Spice Up Your African Diaspora Culinary Knowledge

Hot Spiced Coconut Chocolate Milk

February is a joyous month honoring leadership, celebrating love and praising our culture. Starting the month of festivities is African Heritage & Health week. A week long celebration encouraging African-Americans to return to their roots and rediscover cooking techniques and ingredients their ancestors ate before the age of processed food.

In 2011, Oldways, an organization dedicated to teaching nutrition and good food via culture and heritage, introduced the African Heritage Diet Pyramid. It was created by experts in African American history, cuisine, nutrition, and public health. The ingredients listed are commonly found in recipes from North America, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Dishes made with African Diaspora ingredients are generally healthier than some soul food dishes ‘invented’ or ‘revised’ within the last 60 years. Read more

Star Anise and Orange Duck Salad: A Harmonious Lunch Bowl

Star Anise Quinoa with Oranges and Smoked Duck Salad

As a graphic designer, I want my ‘brown bag’ lunch to taste and look visually delicious. Otherwise, I’m likely to toss it in the garbage and pay for a fresher option from a restaurant. Such actions eventually add up to plenty of regret and an empty wallet. Learning to pack lunches take time and practice. When lunch containers reveal a salad of crispy lettuce and colorful, layered ingredients or a fragrant soup waiting to be heated in the microwave, my wallet stays full.

The initial inspiration for packing lunches come from bento boxes with separate containers or compartments. The separate containers help maintain the freshness of the meal (good for hot and cold recipes). Another bento-style lunch is creating a meal in one bowl, in which the ingredients harmoniously enhance each other. Read more

Spiced Golden Plum Sorbet

Spiced Plum Sorbet

Spiced Plum Sorbet

What book makes you to cry? I know of three. The first two are by Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Dave Eggers’ What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, is the third book. The stories center around unstable governments, conflicting religious beliefs, wars and family grief. All of the books are emotional. Particularly, when reading the first chapters about families who were living in peace with their daily routines and yearly cultural celebrations. Then the next chapters proceed to tell of tragedy, grief and lost. They end with the characters adapting to new lives, while living with vivid memories of their past. I once was reading one of Hosseini’s books in the middle of rush hour on the 4 train with tears welling up in my eyes. These books are page-turners. Eggers story is a true autobiography about one of Sudan’s Lost Boys. The other two have fictional characters, in which the stories are based on true events. All of the books capture a certain awareness about life. They’re reminders of what’s truly important in our so-called busy schedules: family and friends. Read more