i know this space is usually reserved for the more mundane conversations about food, life, weather, what's going on at the moment; but there's so much more of the heavier things that impact us all on a daily basis that i typically reserve for conversations with family or friends. maybe some of you are aware that before i started blogging i was a teacher here in nyc. i came into contact with students from all walks of life - those more affluent, those of whom who weren't. the last position i occupied before i left was in a low-income neighborhood in upper manhattan where i was working with elementary-aged children with learning disabilities. it was a program that was run both during the day and after school. i got to see these children in the morning, in the afternoon during lunch, and after school when they were tired and depleted from a long day.
as i was running my blog part-time on the weekends and connecting my personal relationship with food and its impact on my health and well-being, i couldn't help but do the same with the kids i was working with each day. i remember coming home and telling frank that there was nothing to eat in the neighborhood for lunch, or to grab for a snack. so each morning i would meticulously pack my meals with fresh fruit from my local farmers market, make big green salads, and have my tea or green juice concoctions in my travel mug. my kids would come in with their snacks brought from home - cheese puffs, potato chips, cookies, etc. when the students in our after school program showed up they too would come with various snacks they had bought or that was packed for them and seldom was there anything substantial like a fruit or some sort of vegetable. i began connecting the dots. i was bringing food everyday because there were little options for purchasing fresh produce and meals in this neighborhood and my students didn't have that option either.
there was no term for neighborhoods or even towns like this when i was teaching (or at least i wasn't aware of them then), but they're now identified as food deserts. food deserts effect more than 30 million americans across the country; they're places that have little or no access to fresh, affordable vegetables and fruit. they can be in the middle of a busy city like nyc, or in the middle of the country where contact with main routes of travel often produce less traffic, and therefore less fresh fruit and veg. i'm teaming up with naked juice and their #DrinkGoodDoGood initiative to fight food deserts. for every fruit or veggie selfie taken with the hashtag: #DrinkGoodDoGood, naked juice will donate 10 pounds of produce to aid communities in need - how awesome is that!? and you can totally join in on the cause by posting a selfie on instagram or twitter using the #DrinkDoGood hashtag - simple as that!
*this post was created in partnership with Naked Juice. all thoughts and opinions are my own. thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that help keep dolly and oatmeal going!
cilantro-watermelon granita w/ mint
this is a simple, hydrating and super refreshing snack or dessert for this last hurrah of summer before we go back to school and things get back to the hustle and bustle. i used cilantro and mint to herb the granita up a little bit, and i love the flavor here! sweet, watermelon-y, a few hints of cilantro and mint, and a little tang from the lime juice. it's my perfect summer cooler -especially at 37 weeks pregnant! :)
| serves 4-6 |
- 1 medium seedless watermelon, rinds removed and cut into chunks (roughly 4 cups)
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
- juice from 1 1/2 limes
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh mint
- mint blossoms, for garnish (optional)
- place the chunked watermelon, sugar, lime juice, and salt into the container of a blender. blend on high for a minute or so, until watermelon is completely broken down and sugar is dissolved. add the cilantro and mint and pulse until herbs are broken up. pour mixture into a 9x13" rectangular pan and place in the freezer.
- freeze mixture until the edges begin to set, about 35-40 minutes. use a fork to scrape and break up any frozen parts, then return to the freezer for another 35-40 minutes. continue to scrape and freeze until all shavings are frozen and fluffy, about 3-4 hours. (granita can be made a few days in advance and kept covered in the freezer.)
- scoop granita into cups or bowls and top with mint blossoms (optional).