Tag: Eat

Best Snack Foods to Eat in Amsterdam

In college, I spent a semester studying abroad in Amsterdam—and after four months, my jeans had gotten pretty snug (even though I biked everywhere, hmm…). While the city might be known best for Heineken and legalized marijuana, it’s also a serious snacking destination.

From traditional Dutch fare to grocery store staples, here are six bites you simply must eat next time you’re in Amsterdam.

I’m almost positive that I ate more fries during the four months I spent in Amsterdam than I had in my entire life. At any of the city’s countless Vlaamse friet stands, you’ll get a large paper cone filled to the brim with crispy fries, and a side of mayonnaise for dipping (don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!). Mayo is now my go-to fry condiment. One of the most popular stands is Manneken Pis—it’s a chain that’s open pretty late, so you can swing by for a late-night snack.

Photo by Allison Russo

Dutch supermarkets sell these by the pack (and so does Trader Joe’s!), but stroopwafels are best hot and fresh off the waffle iron. Visit Albert Cuypmarket in the morning for this treat: two paper-thin waffles stuck together with a layer of caramel-y syrup.

More of a pancake person? Poffertjes, pronounced “po-fer-jus” are round, fluffy pancakes that are cooked in special pans—visit a market to get a glimpse of the action, then buy a bag of these buttery bites coated in powdered sugar.

FEBO just might be the ultimate food to have after a fun night out. This self-serve “automat” eatery has everything from fries to milkshakes, but the croquettes are the standouts. Available in beef and veal, these two-bite savory snacks are hot, crispy, and just plain delicious. There are 22 FEBO locations in Amsterdam alone, so there will always be a kroket at your fingertips. Plus, its slogan “de leekerste” translates to “the tastiest,” so you really can’t go wrong.

You just can’t go to Holland without eating traditional gouda—the Dutch love their dairy, and this cheese is no exception. Pop by the Cheese Museum to sample flavors like pesto and mushroom, or just buy a wedge of the stuff at any Amsterdam-area supermarket.

These colorfully-wrapped Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bars are something of a cult favorite in Amsterdam. In addition to being delicious, this candy is fair trade, so you can really feel good about eating it. If you love Nutella, definitely grab a bar of the milk chocolate hazelnut.

Have you been to Amsterdam? Let us know your favorite eats below!

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The Solo Dining Trend Changing How We Eat

Table for One is a column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves cooking for himself—and only himself—and seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms.

The stage has been set for a renaissance in solo dining. The South Koreans already have a word for it: honbap. A portmanteau of “alone” (honja) and “food” (bap), honbap is part of a larger loner trend that’s overtaken Korea in the last two to three years, as more and more people are choosing to live alone, eat alone, and even drink alone. A Google search for “혼밥” (honbap) yields 7.3 million results. On Instagram, the hashtag is at 1.5 million posts (the one for honsul, solo drinking, is at 1.3 million). It’s a major cultural shift for a nation that has, until 2017—when honbap really began to flourish—prioritized the collective over the individual.

“Ultimately, it’s about taking time for yourself,” Monica Kim writes in a Vogue profile of model Ahreum Ahn. “It’s about letting go of society’s pressures—to get married by a certain age, to work for a steady salary, to never ask questions—and caring less what others think.”

Even former Girls’ Generation member Tiffany Young, 29, honbapped on national Korean television on many an occasion over the years, sparking interest in the trend and making it cool. Eating alone is inevitable for busy K-pop megastars like Tiffany, whose never-ending schedule (making TV appearances, recording in the studio, and touring the world) leaves little room for the communal sit-down dinner with family and friends. In one of my favorite YouTube clips titled “Tiffany Eats Ramen Alone!”, she outlines honbap like a video game with nine levels (from beginner to expert):

  1. Eating kimbap or ramen alone
  2. Eating at a cafeteria or food court alone
  3. Eating at a fast food restaurant alone
  4. Eating at a cafe alone
  5. Eating at a Chinese or naengmyeon restaurant alone
  6. Eating at a popular date-night restaurant alone
  7. Eating at a family restaurant alone
  8. Eating at a Korean BBQ restaurant alone
  9. Drinking alone at a bar

Some of these Korean culturalisms may apply less to us in the United States, like the convenience-store kimbap lunch break (level 1) or the naengmyeon-specific outing (level 5). But the idea here is that eating alone gets harder as the scenarios become more quintessentially group-oriented, like grilling galbi around a burner that’s built into a four-top (level 8) or drinking soju with colleagues after work (level 9). It’s also telling that in Korea, drinking alone is seen as the highest level of loner status, whereas in America, the bar is the first place solo patrons flock to because it’s often the only true table for one in the house (and the least awkward to endure).

In a 2017 Quartz report, Isabella Steger and Soo Kyung Jung attribute this rise of “single’s awareness” dining to trends in the South Korean home. “According to government statistics,” Steger and Jung write, “single-person households are now the dominant type of household in Korea, making up over 27 percent of households as of 2015, similar to the level in the U.S., but a particularly dramatic change for a country where just a decade ago four-person households formed the largest share.”

It makes sense, then, that this shift in the private space would soon bleed into the public. More and more food services in Korea are providing single-person menu options beyond burgers and fries, marketing to solo diners who need quick but substantial knife-and-fork meals before heading back to their busy, overworked lives. Seoul in particular is experiencing an influx of honbap-friendly restaurants: hotpot, ramen, and Korean barbecue, otherwise communal eating opportunities that have in recent years been scaled down and redesigned specifically for parties of one.

At Dokgojin, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Bucheon (a satellite city of Seoul), you never have to worry about being the lone diner taking over an entire four-top. The “one-person eatery” is filled with rows and rows of individual booths, each equipped with a television, portable butane gas stove, and a menu of single-portion meats you can grill yourself while watching the game.

The stage has been set for a renaissance in solo dining.

These kinds of cubicles—true tables for one—are becoming common fixtures in other fast-paced urban cities as well, like Tokyo and New York. At the “anti-loneliness” Moomin House Cafe in Japan, every patron gets a doll (or a “Moomin”) to keep them company during their stay.

I still remember how it felt in 2016, when my brother and I traveled to Tokyo and had dinner at Ichiran, arguably Japan’s most popular ramen chain. We preordered our food on an arcade game–like slot machine perched outside the restaurant, inserting coins and pressing buttons, and were then led down a dark and narrow path to two booths with partitions between them.

“What are we—taking the SATs?” my brother joked.

Shh!” I barked back.

I’ll never forget the sensation of sitting there quietly, waiting for a pair of disembodied hands to reach out from behind the veil to hand me one of the most perfect bowls of noodles I’d ever had. When the chain made its way to Williamsburg in 2016, introducing private booth dining to America, Pete Wells in his New York Times review described the sensation of eating in one of these stalls “like a library carrel, a peep show or a confessional.”

Ultimately, these physical changes in public dining spaces have helped not only to normalize the act of breaking bread with the self, but to make it fashionable as well. With the slow death of the smaller dining table (considered a waste of space and a missed profit opportunity for businesses), I can’t help but wonder: Can it be, that after all these years, solo dining is finally on its way in?

I’ve always felt that some of the best stories come from those quiet moments when we find ourselves alone at the table, whether we’re dining in or dining out. But when it comes to talking about it, we seem to paint the solo diner’s experience with broad strokes, i.e. sad or lonely. It doesn’t help that food magazines and publications have prioritized recipes for four, six, and eight—if not for the nuclear family, then for the young couple, the roommates, or the friends hosting Sunday supper. I’ll never forget this New Yorker parody of the FoodNetwork.com recipe review:

The recipe claims to serve six to eight, but I live alone in a studio apartment with only a mini fridge, so leftovers aren’t an option. And every time I try to reduce the size of a recipe, it just doesn’t come out right. Don’t get me wrong, Ina Garten—I am completely fine with being a forty-nine-year-old assistant funeral director who has only ever purchased twin sheets…But why don’t you try dividing 1⁄4 teaspoon of fleur de sel by eight? Do you think I just happen to own an electron microscope? Let me check. Nope! So, this time, I just decided to make the whole recipe. I set the table for six, with placemats and candles and everything. Then I dressed my ferrets up as famous authors (Marcel Proust, Sylvia Plath, etc.) and let them eat at the table. We had a very nice evening, but next time I might add a packet of onion-soup mix.

Food should bring people together, they say. To talk about dining as if it’s anything other than a communal matter means to step into the murky territory of solitude, loneliness, and on the furthest end of the spectrum, depression. But this ignores the reality of a large subsection of people who find themselves alone at the end of the day.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 51.4 percent of our country is legally single (either widowed, divorced, separated, never married, or married but “spouse absent”), and more than a quarter of households today consist of one person, an increase from 13 percent in 1960. In Japan, that rate is even higher at 30 percent.

“Today our species has about 200,000 years of experience with collective living, and only about fifty or sixty years with our experiment in going solo on a massive scale,” American sociologist Eric Klinenberg writes in Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. It’s no surprise, then, that solo dining trends like honbap are just now beginning to surface, especially with the explosive rise of social media in recent years (which connects us all virtually, and emotionally, even when we’re physically alone).

Bottom line: Solo dining isn’t sad. In fact, it’s the reality of our present. Thankfully restaurant culture—and the rise of honbap—is starting to catch up to this reality. But it’s up to us singletons to make ourselves visible and to start talking about it out loud.

To learn more about how others are honbapping around the world, I turned to the Food52 community to ask the question, “Do you ever eat at restaurants alone?”

Here are some patterns I noticed:

The bar is a solo diner’s best friend (sometimes)

  • “I prefer to sit at the bar, as I can then choose to engage with others (or not).”
  • “I started dining solo when I traveled for business alone. I hate getting room service so I would seek out nearby restaurants and eat at the bar, bringing something to read with me. I never experienced anything but gracious service, plus it’s a nice way to get a bit more local ‘flavor’ than sticking to the hotel options.”
  • “I tried Dirt Candy’s solo Valentine’s dinner because I’d always wanted to try their food but could never find a vegan-loving person to join, so this was the perfect option. And I ended up making temporary friends with some other people seated at the bar.”
  • “I head to the bar for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s easy to get a seat if you’re just wandering around; 2) Whereas waiters might think you’re perpetually waiting on another person, I think bartenders are used to serving people on their own; 3) Usually it’s the best people-watching and eavesdropping (I admit it, I creep on people sometimes).”
  • “Everything at restaurants is set up for parties of at least two. When you sit alone, you are literally force to sit across from an empty chair, underlining the fact that you’re by yourself. The only single seats are at the bar, implying that you must be there to drink—alone. Which is the only thing more pitied than eating alone.”

Being treated like everyone else doesn’t go unnoticed

  • “I measure a place’s success by how willing they are to accommodate me as a solo diner. When I have a bad experience, I don’t ever return. When I have a great one, I typically follow up with an email to an owner or manager detailing how and why my experience was special. Those who get it (and hey, it’s not rocket science) deserve praise and gratitude.”
  • “Once I had an inadvertent solo experience (which just shows you how good a top restaurant can be). Was waiting for two colleagues and a dinner meeting at a Toronto restaurant. Hadn’t expected to be waiting, so had no reading material. Waiter asked what I wanted to read, gave me a choice of magazine genres, and brought the type I asked for. Only at the end of evening did I learn he’d gone out to the nearby convenience store to buy it.”
  • “One of my best-ever dining experiences was a solo dinner at Momofuku Ko when I was still in college. A night-of reservation at the counter became available, so I snapped it up and quickly got dressed. The restaurant took such good care of me and the meal never skipped a beat; the freeze-dried foie gras with lychee and (I think) peanut brittle was maybe one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I loved getting to just watch the chefs do their thing behind the counter without having to worry about talking to anyone else—except for the cute waiter.”

It’s only as awkward as you make it

  • “I was traveling for work and got to my hotel late on a weeknight. I wasn’t traveling with any co-workers, and friends in town were not available that night. So I went out fully expecting it to be awkward. And it was. But only slightly, and the more I sat there the more I realized it was awkward because I was expecting it to be. By the time I was done, I was enjoying the quiet and the time with my own thoughts, and no one was looking at me like I was a sad weirdo for eating alone.”
  • “In college, I was uncomfortable about eating alone at restaurants—especially without a book. I think I got over it when I began working downtown and lunch breaks were full of people eating alone. Then when I moved to New York, I realized literally no one cares. Now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I can still see some nerves from young people, so perhaps it’s a matter of maturity and a personal threshold for making eye contact with strangers. I used to worry about what people would think if they saw me eating alone, if I was lonely or something. Now I’m mostly concerned with how much I look at my phone when I eat by myself.”
  • “Eating alone in a public restaurant is another whole new level of fierce, unadulterated confidence.”

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant alone? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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Food in Motion : Kougelhopf Recipe

Food in Motion : Kougelhopf Recipe

Kougelhopf Recipe by b.wak


What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

After the blizzard of wrapping paper quiets, a cozy (but casual!) brunch is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Everyone is in good spirits and happy to celebrate together. My family typically does a Christmas dinner later in the day, but having a little something special in the morning is always welcome. That said, preparing for the holidays can be tiring, and everyone appreciates recipes you’re able to prep ahead of time – which is (thankfully) a lot of breakfast recipes. Here are a dozen recipes to consider for Christmas morning – a little mix of both naughty and nice. 😉 xx, -h

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

1. Green Shakshuka – (Bon Appétit) Probably not what your 7-year-old wants to see on her plate, but it will bring a smile to the faces of grown-ups, especially if they’ve had one too many glasses of prosecco on Christmas eve.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

2. The Best Waffle Recipe – (101 Cookbooks) My friends and family might be tired of these. But, seriously, they are so good. These waffles are a year-round go-to, and perfect for Christmas morning. Setting up a waffle bar with toppings is always a hit.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

3. Breakfast Baked Sweet Potato – (Ambitious Kitchen) This one’s a wild card – a baked sweet potato for breakfast? I get that not everyone is going to be on board, but it’s such good for you food with the almond butter and bananas. Maybe a dollop of Nutella to convince the younger eaters?

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

4. Wild Mushrooms on Truffle Toast – (By Rosie) I love a savory breakfast, and mushrooms are my jam – so, this has my name on it. Source the best bread you can find (or bake your own!), mushrooms and this is simple perfection.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

5. Classic Cinnamon Buns – (101 Cookbooks) This is a great recipe to prep a day ahead. And if you’ve never baked cinnamon rolls, this is a totally doable recipe. Start a Christmas morning cinnamon bun recipe this year.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

6. Black Bean and Tofu Scramble – (Anna Jones) Yes, to this. If you are over cookies, mulled wine and the rest, this is going to be a good first post-holiday breakfast.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

7. Roasted Sweet Potato Kale Hash – (Minimalist Baker) Welcoming a solid dose of sweet potato and kale into your morning will give you the energy to face cleaning up that mountain of wrapping paper. Laugh / cry.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

8. Perfect Healthy Granola – (101 Cookbooks) If you have a household of granola lovers, consider making a double batch of this. You can set up a topping bar and make granola parfaits. 

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

9. Spinach and Mushroom Quiche – (Low Carb Maven) Another recipe for the savory breakfast lovers. This one has an interesting flavor profile: a hint of nutmeg, Dijon mustard and smoked cheese.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

10. Heuvos a la Plaza de Mercado – (Sprouted Kitchen / Tara O’Brady) Sara’s version of Tara’s recipe is a reminder to let your friends and family bring their influences to your table. Make the red sauce and the charred green onion dressing (!) a day or so ahead of time and it’s much easier to put this one together on Christmas morning.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

11. Coconut Baked Oatmeal – (101 Cookbooks) There are certain recipes people tell me (in person) are their favorites and this is one of them. I think the reason is the coconut and grapefruit elevates oatmeal beyond basic.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

12. Vegan Pumpkin French Toast – (Love and Lemons) French toast that works for the vegans in your family as well.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

13. Chia Breakfast Bowl – (101 Cookbooks) I couldn’t leave out this quick California-style breakfast that you can prep the day before. A diverse array of toppings will make everyone merry.

What to Eat Christmas Morning (12 Recipes)

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Eat Dinner in Bed Like a Champion With These Easy Dinner Recipes & Trays

It may sound kind of silly, but one of my dreams in life is to have a huge dining table made of beautiful reclaimed wood. You know, one of those farmhouse-style tables you’d see in a dreamy French château, the Italian villa in Under the Tuscan Sun, or a multi-million dollar TriBeCa loft. Unfortunately—yet totally unsurprisingly—that is not my current reality.

I live in New York City, yes, but in a multi-hundred dollar apartment on the Upper East Side that barely has room for two small glass coffee tables (which I actually think were designed to be end tables?), let alone a real-life dining table. So where’s a girl to enjoy a homemade meal? Not the couch, like you were probably thinking; it’s really not that comfortable and I hate hunching over the “coffee table” to eat. Instead, I choose—proudly, I might add—to enjoy 99% of my dinners in the coziest, cushiest spot in the 350 square feet I call home: my bed.

Sure, my mother was horrified to learn this (and maybe you are, too), but I’ve come to find it’s actually one of life’s simplest and most convenient pleasures. I mean what could be better than curling up in bed with a hot bowl of pasta and some reality television? If you’re me, literally nothing. But to successfully eat dinner in bed (without making a mess), you need the right equipment. Here are the three essentials you’ll need to accomplish this like an absolute pro:

If you’re going to seriously commit to becoming an eat-dinner-in-bed person, you’re going to need a proper tray—it’s the simplest way to avoid spills and keep everything you need in one handy spot.

But first, you have to ask yourself: What type of tray am I? If you like to comfortably recline against your pillow and carefully spoon-feed yourself bites, you’ll want a folding tray you can prop up, like these sturdy bamboo and Acacia wood options. If, like me, you’d prefer to sit criss-cross applesauce over the covers (less chance for mess!) and catch up on the latest episode of House Hunters International, opt for a wide, flat try you can easily move around the bed; these metal-handled tray or teal melamine options would both work perfectly.

LapGear Natural Bamboo Folding Tray

Photo by Amazon

Acacia Wood Bed Tray

Photo by Bed, Bath & Beyond

RooLee Wood Serving Tray

Photo by Amazon

Teal Rectangular Serving Tray

Photo by Bed, Bath & Beyond

When it comes to dining near white sheets and a linen duvet cover, plates simply aren’t an option. You’ve simply got to have a rim to protect things from slipping and sliding off. Bowls are your best bet here; they can comfortably hold anything a plate can, plus soups and stews and salads even when they’re not on a perfectly flat surface. I especially love these colorful melamine bowls from Odeme because they’re super durable, yet festive enough to make eating in bed alone feel like a celebration (and not at all sad). Sometimes when I’m feeling lazy, I’ll even just eat my leftovers straight out of the microwave in these Porter To-Go Bowls and save myself the hassle of cleaning an extra dish.

Are you shocked to see spaghetti with red sauce here? I like to live dangerously. (Also, it’s outrageously delicious and worth any potential spill.) The key to most of these recipes, as you might have guessed after a glance, is that they not only fit nicely in a bowl, but they’re also easy enough to make on a regular basis. After all, cooking most nights a week can be tough to begin with, so it’s helpful to have a few recipes that aren’t crazy difficult to pull together, or can be made in big batches and reheated in that perfect little bowl in the microwave. Oh, and don’t forget dessert! I’m not a dessert-every-night type of person, but when I’m craving it, that chocolate mug cake really hits the spot when curled up under the covers.

What’s your favorite thing to eat in bed? Tell us in the comments the below!

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3/4 of Americans Don’t Eat Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner—Here’s Why

Most nights when my roommate comes home, usually around 8 p.m., she doesn’t cook. Instead, she flips on Project Runway and nibbles on what she calls “adult Lunchables”: cheese, crackers, fresh cherry tomatoes, hummus. Sometimes after really long days, it’s actual Lunchables (which, let’s be real, are delicious). Maybe it helps that she’s a fitness inspiration who just completed an Olympic triathlon last weekend. I only bring this up because it turns out that her tendency to eat “snack meals” is actually the norm for others, as well.

According to a recent survey of 2,000 subjects by OnePoll and FarmRich (admittedly, a frozen snack company), nearly 86 percent of Americans don’t eat three square meals a day. Instead, 49 percent of respondents said they skip lunch in favor of three smaller snacks throughout the day.

Reusable Silicone Storage Bags

Reusable Silicone Storage Bags


Russel Wright American Modern Dinnerware & Serveware

Russel Wright American Modern Dinnerware & Serveware


Many of the foods that subjects reported snacking on mirror my roommate’s habits: cheese, crackers, chips, nuts, deli meat slices, fresh fruit and vegetables. Respondents also shared a preference for frozen snacks, like nuggets and sliders, which can be prepared in the microwave. Which makes sense, because 49 percent of respondents said they turn to “snack dinners” due to the lack of time they have to plan, prepare, and sit down to a meal.

There’s a lot of debate over how many times we should actually be eating in a day. And it’s unclear whether or not the trend toward snacking is necessarily good or bad. But one thing that struck me, as I read the report, was that a lack of time in one’s day doesn’t necessarily mean microwavable processed food and doesn’t need to be the deterrent for eating something homemade.

So in case you’re like me and need to hit the ground running, I’ve gathered up six dishes that only demand 15 minutes of you time. That still leaves plenty of time to watch Project Runway.

Do you eat “meal snacks”? What’s a meal you’d never give up (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)? Shout in the comments below!

Food News, Dinner, Faster

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The Woman Teaching People How to Eat Well on a Food Stamp Budget

Rachel Bolden-Kramer knows what it means to struggle. Despite being the first in her family to go to college (she graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Social Studies and Spanish), she scrambled to find employment in the midst of the financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession. A physical injury inspired her to learn yoga and other natural healing practices, which led her to open a yoga center in New York. But she still relied on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table.

Even on a fixed, limited budget, Bolden-Kramer stretched every dollar to eat the most nutritious foods possible. She learned to navigate the challenges of the social welfare system, and used her organizational and advocating skills to teach workshops on radical healing—living in a way to minimize inflammation and disease—commissioned by the New York City Housing Authority. The birth of her daughter brought her home to San Francisco, but it didn’t stop her teaching. In 2017, Bolden-Kramer raised more than $27,000 on Kickstarter to publish her first cookbook, My Food Stamps Cookbook.

Kickstart the Food Book Fair, Help Build Food Communities

Kickstart the Food Book Fair, Help Build Food Communities
by Caroline Lange

How to Eat Well on a Budget

How to Eat Well on a Budget
by Lindsay-Jean Hard

But Bolden-Kramer is determined to use her struggles to help others. In addition to her recently published cookbook, she works as a doula and parenting coach, and runs a preschool dedicated to teaching healthful habits to the next generation. Eager to learn more about her experiences, I reached out to hear her story and see what she plans to explore next. Our conversation has been edited for clarity.

KATIE MACDONALD: How did you decide to start posting on Instagram and blogging? What were you looking to share?

RACHEL BOLDEN-KRAMER: I wanted to introduce the world to my daughter and my lifestyle and the obstacles we overcame to get here. I used to think my daughter and I had such a horrible story—I mean, I was in court for years fighting to keep my newborn baby. I lost the business I built and my apartment before I had my daughter. We were homeless for quite some time, living with friends and sometimes in motels. It was truly the worst circumstances I could imagine as a new mother. I felt ashamed that maybe I had somehow caused all this to happen. But with lots of care and compassion, I began to unwind the spiral of doom. As soon as I felt my power coming back, I knew I had to share our story for others like us who think it is impossible to overcome the darkest of nights. And I knew I needed to keep my promise to all the folks who supported me as a young business owner and publish this guide to eating powerfully.

KM: Who helped you along the way?

RBK: I had a wonderful free therapist at the Homeless Prenatal Program. You don’t have to be homeless, but it’s available if you’re low-income. It lifted a whole weight off of me. It also got a lot easier after I had a stable place to stay in San Francisco, where I grew up.

KM: What were some challenges you faced while living on SNAP?

RBK: My biggest challenge with eating on a budget has always been time. When your budget is low, it means you’re probably dealing with a lot of responsibilities—a reason why I detest the rhetoric about poor people who are eligible for food stamps. You hear, “People just need to get a job” or “work harder.” Or that they’re lazy. There is such a thing as welfare fraud, but the majority of people are people like me. It’s usually people who are healing or providing care to others, like children and elders. I cared for my mom with Alzheimer’s as well as an infant, and managing the needs of all three of us was a full time job. We actually always had a surplus of food from programs when my daughter was really young. But it’s challenging to prep your food when you’re exhausted from breastfeeding and cleaning, and barely getting anything done for yourself. The impulse is to grab a quick fix.

KM: What type of food do you turn to?

RBK: I fess up to my doughnut-and-coffee diet in the book. We got free vegan doughnuts from a food pantry and that was always easier to eat than tossing together a nice organic salad (also free from pantry). But I’ve learned to prepare more nutritious foods in advance so that it’s easily available when I need comfort, like chopped vegetables and fruit.

KM: How do you manage stress and self-care?

RBK: I practice meditation and focus on forgiveness and compassion. And while that is helpful, I know I need a lot of physical comfort to heal my stress—regular gym time and spa visits. I do yoga daily since I am a trained teacher, but I also need to attend classes to get a little encouragement. I work on creating a life-work balance by determining boundaries and trading childcare time with my friends so that we all get a break.

KM: What does that support system look like?

RBK: The funny thing is that a lot of my community comes from the cookbook. Before the book was finished, I organized a lot of projects to engage my community and get their input. I hosted dinners with other single moms and other doulas. We’d talk about breakthroughs, breakdowns, goals, and I would pitch ideas to them over kale salad. It strengthened my tribe.

KM: What are challenges you’ve witnessed others face on SNAP?

RBK: It really is a belittling experience for a lot of people, and it takes a lot of time. I remember getting up early with my friends to get to the food stamps office before the line got bad. Otherwise you would be there all day. People get discouraged by the long waits, the sometimes not-so-helpful attitude of the workers, and the many requirements to keep their assistance cases open.

Photo by Rachel Bolden-Kramer

KM: What are some things you wished fellow parents knew?

RBK: One thing most stressed-out parents should know is that there are agencies that can handle the entire assistance case without you needing to leave your home. I used the food bank to do this for myself and my daughter when we first applied as a family.

KM: How does your work currently help others?

RBK: In addition to running a preschool and nursery, I am a birth doula. I was at a beautiful birth the day when I found out I reached my Kickstarter goal. The client was someone who couldn’t afford a doula, but I’m part of a small collective that raises funds so we can provide these services to people pro bono. At the postpartum visit for this family, they asked what to eat to make good breast milk and heal from birth. I immediately connected them with a local CSA delivery that accepts food stamps. Now they get produce to their home weekly.

Today, Bolden-Kramer lives in San Francisco with her daughter and mother. She owns and operates a preschool dedicated to teaching healthful habits to the next generation, and also teaches current and future parents how to incorporate nutritious foods into their everyday lives. My Food Stamps Cookbook is her first cookbook.


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