Cookies That Do You Good

I recently discovered Sweet Loren’s, a brand of cookie dough available in most grocery stores. What caught my attention was that these were whole grain, dairy-fee, with no artificial flavors, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Finally, a cookie that won’t weigh you down and feels good to the tastebuds! What’s more unique is the story of Loren Brill, Founder & CEO of Sweet Loren’s, an enterprising young woman who herself survived cancer and wanted to make a change in how people eat. Read my interview with Brill below…

loren-with-package2What inspired you to start Sweet Loren’s?

I was inspired to start Sweet Loren’s after overcoming cancer at a young age, searching for ways to satisfy my sweet tooth with ingredients I felt good about. When I couldn’t find any delicious cookies in stores that had tasted great and had the ingredients I wanted, I realized I was going to have to make my own. So, I started to make my own recipes like a crazy scientist. Soon, my younger sister, who was my taste tester, agreed that these were the best cookies she’d ever had. Neighbors and friends started to order them, and that’s when I realized that the world was starving for better-for-you sweets and snacks. I knew we were in a different world than when I was a kid, a world where we are much more educated about how important food is to our health & well-being. I became inspired to find a way to share these recipes with as many people as possible, and making it easy for anyone to bake fresh cookies in their own homes. I started Sweet Loren’s with a mission to Change the Way America Bakes.

Did you have any background in baking/ food business?

I worked at Levain Bakery in NYC for several years and that is where I fell in love with baking and the way delicious baked goods make people feel. I was also a waitress for a long time to make money in the summers and that’s where I learned a lot about customer service. I attended classes at The Natural Gourmet Institute and completed The New School’s Master Class in Cooking before starting Sweet Loren’s. Mainly though, I just tweaked recipes until they tasted homemade and decadent, but were only made from real, whole food ingredients.

How did you start?

In 2010 I was managing a small restaurant in NYC, and was miserable. I knew I was an entrepreneur who wanted to change the world and make it better in some way. I entered a baking contest because my friends kept pushing me to and I had binders of recipes that I wanted people to try. I won the contest and the judge came up to me and said “You have to do something with this.” That’s when a light bulb went off in my head and I knew that I was meant to start Sweet Loren’s. So, I quit my job the next month. I lived at home at the age of 26 and emailed anyone and everyone I knew. I took a business writing course to figure out how I wanted to start Sweet Loren’s — a bakery? baking mix company? cookie dough? the possibilities were endless. A guy named Cory in my class worked at Whole Foods. He set me up with a meeting with the buyer before I had an actual packaged product. I took the meeting to understand the needs of Whole Foods, and they put in an order the next day for cookie dough. I remember crying on the call because that’s when I knew I had a real business. I immediately started calling factories nearby that could help me make the cookie dough so I could be the only one to sell it and run the rest of the business. I found the factory, and a month after launching in Whole Foods, I won a contest and the people’s choice award for The Next Big Small Brand for Culinary Genius. I got national press because of winning that contest and that’s when I started to get emails from people around the country, in every state, saying they were pressed for time but wanted homemade tasting, all natural, delicious cookies at home and would buy Sweet Loren’s if it was sold near them. That’s when I realized that I had a lot of work to do in order to make as many people happy with our products to make sure there was a natural option for them.

What are some of the challenges you faced?

How to get our story and product out there! We now are sold in over 4,000 supermarkets. This is very exciting but we are still small compared to the big brand names on the shelf. We need as many people as possible to be part of our community and help us figure out what other products they would like to see. Our goal is to unify as many people as possible that have a sweet tooth but want to have clean ingredients in their food. We want to keep you happy and healthy with our products!

Do you have a proud moment you want to share with our readers?

A proud moment was when Hoda Kotb of the Today Show picked Sweet Loren’s as one of her favorite things. She brought me on the show and interviewed me. Plus, she and Kathy couldn’t stop eating the cookies. It was so adorable and amazing that I almost had to catch myself from smiling too much. I feel very lucky that we’ve had support from amazing people – it has shown me that your wildest dreams can come true if you work hard and stay passionate.

How is Sweet Loren’s different from other cookies/ sweets found in health food stores?

Sweet Loren’s is very different than any other dough! It is the only better-for-you cookie dough on the shelf that is 100% whole grain, non-dairy, and made with no artificial flavors/colors, corn syrup or trans fat. We are award winning and have tons of delicious recipes on our website that you can make using our cookie dough too. Nothing is better than a warm cookie – and now you can make just one or two with our convenient place & bake packaging!

Where can consumers purchase Sweet Loren’s? 

Customers can find our products in supermarkets across the country in the refrigerated dairy aisle. We can be found in bright pink packaging in all Kroger’s, Publix, Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market, Wegman’s, Hannaford, Whole Foods (northeast and south pacific), and many more. Just put your zip code in our easy store locator on our website and you can find the closest store to you!

What advice would you give to someone who is an aspiring food entrepreneur?

The advice I would give is to find a need in the marketplace and then focus on creating a really great product to fill that need – make your product the best out there. Surround yourself with the best A players and advisors so that you have a team to help fight this fight with you. It is not easy! So, you need a smart business plan, pricing plan, and great factory to help you make the product. Sweet Loren’s is proof that the next generation is looking for higher quality products they feel great about eating themselves and feeding their kids. Passion, hard work, and focus have been keys to success. If you’re passionate about food, it’s hard to find something else that makes you as happy. Lots of opportunity to build a great business, make progress in the food industry, and make a lot of people happy with a brand they can trust.

Do you have an idea for a food product or just started a food related business? If yes, share your story below…

Where In The World Do You Want To Move To?

Last night, the immigration website for Canada crashed due to too much traffic. Apparently, that is the first country Americans think of moving to (almost every 4 years) especially during election time. Most of them do not end up making the jump across the border though.

This time it’s different. A lot of my friends started planning their move few months ago, getting disenchanted by everything happening in America – the quality of education & healthcare, lack of job growth, frequent shooting incidents, divided political system, etc. I am referring to people who are born and brought up in the U.S., not immigrants. Some are looking for a better place to live, some for adventure, and others just want to get away from the hatred they see around them.

So, has the thought of moving abroad crossed your mind? Do you know where you would like to go to?

Here are some criteria I would recommend considering when looking to move to a new country…

English Speaking – Language is no longer a barrier in today’s world, as many counties have English as their primary language, if not the language they do business in. These countries have 90% or more of the population English speaking – Ireland, Philippines, Caribbean (Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Bermuda, Trinidad), New Zealand, UK, Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Malta. Source: Wikipedia.

Darker the green - more English speakers
Darker the green – more English speakers

Economy – Where in the world are all the jobs? According to projected nominal GDP, the top economies in 2021 will be China, the U.S., India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, the U.K. and France.

Entrepreneurship – For millennials, this is an important factor as many choose to work for themselves in meaningful businesses. How entrepreneurial a country is based on how connected it is to the rest of the world, provides easy access to capital, skilled labor force, technological expertise, transparent business practices, well-developed infrastructure and well-developed legal framework. Germany, Japan, US, UK, Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Singapore and Australia top the list.

Safety – Families with kids are looking to bring up their kids in a safe environment, with “gun free zones” and a relatively peaceful population. Finland, Qatar, UAE, Iceland, Austria, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore are rated as the safest places to live in the world. Source: WEF

Education – Again, if you have kids, you want them to be able to receive a good quality education within the public school system. Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland spend the most money on education as a percentage of their gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

Cost of Living – Clearly, you want to move to a place that is affordable. Perhaps you want to buy a home or maintain the same lifestyle. South and Central America have a good lifestyle/ cost balance and especially appeal to retiring Americans, while Scandinavia is the most expensive place to live. Note: cost of living is not the same as quality of life. Source: NUMBEO

Most expensive place is marked by Orange - Medium is Yellow - Cheapest is Green
Scale shows most expensive places to live in Red

Adventure – Research shows that a chance to break away from the normal rhythms of daily life reduces stress and improves health and well-being. Brazil, Italy, Spain, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Costa Rica, Portugal and Mexico top the list of countries that offer enough opportunities to explore. Source: U.S. News

Quality of Life – Each year, there are Best Places to Live rankings posted. Often times, you will find some of the same countries listed over and over again. Canada, Australia and 7 European countries including Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg are rated in the top 10. Source: U.S. News

Environment and pollution is a big factor for me. Here is a chart showing where you can still find clean air on planet Earth.

map-view-pollution
Green – good, Red – bad

What is the single most important factor you would look for in your new home country? Leave a comment below...

Advice From LPGA Champions

Continued from Golf + Travel = Passion… Below 21-year old Alison Lee candidly shares how difficult it is to eat healthy and stay fit while on the road. She was ranked number 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for 16 weeks in 2013–14. She is also named the “most beautiful women in golf” by Golf.com.

OCALA, FL - FEBRUARY 03: Alison Lee of the United States plays a shot on the sixth hole during the first round of the Coates Golf Championship Presented By R+L Carriers at Golden Ocala Golf Club on February 3, 2016 in Ocala, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
OCALA, FL – FEBRUARY 03: Alison Lee of the United States plays a shot on the sixth hole during the first round of the Coates Golf Championship Presented By R+L Carriers at Golden Ocala Golf Club on February 3, 2016 in Ocala, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

What do you enjoy most about travel?

At first it was hard to adjust to being away from home and friends, but it is fun to see new places and cities that I have never been to before. I love trying different types of food and doing activities off the golf course. For example, when we had our tournament in Vancouver, my Dad and I went to Stanley Park and rented a bicycle and circled all along the park by the water which was so beautiful. When my mom and I were in Hawaii last year, we went on hikes and went to a couple different beaches and tourist areas.

Do you get enough time to go out and explore the local culture? 

It really depends on the week and where we are playing. Last year, I was able to explore cities and do fun and interesting things if I had missed the cut. Otherwise, I try and practice a little on Monday mornings and have the rest of the afternoon to explore. If I can’t really go sightseeing then the first priority is to try a good restaurant in the area. I either ask around to get local advice on popular spots or use Yelp.

What have been some of your most insightful moments of 2015? 

I don’t think I had any one moment in particular that stood out to me, but overall it was the experience of being on Tour as a rookie in 2015. Everything was new and different and took time to adjust to. The golf, the players, being in the spotlight; it was very overwhelming and not as glam as a lot of people may think it is. It was very difficult and was a grind for sure, but it also made me appreciate the game of golf more.

When you are on Tour, how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

It was very hard for me to remain healthy. Since I was traveling and playing more golf than I ever had, it was difficult to keep track of what I was eating and make time to work out after long days on the course. It is definitely something I have to work on for 2016.

What do you like most about golf?

Definitely the competition. I can get very competitive and set high goals for myself, and that is why I love the game. You can never practice enough and you can never be too good. There is so much that can be done to get to the next level and there is always room for improvement.

Besides golf, what are your other passions?

I have a lot of other passions that make me happy. I love everything UCLA, food, cupcakes, shopping, and just having a good time with friends. I feel like it’s so important to have other hobbies and joys outside of golf to help relieve stress.

Do you play for any charities? 

I do not play for any in particular. I do have a passion for helping out foster children and hope to do something on a larger scale for them sometime in the near future. My mother works for DCFS and tells me the stories of a lot of kids and what they are going through just in the Los Angeles system. It really breaks my heart to see that people can forget or overlook this group.

Read other interviews with Brooke Henderson and Ryann O’Toole.

If you are inspired to play golf around the world, join Go Eat Give’s 3rd annual charity golf fundraiser on November 7, 2016 at Laurel Springs Golf Club in Suwanee, Georgia.

Golf + Travel = Passion

Continued from Ladies Who Golf….Ryann O’Toole (age 29) talks about what she loves most about traveling and how she keeps focused on good and bad days.

California native Ryann O'Toole. She holds the course record at Colwood Golf Club in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with a 66.
California native Ryann O’Toole. She holds the course record at Colwood Golf Club in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with a 66.

Which countries did you play in during the past year (2015)?

I played in the Bahamas, Canada, France, Malaysia, China and Japan.

What do you enjoy most about travel?

The best thing about traveling is experiencing the vast variety of culture in each country. Being submerged into that country’s culture for a week is so much fun. I love meeting new people, trying different foods and exploring the reasons for what makes that place so special. Every destination seems to have a reason why people have chosen to live there and I love getting to see exactly what that is!

Do you get enough time to go out and explore the local culture? 

I would never say we get enough time, but not many sports get to stay in a place for a week. I’ll take the time I can get and make the most of it. Aside from the obvious tourist destinations,  I think exploring the local food and restaurants is the best way to view a culture.

What have been some of your most insightful moments of 2015? 

Some of my most insightful moments of 2015 include understanding the real value of one golf shot at a time, learning to be happy with slow and steady growth, and that with each day comes with new feels, thoughts, challenges and outcomes. It is vital for a player to stay in the moment and keep the mind present and focused on the shot at hand. I see this as the key to scoring low rounds, or keeping bad days of play under control. I finally became content with this process and watching myself slowly get better week by week. What helped was seeing the consistency increase each day. Low rounds were happening more often, and on not-so-good days I kept under control. My coach Jorge Parada really helped me understand this process.

A good example is a moment from the 2015 CME Group Tour Championship. On hole 9 in my second round, I was five under and playing solid and very steady. I carded a nine on a par 4, costing me to go from five under to even par. All the great work I had done, all the momentum I was building was gone in one hole! This truly tested my ability to stay focused on the shot at hand. When I made the turn and teed up on hole 10, I knew in order to keep my round going I had to focus back into the moment. I managed to stay focused and was able to shoot two under on the back nine. Although I was not happy with the overall score of the round, I was able to recover and keep myself in the race.

I also found in 2015 that each event your body feels different, not only each event, but each day. Not every day is going to be perfect and with that comes acceptance. The best players are the ones who can go out on the course and make the most of the playing ability they have that day. They find a way to get the job done, regardless of how they feel. This is the true test of any athlete who competes day in and day out and wants to win.

When you are on Tour, how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle really boils down to self-discipline and asking yourself how badly you want to become the best. On the road it is easy to look at a menu and pick the less healthy choice, or say yes to dessert. I work hard in the gym and enjoy the feeling of being healthy, so for me it isn’t hard to stay healthy on the road. The LPGA makes sure to provide us with healthy breakfast and lunch options each week as well. The LPGA is also great with providing a gym trailer that follows us around from week to week. It just takes time to create a routine and keep up healthy habits when you travel on the road.

What do you like most about golf?

I love golf for everything it gives me. The Competition, camaraderie, ability to travel and see the world and meeting people everywhere we go is an amazing experience. It is a lifelong sport that I can play until the day I stop walking. There is nothing about golf that I don’t like.

Besides golf, what are your other passions?

When I am not golfing, you can find me at the beach. I love to surf so when I take vacations, it is to places I can surf. Golfing is my passion, but surfing is my hobby. It is the one place where I can mentally check out and allow myself to get fully consumed with that current moment. Alone in the water, it is a place where I have absolutely no control and that feeling is euphoric.

Do you play for any charities? If so which ones, and why?

Yes, I play for PHIT America. It is an organization that’s setup to bring awareness to the obesity problem we have in the United States. The goal is to main provide knowledge and information for the public to learn what is good and bad for their bodies.

Click here to read part 3 of this post.

If you are inspired to play golf around the world, join Go Eat Give’s 3rd annual charity golf fundraiser on November 7, 2016 at Laurel Springs golf club in Suwanee, Georgia.

Ladies Who Golf

Imagine a life where you earned a living playing golf at exotic locations around the world! Well, these ladies have done it. They have taken their professional golf skills to play in 32 tournaments across 13 countries, through LPGA.

Want to know more about their lifestyle? Below are interviews from Canadian sensation Brooke Henderson, LPGA vet Ryann O’Toole, and rising star Alison Lee.

At age 18, Brooke Henderson has won numerous amateur tournaments and was the top-ranked woman amateur golfer in the world before turning professional in December 2014.

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 16: Brooke Henderson of Canada poses with the trophy after her 21 strokes under par victory during the final round of the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club on August 16, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR – AUGUST 16: Brooke Henderson of Canada poses with the trophy after her 21 strokes under par victory during the final round of the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club on August 16, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Which countries did you play in during the past year (2015)?

I played in France, Scotland, Bahamas, Canada and the United States.

What do you enjoy most about travel?

I love being able to go around the world and experience different cultures, landscapes, food and everything! It’s amazing getting to see new places and meet new people.

Do you get enough time to go out and explore the local culture? 

I definitely try to as much as I can. It’s pretty busy traveling and also playing every week, but I try to go see unique things or landmarks in each city. For example when we played in San Francisco, we went to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

What have been some of your most insightful moments of 2015? 

Winning the 2015 Cambia Portland Classic was definitely the highlight of my season. On top of that, two top-five finishes at Major championship tournaments. Winning an LPGA Tour event is a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl and to do so at my age was more than I could have even hoped for.

When you are on Tour, how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

The LPGA takes pretty good care of everyone. They offer a fitness trailer with plenty of equipment that we can all use whenever we’d like.

What do you like most about golf?

I like how age or gender does not affect the success of a player. I started playing when I was three and my great grandmother played into her 90s. I also like all the values it teaches you – honesty, integrity, perseverance.

Besides golf, what are your other passions?

Outside of golf, I always like to do a little bit of reading and I enjoy spending time with my family and friends whenever I can. I also enjoy watching hockey. The Ottawa Senators are my favorite team, so I try to watch them whenever I can!

Do you play for any charities? If so which ones, and why?

We started our own charity tournament last summer in my hometown, which we raised money for developmentally disabled people. As a result, we were able to donate money to a variety of people, like a guy who broke his neck and is still working on being able to walk again. We’re also working on getting a foundation set up called the Team Henderson Foundation.

Click here to part 2 of this interview.

If you are inspired to play golf around the world, join Go Eat Give’s 3rd annual charity golf fundraiser on November 7, 2016 at Laurel Springs Golf Club in Suwanee, Georgia.

7 Airlines That Offer Ultimate In-Air Passenger Pampering

Love to travel, but don’t enjoy long flights? These innovative airlines are pushing the boundaries when it comes to providing the best customer experience.

Do you ever wish that more help was available with children on long-haul flights, so you can sit back and have a little “me time”? Etihad provides fully-trained Flying Nannies to assist parents with an extra pair of hands – whether it’s helping to get the children settled for bed, keeping them entertained, or simply offering advice and support. Every Flying Nanny comes equipped with a goody bag of games and activities to help keep the little ones entertained, so go on and take your nap.

flying-nanny-etihad

While many airlines are upping the ante when it comes to dining in air, Qantas offers its customers – even in Economy cabins – an option to pre-order their meals, so you don’t have to choose between the chicken or the pasta. Their menu is perhaps the most diverse one can find on a flight. For example, on the Australia-USA route, pick from shoyu ramen noodles, lamb biryani, moussaka, chipotle pulled pork, and many other tempting choices.

KingFishRadish-Qantas

Prefer to fly on newer planes? American Airlines has placed the world’s largest aircraft order in history, replacing an average of one plane every week as part of their massive fleet renewal program. It means that by 2017, American will have one of the youngest fleets in the skies and the newest offerings among US carriers. The new planes will offer more legroom (as the number of rows are being reduced by half), WiFi on every flight, walk-up refreshment bars, and 700 hours of inflight entertainment.

american airlines

One of the best ways to refresh yourself after a long flight is with a nice hot shower. But you don’t have to wait till you land. On Emirates Airlines, you can get ready at 40,000 feet in your private A380 Shower Spa. With your complimentary Bvlgari amenity kit filled with designer fragrances and lotions, you will arrive just in time to hit the red carpet.

emirates shower

Wine connoisseurs may prefer to travel on Qatar Airways. Though its home country is dry, the carrier is known to have the most extensive wine seections in air. Business class choices include Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune du Château 2010, Petit Clos Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from New Zealand’s Marlborough district, and McWilliams Elizabeth Semillon 2006, to name a few. The airline’s wine program is curated by Master of Wine, James Cluer, who climbed 19,331-foot Mount Kilimanjaro with nine bottles of premium wine, in order to learn how altitude affects their taste.

If the safety videos on Air New Zealand don’t get grab your attention, you must be asleep by now. Rugby stars rapping to Men in Black, hobbits roaming through Middle- earth, pro surfers catching the big waves, and swimsuit supermodels on stunning beaches are some of the figures you will see informing travelers of safety procedures on board. Since 2009, Air New Zealand has produced 10 safety videos, entertaining more than 65 million viewers globally with their wit and humor.

men in black safety video

With only 12 extraordinary suites available on each A380 aircraft, Singapore Airlines Suites offer a home in the skies, complete with a sliding door and window blinds. The leather- and wood-finished suite has one of the largest seats in the sky. In addition, each suite is furnished with a 23-inch LCD video monitor, height-adjustable table, chaise lounge for companion seating, ambient and mood lighting, luggage stowage space, and a personal coat closet.

Grab and Go at the Airport

Grab is a new travel app that allows travelers to pre-order food, drinks and other purchases directly from their smartphones before they get to a location. Sounds great but does it really work? I decided to give it a try at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport.

It took less than a minute to download the free application and create an account. A credit card is required to be saved to the profile before you can place any orders.

Before I got to the airport, I searched for restaurants near my gate. The map was easy to navigate and I could take a look at all the eateries, terminal by terminal. However, in Atlanta, only 2 of the 5 terminals had Grab partnered locations listed. There were handful of options on Grab that were on Terminal T, though there were many other restaurants that were not part of the Grab family. For example, I would much prefer to eat at Corner Bakery (located across from my gate), but this was not listed as an option under Grab. Starbucks Coffee, which always has a long line, does not offer a Grab option either.

Starbucks location ATL airport

I decided to order from Argo Tea, which showed as a 5-10 minutes walk from where I was (It was not that far). The app gave guided directions to my destination. I have never dined at this place before, so was not familiar with their menu. The selections were briefly described, though not all ingredients were listed. It would have been nice to see a picture of the food, as I do tend to make a lot of my choices based on how fresh it looks. I ordered a kale salad, mushroom empanada, ruggelah and a medium latte. Once I made each selection, I could modify my order, for example make my latter with skim milk, and also comment any specifications. I asked for salad dressing on the side.

I entered a coupon code for payment and confirmed my order. Ordering was quite simple. Now I started walking towards Argo Tea.

grab menu

It was nice to see there was a separate line for Grab customers. I went to this line and the cashier asked me, “What would you like to order?” I said I had already placed an order on Grab, and she exclaimed, “Oh that was you!” It was only after I arrived that she started making my latte and packing my food. At this point she informed me that they don’t have empanada or kale salad. In fact, they don’t have empanadas on their menu at all. I told her that it was showing on their menu in the app, and she said it might be the menu of their Chicago location.

grab atlanta

The cashier allowed me to trade the 2 items with something else, though she didn’t know how to enter it in the cash register. I grabbed a spinach quiche and edamame salad instead, to try and stay in the same price range. The entire transaction took 5 or more minutes.

I never received a notification or receipt by email or text at any point. You can login to the app and then manually email receipt to yourself or your expense department. If you are a frequent user, it is convenient to see all your airport purchases in one place, though I doubt you will be having all your meals through Grab.

My review of Grab travel app:

Pros: 

  • Easy to use app
  • Great search feature
  • Convenient online payment

Cons: 

  • Limited selections
  • May not necessarily save time

Grab sounds like a great travel app that makes eating on the go convenient. I like the search feature and may just use that to look for places I want to eat at. I would probably try the Grab app again a couple of times to see if other businesses actually have the food ready to be “grabbed” and can provide a speedier check. Otherwise, if there aren’t any long lines, I would prefer to see, order and pick up food myself.

Grab is currently available in Atlanta and Austin, but launching in other cities very soon. To learn more or download the free mobile app for Apple and Android devices, click here.

A “Culturally Fresh” Lebanon

 

Go Eat Give had the pleasure of welcoming a new group of attendees to Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s Restaurant last week!  The Greening Youth Foundation, a non-profit that works with underserved and underrepresented children to create overall healthy communities, attended the event bringing 15 students from Grady High School in Atlanta. And, this will not be the only time that Go Eat Give will host the Greening Youth Foundation. We are excited to announce that Go Eat Give has decided to partner with the Greening Youth Foundation to create a new program entitled “Culturally Fresh”. The aim of the program is to help raise awareness of international cultural and environment issues among the youth in the southern United States.

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The night started off with appetizers – hummus and baba ganoush, and a Q&A session with Lebanese born Nicola, who was an educator himself before he opened his restaurant about 31 years ago.  The students were full of enthusiasm and asked him lots of questions about his life growing up in Lebanon and immigrating to the United States. In addition, they had to complete a treasure hunt assignment on Lebanon. The assignment included questions about the typical Lebanese diet, interesting facts, and history of Lebanon.

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The second course included stuffed grape leaves, fried artichoke hearts, traditional fattoush salad, tabbouleh, and kibbee, which were all delicious. Later, the main dishes served were kafta with Lebanese rice, chicken a la beef, and chicken with artichoke hearts.  Dinner was especially exciting since most of the students from Grady High had never tried Lebanese food before!

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The bunch also had a unique opportunity to hear from Mr. Hrair Balian, Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center and adjunct professor at Emory Law.  He is also Lebanese born, specializes in Middle East conflicts, and speaks English, French, and Armenian.  Hrair discussed the culture of Lebanon, including how it evolved through time due to the influence of other countries and how this evolution has created the rich diversity of Lebanon’s population.

After the speaker and discussion, we were able to taste baklava for dessert (my personal favorite!).  Baklava is a rich and sweet pasty made of thin layers of filo dough and filled with nuts and honey.

Lastly, the students got a lesson in Dabke dancing from Nicola.  Typically there is a dabke leader, and the group joins hands together and stomps to the beat.  We had a blast, and theentire crowd at the restaurant got together for a line dance around the room.

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We are very excited about the future of Culturally Fresh and truly enjoyed the students joining in on the food, friends, and fun.

Go Eat Give is Coming to Washington DC

We are very excited to launch our second Go Eat Give chapter in Washington, DC starting March 2015! Over the past few years, we have received requests from all over the world to bring our programs to their cities. While our international travel opportunities are open to everyone, monthly events have been held only in Atlanta so far. It is with great pleasure that I am announcing our expansion into Washington DC, a city rich with diverse restaurants, people and knowledge!

Here are some ways to get involved with Go Eat Give DC …

Attend Our Launch Event

Join us at our launch-party on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 from 6:30-9:30pm at the new Hierarchy Special Exhibition Gallery attached to Napoleon Bistro & Lounge (1847 Columbia Rd, NW) in Washington, DC. Myself, board member, Lisa Waters and event planning intern, Austin Hill will be there to greet you and share information about our upcoming programs.

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Hierarchy’s 2-star Michelin Chef Gerard Pangaud, the youngest chef ever to receive 2 stars, will personally prepare light refreshments for guests. Artwork from Michael Owen, creator and lead artist of the Baltimore Love Project, will be featured on the gallery walls. There will also be a cash bar and goody bags provided. The event is FREE to attend by RSVP is required. Click here for more information.

Volunteer 

We are looking for DC based volunteers, interns and board members to help make strategic decisions, recruit members and plan events. If you are interested in becoming a part of a growing international nonprofit organization, send us your resume. Perks include cultural interaction, good food and hands-on experience. Email to info@goeatgive.com

volunteer at go eat give

Stay Involved

Participate in our local activities including Destination Dinners and Volunteer Vacations. Join Go Eat Give to receive discounts and FREE access for the entire year. Sign up to get newsletter updates, join our MeetUp group and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t want to miss another event!

DC Launch Flyer

9 Places to Visit in Lebanon

Lebanon is a beautiful country in the Middle East, bursting with history, great food, and great culture.  It being a classic traveler’s destination, how can you decide where to go and what to see?  Since planning a trip can be quite the task, Go Eat Give has named the nine must see cities in Lebanon for your touring pleasure:

1. Beirut

This capital city of Lebanon is nicknamed “The Paris of the Middle East,” and is bustling with things to do. Along with great shopping and beautiful scenery, Beirut has a rich cultural history to explore. There are many museums and sacred religious sites there, such as the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George, the National Museum of Beirut, and the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque.

Beirut

2. Baalbek

Baalbek is located on the western end of Lebanon and is home to some of the most well preserved Roman ruins known to mankind.   The city dates back over 9,000 years and was previously known by the name of “Heliopolis,” or The City of the Sun, during the period of the Roman rule. Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus are all believed to have been worshipped at the Baalbek temples.

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3. Jeita Grotto

Located in the center of the Nahr al-Kalb valley in Jeita, Lebanon, the Jeita Grotto is an amazing sight. The interconnected limestone caves, which can only be accessed by boat, span around nine kilometers in length. To make the grotto even more intriguing—it was a finalist to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Lebanese journalists and photographers tour the Jeita Grotto by boat during a media day to campaign for the selection of the Jeitta Grotto as one of the seven natural wonders of the world

4. Sidon

This is a Lebanese town that is filled with old history and remarkable sight seeing.   Located on the western coast of the country, it was one of the most important Phonecian cities and is now known as an active fishing town. Sidon is home to the largest Lebanese flag and also the Old Souk, a famous marketplace.

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5. Tyre

Tyre is another city in Lebanon that contains very interesting ruins and historic sites. One main attraction here is the Roman Hippodrome—an ancient stadium for chariot and horse racing! The Tyre Coast Nature Reserve is also the largest sandy beach in the country.

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6. Beit ed-Dine

Beit ed-Dine is a town famous for its’ magnificent Beiteddine Palace (shown below). This one-of-a-kind palace was built in 1788 and hosts the annual Beiteddine Festival and Beiteddine Palace Museum. Interestingly enough, after Lebanon’s independence in 1943 the palace was officially renamed the “People’s Palace” since it had been created by the people’s hard work and will.

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7. Faraya

Lebanon is known for it’s interesting climate, and this town is the perfect example why. Above this village lies the Mzaar Resort, which is a ski resort. The resort is only about 20 miles away from Beirut, meaning you could experience warm weather and winter all in the same day!

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8. The Cedars of God

Cedar trees are sacred and known to have covered Mount Lebanon in the past, but The Cedars of God is one of the last forests left in the country. This was caused by persistent deforestation by Lebanon’s ancestors, such as for shipbuilding and construction. The snowy area has great hiking and beautiful views.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 11.28.24 PM9. Deir el-Qamar

The name of this Lebanese village can be translated from Arabic into the “Monastery of the Moon.” It’s home to many important religious sites such as Saydet El Talle and the Mount of the Cross. This village is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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