Tag: east Los angeles

The Milk Truck comes to East Los Angeles

The Milk Truck comes to East Los Angeles

 This is how it all happened.  I received an email stating that the Milk Truck was coming to Los Angeles and looking for a location to film a video.  I instantly responded in hopes that they would pick me and my neighborhood. I thought of the children of my community, I envisioned their enthusiasm of being a part of a video and learning about the benefits of milk. I wanted to bring a memorable experience to these kids. Seriously, when does a cool truck full of milk come to East Los Angeles and pass out free milk and other night-time treats? I’ve never witnessed it.

I was so electrified when I found out my neighborhood was chosen.  I ran up and down the street letting all the kids know that a Milk truck was coming, and to listen for the truck’s song “Ya es hora de ir a la cama.”  That would be the signal to come outside and get some milk.  I told parents that milk may help their kids sleep better through the night and in turn they would be alert and ready to learn in the morning for school.  This truck was coming to ensure that the kids were going to get some milk before bedtime and guardians could see firsthand if this method works for them.  I even gave them this link to download free books to encourage them to read to their kids before bedtime.  Everyone was happy.  The kids were beyond excited, the parents were delighted with the idea of their children getting a good night sleep and I was pleased to stand back, knowing something good happened in my community.

Here is the actual video and some behind the scenes pictures:





 Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor Board and Latina Mom Blogger. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
Kale Salad and the Kids of East Los Angeles!

Kale Salad and the Kids of East Los Angeles!

 LA CAUSA is a local non-profit organization in ELA that works to re-empower youth that have been pushed out of the traditional educational system and provides them with knowledge, training, and hands on preparation in becoming agents of change in their community!  LA CAUSA has now opened a sub-division called “PALOMA” – (People’s Affordable Local Organic Market Alterations)….

It’s a great program that is reaching out to local corner markets to increase the percentage of healthy food/produce  available in stock and by doing so decreasing the amount of junk food in store.  They are transforming the East Los Angeles Food Desert into a Food Oasis one store at a time.

The first store to under-go the make-over is Edith’s Market located at 498 South Ford Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90022, which is positioned directly across the street from Humphreys Elementary School.  

Since this store is central for many kids in the community, LA CAUSA/PALOMA thought it would be clever to teach the children at the elementary school how to incorporate some of the new produce available to them into their diets.  This is where I come in…. it was my pleasure to take part in this program and give the children a salad making demonstration along with samples.  KALE SALAD that is.  I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction I received from the majority (95%) of the schoolchildren.  They asked for second and third servings of kale salad!  SCHOOL AGED KIDS EATING KALE!  Some of their parents were on hand to witness the demo and were shocked by their kids reactions, which prompted them to find out more about the leafy green.  Here are a few pictures from the event along with the kale salad recipe!  Try it on your kid today, there’s a huge chance he or she will love it. 

Ingredients for kale salad:

1 – medium sized bundle of Kale (chopped)

1 – red onion (thinly sliced)

1 – cup sliced almonds

1 – cup dried cranberries

Ingredients for salad dressing:

2 – medium sized lemons (Juiced)

1 1/2 – tablespoons honey

1 – teaspoon minced garlic

2 – tablespoons olive oil

1 – tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 – teaspoon soy sauce

In a large mixing bowl add chopped kale.  Set to the side. In a medium sized bowl add all ingredients for salad dressing and mix well. Then pour salad dressing on top of kale and allow it to sit in dressing for an hour to two hours. Then add in onion, almonds, and cranberries. Mix well and serve! Enjoy!



Here are some wretched facts about the ELA community and why these programs are important: 

  • – In East Los Angeles you are more likely to find  a fast food chain than a market with fresh produce.
  • – There’s 3.6 markets per 100,000 residents in East Los Angeles compared to 12.5 markets in West Los Angeles.
  • – The diabetes rate in our community is skyrocketing and with a teenage obesity rate in East Los Angeles being 19.6% it’s only going to become an epidemic.
Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. This is my way of taking pride in my community and it’s fantastic progress! The recipe and opinions are my own. 🙂                  
All photos taken by: Mando Lopez


Entwine! You came at the right time.

Entwine! You came at the right time.

It was last Tuesday early afternoon, and my fiance says he needs my help scouting out a dive bar for a movie he is working on.  He tells me…  “It can’t be a recognizable dive bar, it has to be a bar no one will find common place.”  I grab the Cannon, put on my best walking shoes, and jump in the car.  We drive around the city, but hardly any bars are open.  “What goes on in this town?”  I ask.  “What time do bars open? It’s already 1:30p.m.”  We continue driving and as the afternoon ripens we come across three or four bars, but nothing dive-y enough.  Each time I get off the car, walk into the watering hole and spill the same mumbo jumbo about scouting for a film and wanting to snap a few pictures to see if the director would be interested, if so someone will return with a contract and go over pricing.  Most people are not phased by this info, others act as if a golden egg has just hatched before their eyes.  Then we find a little bar on a main street on the cusp of East Los Angeles and Montebello.  I walk in and there is NO ONE to be found.  No one sitting in the dive nor standing behind the bar tending to it.  I say out loud in the nicest voice I can find inside my throat “Hello.”  No response.  I then say “Hi.” Nothing.  I keep looking around.  All the chairs are dressed in plastic.  There are black and white framed photos of Ricky Ricardo, and Vicente Fernandez adorning the walls along with a huge gold fake Rolex watch that serves as a clock.  There are pink artificial flowers in vases that have not been dusted in years.  It looks like a grandma’s tacky living room that has been frozen in time from the 50’s or 60’s.  In my mind I’m doing somersaults thinking this could work.  Then at the back of the room I notice a long rectangular window with a little puff of white floating across it.  I walk towards the window to get a better look.  Standing on my tippy toes with my neck reaching to the ceiling, I peak in.  What I see I can’t believe.  I observe a tiny, fragile, little OLD lady barley able to move.  In my head I calculate she is in her late 80’s maybe early 90’s.  My heart breaks, thinking who ever left this lady here to man the bar is a for sure CREEP!  I now start giving my greetings in Spanish, thinking maybe she didn’t understand my arrival announcement in English, or worse yet she can’t hear.  I start thinking how am I going to explain to this lady that I am scouting for a film.  As I’m dreading the conversation….. she starts to make her way from the back.  Moving at a pace slower then any snail, she thinks about the next position of her footing as she holds on to the wall and all along never makes eye contact with me.  I say hello again…. she doesn’t acknowledge I’m there.  I figured she was blind and deaf.  Then she starts to pass where I’m standing and turns around in a swift motion and just SLUGS me with all her might right in the chest!  I never saw it coming.  I got so sad and upset at the same time.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me.

A.) I can’t hit her back she is a tiny little lady.

B.) She’s crazy or drunk or both.

C.) I did nothing to provoke getting punched.

I immediately start yelling in a high half crying pitch “Why are you hitting me?”  As I’m waving my arms trying to block the next swing.  She has me trapped and is relentless. Then by the grace of my youth I see a little window of opportunity to make a run for the door.  I zoom out of there only to hear her footsteps following on my trail.  I look back and she is running after me and she’s not slow anymore.  She stops at the door of the bar and is screaming all sorts of obscenities to me in Spanish that are the equivalent to “get the f@^* out of here you good for nothing broad.”  I dive into the car (no pun intended) and am horrified.  Wow!  What the hell just happened?  It took a minute or two to register as I replayed the whole thing in my mind again and as it was sinking in all I could do was shake my head thinking “Pinche vieja loca.”  I told the guy I live with I was not happy and I was not going to scout anymore, even if it was the middle of the afternoon.

As we arrive home I’m still shaken up from the hell I had just been through when lo and behold a box of wine is sitting  there on my door step waiting for me.  It was a sign from the wine gods that it would be best if I opened that box and enjoyed a glass right then and there.  Entwine was the name on the bottle.  I popped it open and poured a cup of merlot. As I sat on my porch staring at the vessel I noticed it had a list of food pairings on the back.  Perfect.  Another way for me to shut off my brain and  just let the bottle do all the work.  Thank you Food Network and Wente Vineyards for joining forces to make life easy with your new wine.  It surely saved my afternoon last Tuesday.

No compensation was received for this post. I was provided with a sample of  Entwine’s merlot for my review. The story and opinions are my own.

Rockin Salted Pistachio Toffee Smothered in Chocolate

Rockin Salted Pistachio Toffee Smothered in Chocolate

In the words of Annabella from Bow Wow Wow…. “I Want Candy!” Aside from wanting candy all the time, I also want my favorite nut, pistachios. Why not combine the two for a perfect pairing and take my sweet nutty cravings to a new level of BIG LOVE.

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley and Mando Lopez

Ingredients for pistachio toffee:

1 – cup butter (melted)

1 1/3 – cups sugar

1 – tablespoon corn syrup

2 – tablespoons cold water

1/2 – teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 – cup salted Wonderful Pistachios

12 – ounces chocolate chips (melted)


First line a cookie sheet with a non- stick baking mat or wax paper. I use both, but I’m a freak… One method is good enough.

Then take your bag of Wonderful Pistachios, cut it open and GET CRACKIN! I like to shuck my pistachios before I start making the toffee.  Once done removing shells place 1 cup of pistachios to the side, and with the remaining 1/4 cup coarsely chop.

Let’s get the toffee rockin and rollin…. In a big pot over a medium flame with a candy thermometer attached to the side, drop in butter and allow to melt. Mix with rubber spatula.

Then add in sugar, and mix in completely before adding in corn syrup and water. From this point forward you will be mixing constantly.

Keep stirring your buttery sugar mixture until your candy thermometer reads 300 degrees fahrenheit.  This will take about 15 to 20 minutes and your mixture will go from pale brown to deep golden brown. Then remove from flame and add vanilla. Your mixture will bubble and pop. This is good news!

Add 1 cup of Wonderful Pistachios, and mix well.

Then pour onto prepared cookie sheet and top with melted chocolate.

Spread chocolate carefully over top of toffee to coat it!

Then if your anything like me…. you’ll run off and hide somewhere and eat the chocolate off the spatula.






Okay back to work…. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup pistachios on top of chocolate, and place in the fridge overnight or for at least an hour.

When ready to eat. Break it into pieces or eat the whole slab! Enjoy!

No compensation was received for this post. I was provided with a sample of  Wonderful Pistachios to aid this recipe. The recipe and opinions are my own.

Makes my mouth water.