Lunch is served

in detail ralph masri 03 Lunch is served

‘Bold yet feminine, statement yet refined,’ says Lebanese jeweller Ralph Masri of his aesthetic. Throwing together a Lebanese lunch in his aunt’s west London home, he explains that the kitchen is where he goes to unwind. Splitting his time between London and Beirut, where he makes every design by hand, it is not surprising that he occasionally needs time out. This year has got off to a whirlwind start – he has opened a new showroom in Beirut, been selected as one of five new brands to show at the prestigious JCK show in Las Vegas next month and a has collaboration with mining company, Gemfields, in the pipeline. We met him to talk sport verses design, parental influences and preview his latest collection Sacred Windows over a tableful of delicious food.

Tell me about your upbringing

I was born in Beirut towards end of civil war in 1989. After I was born we moved to Paris and then on to Montreal for six years. We moved back to Beirut when I was seven and it was there that I started to explore my creative side. My parents were signing me up to everything from basketball to horseback riding but I didn’t really care for sport! I just wanted to draw!

So your parents didn’t mind that you chose design over sport?!

Not at all but they were surprised I choose jewellery! My parents were both in the jewellery trade – my mum worked with diamonds and my father was a jeweller so I was surrounded by it growing up. Dad used to tell me ‘you could end up being a jeweller just like your father’ and I remember thinking “no way”! I moved to London to do an art foundation at Central St Martins where you get to try out all aspects of art and design and it was jewellery that I fell in love with. Maybe it was more deep-routed in me than I realised!

in detail ralph masri 01 Lunch is served

in detail ralph masri 08 Lunch is served

What is it that you love about creating jewellery?

I love the challenge of making original and unique design that appeals to people. If you want to run a brand, you need to sell. You have to find a balance between creativity (which I inherited from my mum) and business (in which I am influenced by my Dad).

in detail ralph masri 10 Lunch is served

in detail ralph masri 09 Lunch is served

Does your mother inspire the pieces you create?

I definitely share my Mum’s eccentric taste. She wears big statement pieces and loves jewellery that stands out. When I design a piece it is really important that it has a strong presence.

in detail ralph masri 02 Lunch is served

in detail ralph masri 14 Lunch is served

Do you wear any jewellery at all?

Recently I have been getting a lot of requests for men’s jewellery but I don’t wear very much myself. I wear my little silver good luck ring (above) that I made at university. It was inspired by the architecture of plants.

in detail ralph masri 04 Lunch is served

in detail ralph masri 05 Lunch is served

in detail ralph masri 11 Lunch is served

Where does your inspiration come from?

I combine elements from all over the world. My last collection Arabesque Deco was inspired by my love of Middle Eastern architecture. It draws on motifs such as the octagon and star that are often seen in Morocco. I re-worked the shapes into patterns reminiscent of Western Art-Deco design. The collection I am currently working on also has strong architectural references. I wanted to work with coloured gemstones, in particular baguette-cut stones. Beirut is a Christian and Muslim country so we have a lot of mosques, cathedrals and churches. I spent a lot of time studying the stain glass artwork in the cathedrals for unique colour combinations.

in detail ralph masri 2 Lunch is served

in detail ralph masri 12 Lunch is served

You just opened your showroom in Beirut, tell us more about that?

Things were really starting to take of in Beirut and I was getting lots of requests to see my work. I make 80% of the pieces by hand in my studio and I am really keen to keep that up. My showroom is across two levels which provides the perfect space to create the jewellery and meet with clients at the same time. It is in the up and coming meat packing district of Beirut which is a designer hub for concept stores and creative spaces. It has given me a much stronger presence and allowed me to expand the brand.


Random Wednesday Thoughts

georgetown early morning

Hi friends! Happy April Fools Day! No pranks over here, but I always love reading April fools blog pranks. My friend Caitlin always does the best ones! Also, HOORAY for April! I feel like it’s seriously spring now, and the weather agrees. Such a gorgeous day already!

Anyway! I have all sorts of random stuff to share today, so let’s get to it!

1) I came up with an awesome and super quick but healthy dinner last night using only freezer and pantry items.


I was in the mood for something really fast and easy, so I dug three things out of the freezer: a frozen quinoa and vegetables mix (for carbs/veg – it’s plain, with nothing added to it but the quinoa and veggies), frozen peas (to amp up the veggie action), and frozen shrimp (for protein). I cooked the frozen shrimp in a pan with some oil until they were cooked, then added about half the package of frozen peas, sautéed them quickly until soft, and then dumped in the entire (already microwave steamed for 3 minutes) quinoa/veggie mix.


I added some soy sauce and a little chili garlic sauce, stirred, and dinner was ready. From freezer to plate in less than 10 minutes. Boom! Now that’s my kind of cooking. ;)


This was so surprisingly delicious, too. I love having easy meal ideas like this that don’t involve having a ton of fresh food around or following a real recipe. Great for empty fridge days when you haven’t been to the store in awhile, or when you don’t feel like cooking but still want something healthy, hot, and satisfying. I’m definitely going to buy more of the quinoa/veggie mix (I picked it up at Whole Foods) to have this again in the future!

Pretty close up pic:


And actual realistic how I really ate it pic. ;)


Matt was working super late so I ate in front of the TV – I’ve gotten completely addicted to “Hart of Dixie” on Netflix – it’s pretty silly but cute and really addictive. ;) Guilty pleasure!

2) I reactivated my ClassPass membership now that I’m actually in town again for awhile! I’m in the mood to mix it up in terms of workouts, and my buddy Chelsea has been approved for low impact exercise (she had foot surgery a few months ago), so we decided to hit up a 6:30 a.m. barre class this morning at Barre3 in Georgetown via ClassPass. Love how easy ClassPass makes it to do friend workout dates!

barre3 georgetown reviews

Barre isn’t my favorite form of studio workout (you guys know I love high energy boot camps the most), but it’s always good to mix it up, and I actually enjoyed this morning’s class more than I have barre in the past – maybe because I went in knowing there would be strength/burn but not to expect cardio? The studio was beautiful, too, and everyone was really friendly and welcoming but low key – not intimidating at all. Def recommend checking out Barre3 if you’re a barre fan!

barre3 georgetown review

I want to start doing barre more because it’s so good for strengthening muscles that help with running. In barre classes I always realize, oh, hi, apparently I never use ___ muscles because I’m dying right now. Burns so good!! Thanks for getting me out there this morning, Chelsea!

barre3 georgetown

Now that Chelsea is able to work out again (in a month she should be back to high impact stuff, too), we have all sorts of ideas for classes we’re going to try together – it will be good motivation for me to really mix it up! Happy to have my workout buddy back. Any recommendations for DC or Arlington studios/workouts we should absolutely try that are on ClassPass? (Also, FYI, if you’re in DC and want to try ClassPass, here is my affiliate link to get a $10 trial for your first week (be sure to use this link, not the link above). Insane deal, and a nice low risk way to give it a shot! Just be sure to email them to cancel if you don’t want to automatically continue the membership.)

3) Don’t feel bad about leaving food on your plate – I always tell my AnneTheRD clients that food is only wasted if you eat it and don’t want it/enjoy it. Clean Plate Club no longer!


The above picture is what I left on my plate this morning – just two bites, basically, and I know a lot of my clients struggle with just leaving a tiny bit on the plate – it’s so tempting to just finish it even if you’re full/done/don’t want any more. Again – just remind yourself that the only way it’s being wasted is if you eat it and don’t want it! Save it for later, even if it’s just a bite – it will make a good snack! Or, if you’re out/can’t save it, toss it with no regrets. (This was my fave Flour Free High Protein Breakfast Pancake, btw. Yum!)


4) One simple change I made lately that has improved my health/sanity: I no longer charge my cell phone right by the bed/on the nightstand.

I was getting into the bad habit of always checking my emails right before I went to bed, and right after I woke up. This did absolutely nothing but a) make it harder for me to fall asleep, and b) stress me out immediately after waking up. So, I finally took action and moved my cell phone into the hallway, so I can still hear the alarm, but can’t look at it while in bed. I’ve also been making a big effort to read books before bed again – such a nice way to wind down. Right now I’m reading “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by comedian Mindy Kaling (of The Office fame). So far it’s funny and a nice light read!

Another cell phone-related sanity tip that I implemented years ago: turn off ALL your pop up notifications. It drove me INSANE to constantly get notified when I had a new email, or Instagram like, or whatever. Turning all of them off (the only ones I still get are obviously if I have an incoming phone call, or if I get a text message) was the best idea ever, and so helpful for not feeling like I always needed to be doing something/responding immediately/chained to my phone. It will be there when you get to it. It’s okay. Don’t allow your phone to constantly interrupt your life!

What’s one simple change you’ve made lately to improve your health/sanity?

Random Wednesday Thoughts originally appeared on fANNEtastic food | Washington D.C. area Registered Dietitian | Recipes + Healthy Living + Fitness on April 1, 2015.

The post Random Wednesday Thoughts appeared first on fANNEtastic food | Washington D.C. area Registered Dietitian | Recipes + Healthy Living + Fitness.


Interview with Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health

For tonight’s Grand Rounds at Columbia University, I did an interview with FPOP (Food Policy and Obesity Prevention).

Food Policy Expert Marion Nestle on the Heinz-Kraft Deal, GMOs, and the Secret Ingredients to Healthy School Lunches

March 31, 2014—Years before the Reagan Administration decreed that ketchup was a vegetable, Marion Nestle saw the connections between the dinner table and politics. Nestle, the nation’s leading advocate for good nutrition, will address the Mailman School in a Grand Rounds talk tomorrow and kick-off Public Health Fights Obesity, a month-long series of lectures and special events, including an April 16 symposium on preventing childhood obesity.

Nestle, a professor and founder of the department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, is the author of acclaimed books, includingFood Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, and most recently, Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics.

In anticipation of her Grand Rounds talk, the student group Food Policy and Obesity Prevention interviewed Nestle about everything from attempts to regulate Big Soda, GMO labeling, to school lunches done right.

The federal Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee recently published recommendations that for the first time considered issues of food sustainability. There has been a lot of controversy.

The guidelines have always been controversial, but never anything like this. I think this is an example of how worried the food industry is about the pushback about diet and health in America. Sustainability is the “S word” in Washington. The guidelines committee is trying to do is what I’ve been advocating for a very long time, which is to bring agricultural policy in line with health policy. Right now the policies are completely divorced.

At the same time you have Heinz and Kraft joining forces.

The food industry is in a defensive position because food and health advocates have been enormously successful in changing the market and changing people’s views. The fastest growing segment of the food industry is organics. The makers of processed foods are in retreat. Warren Buffett must think there’s plenty of money to be made in selling junk foods. I hope he’s wrong.

Is Big Food increasingly eyeing opportunities overseas?

If you can’t sell it here, you sell it there. The best example of this is the soda industry, which is the subject of my next book. There has been a 10- to 15-year decline in sales of carbonated sweetened beverages in the United States. It’s one of the great successes of health advocacy. To compensate, Coke and Pepsi are increasingly focusing their efforts overseas. Expect obesity and its consequences to follow.

Speaking of global commerce, should we be concerned about trade agreements like the Transpacific Partnership?

Food and Water Watch called it “NAFTA on steroids.” It’s very hard to know what’s going on because the negotiations are being done in secret. People are worried that a lot of the protections we have against bad things in food will be taken away on the basis of violations of trade agreements.

Poster supporting a soda tax in Berkeley

Closer to home, here in New York we’ve heard a lot about attempts to legislate on soda with failed attempt to limit portion sizes. Other areas have had more luck—

Not luck—skill! The only place in the United States where a soda tax has been successful is Berkeley. They did everything about advocacy right. Instead of framing it as a health argument, they framed it as an argument against corporate power: Berkeley versus Big Soda. And there was an enormous grassroots effort to engage the entire community. Community organizing is classic public health. Nobody does it very often. But when it’s done, it works!

Another issue people have been talking about is GMO labeling.

I was on the FDA food advisory committee in 1994 when they were in the process of approving GMOs. Those of us who were consumer representatives told the FDA that it had to require labeling. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for there to be a major national uproar. From the beginning, the question was: if they don’t want labels, what are companies like Monsanto trying to hide?

Speaking of Monsanto, there was news this week that a chemical in their Round Up herbicide is a likely a carcinogen.

RoundUp also induces weed resistance, which has become an enormous problem for the industry. And most of it is used on GMOs. It’s a plant poison! Why would anyone think it would be good for health?

Are GMOs always bad?

The papaya that’s engineered to resist ring spot seems like a reasonable use of biotechnology to me. It saved the Hawaiian papaya industry. That’s the only example I can think of that’s beneficial. Most of the technology has been applied to commodity crops.

What about food insecurity? Can GMOs help?

If you want to help food-insecure nations, you need to empower them to do their own agriculture. That agriculture needs to be sustainable. GMO crops are not sustainable. They require seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides, every year.

President Obama signs the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010

According to a new Rudd Center study, more kids are eating fruit at school. At the same time, there’s a lot of pushback against healthy foods at school.

In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. That was bipartisan. Today, bipartisan seems out of the question. The Republicans want to roll the Act back. There’s no question it’s working in most schools that have people committed to it. There are huge advances being made in school food that carry over to food outside school. Kids come home and they want different foods because they see that eating healthy foods is valued.

How much is this change tied to school leaders compared to funding?

More funding would help. But some of the poorest schools have cafeterias where you walk in and the food smells good. They’re making it happen by cooking onsite with USDA commodity foods, which are unprocessed and cheap. Someone who knows how to cook can turn USDA surpluses into good meals. But not every school does that. I’ve been in schools where the food was terrible, the kids weren’t eating it, and the plate-waste was astronomical. If the food service workers know the names of the kids, it’s a good sign the food will be good too.

For students interested in food and health, what sectors offer the most opportunity? Government? Nonprofit?

It depends on what you like. We need good people in government. It’s really important to have public health professionals work from within to make agencies like the FDA and Department of Agriculture do useful work. Everybody loves NGOs. It doesn’t matter which. Just do it!

Attend Marion Nestle’s Grand Rounds talk on April 1, 4:00-5:30 p.m., at Alumni Auditorium, 650 West 168th Street, or watch it on LiveStream.


Neapolitan Overnight Oats

3 flavors are better than one! Make Neapolitan Overnight Oats and get a HEALTHY bite of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry in every bite. Plus, it's only 220 calories per serving!

3 flavors are better than one! Make Neapolitan Overnight Oats and get a HEALTHY bite of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry in every bite. I love ice cream and ice cream loves me. Yup that’s my #4 Fact of the series: ice cream is my favorite dessert! I guess it’s really not THAT interesting, but it’s…

Read More »

The post Neapolitan Overnight Oats appeared first on Fit Foodie Finds.