Lately, I have been inundating myself with projects. I have acquired old and new hobbies, jobs, and activities. Keeping a peaceful internal body is a challenge, often uncomfortable at times. Practicing mindfulness allows me to stay focused on the present.

Breakfast is my morning meditation. When you think of meditation, it doesn’t always involve sitting stoically on a zafu and counting mala beads. One can meditate while walking, showering, washing the dishes, cleaning, driving (although I do not recommend closing your eyes for this one), or eating. Eating is a favorite way of mine to meditate.

I realize this is a food blog, but I must recommend “Drinking Tea, Living Life” by Ven. Visuddhacara. The book is a short read but contains highly potent information on leading a mindful life, all the way down to drinking a cup of tea.

My mornings contain granola with fruit, and tea. I sit on my open patio while the sun peaks
from its slumber. I use a small spoon to eat the granola. This is to ensure I take small bites and chew with intent. We must begin to slow down in order to experience. I alternate chewing with taking mindful sips of hot tea. I hold the mug with both hands, sipping with caution and ease. I allow the heat to warm the body. I experience the crunch of the granola and the chewiness of the dried fruit. Each bite is full of gratitude. Eating with gratitude is a very humbling experience. It allows one to be thankful for the nourishing food they have but not to expect it to be there for their next meal. Try not to feel entitled when eating. The food will be more delicious and gratifying than ever. I promise.

After I have taken the last bite and sipped the last drop, I am content. I thank the Universe for supplying this nutritious meal one more day. Life is good if you allow it. 

This moment counts
it is what is real
it’s happening
right now
and you ought to be present
not far away
with your thoughts and imaginations.

– Ven. Visuddhacara

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

About Today

Do you ever loop a song over and over again? I think my neighbors may want to throw a brick at my record player. The song is that good. So I will loop once more…and then again…and again.

As I listen, I am enjoying a glass of Firesteed Pinot Noir. It is a perfect wine for the concluding days of July. As we embark into August, I will enjoy many more glasses of this wine. As for a meal, I would like to share my new favorite recipe. (See below)

Now you can loop The National, let them serenade you, sip your favorite summer red, and enjoy a nourishing meal. My favorite place to enjoy is on my patio. My antique red table was once my grandmother’s. The scene is rustic, simple, and elegant. Divertiti!

Pesto Quinoa with Avocado and Mixed Greens



1/4 Cup Quinoa

2 Tablespoons Pesto

1 Avocado

Mixed Greens

Salt & Pepper


Wash and drain the quinoa. Add 1/2 Cup water to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover with lid, and simmer until translucent. About 10-12 minutes. Add pesto. Mix thoroughly. Plate over mixed greens. Add sliced avocado. Garnish with salt and pepper.

Note: The measurements are forgiving. May increase or decrease ingredient amounts to suit individual tastes and appetites. Try adding sliced almonds for an added crunch or shredded chicken breast for a heartier plate.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Easily, my new obsession:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life + Food

Life can be a warm gooey oatmeal raisin cookie or a bitter grape. Like the ones withered at the bottom of the clear plastic bag, sometimes covered in white fuzzy mold. I usually wash it off, only to bite into a rancid ball of foul taste. When will I learn…

Presently my life is neither. It is unfamiliar. It took a shift recently and my life has become more like the grapevine. I am back in growth. That awkward stage where one minute I am reaching my vines and guiding my leaves toward the sunlight, and another minute I am slithering down the wooden stake into the ground, wanting to hide in shade.

Food is life. It mirrors our individual self, our families and friends, our communities. Food brings people together or can cause them to drift apart. Sharing food is a sensual and personal experience. It is vulnerable. Cooking for someone is vulnerable. It is giving a piece of you to them, hoping they will take a bite and approve the food, in essence, you.

We all enjoy a cookie every now and then. We all are also served a bitter grape every now and then. But either way, the ingredients came from the ground, a vine, a tree. In theory, we are the ones who put judgement on a cookie or a bitter grape. Not nature. Just let it be. Stop judging life and experience the tastes of all.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


 ♫ Let’s talk about nuts.
Let’s talk about nuts, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about nuts.  ♫

Add a little Salt ‘N’ Pepa, and I’m satiated.

Introduce my new love, Marcona Almonds…


Known as “almonds ascended to heaven”,  these nuts are doused in sunflower oil and sea salt. They are generally fried, have a distinct crunch, are well-salted and very addictive. They’re a natural alongside Spanish cheeses like Manchego or Garroxta, but also very good with English Cheddar and a good stout.

I enjoy them with sliced apples (Fuji or Honeycrisp) and a generous pour of Cabernet Sauvignon or my new obsession, Frog’s Leap Zinfandel. They go amazing with a chilled Blue Moon Agave or 312. Oh, can’t forget Rahr and Sons Blonde Lager.

These nuts are the ultimate gourmet snack for enjoying a leisurely afternoon, a good book, the sunshine, and possibly some good conversation (between the sips of your chosen delectable beverage and mouthfuls of nuts).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I am back. After a long sleep, I have awoken.

What is better to awake to than kisses? Chai. I like to think of it as a hug in a mug.


This tea enlivens me from the bones to the rose on my cheeks. My eyes open a little wider, my breath deepens, and my mind is cleared from a fog of dreamy sleep.

Chai, I have a love affair with you.

Yes, frigid winters are warmed with this spiced delight, but I am talking about sipping Chai tea all year long. I drink it daily, alongside my honey nut granola (try Viki’s Original Honey Granola) or a simple Fuji apple. Pair it with fresh Bing cherries or stone ground wheat crackers (my favorite is Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers).

Chai tea doesn’t stop at the bag. The spiced medley can be incorporated into almost anything. Sauces, icings, baked goods, even meats. Add Chai to your next chocolate cake recipe and prepare for the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.

Try these recipes for an extra special romance:

Chai Tea Space Cake


Chai Tea Bread

chai tea bread and tea

Chai Tea Ice Cream

chai tea ice cream (1)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

National Peanut Butter Day! 5 Reasons Why The Comfort Food Is Healthy Too

Happy National Peanut Butter Day! The stuff is yummy, but did you know that peanut butter can also play a role in preventing everything from heart disease to Alzheimer’s?

Keep in mind that all-natural peanut butter without added ingredients is the healthy option — many brands include added sugar. And, as with all good things, everything in moderation: a spoonful may be healthy, but a whole jar is certainly not.

Here are some top health properties for peanut butter:

It’s Heart Healthy
Yes, peanut butter has saturated fat and some sodium, but that doesn’t automatically disqualify it as a good-for-you treat. As nutrition expert Dr. Walter C. Willett wrote in the Havard Heart Letter, one serving of peanut butter (about two tablespoons) contains 3.3 grams of saturated fat, but a whopping 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat. That ratio of about 80 percent unsaturated fat is akin to olive oil, a known heart booster. Explained Willet:

The body’s response to saturated fat in food is to increase the amounts of both harmful LDL and protective HDL in circulation. In moderation, some saturated fat is okay. Eating a lot of it, though, promotes artery-clogging atherosclerosis, the process that underlies most cardiovascular disease. In contrast, unsaturated fats, which make up the majority of the fat content in peanut butter, help reduce LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.

It’s High In Potassium, The ‘Good’ Salt
A high-sodium diet is associated with high blood pressure, stroke and a host of other conditions, but a high-potassium diet can actually reduce risk of heart disease and improve health. One 2010 study even found that eating just 4.7 grams of potassium had the same health benefit as cutting out 4 grams of sodium. (Of course eating enough peanut butter to reach 4.7 grams of potassium would be excessive, but try combining it with a banana, for a double punch.)

With about 200 milligrams of potassium, peanut butter is a good source of the salt that also helps stave off arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, and infertility.

It Keeps You Full To Prevent Weight Gain
Peanut butter is definitely a rich food, but it can help keep you full for longer. In one study, adults who snacked on peanuts and peanut butter reported feeling fuller than those who chose lighter fare like rice cakes and pickles.

And in an unrelated study published in Obesity of nearly 9,000 Spanish men and women, those who incorporated nuts into their diets at least twice a week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight than a control group.

It’s A Cheap Source of Good Calories
At about 30 cents per serving, peanut butter is an affordable source of good quality calories — containing fiber, protein, potassium, unsaturated fat, folate, vitamin E, magnesium and resveratrol. That’s a lot better than other affordable calorie sources, like fast food value meals.

It Could Keep You Sharp
Peanut butter has about 4.3 milligrams of niacin per two-tablespoon serving — an important nutrient that plays a protective role in preventing cognitive decline. A study of 3,000 men over the age of 65 in Chicago found that those who consumed 22 milligrams of niacin per day were 70 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their peers who consumed just 13 milligrams.

Article complements of The Huffington Post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mr. Palmer…you’re so good to Vegas

Stepping into Charlie Palmer’s Aureole at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, my eyes gawked at the centerpiece: a four-story wine tower with its very own Wine Angel Stewards, who gracefully ascend the tower to retrieve bottles. Think more Mission Impossible, less Striptease. It was a site always to remember…nothing short of Vegas.

I was familiar with the fare of Charlie Palmer, once having tried his restaurant at The Joule in Dallas. It was one of my most memorable dinners in The Big D. I dreamed of those lobster popsicles and buttery crusted trout for weeks after. Aureole pulled through for my high expectations.

We began with the wine…one of the restaurant’s specialties. Opting for a beautiful crisp Chardonnay, we decided on a dozen oysters on the half-shell for our starter. With each oyster, fresh salt water burst from every succulent mouthful. It was a magical moment. Next, we chose to share the beautifully caramelized Filet Mignon. I will not deny if one heard a moan murmured. This is Vegas, so of course, there was dessert. Nothing was more romantic than sharing the Tasting Plate, filled with cookies, meringue, mousse, and chocolate truffles. Oh my!

The rest will go unlisted. As the adage goes, what happens in Vegas, well, stays in Vegas.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


XM Radio’s BPM beats through the Cadillac’s surround sound speakers. Jon and I share a smile as we cruise on the starlit highway. It is a beautiful NYE night and we are on our way to a fireside meal at the exceptional private restaurant in Vacquero. This exclusive establishment holds only 100 diners and is not open to the general public.

We pull into the gated club, waved and welcomed by the guards. As we valet, men open doors and greet us by name. I take Jon’s arm and we are welcomed into the dark oak bar. Through the double doors, burns a coal fire pit in the center of a stoned patio for enjoying the Texas weather. A view overlooks the world-renown golf course, a sparkling lake and million-dollar homes sprawling through the hills. The moonlight casts a glow on the entire scene. We choose two seats by the fire. Immediately, Vaquero blankets are brought to us and two glasses of Vaquero’s own Cabernet, harvested and bottled for the club only. We cheers to a new blessed year of love, success, and happiness. It certainly appears to have already begun.

And now the grand entree of the night: the meal. Schezuan crispy calamari with cilantro on a bed of mixed greens to begin. We share succulent bites between conversation, and maybe a few moans of pure ecstasy. After our leisure appetizer, we opt to share the prime filet of beef with a wild mushroom glaze and the chicken fried lobster tails with gravy mashed potatoes. Extravagance at its best. Our lovely waitress attends to our wine and also brings Vaquero water, bottled exclusively for the club. Giant bites of lobster meat burst in our mouths. The beef is like butter. And our wine is a perfect accompaniment. I take in the ecstatic look on my love’s face, the meal, the fire, and the feeling of contentment. I thank the stars for this moment.

Two hours into the dining experience, we decide to end on a sweet note of chocolate decadence. Homemade chocolate molten cake and fresh whipped mousse are brought to our sides. Nothing less than perfection.

To round off a perfect meal, Jon enjoys a gentleman’s cigar as we cozy up to our fire. Bellies full, hearts full, and lives full. Cheers to new beginnings and a year full of blessed moments.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Buc-ee’s…you’re so not welcome

“Thank you for eating at Buc-ee’s. Hope you enjoyed your time here.”

The clerk handed us our bag of hot lunch made in under three minutes. Her bored stare chilled me to my bones. We hurried to our car. As our famished selves dug into the bag, we decided to ignore the fact we were eating processed meat, on a road trip, in the middle of Texas, in our car, in a gas station parking lot. Signs of STOP were all around us.

I expected to unwrap a somewhat healthy option of a chicken ceasar wrap. What I found instead was microwaved chicken blanketed in a burnt flour tortilla. The chicken tasted of bologna and cheese whiz. There was no evidence of lettuce or ceasar dressing. It felt so wrong. I began to feed my hungry pug slices of chicken. Oh my poor doggy, she didn’t deserve what was coming for her. None of us deserved what was coming for us. My beloved unwrapped a mystery chopped beef sandwich with an anonymous sauce. Halfway through eating his lunch, he paused with a flushed look of nausea, mumbled, and discarded the remains from his hand. A look of disgust took over us all.

His mumbles turned into coherent words. “Oh god, I had to stop because I quickly realized the level of grossness which I just was consuming.” I looked over at his sweaty palms. My own temperature began to soar. “I feel ill.” It was all I could muster to say during this moment of immense regret.

We decided to do only one thing: drive. We drove as fast as we could out of there. The further we were from Buc-ee’s, the safer. A lump began to form in my throat. I could hear my pug’s stomach cry from gas pains over the engine of the car. My beloved started to note major indigestion. I myself was battling my own ailment of trying to keep the unidentified chicken meat down. We had no intentions of leaving with any of their overpriced clothing or fragrance candles, but it turned out we did leave with our Buc-ee’s souvenir:

food poisoning.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments