Inspiring Insight

Posts tagged ‘food’

One Fruit You Should Buy Organic Featured


Strawberries recently became #1 on the Dirty Dozen list. The Environmental Working Group puts out a list annually of the top fruits and vegetables contaminated with pesticides. For the third year in a row, strawberries topped the list. In fact, 1/3 of all strawberries (non-organic) tested positive for TEN or more pesticides! One sample had 22 pesticides.

I know organic foods are more expensive. Although I care very much about what I feed my family (especially as a breast cancer survivor), I can’t afford – nor do I want – to purchase all of my food organic. However, something like berries, with all the pits and divots, contains too much pesticide for my comfort.

If you’re wondering about #2, it’s spinach. It is advised that if you purchase non-organic spinach, you should soak it in water and baking soda for 15 minutes. Then you’re good to go!




Fuego Bistro


I don’t write restaurant critiques very often, but hubby took me out tonight for an early birthday date and Fuego Bistro was AMAZING!

We live in Mesa, AZ which is basically where fine restaurants come to die. After having lived in San Francisco (food mecca) for fifteen years, it’s been challenging to dine out in a city where McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King monopolize the chow real estate. We have to drive to Scottsdale or Phoenix (or Gilbert or Chandler) for decent dining. (With the exception of Dolce Vita!)

Fuego Bistro

We ate at a table near a small waterfall on the outside patio.  Lit by strands of patio lights, it was romantic. They are a self-styled “urban Latin” establishment. I ordered their seafood kabob with the Fuego house salad and green chile cornbread sides. I also had a cabernet. ALL of it was amazing. Normally, I like cornbread, but I LOVE theirs!

Willey had the chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. This is his favorite meal and Fuego’s twist on this common comfort food was adding a slightly spicy sauce over the chicken. He had a Malbec and gave it his rare sign of approval.

The service was incredible:  the host, our waitress, the water girl (seriously, I think she was 16?), all the other wait staff and bussers were super positive, energetic and attentive.

It’s obvious the owners fully appreciate the employees. Take a look at their message.

It goes to show you that if you acknowledge and applaud your human capital, you can achieve anything. They’ll love their work and do their best.

If you’re in the Phoenix area, you must check them out!

713 E. Palo Verde Drive

Phoenix, AZ  85014









I’m in Love…

with Vancouver!
The locals are so friendly.

We are eating well. 

We are walking everywhere.

Leaves as big as my foot.

There isn’t anything like changing your environment to jump start some inspiration.

C is for Cookie, or…


C is for Cooking

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking.

If it’s a lazy Saturday and I have plenty of time, I love cooking. I make a mean lasagna.

What better way to demonstrate love than to nourish people both physically and spiritually at the same time?

But after work, I’m tired. Everyone is looking at me. What’s for dinner?

I don’t know. I just want someone to rub my feet.

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10/10 – Would Recommend to a Friend

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I fought it for a long time. It seemed too expensive. I can buy my own groceries and cook dinners like that! But…I never did. I cooked the same dinners over and over again. My family and I were uninspired.

A family member (thanks Karen!) sent me a free box (includes 2 meals for 4 people). The box arrived with ultra-fresh vegetables and meats and the cutest tiny bottles of vinegars. Large recipe cards included detailed steps for cooking. My teenage daughters were intrigued and offered to help me cook (Huge benefit #1).

These boxes require actual cooking.  So if you don’t like cooking, don’t subscribe. We got busy washing produce, chopping, measuring, and mixing. Once cooked, the kitchen smelled amazing. We sat at the table with anticipation and we were not disappointed! Dinner was delicious (Benefit #2)!


The meals are designed to minimize waste. We had no leftovers,  yet we felt satisfied. The box is cardboard, = recyclable; packaging = recyclable; the two large ice packs can be resused. But if you subscribe, you’ll quickly run out of room in your freezer should you save the ice packs. I cut the freezer bags open, dispose of the insides and recycle the plastic.

The cost is more than regular grocery shopping, but less than dining out. It’s a lot healthier than eating out so it’s a win-win in my eyes.

You can opt for a 2-person meal plan with 3 meals/box. Price/serving is $9.99 for a weekly total of $59.94.

A 4-person meal plan with 2 meals/box comes to price/serving of $8.99 for a weekly total of $71.92. you could get 4 meals/box for a price/serving of $8.99 and a weekly total of $143.84.

About the food:

  • farm-fresh, seasonal
  • meat has no hormones
  • sustainably sourced seafood
  • vegetarian preferences available

You can cancel at anytime and you can skip a week here and there with no problem (we did that when we went out of town for vacation). They also offer wine (with or without the meal plan).











School Lunch Surveys


The lunch ladies at our school want to drum up more business. They asked me to distribute surveys to see what kids want and what would impel them to purchase school lunch. Here are some of their responses:

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Bewitching Bento Box

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I took my daughters out for our weekly lunch following violin lessons. We frequent the local hole-in-the-wall Mexican place (Los Betos) which is amazing and Five Guys or go out for pho. Today, I suggested a new place, Yoshi Bento, in Phoenix.

We were really hungry. The place was not fancy at all, but the food at the next table looked amazing. The girls ordered chicken teriyaki bento and I ordered the salmon. The spicy cabbage salad took Josie by surprise. She noticed how eating from another compartment complemented the spice.

What is it about the bento box that captivates? I think it’s the obvious care in preparation. The bento box is made with fresh ingredients and each compartment has its own flavor and texture: buttery and soft, salty and crunchy, fuzzy and sweet, slick and piscine.

Anything made with care and consideration is noticed and appreciated. It is presence realized.





I came home today, opened my mail, and I got… this!


My cousin Jennifer reads my blog and she purchased this book for me after learning that I love Maangchi!

What a wonderful, generous gesture.

What if we all did something nice for someone every day? Wouldn’t it be a better world?


I am going to pay it forward by cooking some dishes and having friends over. As soon as my cousin can make her way to Arizona, she and her family will sit down at my table and enjoy the fruits of my mad Korean cooking skills.





I’m Right Here

My mom was here again, for another lovely visit.  Although most of her visits are always quite pleasant, there is one time I dread: dinner.  I have to be patient with my husband and my mom during dinner because she cannot shake the nasty habit of speaking to me ABOUT Willey in front of him. It is rooted in the depths of her Korean soul to speak as indirectly to him as possible. In so doing, she uses me as a communication vessel. It’s almost as if she feels the need for a translator, and it annoys Willey to no end. It’s like a scene from Groundhog Day: we just live it over and over and over again.


Yooni with her new eyelash extensions!

We were sitting down to a meal of sujehbee, my favorite dish of dumplings in spicy broth.
“Caroline, does he really like sujehbee?” My mother asks. I look at him. He is sitting directly across from my mom. I know what his line will be:

“Yooni, why don’t you just ask me? I’m right here.” He asks exasperatedly. My blood pressure rises. The girls look from halmoni to their father back to halmoni.  She covers her face with her hands. She used to just cover her mouth, but lately, she covers her entire face, and giggles.

“Do you like it, Willeeee?” She leans forward and asks with a renewed sparkle in her eyes.
“I LOVE sujehbee!” He exclaims. “You can talk to me, you know. I’m Willey, remember?”
She laughs some more.
Such a brazen display of flirtation!


Preparing for bed, mom pulls the covers down and holds the TV remote. I am in the doorway of her guest room, saying good night.
“Caroline, have you seen this show?”
I look at the screen. There is an angry black woman with enormous gold hoop earrings yelling at a man. I don’t recognize this program.
“Hardcore Porn, they call.” She slips her legs under the cover.
I take another look. What? Why is she watching porn?! I don’t see any nudity and realize after a few more seconds, that she is not watching porn.
“Mom, Hardcore PAWN, not PORN.”
“Ohhhhh!” Again with the face hiding and laughter.


I love dogs. I miss my dog Maggie. Even though I notified my mother by phone when Maggie died – despite knowing Maggie was gone – the first time my mother walked into our home following Maggie’s death, she looked around like a little kid and with tears streaming down her face, and asked in Korean, “Where is Maggie?” They were best buddies. They reminded me of each other: kind and meek to a fault. My mom walked Maggie every morning and sometimes in the afternoons, too. And even though she swears up and down that she didn’t feed her table scraps, I know she did.

Sadie the Lap Dog

We had hugged each other and cried, missing that dog. Now we have Sadie, who is an oversized lap dog with a strong personality. We think she’s part Labrador and part Pit Bull. I talk to this dog for the benefit of the family. After I pet her, she always shakes her whole body and I say things like, “Sadie, don’t shake my love off!” And now I hear the girls say the same thing to her.  In the guest room, the windows face the street and Sadie loves looking out and barking at rabbits, birds and leaves on the tree. Seriously, this dog is out of control. When she’s not barking, she’s whining. Compared to her, Maggie was a mute. I tease, “Sadie, look at the mess you are making on the windows!” And my mother echoes my fake consternation, “Sadie, look what you did with your lips!”