listing items, but it would just put you to sleep.  Plus, you probably already know them all, anyways. 

Basically, the healthiest way to exist is by eating organically, seasonally, and as close to vegan as possible.  But is that a sustainable lifestyle for someone, like me, who relishes in trying new restaurants of a multitude of cuisines, drinking margaritas, and becoming a "regular" at my favorite local watering holes?  No, not at all.  However, I think that if I aim to be 70% "on the vegan wagon with some pescatarian tweaks" and 30% "off the wagon (with martinis wine)," I should be ok-ish.  Baby steps...

I started seeing ads on Facebook and at Physique 57 for Sakara Life, a "100% Plant-Based + Gluten Free + Organic" food delivery program that recently began servicing Los Angeles.  Curious, I began scouring the web for more information/reviews; while the Sakara Life website is "pretty" to look at, it's not chock-full of as much information and "nitty gritty" as I would have liked.  I wondered if the food would taste like cardboard or if there'd even be enough of it.  I mean, with the program being touted by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and the Victoria's Secret Angels, those aren't very far-fetched concerns!  Plus, how much would each meal cost/day? 

Photo credit: Sakara Life // No, the chicks in the photo are not super models (though they could be); they're the founders of Sakara Life. Do y'all remember Dr. Atkins or Richard Simmons looking *this* good? Me neither. It didn't take me long to sign up for the "4-Day Sakara Holiday Special - Lunch + Dinner!"  While I love to cook, when it comes to new regimens, I prefer to "learn from the experts."  By that, I mean sampling my initial meals at the hands of a professional/restaurant prior to attempting a brand new cuisine/lifestyle on my own.

After ticking that I had no food allergies, I submitted my payment information.  While the price was hard to swallow (meals are about $29 each!), I justified the expense as research.  I vowed that I would learn as much as I could about each ingredient and how/why it was paired (with other components) to create the respective meal.  After four days, I told myself, I would have enough knowledge to be able to source and prepare my own meals at home. 

On Monday morning, I eagerly opened my front door to find my Sakara Life "cold bag" hanging on my door knob.  I unpacked the ready-to-eat lunches and dinners, Morning and Night Waters, and Detox Teas for two days' worth.  Plus a hand-written "welcome" note! 

Day 1

Morning Water 

Tranquil, slightly heavy, and floral, this alkaline water claimed to be full of "trace minerals and the purest essential oils on the planet."  It wasn't until I kept having to pee that I believed there was something other than perfume and tap water in this fancy clear beverage (#detox).   

Breakfast (I ate my own)

A.M. Detox Tea

Lunch: Sakara-Style Autumn Dumplings w/ Cranberry Dressing

Served atop a bed of spinach were two roasted vegetable dumplings that were enveloped by overly sticky and gelatinous rice paper.  Instead of dipping them in the cranberry dressing, I cut each dumpling in to bite sized pieces (this took quite a lot of effort and force because of the tough dumpling skin) and tossed them together with the spinach leaves and tart dressing.  Because I was starving, I forced myself to eat this meal in its entirety, knowing that each bite cost me about $3.  I was terrified that if this entree was on par with what I would be eating for the next few days, this week would prove to be excruciatingly arduous.

P.M. Detox Tea

Dinner: Buckwheat + Brussels Warming Winter Salad

After my extremely disappointing lunch, I was very trepidatious about dinner.  However, to my pleasant surprise, this "Warming Winter Salad" was much more flavorful and varied.  Cucumbers, fresh dill, beets, chickpeas, mixed greens, and buckwheat married beautifully.

Night Water

Oddly refreshing with a "soil" aftertaste, this chlorella-laced water quenched my post-dinner thirst (...and caused me to wake up approximately 5x that night to pee!  #detox).

.

Day 2

Morning Water

Breakfast (I ate my own)

A.M. Detox Tea

Lunch: Thai Burger w/ Rainbow Slaw + Root Fries

Please don't let this lunch suck as hard as yesterday's, I mumbled to myself as I assembled the components.  Instead of eating the "Thai Burger" with my hands, I crumbled the patty atop the greens, tossed in the "Rainbow Slaw," and cut the "Root Fries" in to bite-sized pieces, thus creating a bountiful makeshift salad.  To my surprise, yet again, this entree was quite delicious and incredibly filling.  And how about those colors? 

P.M. Detox Tea

Dinner: Forbidden Rice + Tatsoi Bowl

Forbidden rice (black rice), snap peas, green onion, whole cashews, and thinly-sliced roasted zucchini were served atop a bed of tatsoi and spinach.  Both textures and flavors were on-point here, leaving me satiated and satisfied. 

Night Water

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Day 3

My next two days' worth of meals and teas were delivered in the "cold bag" and hung on my door knob, ready to be fetched and unpacked upon waking on Wednesday morning.

Morning Water

Breakfast (I ate my own)

A.M. Detox Tea

Lunch: Prosperity Pad Thai w/ Kelp Noodles

Eeeeek!  You know it's not a good sign when I cannot even recall what this meal looked or tasted like.  :/  I even had to snag the photo, below, from Sakara Life's Twitter feed because I didn't take one of my own.  Sorry guys.

Photo source: Sakara Life via TwitterP.M. Detox Tea

Dinner: Red Beet Borscht + Olive Foccacia

As a Russian Jew who loathes the food of her forefathers, I was petrified of this meal.  While I enjoy beets in salads, I absolutely detest borscht.  However, since each Sakara entree cost me well over $20, I wasn't not going to eat this in its entirety.  Even if it sucked.

Yet again, Sakara left me shell-shocked: The borscht was absolutely delicious!  Cold, creamy, slightly sweet and gloriously savory, the soup paired swimmingly with the accompanying gluten-free olive foccacia and dill cashew creme. 

Night Water

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Day 4

So, today was Christmas Eve and I wasn't able to snap any photos of my meals.  I ate the lunch salad during my drive to San Diego (literally, with my fcuking hands - I cannot even imagine what my fellow passersby saw) and shared the dinner with my sister for a pre-lunch appetizer on Christmas Day.  Oh, and I didn't drink any of my waters or teas because of how choppy and sporadic my day was. 

Breakfast (I ate my own)

Lunch: Sakara Cobb Salad

Sans the traditional chicken, blue cheese, egg, and pork bacon (Sakara made "bacon" from strips of dried coconut), this was actually one of the more delightful Cobb salads I've ever had - and I didn't miss the dairy/meat components whatsoever!

Dinner: The Sakara Burrito Bowl

Like I mentioned above, I didn't actually eat this for dinner on Christmas Eve; my sister and I split it for a pre-lunch appetizer on Christmas Day.  Of all of the entrees that I enjoyed over the four days, this was, by far, my favorite: Sweet potato, avocado, Mexican-style brown rice, and other goodies came together over a bed of greens to create a "Burrito Bowl" full of texture, flavor, and variety.   A+

.

To conclude:

Would I recommend trying Sakara Life?  Hell yes.  If you have the funds and are currently residing in NYC, Miami, or LA, then I would highly recommend giving Sakara Life a shot - even if it's just for three days (which, by the way, they offer). 

Did I feel better after my four days on the program?  Yes, but in order to notice a remarkable shift, I need to follow this lifestyle for more than four days.  For me, it was a great introduction in to what lunches and dinners - at home or the office - should look like.  I enjoyed trying new items, such as dairy-free "cashew cheese" and "coconut bacon," two things I would have sworn I'd never eat years ago.  It has never been more clear or obvious to me that, in the words of Sakara's founders, "our bodies are woven from the foods we eat."  In my case, I believe that my health issues are a direct result of my poor diet.  And I am hell-bent on changing my destiny by what I put in my mouth; frankly, I'm just sick of being sick.

Was anything confusing or annoying about the program?  Beyond the price tag?  Yes.  I am a numbers person, so I would have appreciated knowing the nutritional information/values for each and every item that I ate and drank - something the company does not believe in disclosing.  Meh.

"A calorie is a unit used to measure energy, not nutrition. Calories are NOT created equal and are not a metric used for how fresh or healthy your food is. Rather than focusing on calories, we want to help you focus on how your clothes fit and how you feel! Isn’t that exciting? It’s an opportunity to listen to your body." - Sakara Life

 

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

A calorie is a unit used to measure energy, not nutrition. Calories are NOT created equal and are not a metric used for how fresh or healthy your food is. Rather than focusing on calories, we want to help you focus on how your clothes fit and how you feel! Isn’t that exciting? It’s an opportunity to listen to your body. - See more at: http://www.sakaralife.com/pages/nutrition#sthash.q2AwBtXm.dpuf
A calorie is a unit used to measure energy, not nutrition. Calories are NOT created equal and are not a metric used for how fresh or healthy your food is. Rather than focusing on calories, we want to help you focus on how your clothes fit and how you feel! Isn’t that exciting? It’s an opportunity to listen to your body. - See more at: http://www.sakaralife.com/pages/nutrition#sthash.q2AwBtXm.dpuf
A calorie is a unit used to measure energy, not nutrition. Calories are NOT created equal and are not a metric used for how fresh or healthy your food is. Rather than focusing on calories, we want to help you focus on how your clothes fit and how you feel! Isn’t that exciting? It’s an opportunity to listen to your body. - See more at: http://www.sakaralife.com/pages/nutrition#sthash.q2AwBtXm.dpuf
Friday
Jan302015

Help! I need to blow off some steam...

First of all, Thank Gawd It's (Fcuking) Friday! 

It's been one of those seemingly never-ending weeks where I've been in a horrible mood.  Nothing works - nothing is right - and the future looks bleeeeeeak.  This outlook, in turn, unleashes my inner beotch.  By Friday (today), I find myself apologizing to everyone for everything I've said/done since Monday.  "You need to blow off some steam," my mom quipped.  "Go to a spin class or something!  That'll make you feel better."

So, the thing about LA is, unless you're down with jogging or going for speed walks after work/in the dark, your only sweat-it-out option is to hit the gym.  Easy enough, right?  Well, throw in our infamous rush-hour traffic, and you can almost be certain that, unless you leave the office 45 minutes-1 hour in advance, your bike seat/yoga mat/barre space will be given away.  And you'll be charged with a big, fat late-fee.  Ask me again why you don't see me at Flywheel's West Hollywood location on a Wednesday evening...

For a hot minute, I was a member at Equinox.  While the facilities were immaculate, I found the studio classes to be pretty lame compared to, say, Flywheel or Physique 57.  Plus, to this day, I couldn't tell you the first thing about what to do on a gym floor (like with weights/machines), regardless of the "free personal trainer sessions when you join."  How in the hell can you take notes when someone is actively going through a workout with you?  And I'd rather be water-boarded than spend more than 5-minutes on a treadmill...

"Mom, I'm not taking a gawd damn spin class tonight.  I'm fcuking walking home from work as we speak.  Isn't that enough?!"  Clearly, from my amount of cussing, walking home from work is never the best solution for me to blow off steam...

When it's been "one of those days/weeks" here in LA, and I can't get to an exercise class after work, I either find myself drinking too much or mindlessly stuffing my face with food.  For fcuk's sake, I need some new ideas, folks.  Do I take up knitting?  Start smoking?  Kidding.  Kind of...   

How do you blow off steam in a healthy-ish manner?  I'd love to hear from you!

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Sunday
Jan252015

In 2015, I resolve to...read nutritional labels more carefully.

If you're anything like me - and many other Americans - then you're roughly 1-10 pounds "fluffier" than you were 2 months ago.  Sigh.

Although it is, without a doubt, the most wonderful time of the year, November and December also happen to be the most gluttonous time of the year...

 

So, in keeping with all of this "New Year's resolutions" crap, I am happy to report that, as of January 2, I've been consciously trying to eat cleaner and more mindfully.  Has it been perfect?  Absolutely not.  Especially when it comes to my alcohol intake.  Here's a great example: For breakfast, I was recently on an oatmeal kick until, after reading the small, finer print on the nutrition label, I learned that my beloved, albeit gimmicky, mason jar filled with "Haulin' Oats" was a double serving.  That's right: Instead of consuming what I thought was just 300 calories, I was wolfing down 600!  Can you believe that?  What company makes a double serving of oatmeal in a single-serving container?  Like I'm going to share it with a coworker, or something?  WTF is that?  Seriously!?  Thanks guys.  Thanks for making me fat!  And not with something exciting, like pizza or Mexican food...but with oatmeal!  OATMEAL.  Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Alternatively, I've started eating Survival Bars for brekkie.  Besides the fact that each bar is a SINGLE SERVING, what I like about this particular brand is that, unlike most others on the market, Survival Bars have no salt, refined sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors/colors, trans fats, gluten, or soy.  Plus, they're 100% Vegan, organic/non GMO, and 90% of the ingredients are raw!  Stop.  I know what you're thinking, so I'm going to answer you right now: No, Survival Bars DO NOT taste like shit or dirt or some type of exotic grass.  They're delicious and filling, with most varieties boasting 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.  And 300 calories or less.    

So, happy 2015, dear readers!  And here's to hoping that substituting Survival Bars for Haulin' Oats, Honeycrisp apples for peanut butter M+Ms, and boring ass green tea for warm, sugary coffee drinks will soon pay off.

...

Until we eat again, 

The Lunch Belle