Immigrant Food Stories

I grew up here. Brooklyn, New York, USA. This is a city where you can get a falafel at 2 in the morning if you want one. This is a city where you can find Ethiopian, Chinese, French, Italian, Indian, or any other food you can think of in and around one neighborhood. Because of this, I don’t really know what traditionally ‘American’ food is aside from apple pie, but I imagine it has something to do with trapping squirrels. Totally not my first choice. In my experience, American food is this wonderful mix of traditional foods from all around the globe. It is a culinary fusion of cultures and history made possible by brave people that left their own countries to settle here. The fact that (before I became a vegetarian) I’ve had a bagel and lox for breakfast, pizza for lunch, pad Thai for dinner, and baklava for dessert all in the same day was made possible by immigration.

Food brings us all together. There is almost nothing as socially binding as breaking bread with people. Sharing a meal builds community and love. Taking an extra step, sharing the story of how these meals came to be, a story in and of itself, can break down the artificial walls we might choose to build between each other. These are stories that need to be told. Where did this amazing dish come from? Whose grandmother perfected this recipe? Who was she in life? How did she struggle? What were her triumphs? What was it like to leave one country, one set of circumstances, for another? And how did this particular recipe survive? #ImmigrantFoodStories.

I don’t have a personal immigrant food story per se. My skin is brown, however, and because of this I have been victimized, otherized, and treated as inferior or unworthy based solely on that fact. Ancestors on both sides of my family were here long before the first European settlements, but growing up in the United States, I’ve always felt an often unspoken tension that exists when I’m somewhere I’m not supposed to be. I’ve felt this tension when traveling around my own country (I’ve been to 48 out of the 50 states). I’ve also felt this tension each and every time I walked into an Ivy League classroom for the first time at the beginning of the semester. That’s my grandmother in the picture above (obviously second row, second from the right). I know the isolation she must have felt and the things she must have heard, because I have felt that same isolation and, tragically, I’ve heard those same things.

Anyway, I’ve been blessed in that I’ve heard so many family histories, so many immigrant food stories, and I must say, it never gets old. I feel a camaraderie and an empathy with these stories though I’m not an immigrant myself. That’s why when I saw some of my favorite food bloggers engaging in this #immigrantfoodstories topic, I was thrilled and just had to share some links with you guys!

I don’t usually post anything political, but I feel as though the tension of these times is impelling me to share these links with you. These are beautifully, moving stories accompanied by some awesome recipes. Please check them out! Also, you can follow the tag #immigrantfoodstories on Instagram.

Lab Noon — Persian Quince Stew

My Darling Lemon Thyme — Nectarine and Pickled Cucumber Rice Paper Rolls

Eat This Poem — Warm Potato Salad with Yogurt Vinaigrette

Honestly Yum — Lu Dan (Soy Eggs)

The Year In Food— Winter Squash Fritters

Ful-Filled— Lahanodolmades (Greek Cabbage Rolls)

Floating Kitchen— Armenian Bulgur,Parsley, and Tomato Salad

Brooklyn Supper— Spelt Crust Apple Pandowdy

Taste Love & Nourish— Armenian Bulgur Salad

Farmette— Sharba Libiya Libyan Soup

Fool Proof Living— One Pot Citrusy Winter Root Vegetables

Fix Feast Flair— Beef Teriyaki

I would absolutely love to hear from you! Do you have an immigrant food story that you’d like to share? It could be your own or one that you heard and it inspired you. We can have our own little potluck in the comments!

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Try This—The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

I make it a point to eat yogurt everyday. Yogurt has so many health benefits! Everything from weight management, to digestive health, to healthy skin, nails, and hair, yogurt does it all. I’ve had my fair share of health concerns and yogurt has seriously regulated my system. I love yogurt, but in keeping with my quest to decrease the amount of sugar I consume, I’ve been paying special attention to the amount of added sugar in popular yogurt brands. Surprisingly enough, some yogurt brands have more added sugar than ice cream! Double U, Tee, Eff!

As for me, I’ve settled on Siggi’s yogurt which is totally amazing and has just 8 grams of added sugar as opposed to some of the brands that have over 30 grams per serving. Everytime I go to the store, I stock up on Siggi’s. In fact, if after reading this post, you go to the store and there’s no Siggi’s left on the shelf, I apologize in advance because it was probably me that bought them all… Also, If you happen to see Siggi vacationing on the French Riviera, or some beautiful tropical island, you can tell her that I said you’re welcome. I’m pretty sure I’m financing that trip.

As absolutely wonderful as yogurt is, I admit it can get a bit boring when you eat it Every. Single. Day. That is unless you have an arsenal of add-in ideas to take your yogurt from drab to fab! This is seriously the list to end all lists of yogurt toppings. I have tried every single one of these bad boys and let me tell you, these toppings take yogurt to a whole new level. Guilt-free, fine-yogurt-dining, y’all! You must try these!
Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Toss together pitted and quartered peaches with a pinch of cardamom and drizzle of maple syrup. Roast in 350°F oven until tender. Eat warm or at room temperature over yogurt with chopped pecans.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

***Roast extra peaches and keep refrigerated in a sealed container so you can use them throughout the week.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Coarsely grate carrots and toss with honey and cinnamon. Spoon over yogurt and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Stir lemon juice and a dash of almond extract into yogurt. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Pit and coarsely chop cherries. Add to a saucepan with a few tablespoons of full-bodied red wine and a pinch of sugar. Simmer until the liquid is thickened, then cool and serve over yogurt.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

***Cook extra cherry-wine sauce and keep refrigerated in an airtight container so you can use it throughout the week.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Whisk together honey, orange juice, and orange zest. Drizzle over yogurt, and sprinkle with chopped crystallized ginger and chopped pistachios.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

***Make extra honey-orange sauce and keep in the fridge in an airtight container so you can use over the next few days.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Swirl honey into yogurt. Top with coarsely chopped almonds and apricots. Drizzle with additional honey.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Wrap whole sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and roast in a 375°F oven until tender. Peel and mash with a drizzle of maple syrup. Dollop on top of yogurt and sprinkle with hazelnuts.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

***Roast extra sweet potatoes to make extra potato-maple mash and then keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container to use throughout the week.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Whisk together lime juice, zest, and agave. Slice fresh sweet corn kernels off the cob. Toss with lime mixture and sprinkle over yogurt.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

***Make extra topping and keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container to use throughout the week.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Toast large flaked coconut in a 350°F oven until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool slightly. Stir cocoa powder into yogurt and top with the toasted coconut and chocolate shavings.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

In a bowl smash together half of the blueberries with fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of granulated sugar. Swirl gently into yogurt. Top with whole blueberries and lemon zest.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

***Make extra blueberry sauce and store in the fridge in an airtight container so you can use throughout the week.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Stir vanilla extract into yogurt. Top with diced fresh strawberries. Sprinkle brown sugar and coarsely chopped pecans over top and serve.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Mash banana and cinnamon together with a fork until smooth. Swirl gently into yogurt and top with finely chopped peanuts (or pecans).

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

***Make extra banana-cinnamon mash and store in the fridge in an airtight container so you can use for the next few days.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Stir lime zest and lime juice into cajeta. Swirl the lime-cajeta into yogurt and top with diced kiwi and sliced fresh mint. [Cajeta is a goat milk caramel sauce, but if you can’t find it, feel free to use regular caramel sauce]

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Whisk together balsamic vinegar and maple syrup in a bowl. Add the berries and set aside to macerate for 30 minutes. Spoon over yogurt.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Halve fresh or dried figs. Drizzle the cut sides with honey and place, cut sides down, in a hot skillet. Caramelize for 2 minutes. Top yogurt with figs, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Try This---The Definitive List of Delicious Yogurt Topping Combos

Swirl pumpkin butter into yogurt and top with shards of graham crackers and pumpkin seeds.

There’s something on this list for everyone for sure. These combos aren’t just for yogurt either! Get creative and amp up your oatmeal, waffles, or toast!

If you’re more of an ice cream lover and you’re trying to stay away from all of that sugar, you absolutely must check out this 30 Days of Nice Cream series for a totally healthy and satisfying alternative to traditional ice cream!

Source: buzzfeed

Morning and Night Homemade Facial Toner Recipes for Clear Skin---Spa Days at Home

Morning and Night Homemade Facial Toner Recipes for Clear Skin—Spa Days at Home

The jury is still out on whether or not facial toner is a necessary part of a daily beauty regiment. I personally think that if you skip this step in skin care you’re making a huge mistake. Toners are an essential second step in my daily skin care routine: Cleanser, Toner, Moisturizer. Toners help remove excess dirt, makeup, and dead skin left behind after normal cleansing. They also help in balancing your skin’s oil production while reducing inflammation, which is heaven for those of us that struggle with breakouts and sensitive skin. I usually alternate between two toners. I use one in the morning after cleansing and I use the second every night before bed.

Morning Tea Tree Oil Facial Toner

Ingredients

  • 1.5oz apple cider vinegar
  • 6 drops tea tree oil
  • 1.5oz filtered water

Directions

  • fill a 3oz glass spray bottle (find it here) almost halfway with apple cider vinegar
  • fill almost the rest of the way with filtered water (be sure to leave room for the spray bottle’s top)
  • add tea tree essential oil
  • shake well before each use and simply spritz your face with the toner, or use a cotton pad to apply
  • allow the toner to dry naturally before applying your moisturizer

I use this tea tree oil facial toner every morning after cleansing. This toner aids in restoring your skin’s natural pH while also helping your skin to absorb your follow-up moisturizer.

Evening Essential Oils Facial Toner

ingredients

  • 2oz witch hazel
  • 2tbsp filtered water
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 8 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 4 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 3 drops lemon essential oil

Directions

  • add all ingredients to a glass bottle (I use a 4oz dropper bottle you can find it here)
  • shake well before each use and apply a few drops with a cotton ball

I only use this toner at night because of the addition of lemon essential oil. Lemon essential oil increases your skin’s photo sensitivity, so it’s best to use this one after the sun’s gone down!

Source: sheuncovered merrythought

Try This---Banana Milk Coffee

Try This—Banana Milk Coffee (Clean Eating Vegan Treat)

Thursday morning, you’re gonna wake up to a deliciously creamy, banana milk coffee. I’m saying Thursday for two reasons. Number one, I need to give you a little time to get over the initial shock of how incredible banana coffee sounds. Number two, you’re gonna need some time to cold brew your coffee to make your banana coffee dreams a reality.

In the spirit of staying motivated for a healthy new year, I’ve been cutting sugar out of my diet. I have a total sweet tooth, but I’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of unnecessary sugar I consume. I’ve traded in my bad-for-you pancake syrup for the very good-for-you maple syrup used in master cleanses. I’ve been sweetening baked goods with applesauce instead of the cups of sugar I usually use. The last sugar front that I’m up against is the megaton of sugar I put in my coffee. I’ve tried to sweeten coffee with everything from stevia to agave syrup…horrible. So when I heard about banana milk, I just had to give it a try.

The thing about this banana milk coffee is that, surprisingly, it doesn’t really taste too much like bananas. I know, I know. How is that possible? Truth is, I have no idea. What I do know is that this is one of the creamiest ‘lattes’ I’ve ever had. Best part is that it’s totally a clean eating, naturally sweet, potassium punch of a complete breakfast (seriously just as filling as a smoothie). It’s the perfect alternative to those expensive sugar cube lattes that you get at the local coffee shop. You guys!!! You must try this!

Try This---Banana Milk Coffee

Banana Milk Coffee

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp ground coffee
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

  • In a mason jar, combine 1 tbsp of ground coffee with 6 oz of water (if you like your coffee strong like I do, you can add more coffee per cup of water)
  • place the mason jar in the fridge and allow it to brew for a day (about 18 hours)
  • line a colander or strainer with a paper coffee filter
  • pour the mixture through the filter to remove coffee grounds
  • in a blender, combine the banana and milk
  • blend until creamy
  • pour enough banana milk over the cold brew to suit your taste

For a vegan alternative, you can use almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk. Unsweetened milk works just fine, but if you like your coffee on the sweeter side you can use regular almond, rice, or coconut milk.

The brewing instructions are just an approximation. It’s pretty difficult to screw up cold brew, just use the same ratio of coffee grounds to water that you use regularly and it’ll turn out the same way as your regular coffee pot coffee. Also, feel free to add a dash of cinnamon to the grounds before you cold brew. Yum.

Try This---5 Unapologetically Vegetarian Burgers for Your Meatless Monday

Try This—5 Unapologetically Vegetarian Burgers for Your Meatless Monday

Before I became a vegetarian, I used to head over to the East Village to a place called Paul’s Palace  down on 2nd Ave & St Mark’s Pl. I’m probably giving away my age, but this was at a time when the East Village was sprinkled with drug addicts and punk rockers, not a hipster in sight. Anyway, this was THE burger spot. This place served up any topping you could think of, all on top of a 1/2 pound burger. That was many moons ago. In fact, it’s rapidly approaching 25 years worth of moons ago. I only mention Paul’s Palace (I think it goes by Paul’s Da Burger Joint now) because over the years, it’s kinda sculpted the way I build veggie burgers. Because of Paul’s, there is no such thing as too many toppings… no such thing as a savory sauce that doesn’t belong. I’m talking so many toppings, you might have to eat this burger with a knife and fork. I still think y’all might be sleeping on me and my veggie burger craft. You hear me? I’ve even put grilled fruit on a veggie burger. What?! I know you hear me now!

Anyway, I rounded up some pretty unique veggie burger recipes for you. Some of these recipes will work even if you use store bought veggie burger patties. I kinda feel like the toppings make the burger anyway so you should still check these out. If you’re more adventurous, you should totally make the burgers from scratch. It’s so worth it. Just remember that veggie burgers are rarely the same consistency as meat burgers, so don’t feel bad if your homemade patties fall apart a bit. It’s the taste that matters and these are sure to please. You must try these!!!

1. Meatloaf Veggie Burger with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

This is a meat and potatoes kinda burger. Comfort food fa realz. And fried sage leaves! Are you kidding me?!

2. Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers with Avocado Sriracha Aioli

You already know how I love me some sriracha. This burger does not disappoint!

3. Veggie Sliders with Blackberry BBQ Sauce

This is a recipe from Lightlife, using their Lightlife Original Smart Patties. Of course, for me, it’s all about the sauce.

4. Quinoa Veggie Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Relish

Roasted red pepper relish?! Seriously, I don’t even need to convince you to try this one.

5. Tabasco Double Bean Veggie Burger

This is a fresh and spicy take on your run of the mill black bean burger. Take my word for it, you want to use fresh corn for this one!

I am always on the hunt for new and inventive veggie burgers! Do you guys have any suggestions? I’m all about those toppings yo!