Jamin Mendelsohn, Documentary/Web Producer
It's important to possess certain qualities when you're responsible for leading the charge over a growing health movement. Great energy and an upbeat attitude are just two that Jamin seems to have in spades. If a loyal cheerleader's what you need, you definitely want her in your corner - whether the cause is green living, Brooklyn, or even the Mets. And that smile! If that doesn't get you pumped for life, we're not really sure what will.
Read on for Jamin's juicing essentials and her favorite vegetarian-friendly chefs!
Please tell us what you do.
I work as a documentary & web producer and my most recent project, "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead," follows the stories of two men who struggle with obesity and disease, and overcome it through a plant-based lifestyle and specifically juicing! I've become an avid juicer since starting on this project three and a half years ago and have continued to explore the wide world of plant-based food. After we wrapped the movie, we launched a website to give people the information, tools and community support needed to do a Reboot (a.k.a.: juice fast) of their own. I'm now working as the community manager on this site and am inspired everyday by the incredible stories of people embracing fruits and vegetables, and making healthy choices in their own lives.
When I started on the project in March 2008, I did my first 10-day juice fast and it was that which resulted in my vegetarianism. I finished the 10 days and thought I'll just wait to eat meat until I crave it again... and here we are today, still no meat. It just kinda stuck with me!
Do the changing seasons influence your juicing choices?
I do my best to be seasonal about the produce that I eat (and drink!), and one of the things I love most about being a CSA member is that the produce I use during more than half the year is, at its core, seasonal (not to mention local and organic). In the warmer months, I am very into juice, smoothies and salads. When things begin to cool off, I still stick with juice and salads, but I trend towards blended soups and other foods that feel more nourishing in the cold.
How do you determine what makes a juice "good"?
The main factors I consider when 'evaluating' a juice are: 1) Is it green? Look, there are lots of great combinations with ingredients like beets or carrots which take on another color, but I am a purist. For me: the greener, the better; 2) Does it taste good? If a juice doesn't taste good, bottom line, I won't drink it. There are so many delicious combinations that there is no reason to have juice that you don't like. Apple and pear go a long way in green juice, as do lemon, ginger and even pineapple. And if you want to get really particular, I always prefer a hydraulically pressed juice - it maintains the most nutrients of all juicing modalities, and tastes really smooth and not pulpy.
What are some of the biggest challenges of juicing?
The biggest challenge for me is my complete and utter lack of a dishwasher. :( Cleaning all the parts of the juicer is time consuming and essential. Alas, there's just no way around it. Which is probably why I do buy a lot of juice out!
Where are your favorite places in the city to buy juices?
There are so many great juice options in NYC. When I first got into juicing, all of a sudden I happily realized juice is EVERYWHERE in this city. My favorites in Manhattan are The Juice Press, Organic Avenue and the kiosk in Union Square (Editor's note: Pretty sure this is Jus, attached to The Coffee Shop). In my own Cobble Hill, I can get pressed juice at Mandy's Healthy Cafe (and they have a frequent buyer card!).
What model is your juicer and would you recommend it?
I have the Breville Juice Fountain Plus. It's a mid-range centrifugual juicer (retails for about $150). I've been using it for three years and it's still going strong - definitely would recommend it. But there are lots of models at different price points: the Jack Lalanne, Hamilton Beach, Omega, the Norwalk, etc.
What are some tips for novice juicers?
When juicing, don't be afraid to try different combinations and experiment. I never would have suspected that fennel-cucumber-chard juice would be so delicious, but it is actually one of my all-time faves!
But man can't survive on juice alone! What are some of your favorite dishes to make at home?
In general, I like to cook vegetarian food that tastes good. I experiment with whole grains and cook a lot of veggies. Last winter I made many blended soups using an immersion blender. Butternut squash soup, acorn squash-black bean soup, tomato basil, creamless mushroom, etc. I try to combine veggies with anything I'm cooking. One of my favorite go-tos is romaine salad with spicy peanut soba noodles. I'll often roast veggies of all kinds: sweet potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.
I love the FRESH whole wheat pasta from Eataly. In fact, that's a really fun place to pick up gorgeous produce and fresh pasta, and you will definitely have something delicious on your hands.
Finally I make a simple tahini-citrus-dill dressing (recipe below) that I will pour over EVERYTHING - raw kale salad, grilled zucchini, tortilla chips, you name it!
Is it challenging at all to maintain a largely vegetarian lifestyle with the looming holiday season?
For me, being a vegetarian has been really straightforward; I simply don't find myself wanting meat, and so that part is easy! The biggest temptations and indulgences for me during the holiday season is probably cookies :) - yum!
Do you have a go-to dish that's sure to draw raves from guests?
I don't entertain all that often, sadly, but have made a few knockout fritattas for Sunday brunch! I also have some pretty fine baked goods recipes courtesy of my mother - the chocolate chip cookies are amazing and the sour cream chocolate chip cake definitely draws raves!
What are some of your favorite kitchen utensils or gadgets?
My Vitamix! I'm obsessed with making smoothies in it, especially the green ones. I also love my juicer, my Nespresso machine and I would not have survived winter without my immersion blender. I'm also seriously considering getting a dehydrator, I have no clue where it would live in my teeny tiny kitchen, but the idea of making my own kale and zucchini chips is pretty tempting!
Where do you shop for kitchen supplies?
I will usually pop into A Cook's Companion, my neighborhood spot in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
Top pantry essentials in your kitchen?
I always have a variety of whole grains (bulgur wheat, brown rice, quinoa, soba noodles) and also legumes (dried lentils and cans of organic chickpeas). From June to December, I am always fully stocked with veggies from the Cobble Hill CSA. The CSA can seem like a lot of produce for one person but when you start throwing it into a juicer, you end up making your way through it all (or most of it!).
Who are your cooking inspirations?
Which chefs/producers do you admire?
Green Thumb Organic Farm in Bridgehampton, NY (my CSA farm!), Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Scott Conant really accommodate the vegetarians while still in a "fine dining" atmosphere. And man, that carrot salad from ABC Kitchen! Also Einat Admony, the woman behind Balaboosta and Taim - Middle Eastern food taken to great heights!
What's your favorite hole-in-the-wall you'd be willing to share?
- Ted & Honey Cafe in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn: their egg sandwiches are excellent, the morning glory muffin is outstanding.
- Balaboosta: a shining star in Nolita.
- Grey Dog Cafe: the Chelsea outpost is less crowded and always a favorite!
- Siggy's Good Food in Brooklyn Heights for healthy options.
What are your favorite cookbooks/blogs/sites?
- Edible Brooklyn magazines
(Editor's note: Hey, that's my blog! Didn't pay her, promise.)
- Barefoot Contessa :)
What do you like to listen to while you cook?
Any album I can listen to all the way through:
Whose pantry(ies) would you like to raid?
My friend Archana Rao of Love Street Cakes has an outstanding cake kitchen - so I would raid it and then ask for some lessons!
* * *
Reboot Recipe - Juice #1
Jamin's Tahini Citrus Dill Dressing
(not pictured, but great over greens and vegetables of all kinds)
Adapted from Epicurious.com
1/3 cup well-stirred tahini
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon or orange juice
Lots of chopped fresh dill (or other fresh herbs)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix ingredients well!
*Photos by Christine Han Photography for Pantry Confidential. All photos on Pantry Confidential are original and copyrighted. Please credit and link back to our site when using our images, thank you.