Earlier this week, we had a group of produce and floral coordinators from one of our clients visit us. As I looked around the room, I noticed that two of the 15 people were wearing purple.
That happens quite a bit. Not always on purpose, but frequently when someone comes to visit us (or we go to visit them), they wear purple.

Which made me think…it seems like purple is everywhere this year! Fashion magazines, carpeting in buildings, company marketing materials…

White House Black Market has chosen purple as their color of the season.

And as we began marketing our newest produce item, the Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, I noticed we are selling more purple produce. For examples:

Purple Sangria Artichokes

Baby Purple Fiesole Artichokes

Purple Wax Beans

Purple Cauliflower

Purple Bell Peppers

Purple Asparagus

Purple Potatoes

Purple Kohlrabi

…and Purple Baby Brussels Sprouts.

The great thing about purple fruits and vegetables is they are high in antioxidants, specifically anthocyanins.

Plus, as you are trying to get your family to eat more of a variety of fruits and vegetables, adding an interesting color to the plate, like purple, might get them to try something new.

So, it is no surprise that we at Frieda’s decided to declare 2013 The Year of Purple!

So start looking around – purple is everywhere! What great timing for my company, as it has been our signature color for all our packaging and labels for 50 years!

Think Purple,

Karen

In November, my sister Jackie and I received an email letting us know that our mother, Frieda, had been unanimously selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from our industry trade group, the United Fresh Produce Association, at the Produce Legends Dinner.  It was only the third time this award had ever been given and mom was the first woman to receive it.

In the weeks leading up to the event on January 28, mom received hundreds of congratulatory phone calls, emails, letters and gifts. It was quite overwhelming, for mom and our family, to experience the outpouring of love and admiration from so many people in our industry.

The event took place in Tucson, Arizona at Loews Ventana Canyon. As a surprise, Jackie and I reached out to many of moms’ friends outside of the produce industry to put together a tribute video to show at the event.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/L81YumOoQtk]

At mom’s request, my eldest daughter, Alex, introduced her to the audience of 200 guests. At age 23, her comments were polished, yet sincere, touching and funny. There was not a dry eye in the room when she finished.

But what took my breath away that evening were all the people who flew in just for the night to honor my mother: The son of one of our employees from over 25 years ago; almost a dozen former employees who got their start at Frieda’s; customers and suppliers from all over the country…and they all came dressed in purple–our company color!

There were also strangers; men and women who said how mom’s bravery in starting a company 50 years ago inspired them to start their own business.

So, when she accepted the award, she thanked her industry friends and the complete strangers who, over the years, provided encouragement, information, and referrals, which helped grow our business.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Caplan Women - 2013

All of this made me think…each of us can be a source of inspiration for others without even knowing it. With a smile, good deed, random act of kindness or a referral, you could help or inspire someone to be their own personal best.

That has probably been the biggest life lesson I have learned from my 89 year old mother: Be kind to everyone and treat them like they are the most important person in the world to you.

Thanks mom!

Karen

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The advantage of being married to a non-Angelo (not native to Los Angeles) is that we are constantly looking for things to explore in Southern California.

Last year, I wrote about my Melting Pot Tour of The Original Farmers’ Market, which we very much enjoyed. So, when we received an email telling us a new Melting Pot Tour was launching in “Thai Town,” we immediately signed up. We made our way up to Hollywood Boulevard Sunday morning to a place that I did not even know existed.

What's on Karen's Blog? - Karen's Blog - Thai Town - Melting Pot Tour - Jet Tila

Less than a half-mile east of the Pantages Theater and the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater, we walked inside Ruen Pair, an authentic Thai Restaurant, and were greeted by Iron Chef America challenger, Jet Tila, and his radio producer, Andy Harris.

What's on Karen's Blog? - Karen's Blog - Thai Town - Melting Pot Tour

For the next three hours, we sampled pork jerky (tender and delicious, not dried out version) and, what Jet called, “the BEST Thai Green Papaya Salad we would ever experience in our lives!” I have to admit that the papaya salad at Ruen Pair was refreshing and absolutely delicious.

What's on Karen's Blog? - Karen's Blog - Thai Town - Melting Pot Tour - Som Tum - Papaya Salad - Ruen Pair

That’s when Jet said he hoped we were only 20% full, as we had four more stops!

Our next stop was Sapp Coffee Shop, which, believe it or not, is a noodle shop, even though it clearly says “Coffee Shop”!

What's on Karen's Blog? - Karen's Blog - Thai Town - Melting Pot Tour - Sapp Coffee Shop

We tried two types of Thai noodles: one dry and one “wet” (meaning with broth). Jet explained the four flavor profiles one should expect in all authentic Thai dishes: hot, sour, sweet and salty.

As you can see below, the Jade Noodle Soup is a green spinach noodle dish with all four of the flavors represented: heat in the chile peppers, sweet in the sweet and sour pork, salty in the peanuts and the sour in the fresh lime juice. Delicious!

What's on Karen's Blog? - Karen's Blog - Thai Town - Melting Pot Tour - Jade Noodles - Sapp Coffee Shop

Next, we visited a local Thai Market called Bangluck Market, and Jet gave us a short culinary tour of the produce department. There I learned that Thai people have their own unique version of “mirepoix,” the classic combination of celery, carrots and onions, which is the base of many sauces, soups and stocks.

According to Jet, the Thai “trinity” of flavors in the mirepoix includes lemongrass, Thai lime leaves and galanga.

As you can see, the Thai lime (also known as Kaffir lime) leaf is unusual because two leaves appear to be connected to each other.

What's on Karen's Blog? - Karen's Blog - Thai Town - Melting Pot Tour - Thai Lime Leaf

We ended our tour at an amazing and authentic bakery, Bhan Kanom Thai, and received a “sampler” of seven different desserts in this adorable box. Of course, I was too stuffed to eat anything at that moment, so waited and enjoyed a few tastes when I got home.

What's on Karen's Blog? - Karen's Blog - Thai Town - Melting Pot Tour

What's on Karen's Blog? - Karen's Blog - Thai Town - Melting Pot Tour - Bhan Kanom Thai

If you are coming to Los Angeles and are planning to visit the Hollywood sign or see your favorite movie star’s name on Hollywood Boulevard, be sure to check out the culinary gems in the City of Angels.

By the way, I learned the short version of the full name of the city Bangkok, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, translates to “City of Angels,” which must be why Los Angeles has the largest population of Thai people, outside the country of Thailand!

Enjoy,

Karen

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As you know, I decided to go vegan on August 1, 2012. I experienced many health benefits, including my cholesterol dropping from 221 to 196, my aches and pains (symptoms of being over 50) disappearing and continuing to have tons of energy.

I learned a lot by reading The China Study, Forks Over Knives and watching “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.” I came to the conclusion that it was better for the planet and my body to not eat dairy, processed sugar or any animal products.
I also found out that my body does not tolerate soy products well, so I stopped eating Edamame and other soy-based products (even though my company sells a lot of great tasting soy products). 

I also continued to weigh myself and exercise regularly. I found an awesome website, myfitnesspal, which allows you to track your food intake, exercise and calories burned, at no charge.
Being vegan is not for everyone and I never tried to “convert” anyone to a whole foods, plant based diet. But the more research I did, the more I realized that this kind of eating regime was almost like a fountain of youth.

But, for me, even though I was not eating any wheat products (like pasta, bread, etc.), I found my weight creeping up a few pounds and I found myself not having enough energy for my hectic travel and work schedule.
So, after consulting with my personal health professionals (my Naturopath, Osteopath and Chiropractor), I decided to add more protein to my diet. No matter what vegetables and legumes I ate, I was not getting enough protein for MY body (everyone is different).
So, starting in mid-January, I added egg whites and occasional WILD fish (not farm raised) to my diet. I still feel great, my cholesterol is still lower and I continue to feel healthy.
Unlike others, I chose to have a little leniency with my veganism. Now, if there is an animal product (fish sauce, chicken broth, hard-boiled egg) in a dish, I have no problem eating around it. In other words, I am not making myself neurotic while being vegan.
So, I would say I am a 90% vegan. But, I think that is still a big improvement in my lifestyle and I feel fantastic!
If you have been hesitant to try a 100% whole food, plant-based diet, why not try it a few days a week and see how you feel. Taking steps in your healthy choices is better than not trying at all.
It’s about progress, not perfection.

Karen