lifetasteslikefood

The name says it all. This smoothie is so refreshing during the summertime. It’s a creamy citrus blend that makes you feel like you’re drinking an orange cloud.

And not only will this cool you down on a hot summer’s day, but it’s also incredibly healthy. My secret weapon?

Greek yogurt.

This is going to sound completely ridiculous, but about a year ago, I sat down in front of my computer one day and decided to research yogurt for hours. No joke. Why, you ask? You’d think it was because I was forced to, but nope! I just did it because I was so curious about yogurt.

Now I get to share my findings with you, as well as the yogurt standards I now go by! I usually only eat Greek yogurt now, but either kind is good for you, so take your pick. Here are some of the benefits of each yogurt:

Regular Yogurt

  • Yogurt is so good for you! Well, duh, but I just had to say it.
  • It is easier on the digestive system than other milk products, so for some that are sensitive to milk, you might not have the same reaction to yogurt.
  • It contains beneficial bacteria: the “live and active cultures” are probiotic bugs that help clean out your digestive system
  • It’s loaded with vitamins
  • It has a good amount of protein (perfect for a post-workout snack!)

Greek Yogurt: Thicker, Richer, and Creamier

  • Has almost twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt (most are usually around 20 grams per serving!)
  • Lower carbohydrates per cup than regular yogurt
  • Also easier to digest and promotes intestinal health
  • Versatility in cooking–since it’s so thick and creamy, it can replace sour cream and milk in various recipes
Regardless of which yogurt you decide you like best, regular or Greek, I am a big advocate of plain yogurt. When you get flavored yogurt, the sugar content is drastically higher making the yogurt less beneficial overall. It’s so simple to just add your own fruit instead! I also add honey or agave nectar sometimes as well. This is a simple granola recipe that I use quite often. Now there is no excuse! This Greek yogurt smoothie is just so tasty. Rich in fruit, vitamins, AND protein–you’re good to go!

 

You only need 5 ingredients! Can you tell that I love Trader Joe's?

I used frozen mango and pineapple because it’s cheaper and makes the smoothie nice and cold after it’s blended. Plus they were pre-cut, making the entire process incredibly easy. Feel free to use fresh fruit if you’d like though!

 

Mango, Pineapple, Banana, Orange Smoothie Recipe (serves 2-3)

 

1 Cup of frozen mango, cut into small chunks
1 Cup of frozen pineapple, cut into small chunks
3/4 of a ripe banana (just munch on the 1/4 left as you are prepping your smoothie!)
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 Cup of orange juice

 

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Voila!

 

About 6 years ago, I was given a wonderful opportunity to travel. The land, people, and history were some of the most remarkable things that I have ever witnessed in my life but the exerpience that resonates most frequently in my head was the food I had the pleasure of eating. One of the places I got to visit was Greece. We traveled among the islands of Santorini, Mykonos, Samos, and also spent some time in Athens. In each of these places, Greek Salad and gyros were abundant, cheap, and delicious. I seriously can’t explain the joy of sitting outdoors on a patio, Greek salad in front of you, a breathtaking view of the ocean, and the most beautiful sunset I have ever set my eyes on. I felt entirely blessed to experience such a perfect moment and will remember it forever. And since I do not foresee myself traveling back to Greece anytime soon, I have taken with me a recipe I asked some locals for to allow me to remember the greatness of the country. Granted they did not give me proper measurements and the only copy I have is scribbled in a small corner of my travel journal, I have used it to make Greek Salad time and time again. This salad tastes so fresh on a sunny day, and can be made very easily.

The majority of places that serve Greeks salads in the various restaurants I’ve visted back in the States use lettuce as a base for the salad. In Greece, however, there is no lettuce, and the dish consists mainly of ripe tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers. Also, we were often served the salad with a huge slab of feta cheese on top of the entire salad instead of having it crumbled beforehand. Then you would just take a chunk of cheese, scoop up pieces of tomato, cucumber, olives and onion and enjoy a hearty bite! The picture above doesn’t do the dish justice, but I just used what I had on hand! It still came out delicious. Here is the recipe I got from the friends I met in Greece:

Traditional Greek Salad Recipe

2 ripe tomatoes
1 Cucumber
Slices of Red Onion
Slab of Feta Cheese
Handful of Pitted Kalamata olives
Slices of Green Bell Pepper
dried oregano
balsamic vinaigrette
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut up cucumber and tomatoes into chunks. Slice red onion and green bell pepper thinly. Add the olives and mix together. Lightly drizzle olive oil over mixture and add a splash of balsamic vinaigrette to taste. Sprinkle dried oregano (this adds wonderful flavor!) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients together throughly and top with a slab of feta cheese. You can also add a little more dried oregano to the cheese if you wish!

Sit somewhere sunny and enjoy!

This is a short clip I took during the event featured in this post. This particular workshop was centered around creating a community mural. The youth were also encouraged to customize their event t-shirts, and this is a small example of the inspiring creativity we saw throughout this event.
Edited by: Patrick Anderson
Song Credit: Citizen Cope – “Let the Drummer Kick”

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

Writing has never been a strong suit (and I am not being modest, folks). But when I started this blog, it quickly became my outlet. Yes, this blog is mainly about food. How a person can talk and relate so much about food is beyond me and probably boring and mindless to many others. But for some reason, to me, it just makes sense.  We look at, eat, feel, taste, examine, cook, and think about food every day. It’s something we’ve incorporated into our daily routines without thinking twice about it or appreciating it as much as we should. So for me, just writing about food and my life throughout the week makes me happy, even if it’s not perfect or an ideal way to express my thoughts. And I’ve been reminded recently about how writing and self-expression, in any form, is important for everyone. For me, it’s through my food blog, but more amazingly, for the youth at the event I attended it’s through spoken word.

Although I have been neglecting my blog lately, I have been greatly immersed in a different writing atmosphere elsewhere–and I must share this amazing experience with you! It has little to do with food, but after all, this blog is about life as well, right?! Right.

Last week, I was a part of the Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) Annual Summit: Know Your Writes. Hosted by the UC Davis School of Education, this event brings over 800 high school and middle school students from schools all over the Sacramento region to receive guidance in spoken word, writing, mentoring, literacy, and youth empowerment. The day-long event concludes with a poetry slam where the top 6 winners get to represent the Capital Region Team and move on to compete in the International Brave New Voices Poetry Slam Competition. The SAYS slogans: “Youth Voices for Social Change” and “School is My Hustle” perfectly describe the goal of the program. This program is geared towards kids who do not feel that higher education is in their future, and it encourages them to see that they truly have the potential to go above and beyond what any adult ever told them they could do.

I got up at 4:30am to get ready to go work at the Summit, and after my tired legs could barely function any longer after running all over campus throughout the day (this is partially my fault for lack of exercise prior to the event!), I went over my task list one last time and walked into the Slam to take a quick peek at what was going on. There, a single spotlight was on a high schooler who was about to recite poetry, and instantly, all my energy was back. This poem was so deep that it brought tears to my eyes within literally 10 seconds of listening to the words. The hope and determination in this student’s voice was entrancing, and the confident message about promising to take a stand and be a better parent than their own parents ever were left me speechless. For that very moment, those powerful sentences, and the positive reaction from the hundreds of youth in the room makes all the effort of the Summit worthwhile.

To touch even just one young adult, to see someone believe that they have the power to overcome any obstacle, to see a kid want to go to college is so inspiring and rewarding. And that is why I have not blogged lately. My time and energy has been going into making this Summit help youth believe that higher education is possible for anyone, regardless of race, gender, region or economic background. And this year’s Summit truly touched my heart. I am still thinking about it and am so honored to be part of such an amazing event. But alas, this annual event is over, and I am able to slowly return to my regular routine. That means more time for blogging!! So, you could say that last week’s main dish for me did have to do with food–food for my soul in the form of spoken word poetry. And every single one of those kids fed my appetite for community, inspiration and genuine talent!

So thanks for hanging tight everyone, it takes a lot for me to put food on the back burner, but it is more than worth it. And now you know why my posts have been scarce lately! But don’t worry, many recipes, stories, and thoughts are coming your way starting: NOW.

For those that are curious, this was the second stage of the community mural (featured in the video clip above). It says: "Know Your Writes 2011" which was this year's theme. I left the event before I could see the end result.

Every year, Mother’s Day weekend also marks another significant event: The Whole Earth Festival. This festival, held by UC Davis, falls on Mother’s Day every year. Maybe it’s intentionally planned that way so we can all spend an obscene amount of money at the festival feeling guilt-free since we’re buying presents? I’m not sure. This festival brings out the inner-hippie in all the attendees. As students and families dig out their tie-dye, long dresses and ceramic peace sign necklaces they picked up from the festival a year earlier, the UC Davis quad is filled with booths ranging from vegetarian food, clothes, sustainability displays, jewelry, hand-made trinkets, woodwork and many other items. There’s also live music playing throughout the day and fire dancers at night. I look forward to this event every year simply because it’s very refreshing to walk around on a sunny day, sit on the warm grass for some lunch, and peruse the isles looking at all the interesting hand-made goods.

Veggies being prepped for the grill

And another wonderful aspect of Whole Earth Festival is a great potluck with friends. Potlucks are just so much fun! Grilled vegetables (pictured above), 7 layer dip, hummus, and so many other dishes were brought and shared. This year, the anticipation was even greater because of a previous potluck we had. Our friend makes the most delicious and savory ribs I have ever eaten. The meat is so tender that it just falls right off the bone, and the homemade barbeque sauces (made by another talented friend) is the perfect addition to an already perfect dish. They started baking the ribs around 9am and then made two sauces to coat them with–one BBQ sauce had peach in it which gave it a sweet and tangy kick, and the other one was a more original BBQ sauce flavor. They should seriously put the recipes for the ribs and sauces in a locked safe because I see myself hunting them down for for the recipe in the future (you’ve been warned!).Yum!!!

The ribs I look forward to every year!

And among the other delicious dishes that everyone brought, one had me running back for a fourth serving! Abalone ceviche.  Who brings abalone ceviche to a post-college potluck?! People I have the greatest honor of calling my friends, that’s who. Not only did my friend make the ceviche himself–with mango, avocado, onion, cilantro, and lime juice–but he actually dove and caught the abalone as well. So talented! It’s safe to say that my stomach was completely satisfied after this gathering. I am disappointed though that in between all this excitement, catching up with the huge group of amazing friends, and the abundance of food surrounding me, I forgot to take a picture of the ceviche. It was beautifully presented and dangerously delicious though, and that’s a fact. We also had a wonderful assortment of side dishes. The tabouleh salad and quinoa salad were a major hit as well. The quinoa salad (pictured below) consisted of quinoa, toasted pine nuts, cucumber, parsley, dried cranberries, feta cheese and some lemon juice. The two salads were such a light and delicious accommodation to the grilled meats and veggies.

Quinoa Salad

My contribution to the potluck was dessert. I made a strawberry cake with whipped cream. It was a white cake with a middle layer of red velvet. There was also strawberries and whipped cream between the layers of cake, and shaved dark chocolate on top as a garnish. The cake was a light finish to an unforgettable variety of lovely food that we were all lucky enough to share.

The BBQ went into the night and ended with a group walking back to campus to check out the fire dancers performing at the festival. It was a long and amazing day filled with lots of walking, great people, and tasty food!

And today, as I sit in front of my computer reflecting on the weekend and contemplating the long week ahead of me, I am also taking a moment to recognize Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my mom today, but I was able to have a wonderful conversation with her on the phone. She has so much love for me, and I can tell every time I speak with her. Although I would have preferred to spend some quality time with her today in person, I am satisfied and smiling just knowing how lucky I am to have such a great woman as a mother. (I love you, Mom!!)

I hope everyone is having a delightful Sunday, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there!

Today is May 4th (“may the 4th be with you”) but more importantly, tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. Hooray, I love holidays! They are always so festive and fun, plus it gives me a reason to celebrate with great company and food! In honor of the holiday, I’ve been thinking about some dishes to make tomorrow, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the delicious carne asada tacos that I treat myself to every once in a while.

Over the summer, my friend introduced a couple of us to a tucked away taco truck in a bordering city near us. We ventured out one weekend to play a round of golf and afterwards went to find the taco truck. After my first visit, I was hooked, and shortly after, our weekends of playing golf became more frequent. I’m not sure if we were just enjoying the sport more or if our true reason for heading in that direction was the fact that we knew we were going to reward ourselves with delicious tacos (pictured above) after the 9th hole. This taco truck is located in a tiny parking lot just off the highway and serves the most authentic and savory tacos that I’ve tried in the area! And although they aren’t that big, they are only a dollar each! You can choose from assorted meats like carne asada, chicken, carnitas, lengua (tongue), and cabeza (yes, head). They then pile on some homemade salsa, chopped onion, and cilantro. They also add pickled jalapenos and carrots, grilled onion, radishes and a slice of lime on the side. The picture above shows that they gave me a slice of lemon this particular time–I thought it was odd and assumed they ran out of lime, but it still tasted great on my tacos so I’m not complaining!

I am determined to continue the tradition of playing some golf and then grabbing tacos afterward with my friends this summer. It always makes me smile to have the pleasure of being a part of a new tradition that is so simple yet special. And with Cinco de Mayo just a day away, I can’t help but crave these tacos every second!

I think that tomorrow I am going to attempt to make my own carne asada tacos for dinner. I’ll also test out some homemade pico de gallo and guacamole–yum! Hopefully they will taste good! I will post the recipe if they do :) How are you celebrating the holiday? Any tips or ideas to make this event even more fun? I’d love to hear!

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