Giving Tuesday is Near

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.” – unknown

Happy Thanksgiving fam!

I hope you have a wonderful day and an amazing feast! I would like to encourage everyone to take this day as an opportunity, especially as you may gather with family and friends, to remind you that Giving Tuesday is next week.

As a foodie, I’m naturally drawn to hunger and food insecurity causes. The USDA estimates that 14 million US households are food insecure. Higher rates exist among men and women living alone, those with children, black and Hispanic households, and least surprisingly, low income households. That to me is completely unacceptable in a country that has more than enough food to feed everyone. Greed and waste are at the root of hunger and food insecurity, not lack of food. Sometimes it’s up to us as individuals and groups to ensure that our neighbors are taken care of when needed.

This year I’ve chosen to give to Patriot Pantry, a food bank for students of the university I work at, who are homeless and/or food insecure. This cause is very dear to me as a college administrator, and a former student myself, because students deserve to succeed, and hunger should never be a factor interfering with that. George Mason University is situated within one of the richest areas in the country – the Washington, DC Metropolitan area (DMV). Again, there is no excuse for these students to go without a basic necessity like food, where households a mile down the road may bring in million dollar incomes.

Other examples of local organizations in the DMV that fight hunger and food insecurity:
Maryland Food Bank
Arlington Food Assistance Center
Food for Others in Fairfax, VA
DC Central Kitchen

But I digress, your favorite cause doesn’t need to be food-related at all, it just needs to be important to you.

Have you decided yet which organization you will be giving to on Tuesday?

A Different Perspective

It’s no surprise that most of my content revolves around food, but did you know there’s something else my life revolves around? Chronic illness. Yep, I’m a chronic illness warrior. People don’t typically know this unless I tell them, because I “don’t look sick.”

Without going into too much detail here, on a regular basis I battle multiple chronic illnesses. They started when I was 13 and experienced my first migraine attack. I like to mention it once in a while so that 1) I don’t feel invisible, and 2) others know they aren’t alone, and hopefully I can provide some sort of empathy and encouragement for them.

To lessen the effects of these conditions, there are certain things I try to incorporate into my routine. I do yoga every night, and I know it’s not a cure-all, but it definitely helps. I drink a lot of water and tea, use natural CBD salves, and say “no” when I’m not feeling well. Another important thing I do is constantly research nutrition and implement dietary changes. This is the most challenging thing for a foodie, because granted, I fall off the wagon A LOT!

So knowing firsthand the negative effects that gluten and soy have had on my body, I was so excited to be able to witness and participate in the VIP preview ceremony for a certified gluten-free bakery in northern Virginia – The Difference Baker. This is not only an important step for people with gluten intolerance and sensitives, but for the community in general, as it provides healthy and delicious food alternatives. This facility is also completely soy and peanut-free, and offers dairy-free, nut-free, and vegan options.

TL;DR

As guests of The Difference Baker, we sampled a number of delicious items like cookies, scones, cinnamon buns, and cupcakes. My absolute favorite was the “Everything but the Bagel” macaron – a unique sweet and savory cookie. We also enjoyed cheese and chicken quesadillas. I intended to eat only one slice, but I simply couldn’t resist helping myself to more.

Everything was so delicious! If you didn’t already know it was gluten-free, you probably wouldn’t figure it out without being told! How lucky to have a gluten-free bakery open up right in the area. I’m really excited for this family-owned and operated business to take off, especially as it opened 1 week from Small Business Saturday.

During my first visit there, I was able to chat briefly with the owners. Such an incredible family – they are really going to make this place shine! Check them out now, and stay tuned for what’s to come.

Focus On: Agua 301

I’m excited to share my first “Focus On” with you! I’m not a good critic, which is why I never got into Yelp. I’m not good at writing negative reviews, especially about the restaurant business, because I know how easy it can be to have one bad night due to unusual and unexpected circumstances that don’t accurately reflect the place. Now, ask me to write a negative review about an apartment that I spent 24/7/365 in and I will happily rip open a new one ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ

Anywho, I only write about restaurants I love – short and sweet, so let’s put the focus on Agua 301 in Washington, DC.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Agua 301 with a group of foodie friends. The Yards Park restaurant at the Capitol Riverfront serves a variety of delicious Mexican dishes with a modern flare for dinner, lunch, brunch and happy hour.

Chef JAO’s talent and passion for Mexican cuisine is quite evident. Every dish I tasted was incredible! Even things I don’t normally eat, like Pork Belly, made its way to the top of my favorites list in the form of Tacos. Other dishes among my favorites included Chipotle Shrimp, Steak & Shrimp Fajitas, Crab Cakes Benedict, Sopa de Mariscos (seafood soup), and Mushroom Huarache (a vegetarian flatbread.)

We had such a great night of community, eating, and enjoying margaritas and sangria. It’s such a fun atmosphere and the location is nice too. Chef is so personable and talented, the staff was super friendly and attentive, and the food speaks for itself! If you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, do yourself a favor and go!