Author of Two Amazon #1 Best Selling Cookbooks

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This Month’s Paper Magazine: Featuring Me & Rawk-n-Roll Cuisine =)

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May 11, 2012 random reviews , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

In this month’s issue of Paper Magazine, which is its food issue, my brand of kale chips and I are featured in the “Culinary Cool Kids” section.  Below are the tear sheets!  The article is also available to read online here.

Group shot

Full page with other local food fellows

Profile of me and RnR

Close up from the group shot, just because I love it

It is such an honor to be included in this magazine’s food issue!  To have my brand receive national press is an amazing feeling, and validates my years of work building the company.  I am confident that with the partnership I’ve obtained, the dream of being a national mainstream brand is an achievable one.  Many thanks to Paper Magazine for considering me a “Raw Renegade!”


Wood and Vine and Dead Roaches

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Apr 8, 2012 random reviews , , , , , , 0 Comments

I bothered returning to yelp to share this one, as it was the kind of experience I would want to know about before I embarked on a journey to Wood and Vine in Hollywood.

We went to Wood and Vine, which we had dined at before, last night because Ace liked their chicken and waffles.  She was full from other shared plates by the time it arrived, so she asked for it to be boxed and took it home.  We put the box, in its carrier bag, into the fridge for the night.

This morning Ace went to eat her breakfast of chicken and waffles, only to find that it was chicken, waffles AND DEAD ROACH.  Horrified, we sent them the photo on fb and twitter and requested they contact us- I know they’re open today serving brunch.

Having not yet received a reply, I called a short while ago and asked to speak to a manager.  I explained the situation, and the manager accused me of putting the roach in the food myself.  He said there was no way it came from there.  I was clear that it was in with the food when we opened the package, which had been untouched since leaving their restaurant.  It wasn’t alive, or even a whole creature, just the bulk of a body, so there is no way it crawled in from somewhere.  He continued to deny it and accuse me of placing a bug in the food.  I requested a refund, and he promptly HUNG UP ON ME.

The lack of service towards customers that I just experienced is deplorable.  Sure, maybe you don’t want to believe your restaurant has bugs like it clearly does, but shouldn’t you have the decency to treat a customer respectfully?  Who the hell HANGS UP ON CUSTOMERS who are asking to be refunded for a cockroach in their food?  I promptly called the bank and disputed the charge, and I imagine the health department will be interested in this issue as well.





 

UPDATE:

After reading our yelp reviews today, the owner both had the manager call and refund us, and emailed me himself.  He said he was mortified by the situation, and would do everything possible to make sure it never happened again.


Why Be Just Awesome? You Could Be Strawesome.

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Apr 5, 2012 random reviews , , , , 0 Comments

It took me a long time, but I’ve learned to love twitter.  So many random people and companies find me and my business, and I am constantly discovering new people and products too.  It’s great for the ego: I’ve been retweeted by Dr. Mercola, models Carol Alt and Anthony Anderson follow Rawk-n-Roll, and companies like iHerb and VitaCost reply with incredible speed about my customer service experiences on their sites.

One of my great twitter finds is a company called Strawesome, which manufactures glass straws.  I’ve never considered using glass straws before, and honestly had never given too much thought to the plastic straws I regularly throw in the trash because I refuse to grow up and use them regularly… I actually drink all my beverages through straws, including my daily close-to-a-gallon of water.  While I drink that water out of 16 oz mason jars and carry them with me out of the house to avoid plastic water bottles, I wasn’t really aware that there was an alternative to my plastic straw situation.  Strawesome started following both RnR and my personal account on twitter, and I noticed that their products were quite attractive.  I asked if they’d be interested in trading kale chips for glass straws; they kindly sent me two.

These things are awesome!  It took me a little while to adjust to the change in thickness, and to get used to the fact that I can’t bite down on them.  I also needed to get used to the glass-on-glass sound, but it’s a nice *clink* so that wasn’t much of a challenge.

These are similar to the ones they sent me:






 




Strawesome also sells bendy straws, colored straws, thicker smoothie and bubble tea straws, and even custom engraved straws.  If you have any straw-based needs, they’ve got you covered!






  





 




If you buy four or more, you get a free cleaning brush, which they have available for only $2 should you want just one or two to try first.  If ever there was an easy way to be more ecologically sound, this is it- and it’s even a pretty way to be a greener person!

 


A Friendlier Kombucha

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Mar 30, 2012 random reviews , , , , , 0 Comments

I’m a big fan of the famous GTDave’s kombuchas, but yesterday at Erewhon (the only store nearby to get the “classic” version rather than Whole Foods’ weaker “enlightened” line)  I noticed that their price had gone up yet again, this time to $3.99.  Scanning through the other brands, I came across this:





It was cheaper, but it was also smaller; 12 oz instead of 16.  So I looked at the nutrition facts, and was completely shocked that every flavor had only two grams of sugar in the whole bottle.  Even the non-sweetened GT Dave’s have four, and fruity flavors carry 8-10.  They also have about 70-80 calories to a bottle, and Dr. Chao has only 30.  Lastly, Dr. Chao has managed to pull a gram of protein into the mix.  I figured I’d give one a try; flavors ranged from vanilla to ginkgo, and I went for the St. John’s Wort one.

Plain/herbal kombuchas are never exactly oh-my-yumness beverages compared to their fruit counterparts, which I confirmed with this one on first sip.  But a couple drops of stevia later, it’s quite good!  Also a plus over Dave’s is that when I went to their site I saw that they use organic tea and organic sugar for the brewing process.

Dr. Chao also sells vegan coffee drinks, and they aren’t even made with soy- they use almond and coconut milks.  Definitely a brand to look out for!


Yelp Doesn’t Help

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Mar 29, 2012 random reviews , , , , 1 Comment

In my several years of writing reviews on yelp, I wrote nearly as many nonsense, prose reviews as I did legit ones of businesses.  I reviewed everything from a cleanse I did to marijuana to random men who hit on me.  Yelp never deleted any of those.

Today I received an email from yelp HQ letting me know that my post there about my blog had been removed due to it not being representative of direct consumer experience.  How in the world was my review of chewing relevant to consumer experience?  It wasn’t.  Nor were any of my other creative pieces.  But, in those pieces, I didn’t point out that yelp is a horrible commercial machine that always sides with businesses and refuses to protect reviewers from both angry owners and harassing fellow yelpers.

Thank you, yelp, for helping motivate me to start this blog.  I have well over 2,000 reviews in the two months since I started it, and I never have to worry about anyone flagging me for being honest.  As you continue to ignore harassed yelpers and side with the businesses who pay you to filter their bad reviews, I hope others will also flock to their own forums to make their voices heard.  You have grown into little beyond an advertising space for desperate businesses.

As much as I try not to spout anything negative, I am compelled to share this photo, which states the obvious in simple words:


ExpoWest: What I Loved, Laughed at, and Longed For

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Mar 11, 2012 greenwashing, random reviews , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

The Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA is the West Coast’s largest health foods trade show.  It’s been referred to as “CandyLand for adults,” and after attending, I agree heartily with that descriptor.  We went Friday and we were planning on going back today, but unfortunately little Bill is not having a good weekend so we decided to stay home.

On Friday we visited only a fraction of the booths (it’s way too much to take in in one day), meaning my review here is missing the great bulk and majority of exhibitors, and merely highlights some of what stood out to me, both good and bad.  I could have spent the entire day just in the basement, where they keep new products, as those were some of the most interesting ones.  We are all familiar with Amy’s Organics (they had an entire cafe set up) and Zico coconut water, so it was much more interesting to me to see smaller and newer companies.  It was also fascinating to learn how little or how much the demo reps for the brands knew about the people they were hired to present!  Some were incredibly well-versed in their brands, while others didn’t have even a minimal clue about what they were trying to sell and couldn’t answer even the simplest questions.

My favorite new finds:





Comvita was sampling their manuka honey and olive leaf extract.  They sell manuka honeys with 20+ umf levels, which are the highest you can generally find.  Umf stands for unique manuka factor, and represents the level of antibiotic properties in the honey.  Manuka honey is used by the Maori tribe of New Zealand, and has been used historically for its antibiotic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial qualities.  It was even approved recently for use in hospitals to treat antbiotic-resistant MRSA, a terrible form of staph.

Comvita’s olive leaf extract liquid is unique in that it is made of fresh olive leaves, not dried like the capsules I take to keep Lyme in remission.  It was peppermint flavored and while not tasty, was palatable.  I plan on ordering it because it is more bioavailable than capsules, as well as more potent.





Inner-eco sells coconut kefir, which in the past I have found too awful tasting to ever get used to.  I made it myself for a spell, but could never get past its vinegary smell and flavor.  Through the addition of stevia and natural flavors, Inner-eco has rendered the very healthy probiotic beverage delightful.  While I am not a fan of natural flavors in general, if they make coconut kefir tasty, I’m completely on board.





One brand I’d been looking forward to trying at the Expo was Swerve Sweeteners, which is a form of erythritol that they claim tastes as sweet as sugar; erythritol usually never gets beyond 70% sweetness.  Alas, I never noticed their booth, but I did find Eco-BeeCo, a blend of erythritol, stevia, maltodextrin and honey with a pronounced honey flavor.  I’m not very well read on maltodextrin, so I don’t have an opinion on it, but it’s good to know that there are options for cup-for-cup baking, especially with honey flavor.  However, I couldn’t find any info about where they source the honey from on their site, so I am unlikely to buy this and am more just throwing it out there for people looking for other sugar free options besides the commercially popular TruVia.

Brands that I got fun samples from and enjoyed speaking with:





Redmond RealSalt, unlike Himalayan salt, is an American product.  It comes from what was an ancient sea in Central Utah, and was discovered by Native Americans in 1959.  It contains over 60 trace minerals, and I’ve been using it quite happily for about two years.  When I say “Himalayan salt” in recipes, I mean RealSalt, I’ve just never bothered discussing it before.  The adorable little shakers they gave away of it should be able to sway anyone!  It’s cheaper than Himalayan salt, supports the American economy, and is equally healthful.  And pink.  Because, really, pink is important.





SunWarrior raw vegan protein powder is something I’d wanted to try for awhile, so the ability to both sample a pre-made shake as well as take a packet for later was fun.  I enjoyed their shake a lot, and not just because it had banana in it and I’m completely sugar-starved on a candida cleanse.  Yesterday morning I used the packet at home in a shake along with sugar-free So Delicious coconut milk, baby spinach, and ice.  It is the first raw vegan protein I’ve found that isn’t chalky at all, and I definitely plan on ordering it from iHerb once I’m running low on my current powder.  Pictured on top is an “ancient grains” granola that I unfortunately threw out the packaging for before photographing.  And, of course, that’s Chessie giving it her seal (or, well, mouth) of approval.





While I’ve never used Mountain Rose Herbs before, now that I’ve scored a slew of awesome bumper stickers from them, I’m inclined to give them a try.  Other ones I got where the typical “Support Organic Farmers,” “I <3 Herbs!” and “The Best Things in Life Are Organic.” The reps were friendly, and I wish they’d had some actual product samples.

Companies that would’ve been better served having reps who knew their products:

The first question that I, and several other attendees at this booth at the same time asked, was, “How is this product different from almond milk?” The reps for Victoria’s Kitchen had no idea what almond milk was, or how it was made.  In fact, they didn’t even seem too sure what “almond water” was, either.  The employee kept stating, “It has no milk,” as if almond milk contained dairy.  This product is sugar water with almond flavoring.  Not a health food in the slightest, this beverage contains 30 grams of sugar in a 16 oz bottle and has no nutritive value of any type.





We stopped at the futurebiotics booth wondering if the white kindey bean extract they had on display was for kidneys.  (It isn’t, it’s a carb blocker.) We use this brand’s probiotic, and I recognized the packaging so I asked her a question about that product.  The rep had no idea they even sold a probiotic supplement.  Shouldn’t people at least be given a list of all the company’s supplements, even if only a few are on display?





These people were sampling their ActiveX protein bars they said were, “raw, vegan, and organic.” I looked at the ingredients after tasting a sample bc it seemed very not-raw, and the first ingredient was peanut butter.  I asked, “Do you use jungle peanuts, since there is no such thing as raw peanut butter?” Peanuts contain aflatoxin, a mold that can only be removed through roasting.  Jungle peanuts are the only type of peanut that don’t have that mold, and are therefore safe to eat raw, but you rarely find them in protein bars.  The rep asked what a jungle peanut was, and I explained.  He then said he didn’t know, but that I could ask the manufacturer.  Upon closer look, the second ingredient was brown rice syrup, which is also a cooked ingredient.  These bars may be organic, but they are certainly not raw in the slightest and should not be marketed as such.  To make me dislike them further, their website just crashed my browser and I nearly had a heart attack when I got logged out of wordpress and thought I lost everything I typed so far on this blog.  Aside: thanks, wordpress, for being so on top of auto-saving.  You rock.





Whether or not these reps knew their products, I can’t say, because they were too busy ignoring us to even say hello.  I tried interacting, but both women just stared at me blankly and didn’t speak.  Though I have bought their products plenty in the past, I am a bit less inclined to do so now.  They were speaking to one another when we walked up, but stopped as I stood there glancing at samples, so it wasn’t as if they were too engaged in their own conversation.  The lack of response to my mentioning that I bought their crackers, and asking if it was ok to take a sample, was the opposite of how a business should behave.  They did not say a single word in reply, though they looked right at me.  I am your customer.  Don’t you know that being too cool to do your job by interacting is going to make me choose a different brand of food next time I’m at the store?

The FrankenFood Award goes to:





I feel the same about this stuff as I do meat from a test tube: progresive idea, but creepy.  EarthSpring Foods has found a way to get the estrogen out of soy, which is great, but again, creepy.  They claim they also remove the phytates, or anti-nutrients, that regular soy is full of.  I don’t personally eat soy, except in small doses of its fermented forms, because of both the phytates and estrogens it is so full of.  So, if you are looking to feed the world soy, this may be a better alternative, and they have numerous forms of it including powder, paste, butter, milk and flour.  But if you are just looking to eat food- regular, real, unadulterated food- you are probably best served avoiding this (as well as most other soy products).

My crowning jewel of the day:





Dr. Andrew Weil was a staple in my 1980s holistic home; my parents had his books, watched him on PBS, etc.  He, along with Dr. Mercola, was one of the first medical doctors to publicize the need for integrative medicine.  I’ve eaten at his restaurant as well, so seeing him there was a total starstruck moment.  Ace insisted I get a photo with him, even though she and I both feel like hell lately and weren’t much in a picture mood.  I also saw Cat Cora, but she was on her way out and the last thing I wanted to do was be invasive and stop her for a photo.

Because my brand wasn’t exhibiting this year, I feel like my attendance was a valuable lesson in how to properly exhibit and interact with customers.  Next year I look forward to Rawk-n-Roll Cuisine hopefully being a vendor at ExpoWest, and plan on doing everything possible to emulate the brands I most enjoyed here.


Rock, Paper, Hair Cut

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Feb 29, 2012 random reviews , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Getting a hair cut is hard work!  At least, it is if you are picky and have complicated hair.  I got about five months out of my last cut, which I guess for a heavily layered look is actually awhile, but by the time I went to Rock Paper Salon today, I was hating my hair and the mushroom-shaped quality it had acquired on top.  Since my hair is very long these days (at least in back), I am kind of neurotic about much being taken off, but at the same time I want it ALL GONE NOW so I feel light and free.  And I don’t want anything round-ish at all, and I don’t want it to grow out to look like I belong on Friends, and I don’t want a mullet but I want it really 80’s rockerish, and I want sweepy bangs but I hate the feel of hair on my forehead so they can’t actually act like bangs.  And I have naturally huge, frizzy JewFro, which I prefer to wear as stringy and straight as flat irons and styling products can accomplish.

Unimpressed by my last cut at Studio DNA, where I felt like the girl was just overwhelmed by me (I know, big shock), I found a new salon called Rock Paper, located in Echo Park.  My mom had sent me a link to an article about a salon called Refuge, which is owned by a formerly Amish girl, because my mother knows how crazy in love I am with anything Amish (I know, big shock again, but in a totally different way), so I had looked it up recently… only to discover that it was on Tabitha’s Salon Takeover, and even after the show, seemed to still be kind of a disaster.  A couple of the girls from there had started a new salon, and since Ace uses the biz name “Ace Paper Sparrow” for her art, and since Rock Paper had five stars on yelp (Hi, yelp, I still don’t miss you), I decided to give it a try.

Cuts here are generally $65-95, and mine would’ve been the full $95, which was just too ‘spensive for me.  One stylist had a new client special though, and if I came in with my hair already ironed they wouldn’t have to charge for styling, so a $55 deal was offered to me and I gladly accepted it, because I help put the Jew in JewFro (which, for the record, is only a funny joke if I am the one saying it, otherwise it’d be totally offensive).  My stylist was Pam, who was by far the least chatty of any hair stylist I’ve ever had, and even though I’d brought photos and would like to think I’m fairly intelligible in my descriptions/instructions, we still had some communication issues.  (Based on my past, though, I’m realizing I may just be a pain in the butt with difficult hair.)

One hour and forty minutes later (!!!), which did not include any washing/drying, I had new hair, which was the old hair I was looking for, and I love it.  I assume it will be quicker next time if I return to her, which I will provided the style grows out ok.  Pam had a cute 60’s look and was mild-mannered and thorough, even if unable to make the connections between my words and hand gestures.  She kept saying that my hands were doing different things than my words were telling her to, and eventually I was like, ok, just ignore my hands, and focus on my words.  It was comical, if not odd/annoying for both of us.  My only complaint about the salon was the amount of hair under things and in corners, as if no one had swept thoroughly in recent days/weeks/????.  Since I doubt they want to end up with a visit from Tabitha too, they might want to make that look a bit more appealing for customers.  It was clean besides that, and reception was quite friendly.














I Pledge Allegiance to Crappy Planes

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Jan 24, 2012 random reviews , , , , , 0 Comments

I enjoy flying about as much as I love roller coasters, sitting in the back seat of a car, laying too far back in a chair, or anything else that incites my hyper sensitive motion sickness. Dramamine helps, but the regular kind knocks me out for a day and the non-drowsy makes me feel like I’m on really cheap, bad drugs, so I only use it for long flights.

My parents moved to Ashland, Oregon a couple years ago- against my wishes, pleas and warnings- so in order to visit them from L.A., my spouse and I are forced to fly. Ace is a total trooper (who also loves roller coasters and laying too far back in chairs), but I have a rough time. We take Allegiant, because it’s freaking cheap. Medford, Oregon is a terrible place to fly into, with an airport of only a couple gates, and all- meaning both- other airline choices are outrageous, generally have connecting flights, and only stop in Medford at hours like six a.m. or midnight.

The problem with Allegiant is how crusty the planes are. I’m a self-confessed snooty girl who’s morally opposed to anything remotely yucky, so I am always grossed out by the planes, which are from the 1990s at the latest, threadbare, and seldom cleaned. Currently I’m fixated on the shiny, greasy remnants of lord-knows-what smeared across my tray table area, and the squished crunchy somethings all over the floor. No frills is one thing, but it’s like Allegiant is anti-frills. And while the flights are very cheap, one can’t help but be a little agitated by the fact that you either have to pay an extra $12 for an actual seat or wait till all the bougies who bought seats (of which I am one) have boarded before you can get on.

If you take Allegiant- and I begrudgingly recommend you do, at least if you’re going to somewhere with very few flights choices- remember to stock up at home or at the airport on snacks and water, because these cheapskates don’t give you anything for free… drinks and snacks are all “for purchase only.” Although, we did just score a napkin out of a flight attendant, and for Allegiant, that’s pretty amazing.



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I just don’t yelp you anymore

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Jan 19, 2012 random reviews , 0 Comments

Once upon a time, also known as for several years up until a month or two ago, I was a star (and “elite”) yelper.  Hell, I was pretty much an all-star yelper, I was so damn yelpy.  I got the “review of the day” every three months like clockwork, had over 600 people request to be my friend, and was often featured in the weekly newsletter.  Sadly, yelp did me wrong.  Repeatedly.  I encourage you to read the details of that here: http://www.yelp.com/list/i-said-no-no-no-i-wont-go-go-go-west-hollywood-4

Thus, welcometomyblog.  I didn’t really want to do this because I’m pretty much a lazybones, but I also didn’t feel right continuing to exert my time and copious efforts making money for a website that took pride in treating me like poop.  I dedicate this first blog to my yelp profile, which is the product of several years of eating, wearing clothes, getting over a major disease, running a business, falling in love, and other living in the Los Angeles area.

The full profile is http://rawariane.yelp.com

My list of organic oases is http://www.yelp.com/list/my-organs-are-organic-los-angeles

Place I can’t stand are what that link in the first paragraph directs you to

My experiences eating raw are http://www.yelp.com/list/rawk-n-roll-west-hollywood

Creative musings for technically unyelpable things are http://www.yelp.com/list/i-beat-you-i-win-west-hollywood

And these are my feelings about local farmers markets http://www.yelp.com/list/farmers-market-floozy-los-angeles-2

There are other lists, but those are my favorites.  From this point on, I’ll be baring all the opinionated, no-holds-barred fruit right here.