Food and Fun with Family

This weekend I visited some of my family in Virginia. I spent time with my aunt, who lucky for me, is a great cook (almost as good as my mom!) I love being with her in the kitchen because she is so knowledgeable about foods and their health and healing benefits. She knows a lot of Middle Eastern home remedies too. I should take notes from her!

On the first night I arrived, she prepared Shawarma with fresh meat seasoned with tons of spices, alongside roasted vegetables from her garden, Mediterranean salad, rice (a staple in Middle eastern cuisine) and fresh, organic yogurt. It was delicious!

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Saturday morning I woke up craving pancakes for some strange reason. I made some for everyone and we ate them with fresh fruit. (even though I really wanted it with bacon!)

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Later that day, I visited my cousin Huda, a practicing esthetician, who is also very health conscious. I get all my natural health & beauty advice from her. It’s so nice to have women in my life who are such a wealth of knowledge in healthy living.

She made me a juice in her VitaMix blender chocked full of fresh fruits & veggies. I’ve been wanting to try the VitaMix for a while now, so I was excited! It is pretty impressive!

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On Sunday, we visited the Eastern market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It is Washington DC’s oldest, continually operated fresh food public market. They had tons of neat goodies there. I can’t get enough of these outdoor markets! I bought some gifts and enjoyed and enjoyed all the sights there.

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On our last morning, my aunt sent us off with a proper Mediterranean lunch. This is one of my favorites! Homemade hummus, bread for dipping with olive oil, zaatar, garden tomatoes & cucumbers, pickled olives, sautéed mushrooms, yogurt, and fresh fruit with chai (tea) and mint.

I ate so much good food this weekend, and really enjoyed spending time with my family that I don’t get to see often. I’m grateful I had the chance to do it.

Now, it’s back to New Orleans for me. I’ve been away for a while and I’m looking forward to coming home. I always miss that place when I leave.

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Hello Brooklyn!

This week, I had the opportunity to travel with my sister to Brooklyn on a road trip for a Philadelphia 76ers game. We had a blast! Well, I had a blast. She was working and ripping and running between Manhattan and Brooklyn. She’s a busy woman!

We took the Amtrak train from Philadelphia to Manhattan. It was my first time riding an Amtrak train and I enjoyed it. The ride was smooth and it was only about an hour and fifteen minutes long.

amtrak 1

amtrak 2

amtrak 3

My sister was hosting some clients for the game, and I joined them for dinner at Queen, an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn that has been family owned and operated since 1958. It was delicious! I had the homemade cheese ravioli. I was so hungry and it was so good, that I forgot to take a picture! I didn’t remember until the last bite, as you’ll soon see. 🙂

Queen sign

Queen menu

Queen food

During the day on Tuesday, I ventured out to Brooklyn and met with a friend who happened to be visiting also. He had a craving for za’atar and labneh, so we were on a mission. Thanks to a mutual friend, we found an amazing Arabic market, Sahadi’s, that served fresh mezza. They had fresh foods and spices galore. We walked around and admired the offerings, then picked up labneh, tabouli, olives and date cookies. And it was very affordable, which I loved! The food is take out, so we found a stoop in the neighborhood to sit on and eat. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day, and it was nice to share a meal outside.

Sahadi's

Inside Sahadi's

Sahadi's food

Later that evening, I attended the basketball game at the Barclays Center with my sisters. It was my first time seeing the new arena and it was quite a sight!

Barclays

Before the game, we had dinner at the 40/40 restaurant at the arena. OMG! The food was amazing! I don’t usually like buffets, but the selection there was impressive. It offered a lot of fresh foods and healthy options. There was a cheese bar that I couldn’t stay away from! I made 3 rounds. Yes, three.

40:40 menu

40:40 plate

40:40 plate 2

At the game, I didn’t know who to cheer for, since my sister works for the 76ers and I love Brooklyn. So, I decided to cheer for both teams. haha

Nets ticket

Nets game

The Nets took home the victory, but it was a win/win for me 🙂 I had a great trip and it made me miss New York…that beast of a city!

New Study shows Mediterranean Diet’s Health Benefits

My mom and dad have been telling me this for years. (Now that it’s in the New York Times, it has validity, of course.) In this house, olive oil is used for practically everything. They’ve said it’s the reason my grandparents lived long, healthy lives. It’s a part of almost every meal they eat.

A new study published on Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine says “about 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals.” The results were so clear that the study ended early after five years. I guess I came to the right place to get healthy 🙂