Inside the Fridge: Leah Wakefield

by Robin on June 20, 2012

in food memories, Fruits and Veggies, Inside the Fridge

Inside the Fridge welcomes RobinsBite intern Leah Wakefield. A North Dakota native with Egyptian roots, Leah was raised on a healthy Middle Eastern diet in the midst of Midwestern cuisine. After receiving her Bachelor’s in International Business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Leah spent two years teaching English at a private university in Honduras. Astonished by the lack of nutrition and health-related education among her Honduran students and co-workers, she began incorporating nutrition and dietary education into her lesson plans.  Today, Leah is a single, young professional working with a Houston-based creative agency and is making plans to attend graduate school to obtain a degree in nutrition and dietetics. She’s always looking for excuses to cook for others!

Below we ask her questions about her grocery shopping and food habits – with actual pictures from her fridge!

 

Inside the Fridge: Where do you shop for food?
Leah Wakefield:  I love Central Market and Whole Foods. Both stores have incredibly fresh produce and specialty items I can’t find elsewhere. Whole Foods makes “eating healthy” easy, and shopping trips are always educational. Unfortunately I can’t afford Whole Foods all the time, so it’s sort of an indulgence when I do drop by.

ITF: Do you love food shopping or dread it?
LW:
I absolutely love food shopping! I spend a lot of time sampling, reading labels and analyzing prices. It becomes more of an experience than an obligation.

ITF: How often do you shop?
LW:
Once a week, although I’ll usually drop by the store midweek for fresh bread and berries.

ITF: What is the oldest item in the fridge right now?
LW:
An old bottle of chardonnay that I’ve been saving for a Fettuccine Alfredo sauce.

ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
LW:
I’m usually cooking for myself, so I almost always end up with leftovers.  They’re great for busy days, particularly when I’m not in the mood to cook, but you won’t catch me eating leftovers after two or three days.

ITF: What convenience product can you not live without?
LW:
Peanut Butter! It’s my go-to for breakfast, snacks, and desserts. You’re more likely to see me sitting in front of the t.v. with a jar of peanut butter than a pint of ice cream.

ITF: What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
LW:
My mother is Egyptian and an amazing cook. I grew up on hummus, pita, tabbouleh, kobeba, and baklava for dessert. As a kid, my friends never wanted to eat over, because they were not accustomed to the Middle-Eastern flavors that my mom incorporated in almost every meal. They are now singing a different tune.

ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
LW:
Baklava. I remember watching my mom carefully butter each layer of filo dough, sprinkling just the right amount of nuts and spices and baking the pastry to a golden, piece of perfection. Her secret ingredient is love, and that you can taste!

ITF: How have your cooking/shopping habits changed over the 5 years?
LW:
I eat healthier, fresher foods, and I cook a lot more. In college, my can opener and microwave were my most used kitchen utensil/appliance, and my pots and pans were dust collectors. Thank goodness that’s no longer the case.  

ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
LW:
I just made an easy black bean and tomato quinoa and it was delish. I found the recipe on Epicurious.com.

ITF: If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
LW: Definitely Giada De Laurentiis. I love Italian food, and I’m dying to try her chocolate and brie paninis.

ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
LW:
Eat close to the ground. Aim to fill your fridge with at least 50% fruits and veggies and you’ll find yourself reaching for mother nature’s dessert more often than not.

Thank you Leah!

And please contact Leah if you would like to be featured on Inside the Fridge. Her email is Leah *at* robinplotkin *dot* com

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura June 20, 2012 at 9:58 am

Wow, that seems like so much food for one person :) I love it though, great products in there and super organized as well!

And mmm I love baklava!

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Leah Wakefield June 23, 2012 at 9:20 am

It is a lot of food Laura! I actually live with my brother, so I can’t take credit for all of it. Although, he rarely eats at home, so the majority is mine. I’m glad you think it looks organized!

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Erin June 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I love this! And Leah I would absolutely love your moms home cookin right now! I wish I would have had it more growing up!

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Leah Wakefield June 23, 2012 at 9:16 am

Thanks Erin! Your tastes have definitely changed since we were kids. I know my mom would love to have you over for dinner next time you’re in ND!

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AB June 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Am getting hungry looking inside this frig. What a lovely way of describing your mom’s cooking. I’d love some of her Middle Eastern Food right now.

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Leah Wakefield June 23, 2012 at 9:21 am

Thank you! She is a phenomenal cook and she loves to cook for others!

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Erin S. June 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

So excited to see the inside of Leah Wakefield’s fridge! I’m a childhood friend of Leah and her older sister Jenny, and whenever I went to their house, their mother would be in the kitchen putting together something delicious. She was always laughing. Also, their holiday parties were AMAZING because of all of the wonderful food – though I was never brave enough to try the stuffed grape leaves (wish I had now!), the Baklava was my absolute favorite. Thanks for sharing!

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Leah Wakefield June 23, 2012 at 9:23 am

Erin this is such a sweet comment. Next time you’re in GF I’m going to request that my mom makes stuffed grape leaves, just for you!

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Nohad June 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Funny! I have a beautiful cousin named Leah and her mum IS A GREAT COOK! She is always trying new recipes and her Middle Eastern cooking is phenomenal too! Hey Leah, love your fridge! Everything looks so appetizing and fresh! My cousin and her mum are coming to visit soon (can’t wait) and I must be sure that my fridge is as inviting as yours! Thanks for your input.

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Leah Wakfield July 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

You are so funny Nohad! And your fridge is even more inviting. I’d love for you to contribute to Inside the Fridge!

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rahn July 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm

the neighbors are so proud, as well as your folks! how do i play inside the fridge?

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Robin July 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm

HI Rahn-we’re proud of Leah, too! If you’d like to play, Leah will be in touch!

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Leah Wakfield July 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Rahn! Thank you so much. I can’t wait to see your fridge. Send me pictures at leah@robinsbite.com. I hope you had a yummy 4th of July. I’m sure you were grilling up a storm.

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Leila July 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Leah , The opened door of your refrigerator is very welcoming and appetizing . Your cultural awareness and respect of traditions and desire to help others by sharing your American/Egyptian/Syrian-Lebanese nutritious traditions , and your mom’s superb cooking, while incorporating and respecting others’ traditions will have a great impact on many…and maybe help hungry children throughout the world someday. We need more qualified, creative and culturally enriched nutritionists and dieticians. You taking this task head -on is very exciting. Our nursery school would welcome ideas for healthy treats for nursery school children who are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and other nuts. Thanks and keep us posted…Leila

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Bev Benda September 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Leah: great fridge! Very tidy! I agree that love it the ingredient that one can really taste, and I like your comment about eating close to the ground! You have amazing insights – it was fun to read this article – you taught me a few things about cultural foods, and you inspired me, too!

An idea for Leila… the schools in our school district strictly use Sun Butter (no peanut butter products) strictly to protect children with allergies. It is made in Fargo, ND… just go to http://www.sunbutter.com and there is a section for schools to order in bulk.

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Leah Wakefield September 14, 2012 at 11:35 am

Bev! Thank you so much for your comment! Would you be interested in contributing to inside the fridge? We’d love to peek inside your healthy fridge!! Email me at leah@robinplotkin.com if you’re interested.

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Leila April 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Beb, So sorry for the delayed thanks..I just read your response today and many thanks for sharing http://www.sunbutter.com
Leila 4.23.13

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Leila April 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Correction: BEV

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Lisa Lewis April 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Dear Leah:
Your comments are so appropriate for today’s conscious and healthy eating. We *are* what we eat.
I enjoyed reading your food wisdom. That’s just too bad about your friends not eating your mother’s Middle Eastern cooking back in the day, because it just meant more for all the ravenous and appreciative adults.
Your refrigerator is so clean and organized, your greens stacked on one side, your yogurts on another. Total awesomeness!

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