Category: Health

Meet Stephanie Sokolove

Preface: This interview took place last year. She is graciously hosting this year’s Table of Life Event at her Estate. What a wonderful partner she has been to the Foodbank!

Onto the Interview: September 2014

The-BEET Stephanie Sokolove

Many of you have heard of the Table of Life Fundraiser that supports the Foodbank’s Feed the Future programs, a sequential series of programs created by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County that fosters nutritional health and independence in children of all ages. This year, on October 5th, the Foodbank is thrilled and proud to have Stephanie Sokolove as Table of Life’s keynote speaker. Stephanie is Owner and Executive Chef to THREE nationally recognized restaurants in the Boston area, Stephanie’s on Newbury, Stephi’s on Tremont, and Stephi’s in Southie.

Stephanie has built her business on a style of cooking that she calls “Sophisticated Comfort,” a style that is fresh, interesting, and yet familiar. “Sophisticated Comfort Food” is the next generation of comfort food in that it blends traditional favorites with today’s food preferences. Dishes are imaginatively created with current, fresher ingredients and bolder flavors then artistically presented. At the restaurant, Stephanie spins familiar classics into elegant dishes that comfort and surprise without being fussy or intimidating.

I sat down with the gracious Stephanie Sokolove to ask her some questions about her health and food philosophies, and of course I couldn’t help but ask a little about her restaurants.

The BEET Question 1To me healthy is waking up and feeling good; feeling energetic, clear headed and ready to face the day.

The BEET Question 2

It’s important to be able to function at your top level.  If were not healthy it’s hard to get through the day.  For example, I play golf.  To feel and play my best, I don’t eat big meals beforehand, as I need to feel light to play well.

The BEET Question 3

It’s got to play into it. But I believe survival probably comes first before health. If people knew where healthy choices were offered, I think they would make the right choice. But people don’t always know where to get healthy foods.   If we can get this message out to the community, I think that would be amazingly welcomed. What kills me is to see overweight kids, eating unhealthy foods, they can’t feel well!

The BEET Question 4

Personal health choices and restaurant services can be conflicting, as, what makes food delicious is not necessarily what you should eat every day.  However in my restaurants, everything is fresh, nothing comes out of a can; fresh is best.  That is a requirement to make food delicious.  Sugar, butter, and salt tend to make food taste better but we have cut back on these things for our health.   So we also offer dishes with less butter, less cream, and use fresh sauces instead of cream sauces for fish. California food has seen an evolution over the last 20 years.  It was known for its heavy comfort foods, but now we are seeing lighter comfort foods and fresher options like all kinds of amazing salads.

The BEET Question 6 I believe the Avocado is the healthiest single food we could eat.  And it is so versatile!  Substitute for oil and butter.  It’s a Fruit/ vegetable that is worth experimenting with;  Salads, sauces, baking.  Salads don’t need oil, ripe avocado gives salad a lovely creamy texture.

The BEET Question 8 Working in a restaurant where food is abundant, you become unaware of how much food is needed.  Working with the Foodbank has been an eye-opener to me.




What is Plant Based Eating? And Why Should I Care?

The environment and its health is a hot topic right now.  Similarly, OUR health is a hot topic right now.  Many of us have seen the warnings…

Global Impact Infographic

Ecological Footprints Tim De Chant, Per Square Mile

1. If the whole world lived like we do in the United States, we would need 4.1 earths.1

2. More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese.2

3. This generation of children may be the first in U.S. history to live sicker and die younger than their parents.Heart Disease and Diabetes

4. 1 in 4 Americans will die from heart disease.4

5. 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, have diabetes.5

According to journalist and blogger Tim De Chant, the USA makes up 5% of the global population, but we use 20% of the world’s energy. We eat 15% of the world’s meat (that’s 10 BILLION Animals Every Year), and we produce 40% of the world’s garbage, which includes 16 BILLION disposable diapers every year.  In addition, each American throws away 1200 pounds of organic garbage every year that can be composted. We consume an awful lot of STUFF and hardly take a minute to think about its effects.

I want to zero in on those 10 Billion animals we kill and eat every year.  What are the implications for our environment and our health?  Many researchers will argue that it is this animal consumption that is responsible for our obesity, our lower life expectancy, our sick hearts, our out-of-control blood sugar, and our very sick planet.

And OH BOY there are a lot of implications! Over the next several posts, we will dive into all the dangers our planet and we face if we don’t change our attitudes about and consumption of animals. Let’s start with:

Our Health

As stated, many will agree that the overconsumption of animals is directly related to the health crisis Americans find themselves in today.  (Sugar plays a big role in this too.)  According to renowned Food Writer, Author and New York Times Columnist Mark Bittman who follows a “Vegan Before 6pm” lifestyle:

  • Americans are consuming close to 200 pounds of meat, fish, and poultry per year, an increase in 50 pounds in the last 50 years.6
  • Each average animal eater takes in about 110 grams of protein every day, which is double the recommended daily allowance. About 75 grams of these come from animal foods.6
  • According to the Institute of Medicine we only need approximately 10 to 15 percent of our calories to come from protein. The average woman needs about 46 grams per day and the average man, 56 grams per day.7
  • Many current nutrition experts would argue that 55 grams of protein (half of the average 110 grams) a day is more than we need, and roughly 30 grams, strictly from plant sources, is perfectly adequate.6

These staggering numbers showcase how overindulgent we are with protein. High protein, low carbohydrate diets are all the rage; Paleo, Atkins, even the new Whole 30. They are encouraging us to consume an alarming amount of animal protein that is directly contributing to our epidemic rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Dr_-Richard-O-Dr. Richard Oppenlander, a sustainability consultant, researcher, and author who has spent 40 years studying the effects food choices have on our planet and on us wrote about the HUGE cost animal consumption is to our health and healthcare system in his new book “Food Choice and SustainabilityWhy Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work.The BEET FOod CHoice and SustainabilityRecently featured on Julianne Heaver, Plant Based Dietitian’s blog, a nationally recognized advocate and expert on plant based nutrition, she provided a quote from his new groundbreaking book: I quote:8

“In the U.S. and other developed countries, eating animals is one of the most significant risk factors found in nearly all of the most common diseases. It is, therefore, heavily implicated in rising health care costs, health insurance premiums, foods prices, and even labor costs for businesses. Those who eat animals are driving up all these costs while driving down productivity.

More than $3 trillion dollars were spent on health care in 2012 ($2.83 trillion in 2009, growing at 6 percent per year) in the U.S. Of that, minimally $130 billion dollars spent were due to dietary choices related to livestock. I believe this figure is quite conservative and could be as high as $350 billion due to eating animals, because this is how some of the $3 trillion was spent:

  • $300 billion—heart disease
  • $200 billion—diabetes
  • $190 billion—obesity
  • $124 billion—cancer
  • $88 billion—food-borne illness

These figures are truly staggering and are for just one single year. They also do not reflect loss of productivity. For obesity alone, it is estimated that the annual cost of the workdays missed is $30 billion, with employers losing, on average, $3,800 per year for a single obese person. These are not just figures or statistics to me; they’re patterns that tell a story about what we choose to eat as a society and what happens to us afterwards—the stark and very real consequences. Eating animal products increases risks of contracting diseases that contribute to all of these health care costs. Eating plants, on the other hand, will take you in the other direction, protecting you from developing these diseases.”

According to Dr. Oppenlander, it is estimated that eating purely plant-based foods provides the following protective benefits, as compared to individuals eating the average amount of meat:

  • 50 percent less risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)
  • 40 percent less risk of cancer (breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, 
pancreatic, lung)
  • 70 percent less likelihood of adult onset diabetes
  • 50 percent less likelihood of developing hypertension

Most people are unaware any foods other than animal foods have protein! Seriously! This cartoon below is actually a pretty accurate portrayal of most Americans.


This is far from true! As a plant based eater myself, I can’t tell you how many people have asked me in a panic “BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN?” Here’s the meme I want to show them:


You CAN find plenty of protein in plants! And Veggie protein has so many more positive benefits! Here are just some of the plant-based protein superstars and the amount of protein they contain per cup: (featured on


For now, on this complex and complicated topic, I leave you to think about your health, what you eat, and how much you spend annually on healthcare costs. Do you think you have room for improvement? Does this post make you think twice about having your typical eggs and bacon breakfast? How about a deliciously deceiving Tofu Breakfast Scramble with a side of sweet Good Morning Quinoa Breakfast Cereal!   Both are protein packed, will send you off to work/school/or wherever with the sustained energy to make a difference and advocate for a more kind and healthy food culture! YEA!!The BEET-I am Not a Hamburger

Stay tuned in the next few months for how consuming animal foods is extremely detrimental to our planet and to the welfare of animals. And trust me, there is light at the end of the tunnel. People are doing amazing things to turn the health of our planet around. In addition, many leading experts in plant based nutrition are fervently spreading the word about the harmful effects of too much animal protein, so hopefully we as a nation can turn our health around too!


  1. PopSci
  2. CDC
  3. State of Obesity
  4. CDC
  6. Mark Bittman, New York Times
  7. IOM
  8. Julianne Heaver
  9. Julianne Heaver 

End Summer Hunger Recipe: Honey Dew Melon

Honey Dew Melon


Refreshing, delicious, and healthy — what more could you want from a smoothie?!

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Servings and Tastings: 8


  • 1 cup diced honeydew melon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup Almond Milk, Unsweetened Original
  • 2 cups crushed ice
  • 8 mint leaves


  • Put all ingredients into blender
  • Blend on high until mixed well, but still thick and creamy
  • Garnish with fresh mint leaf
  • Serve and enjoy!

End Summer Hunger Recipe: Black Bean Guacamole

Black Bean Guacamole

Guacamole is a staple summer dip. Perfect for parties, picnics or get togethers! The black beans in this recipe give the guacamole a whole new element of flavor that’s healthy, hearty, and nutritious!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Servings: 16
Tastes: 8


  • 5 avocados, diced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place avocados, scallions and lime juice into a large bowl and mash avocados to a coarse puree
  • Stir in tomatoes, cilantro and beans
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Serve immediately with assorted dippers such as toasted whole wheat pita bread triangles, multi-grain tortilla chips, or crunchy veggies

End Summer Hunger Recipe: Summer Fun Fruit Kebabs

Summer Fun Fruit Kebabs



Super fun summer recipe – Fruit Kebabs! These kebabs are made with peaches, strawberries, plums and bananas. Also the dipping sauce is a divine combination of cream cheese and honey.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serving size: 1 kebab
Servings and Tastings: 12


  • 3 fresh peaches, washed, pitted and quartered
  • 3 fresh plums, washed, pitted and quartered
  • 3 bananas
  • 12 strawberries, washed
  • 12 wooden skewers
  • 8 ounces low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey


  • Slice the green part off of the strawberry and then slice the strawberry in-half
  • Cut bananas into 1 ½ inch coins
  • Thread a peach quarter, a plum quarter, a banana coin, and strawberry half onto each skewer
  • Prepare dipping sauce by mixing cream cheese, honey and orange juice in small bowl
  • Dip fruit kebabs in sauce and enjoy

End Summer Hunger Recipe: Zucchini Lovers Lasagne

Zucchini Lovers Lasagne


We love this easy, nutritious, and fun take on lasagne! See full recipe below.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Serving size: 1/4 zucchini
Servings and Tastings: 4

• 1 zucchini
• 1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil
• 2 tablespoons ricotta
• Pepper

• Chop ends off zucchini and cut zucchini in half.
• User very sharp knife to slice zucchini into thin slices.
• Lay two slices side-by-side and then top with fillings, layering between more zucchini slices.
• Garnish with pepper and serve.

Food and Wine Fun at Fork & Cork Classic


Julienne’s Justin West and Winemaker Blair Fox to Be Honored at Montecito Country Club on May 3



In a calendar crammed with food and wine events that raise money for worthy causes, Santa Barbarans struggle to select which to attend; however, if you rely on a formula that adds breathtaking setting with impact of the charity involved, multiplies that with the quality of purveyors, and then divides that by number of attendees, you’ll find the Fork &Cork Classic at the top of the list.

Just in its second year — though somewhat a spinoff of the former Taste of the Nation event — the Foodbank fundraiser is May 3 at the Montecito Country Club, where the region’s top kitchens and booze makers will serve only about 600 people. This year, the event will honor winemaker Blair Fox (who makes Fess Parker’s many wines as well as his own personal labels) and Julienne restaurant’s Justin West (whose late father founded a similar event in Oregon 25 years ago).

To get a better sense of the event, I sat down with both of them over a bottle of Clementine Carter saison-cider last week. Here’s what they had to say.

Justin West: I got involved when we did a fundraising dinner for the Foodbank at Julienne and raised $3,200. We also took part in a James Beard national dish competition as the only Santa Barbara restaurant involved; L.A. was represented by 12 restaurants, San Francisco had 20, New York had 15 or something like that. We had to come up with a dish to serve for the entire month, with $1 from each going to charity. It was an Instagram competition, so to the city with the most hash tags won $10,000 for a charity of their choosing. We jumped into the fight, and somehow we won. I have no idea how it happened. It’s a real grassroots story. We galvanized the locals and beat out all the major cities in the country. We almost raised $14,000 for the Foodbank.

Blair Fox: It’s an honor to be honored. I’ve given my Blair Fox wines for a Foodbank fundraiser dinner, but I think the award is about what I do with winemaking in this entire county. I make a lot of wine, 100,000-plus cases. Blair Fox Cellars is like 1,000, and Fox Wine is like 1,000, but Parker Station pinot is almost 30,000, and our Fess Parker Santa Barbara County chardonnay, which is a fantastic wine for the money, is 30,000 cases. My own stuff is where I try to keep my hands dirty, where I’m not just telling someone else what to do. I like to do the punch-downs, to be the one loading the press. At 100,000 cases, I can’t do it all. I came from that small winemaking background, and I try to keep it all like a small winemaker would, but I just have people to help out.

JW: I come from a family that likes to give back. The restaurant’s business is about feeding people, but it’s a shame and an irony that we only care about feeing the people that have the money to pay the check at the end of the meal. We should be concerned with feeding everybody. That’s where my heart is in being involved with an organization like the Foodbank. I’ve got kids, and the thought of not being able to feed my kids breaks my heart. My son is 2½, and he’s a machine — he eats so much, and it’s constant. If I didn’t have the ability to feed him, I don’t know what life would be like.

The Foodbank is great to work with because you can directly feel the impact that have on the community. And who knows? I could be on the list of people who need help one day. Life is a crazy game.

BF: What we serve will depend on the weather. If it’s warm, we’ll serve a crisp white like our vermentino. That wine is so great with shellfish; it has this briny, mineral character. And being born and raised in this town and knowing lots of people, everyone is looking for my syrah. Maybe Budi [Kazali, of The Ballard Inn] will make his short rib. That’s great with syrah.

JW: This year, I am getting two suckling pigs, and that’s gonna be cool for me because at the event up in Oregon that my dad started, every year, one of our signature things was a whole roasted pig. Now, we were in the barbecue business, so we had a smoker big enough that the three of us could have gone in there and sang “Kumbaya.” I don’t have that, but the idea of a whole roasted pig is still there.

And I’ve carved myself out as the whole-animal guy here in town. I’ve been consistently dedicated to it. It’s not a gimmick. It’s a way of cooking for me. There’s something to be said in feeding many people off of one animal as opposed to ordering many cases of the same cut to feed the same amount of people. From a sustainability standpoint, it streamlines things a lot. I can say I bought this one animal, and this is how many meals it created, as opposed to buying 20 pork tenderloins. There’s only two per animal, so you killed 15 pigs to make that one case.

I’m gonna whole-roast them and butcher them onsite. We’ll have nectarine mustard because we got a fresh case of nectarines and make some of my family’s barbecue sauce.



SB Seasons: Good Wine and Good Causes


A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara winemakers are a generous bunch. They constantly get hit up to donate wine to charitable events, and do so with stunning regularity, often pouring the wine themselves, and always with affable smiles on their faces.

A few causes that are particularly near and dear to the wine/food community have their own fundraising events coming up soon, and lucky us, we get to sip and savor and support them in style!

Coming up on May 3 is the 2nd annual Fork & Cork Classic, which brings food and wine aficionados together to benefit Santa Barbara County Foodbank. Held at the Montecito Country Club, this delicious fundraiser features tastings from an array of select wines and special dishes prepared by over 20 of Santa Barbara’s top restaurants and chefs, including Bella Vista at the Four Seasons, Blue Owl, Ca’DarioEmpty Bowls Noodle Bar, Finch & Fork, Industrial Eats, Jessica Foster Confections, Julienne, Montecito Country Club, Patxi’s, Santa Barbara Yacht Club, Succulent Cafe, The Secret Ingredient, The Pasta Shoppe and Whole Foods.

Participating wineries include Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Ampelos Cellars, Beckmen Vineyards, Blair Fox Vineyards,Consilience, Marianella & Tre Anelli, CORE Family Winery and Deep Sea by Conway Family Wines.

Additional wineries include Falcone Family Vineyards, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Nagy Wines,Pegasus Estate Winery, Scott Cellars, Silver Wines LLC, Turiya Wines, William James Cellars, Whitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa Winery & Wineyards.

Also pouring are Ascendant Spirits, Caribbean Coffee Company, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Island Brewing Company, Pressed Juicery, The Real McCoy Rum and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

100% of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Foodbank’s 300 local nonprofit partners who supply nutritious meals to Santa Barbara County residents. Last year alone, the Foodbank served 140,575 people—over 25% of the local population, including 50,000 children.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit

Meet Amy, The Pear Princess

Santa Barbara’s youngest foodies “FLIP” for good nutrition in Foodbank’s
Food Literacy in Preschool Program at Storyteller Children’s Center

AmyFour-year-old Amy is a self proclaimed fan of pears. She loves learning about fruits and vegetables, and especially enjoys participating in fun activities like making recipes with her family using fresh produce from Foodbank’s Food Literacy in Preschool (FLIP) program. FLIP serves a dual purpose: delivering short-term food assistance and providing nutrition education.

Amy is one of the 24 preschoolers (plus 20 toddlers) who attend Storyteller Children’s Center, a childcare center for homeless and at-risk children from 18 months to 5 years of age.

Every month, she looks forward to Foodbank’s FLIP program held at Storyteller.

“I liked making apple juice and apple spirals last time and today’s pear smoothie is yummy,” said Amy.

On a recent Thursday, as crisp fall fruits come into season, the kids at Storyteller received a hands-on lesson in crafting a healthy pear snack.

Gathered around a munchkin-sized table, the kids eagerly descended on the bounty of fresh, local Comice pears – sourced and delivered by Foodbank.

The boisterous class grew quiet in concentration as Amy and her classmates, with help from Storyteller teacher Maria Lopez and Foodbank’s Community Nutrition Program Coordinator Erin reading to kids[3]Erin Hansen, began earnestly slicing the fruit using kid-friendly tools. The hubbub swelled again as the dozen Lilliputian chefs continued mixing and blending the ingredients – pears, bananas, orange juice, vanilla yogurt and ice cubes – to complete today’s recipe, joyfully dubbed “Pear-adise Smoothies.”

“It’s so important for us to empower kids to make nutritious choices and learn about the diversity of nutritious foods from a young age,” said Erin Hansen. “Incorporating healthy foods into their lives early, increases their ability to become healthy adults.”

This is one of the few times during the month Amy gets this type of exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables. Amy is one of nearly 50,000 local children who are provided with nutritious food and education through Foodbank direct programs or Foodbank’s 330+ nonprofit partners like Storyteller. Many families in Amy’s situation wish they could eat more fruits and vegetables, but might not initially buy them on their own because of the expense. And 71% of families served by the Foodbank must make heartbreaking choices of buying food or paying for housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and other basic necessities.

After each month’s FLIP lesson the children get to take home a bag of the featured produce to their families. FLIP is the first step in Foodbank’s “Feed the Future” continuum of programs, and helps drive one of the Foodbank’s key strategies: to reach families in our communities through their children. Kids bring their new-found knowledge – and in the case of FLIP, the fresh produce – back to their families, inspiring families to come together to try out new recipes and eat more nutritiously.

“We see that our kids are a tremendous influence on their families, said Rob Grayson Development Director for Storyteller. “This is especially so when they are excited about a fun new recipe they’ve learned and want to show their parents and siblings how to make it. The whole family gets to incorporate a healthy new meal or snack into their regular diet.”

FLIP is currently offered at six school-based, preschool and early childcare centers throughout Santa Barbara County.

“It’s a great partnership working with Foodbank,” said Grayson. “For our kids, the meals they get here are often times the most well-rounded and nutritious meals they get in a day, and FLIP also creates this opportunity to stretch this vital health resource into a lifetime of healthy choices.”

“Storyteller is committed to transforming the lives of some of our most vulnerable families by providing children the earliest start to break through generational cycles of poverty,” said Erik Talkin, CEO of Foodbank. “It is an honor to work side by side as we, too, provide tools to help families break through cycles of poor nutrition to create a healthy future for all.”

Locally, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County serves 144,000 low-income, below federal poverty level individuals in Santa Barbara County (one if four of our total population), many of them working families, children and seniors. For more information about FLIP and other Foodbank programs, visit