We all talk a good game about how to eat, what to eat, and the importance of preparing our own food from quality ingredients. The truth is that everyone faces the same dilemmas from time to time. Whether it's travel, working late, business lunches, social outings, or simply not being interested in cooking, there are many reasons that eating that home cooked meal may not always be possible.
I've decided to pose a series of questions to our members on a weekly basis on what gets them through these situations. You might be surprised at some of the answers and others might be exactly what you expected — either way, I'm hopeful that this will help you navigate your way through the myriad of awkward, inconvenient, or simply lazy situations you find yourself in.
Felice Gersh from Irvine, California
CA: Do you put much thought into where you eat out? Or do you simply go anywhere and try to make do with what's on the menu?
FG: I always consider the restaurant and its menu before choosing where to go, when it's my choice. But often it isn't my choice and then I try hard not to be an annoyance to others and quietly make the best choices from the menu that I can. 9 of 10 times, I try to modify the menu to my likening, and 9 of 10 times that actually works! Asking a server nicely goes a long way to getting the meal you want!
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal in (or near) Irvine?
FG: My favorite was just recently at Andre's Conscious Cuisine. I had a delicious meal of Asian mushrooms in a tomato based sauce with spirals of vegetable noodles. It was a fantastic vegan dish. I'm not a vegan but eat largely plant based and choose to eat vegan in restaurants quite often.
The atmosphere was enchanting and the service was wonderful. It also happened to be the holiday season ... so there was a bit of magic in the air as well!
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal outside of Irvine?
FG: I was privileged a year and a half ago to be wined and dined at the premium restaurant at the Presidential Hotel, in Dubai, UAE. I was treated to a 5 course meal, each paired with a fantastic wine. Each dish was delicious and presented in the most aesthetically pleasing manner possible. It was a meal which thrilled every one of my senses - and will never be forgotten.
CA: For people with special diets, how do you suggest they talk with restaurant staff in order to get what they need?
FG: I suggest using the word "allergy." Tell the server you must avoid an ingredient for that reason - it's an allergy! Everyone has some conception of what an allergy is and that things one's allergic to should be avoided. That statement alone will often get you what you wish (or to avoid what you don't want). Also, be as sweet as sugar with the server! Be friendly, not overly demanding, choose your priorities and battles, and always ask for suggestions. And say thanks a lot - and leave a generous tip!
CA: Do you prepare an emergency meal when you travel? If so, what do you include?
FG: I don't actually bring a full meal with me, but do carry a few reasonably acceptable food bars and a large bag of organic, raw almonds. I've never regretted bringing such a bit of food along on my trips. Sometimes it maybe all there is to eat!
CA: Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
FG: Honestly, I'm not the family's cook, but if I'm stuck having to fend for myself, I make up a big bowl of quinoa, and mix in nuts, seeds, dates, figs, leftover veggies and pieces of cooked chicken, all warmed up (we normally have some of those items in the refrigerator). I actually love it and it's very healthy! For a non-cook, I can survive and stay healthy!
CA: Do you consume alcohol? Explain why you think it is or isn’t a good idea.
FG: I drink close to no alcoholic beverages as I don't much care for the taste of hard liquor. The only item I consume is wine with food. Studies show the benefits of wine come from the polyphenols and not from the alcohol. I promote minimal alcohol consumption, not to exceed the standard quidelines of 5/week for women, and 14 weekly for men, divided over the week — no binging!
Alcohol is toxic to the brain, the gut, and the liver. There is little mystery with alcohol — it's not a health food.
CA: In terms of food, what is your guilty pleasure?
FG: I love the little dessert cakes from "The Source," in Costa Mesa. So delicious! They are all organic, vegan, and never include sugar — they use just a drop of maple sugar and some dates for sweetness. My favorite is chocolate chip cookie dough! Yum!*
Felice Gersh is a multi-award-winning, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and the founder of the highly successful Integrative Medical Group of Irvine in California. Felice was educated at Princeton University and USC and has more than 40 years of experience in all matters relating to women's health. Her main area of expertise is hormonal management and, specifically, polycystic ovary syndrome. She has held the post of clinical assistant professor of OB/GYN at the Keck-USC School of Medicine and remains affiliated with the University of Arizona School of Medicine, where she completed the fellowship in integrative medicine. She is also an expert reviewer for the medical board of California and a qualified forensic expert.