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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Provençal-Inspired Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Provincial-Inspired Roast Chicken

Lavender isn’t traditionally an African ingredient (at far as I know). The best is grown in France, where it’s mixed in an Herbs de Provence blend of thyme, savory, rosemary and other herbs. It also nicely pairs with sweet potatoes, a starchy root vegetable, in which African slaves who were brought to the Americans, found to be similar to their native yams. Serve this dish with Broccoli and Freekeh Pilaf or Brazilian/Stir-Fry Style Collard Greens.

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Sweet Potato and Rosemary Pasta, Harissa Roast Tomatoes, Collard Greens, and Chickpeas

Fresh Sweet Potato and Rosemary Pasta with Harissa Spiced Roast Tomatoes, Collard Greens, and Chickpeas garnished with toasted Pine Nuts

Fresh Sweet Potato and Rosemary Pasta with Harissa Spiced Roast Tomatoes, Collard Greens, and Chickpeas garnished with toasted Pine Nuts

My friends must think I’m avoiding them. April has proven to be whirlwind of hi-strung energy. There are too many priorities that can’t be ignored or delayed. In the beginning of April, I canceled a few coffee dates. Around mid-April, meetings were rescheduled for May, after canceling for the third time. When dates are canceled, it throws another person’s schedule off. It’s not like my friends have extra spare time. In addition to juggling priorities, the landlord schedules much needed repairs and a painting job for the whole apartment. There’s dust and painting supplies everywhere. The saying, if the house isn’t in order, life is unorganized. Read more

Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream Bars

Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream Bars

Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream Bars

Someone said, “There goes the neighborhood’s intelligentsia,” upon hearing about a bookstore closing in the neighborhood. It was a quaint shop of diverse — mostly African-American — literature, music, and small gifts. The book store owner gladly ordered any book upon request, and she welcomed suggestions about upcoming books and authors. When I first moved into the neighborhood, seeing a book shop prominently display African-American literature, from the Nobel Peace Prize to the urban world fiction authors, warmed the heart. The shop had a cozy atmosphere with stained wooden shelves, framed autographs from notable authors, a painting of an angel reading a book that doubled as the shop’s logo, a play corner for young kids, and a long comfortable window seat. It was difficult to not stop in to say hello on the way to the coffee shop. Other times, a cup of coffee was enjoyed in the shop. Not only was the shop a place of literature, for it supported the community. It sponsored poetry events for young adults, introduced new authors, held reading workshops for children of various ages, and organized book clubs for adults. Read more

Smoothie No. 11: Pumpkin and Apple Cider

Smoothie No. 11: Pumpkin and Apple Cider

Smoothie No. 11: Pumpkin and Apple Cider

Pumpkin and Apple Cider is no. 11 of the Smoothie Numbers series. They’re quick postings listing the ingredients for making refreshing, healthy drinks in a blender. Read more