What Makes a Happy Meal

West African-Inspired Salad

We initially didn’t eat want the healthy options on fast food menus, because it wasn’t going to be a happy meal. Today, chefs are creating healthy meals into exciting options. Such as Panera Bread announcing plans to eliminate chemical preservatives and artificial ingredients from their meals by 2016. It was an 11 year process of working with chefs and nutritionists to change how fast food corporations offer healthier options with tantalizing ingredients.

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Reeling in Summer Memories

Ginger Almond Plum Galette

This summer was beautiful. We went to plays in parks, on broadway, off-broadway and in our community. It wasn’t too hot, and the air conditioner took care of uncomfortable temperatures that didn’t soar high for too long. We hung out with friends, fine-dined and wined our way around New York City.

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Parade.com: Hold the White Rice and Get Your Freekeh On

The Freekeh Cookbook by Bonnie Matthews

Here’s a typical weekday situation: A recipe calls for rice. There’s only 30 minutes for dinner. Healthy brown rice takes 45 minutes, and unhealthy white rice is 15 minutes to cook. When it comes to time, I’m guilty of choosing the latter. I have tricks for using grains in weekday meals, such as doubling the requested amount and storing the difference in the freezer, or cooking slow-cooking grains—such as barley and farro—on weekends.

One of my favorite healthy and quick-cooking grains is whole-wheat couscous. Quinoa is another favorite, but the rinsing process is time-consuming. My recent discovery is freekeh, a familiar grain in Arabic cuisines with a 15 to 20 minute cooking time.

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A Salty Surprise

Matcha Sea Salt and Cantaloupe

There are few memories of my first trip to Birmingham, Alabama: Joking uncles, watching Spike Lee movies until sunrise with our cousins and eating sugary cantaloupe. The morning we left Birmingham, it was sweltering hot. My uncle joked about the sweat on my nose being a sign of evil. Being too young and believing every comment, I wiped the sweat off. As the final suitcase was packed into the back of Dad’s truck, our Great Aunt handed us a large container of sliced cantaloupe to enjoy on the long drive back to Virginia. My sister and I were overjoyed about eating more cantaloupe. A few hours later, Mom unsealed the container of cantaloupe slices. The first bite was a salty surprise. We’ve never had cantaloupe with salt, and we didn’t like it. Well, Mom and Dad thought the better of the situation, because it was more for them. My sister and I watched our parents gorge on our sweet cantaloupe ruined with salt.

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#SmoothieNumbers 21: Fig and Coconut Milk

#SmoothieNumbers 21: Fig and Coconut Milk

#SmoothieNumbers are quick recipes sans the story for making refreshing drinks in a blender. No expensive juicer is needed, and greens are for salads.  Read more