Extraordinary Health Magazine Volume 41 - Page 43

“ When anyone asks me how I first became inspired to do this , I always think back to my childhood when my mom was a stayat-home mom thanks to my dad who worked all the time ,” said Lahbichi . “ When my dad was in the kitchen it wasn ’ t that often , but he would make this egg and lobster tomato dish I always remember , so I really connected to my father through food .”
Lahbichi ’ s family friend whom he called Aunt Linda , helped raise him . She was Trinidadian and employed similar ingredients to those his mother used in cooking , though the nuances and complexities were slightly different . This diverse upbringing would serve Lahbichi well as he made creative choices to become an influential face on social media . It has turned into hosting live feeds with Food Heaven in partnership with Instagram and his popular ‘ Dive In ’ productions , inspired by the real-life premise of diving into whatever he and his friends were about to eat on nightly jaunts to New York ’ s coolest eateries .
“ I was always the ‘ Yelp ’ friend as all my friends would ask me , ' Nasim , where are we going to eat this time ?' and I would always take them for these worldly cuisines , so they became comfortable eating at these places ,” he said . “ I would say , ‘ dive in ’ after I took all my food pictures and we would all dive in to the dishes we had ordered .”
Lahbichi is passionate about accessibility of ingredients and loves to share substitute suggestions for his recipes . A young pioneer of the notion that nourishment is about so much more than just what we put in our bodies , Lahbichi ’ s intention is related to building community .
While Lahbichi prefers a mostly plant-based diet , his recipes are rich and fulfilling , without being pretentious . His pumpkin focaccia is a favorite among his followers — not to be mistaken for the Americanized pumpkin spice a la mass-produced lattes and artificial flavorings .
“ Flexitarians mostly consume plant-based foods and I create recipes with that in mind — growing up in a marginalized community , I don ’ t have the place to shame those who have easier access to chicken thighs that are easier to find , cook , and provide for their family than plant-based meat that is much more costly ,” said Lahbichi . “ When a community is already hanging by a thread , “ What I hope to offer them is a space of resonance and community , where they can share their stories , perspectives and culture over a meal ”
The idea of sustenance both intrigues and inspires Lahbichi . When Garden of Life donated protein bars and other foodstuffs for community fridges , Lahbichi hand delivered it and stocked them , again harkening back to his childhood and how his own family broke bread together and helped their neighbors .
“ Every single person on this planet has a right to a meal , to sustenance . We are only as well as the people in our community and I ’ ve found that the folks who ’ re most concerned about their neighbors are the marginalized population in our society like the LGBTQIA +, black and brown communities .” said Lahbichi . “ I remember my grandfather in Puerto Rico when he was alive , and his neighbors would trade a dozen eggs for fruit — with each generation the idea of togetherness has changed and grown in a different way .”
His favorite cookbook is Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat , to whom he credits for his own culinary evolution , the importance of a squeeze of lemon over a plate , the joy of finding favor beyond the plate .
For plant-based newbies , Lahbichi says don ’ t shy away from canned goods . There may be hesitancy , for example , on how can a can of chickpeas can be as nutritional as meat and provide enough protein , but not to worry . Experiment with plant-based ingredients and quickly those benefits will become apparent .
“ Peas and beans are great replacements for typical proteins — add them anywhere you ’ d place protein in a dish , such as in a taco with pickled onions and avocado and you ’ re good to go ,” said Lahbichi . “ There is not just one way to be plant-based and if you don ’ t want to go cold turkey , simply add a scrambled egg or tofu one meal at a time .”
One thing Lahbichi encourages cooks to remember is to be realistic . Vegan ricotta cheese using tofu will never taste like the real thing and that ’ s okay , because it is a great substitute .
“ Don ’ t go into it thinking that it will taste the same . It ’ s not going to be an exact replica but it will be just as delicious ” he said . “ Experiment with ingredients like tempeh , which is super porous and absorbs flavors like marinade beautifully ."
Lahbichi hopes one day to have his own show to discuss the nuances of different foods , give people confidence in the kitchen and continue learning from others , creating a safe and special place for everyone to indulge and celebrate cuisine .
He is happy to see so many community refrigerators pop up , stocked by people who do have abundance .
“ I personally placed the protein bars and protein meal powders Garden of Life has donated and I have never worked with a brand who stepped up so quickly and wanted to help like Garden of Life has done ,” said Lahbichi .
He is a Garden of Life fan in his own daily life , enjoying the benefits of Raw Organic Protein and mykind Organics Apple Cider Vinegar Energy Gummies , among others .
“ I am also obsessed with Garden of Life protein powders and , because I am lactose intolerant , I love the Raw Probiotics for men which cleared up my skin and good health begins in the gut ,” said Lahbichi . “ Working with people and diversifying their voice is something other wellness and food brands are not doing , so it ’ s an honor to partner with Garden of Life to make nutrition exciting and accessible .”
Extraordinary Health • Vol 41 41