When the Moon Hits Your Eye…

cashew pizza1
Cashew, Kale, and Pepperoni Pizza from Sobro’s Pizza Co.

Like a big pizza pie…that’s amore, take it away Dean Martin!

I recently went to an amazing pizza restaurant in San Antonio that served one of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted. But there was a catch: it had nuts on it. I’m the kind of person who shuns Snickers and Kit Kats for 60% dark chocolate. I hate Rocky Road ice cream with a passion. So why did I have mouthgasm from this cashew-strewn beauty? The contrast of lemony kale, creamy mozzarella, spicy pepperoni and strangely rich cashews married very well, to my delight! So, pizza. Whether you’re eating  a cauliflower crust with cashew cheese or meat lovers supreme, pizza is for everyone. Great for late night study sessions, post-workout splurges, a night in with friends, loved ones and a movie, or lounging decadently on the couch alone Netflix-bingeing iZombie episodes. Today, you can find all kinds of different pizza recipes. Buffalo chicken, Mac and cheese,  even spaghetti pizza, although many modern recipes sound like something an 8 year old would concoct! I might do a weird pizza post later, but for now, I just wanted to sing an ode to a few of traditional Italian pizzas, lest the past be forgotten!

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The Standard Slice: Pepperoni 
You can’t really go wrong here. This is the most basic, fundamental pizza the universe put on this earth to feed men. Along with inalienable rights, like the pursuit of happiness.

Pizza Margherita

The Margherita
This is the Sophia Loren of pizzas: classy, elegant and fiercely Italian. It’s a simple formula of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and torn, fresh basil leaves for one bite of la bella vida.

white-pizza-ay-x

Pizza Bianco
White Pizza is something of an anomaly. A pizza with no sauce or meat, what’s left? White Pizza is essentially just extra cheese. A drizzle of olive oil, spread of ricotta cheese and a few slices of mozzarella or provolone draped across the top is standard procedure. The addition of torn, fresh oregano or basil leaves amps it up nicely. Check out this version with roasted garlic cloves, rosemary and red pepper flakes! Perfect for a winter’s night meal.

bismarck pizza

Pizza All Bismark
This is like the original breakfast pizza. Some Italian housewife woke up one morning and remembering the pizza she had made for dinner the night before, figured the usual eggs and bacon sounded good on a pie! Kidding. This would be perfect for breakfast with coffee.

For Love of Salad

sw chk salad
Southwest Chicken Salad with Monterrey Jack, Corn and Beans

A few months ago, I had to tweak my heavily southern comfort cooking preferences to a more heart health conscious style for someone in my life who suffered from heart arrhythmia and palpitations. It was a scary time in my life, when I thought someone I cared about could die if I did not change the way I cooked for them, as well as encourage them to lead healthier lives. I learned that to help, I needed to lead by example. I looked at myself and saw that I was almost twenty pounds overweight, depressed, and generally unhealthy. I knew it was bad when climbing the hills and stairs on campus left me breathless, light-headed and wheezing, and finally realized how unhealthy I had become when I decided to check out the gym at my university one day, and could barely last ten minutes on an elliptical machine!

Desperate times called for desperate measures. If I wanted to help others, I needed to learn to help myself. So I tried fad dieting, the 17-day diet, in which I completely cut out carbs and reduced my sugar intake dramatically. I’m talking no breads, pastas, potatoes, rice, corn, fatty meats, melted cheeses or anything within an inch of frying oil or breading. Fast food was out. White sugar was replaced with agave nectar, and I ended up surviving on only turkey bacon, egg whites and cottage cheese for two weeks straight. Survive I did. At first, I was hungry all of the time which made me cranky, tired and nervous. I got used to stomach pangs and dizziness. I hadn’t realized how acclimated my body had gotten to fried foods, butter, full fat dairy, oily pastas and fatty cuts of meat, not to mention portion control. But eventually, my mind became sharper. My body became leaner, even without exercise, and I lost 10 pounds in two weeks, just from a low carb, veggie-heavy diet. Not to mention the strange fact that my palate actually became more sensitive. That is, I could taste my food better! When you’re accustomed to only noting how much butter, salt or rich fat you taste in your food (I know, totally gross!) it is eye opening to detect different flavors. I added beans, corn, raspberries and nuts to salads with chicken or canned tuna for lunch and dinner. I used cheese in place of meat, and relied more on spices and sauces than on salt and fats for flavor. I learned how to make the best fish tacos on the planet and started working out at home and staying on my diet, albeit with a few allowances.

Today, I might grab a burger on a Saturday or grab a pumpkin spice latte (420 calories!) on my way to class one morning during the week. I don’t force myself to work out every day, but love the treadmill, and have developed a true appreciation for my health . My body is leaner, my mind is sharper, and I feel more confident and happy. All in all, altering my food habits didn’t just help someone I cared for… it changed my life!

Check out my story – and experience with eating healthier on Storify! Just click the link below.

The Art of Salad – ln Storify

Ingredient spotlight: Tatziki

Not every post needs to be a long-winded, well researched essay worthy of a Pulitzer prize in journalism. My recent favorite ingredient? Tatziki. tatziki

It goes on everything from chicken shwarma, to grilled fish to salads. Yum! Here is a simple recipe for tatziki dip. Below is a slideshow of possible accouterments for this delicious Greek sauce!

2 cups Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large English cucumber, diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh dill or mint
salt and pepper, to taste

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mechanics of Modern Food Blogs

After scouring food blogs for a couple hours, I came up with a short list of a few of the best highlights! I find myself drawn to food blogs that have writing with personality, good visual graphics, videos, quality digital photography. Below, I’ve listed a few of the more memorable foodie blogs I found.

                           pen and palate

Writing with personality is essential to successful food websites and blogs. Funny and cute .gifs are also a huge plus! Pen and Palate combines both intriguing writing and adorable graphics to go with the writing. Regular contributors Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen write about their memories of food, personal lives and how they connect with food in their daily lives. This blog reads like a collective memoir and has a simple, clean white design that emphasizes its’ adorable graphics, like the one above. Pen and Palate was the Editor’s Choice of Best Writing for The Huffington Post in 2014.

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                                             perennial plate

“Chef and Activist, Daniel Klein and Filmmaker Mirra Fine are traveling the world exploring the wonders, complexities and stories behind the ever more connected global food system.” -The Perennial Plate

Videos add that extra layer of interest to a food blog. This website, the Perennial Plate has a very interactive interface with pull out videos of the authors’ adventures. This website features videos from around the world, exemplifying socially responsible and sustainable food choices. With a blog for articles, recipes, and well shot videos of places around the world, this blog has a variety of content to keep readers interested. This blog has won a James Beard Award for Excellence.

edible road trip
                                                edible road trip

Digital Photography makes food blogs more interesting if it’s not just of food. Edible Road Trip is a Canadian food blog that gorgeous photos of lush landscapes, native people, zoomed in shots of meals being made and various other cute kitschy items. Pictures of food are important to food blogs, but character and setting make the experience more relatable for viewers. This blog also features music pairings, a foodie job board, and recipes. The authors will be travelling through Canada for an upcoming project.

These are just a few things I noticed about successful, visually pleasing and truly interesting food blogs I have encountered for this post. More to come soon!

Hearty Bean Salad Lunch

I just want to take a short moment to appreciate easy, portable food! This is just a short post of one of my simplest recipes, perfect for lunches on the go or light dinners. Just pack a plastic container of my Hearty Bean Salad in your purse, gym bag, or lunch satchel! This recipe is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins from the veggies, beans and quinoa. Add grilled chicken or fish, even thinly sliced steak or canned tuna to make it more filling. Check out my very first short recipe demo and forgive my camera-shyness. Enjoy!

Hearty Bean Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 chopped assorted bell peppers, red, green, orange, or yellow

1/4 finely chopped red onion or 2 sliced green onions

1/2 cup diced cucumber

1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup cooked quinoa, chilled

3 tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. dried basil

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. cilantro, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package instructions and cool. Rinse and drain canned beans. Chop veggies and add other ingredients. Toss with lemon juice, oil and seasonings. Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, and bon appetit, my friends.

Using green onions or onions soaked in vinegar will prevent any acrid, burning onion breath. Feel free to add some red chili flakes for spice. So please enjoy my video, it was my first time doing a recipe demo, so I do seem a little nervous. But I hope the food makes up for it! Until next time.