It Feels Good to be Home
Although I left Trinidad for New York to pursue a college education and career opportunities, I can’t help but stress the idea that there’s no place like home. Ugh, I hate clichés but it’s so true. There’s nothing like the feeling of nostalgia when you’re back home hearing the rustling of the leaves or the crowing of the rooster in the morning. It might seem so corny but I enjoyed listening to the chirps of the crickets that I used to find so annoying when I was younger. I don’t really have to go too far but a few steps into my yard to enjoy some chill vibes. I never gave it much thought about how much I missed my home until I kicked my feet up and soaked up some good Santa Cruz evening sun.
It’s been about five years since I’ve been in Trinidad and it feels good to be home. It may seem like a short time, but so many things have changed since I’ve been here. Nonetheless, the one thing that has remained the same, is the relaxing and captivating floral and fauna around our yard.
Coming on this trip I was definitely looking forward to the mangoes, the oranges, the papaya but most of all I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on a coconut! A real coconut! Picked fresh from a tree in our backyard.
I probably had about three coconuts. The coconut water was so sweet, nothing like that force ripe artificial flavor in the coconut water from the grocery store. And the jelly, not too soft, not too hard, it was the perfect consistency!
While my dreams, ambitions and potential may be greater now than I had ever imagined, I will always cherish and appreciate my small town Trinidadian roots. Once an island girl, always an island girl!
I will do my best to take as much pictures as I can on this trip so stay tuned for more about my visit to beautiful Trinidad and Tobago.
In case you were wondering where in the world is Trinidad and Tobago, here’s a little perspective for ya.
What Have I Been Eating Lately?
Busy schedules and hectic lifestyles usually take a toll on our diet and I’ll be the first to admit that I usually go for the quickest, easiest options like deli sandwiches and pastries. However, with my graduation coming up in May and summer following right after, I have been doing my best to be a little more conscious of my meal choices.
I have tried a couple meal replacement shakes in the past like Herbalife and Slimfast, but lately I’ve been using Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein & Vitamin Shake Mix and I’m loving it. Since I’ve started incorporating high protein breakfast smoothies into my diet, I’ve noticed that I won’t get hungry or have cravings for about 3-4 hours. My past experiences with protein shakes are less than recommendable because I never seem to like the flavors and I would always get a chalky, pasty after taste. This Nature’s Bounty Shake Mix vanilla flavor combines well with almond, coconut or cashew milk and I sometimes even add bananas, berries, cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg or my favorite peanut butter powder for added nutrients and flavor to create the ultimate breakfast SMOOTHie.
It’s important for me to always have easy grab and go snack options available to take to school because this helps me avoid crazy random binges at the snack machine. I prefer to stick to tropical fruits like bananas, oranges, grapefruits and pineapples, but I’ll occasionally throw in a few apples and grapes for variety.This is what a quick trip to the grocery store looks like for me, and these snacks usually lasts about 3-5 days. I don’t usually have heavy meals during the day, especially when I’m at school because after a big meal, I tend to get the itis. Having a quick salad or fruits and a glass of milk or a smoothie helps me to avoid that groggy fatigued feeling after eating. I have also grown to enjoy baby carrots and mini cukes with a nice low-fat spinach dip or roasted red pepper hummus, it’s a great alternative to chips and dip. Apart from my amazing breakfast smoothies and fruit and veggie snacks, I also do my best to have healthy dinner options. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I do indulge in the not so healthy options but I’ve been doing my best to keep up a strict regimen. This past week I’ve created a little picture journal of my dinner options especially for this blog.
Chicken & Cottage SaladMini Bagel and Chipotle Chicken n’ Roasted Tomatoes with a Sauteed Mushroom SaladHam Egg n’ Cheese Muffin and Shamrock ShakeBaked Potatoes with Roasted Tomatoes n’ Mushrooms and Apple n’ Raisin SalsaVegan Cream of Broccoli SoupGrilled Chicken with Broccoli and CornAs you can see I pretty much stick to the basics and I like keeping it simple. I hope you enjoyed this little food journal post this week.
Blackened Cajun Salmon
Since my last Food and Drink blog I have been thinking of interesting ways to incorporate weekly food posts on this blog because, if you don’t know already, I am a big foodie and I absolutely enjoy preparing healthy but still tasty homemade meals. This week I tried out this simple, quick and easy Blackened Cajun Salmon.
I bought a beautiful piece of salmon fillet fresh from my local supermarket for $9.49USD at $9.99USD/lb however I think I usually pay around $8.99USD/lb for the salmon steak pieces. When buying the steaks I tend to spend way more money even though the steaks are cheaper because I’d normally pick up about three pieces which would come up to about $16USD-$18USD. This time I had to stick to my budget so I just opted for the fillet.
I know I always rave about using fresh ingredients all the time, but these Badia Parsley Flakes are the bomb! I have tried cajun seasonings from various brands but Badia’s version is one of my favorites, the not too spicy, not too salty with a hint of fresh tangy sweet flavors paired with the freshness of the lime juice totally brightens up the taste of the salmon. I rarely use olive oil when baking salmon because salmon usually releases its own natural oils which, when mixed with some lime juice and water, creates a nice light fish sauce that I use for gravy.
After allowing the seasonings and lime to marinate into the salmon for about 30 minutes, I preheat my oven to 390º then bake for 30-40 minutes until it gets that blackened crispy coating on the top. The trick to keeping the salmon from becoming too tough and crusty is after turning off the oven, drizzle a little marinade over the fish then let it sit in the oven for about 10-15 more minutes or until ready to serve.
Bon Appétit! Blackened Cajun Salmon served with Mashed Potatoes, a side salad and a glass of freshly squeezed homemade lemonade.
I’m really looking forward to keeping up this Sunday Lunch series creating easy meals to share with you guys. And hopefully I can get it all together and posted by Sunday evenings, if not it will definitely be posted the next day.
I was so intrigued by this black bean salsa after seeing one of my co workers teaching it to her Food Explorers class. It was fun, easy and required very little prep time! Not to mention it was so pretty to look at. I have been trying more meatless and raw meals lately so this recipe was a great way to stick to my new diet and still get my protein from the black beans, vitamin C and fiber from the red bell peppers and corn and vitamin A from the cilantro.
Black Bean Salsa Ingredients
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can sweet corn
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 stalks cilantro
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 red onion (optional)
I chose to omit the red onion this time because I simply do not enjoy the taste of raw onions, however they are a great source of vitamin C, also, onions have been proven to reduce inflammation and assist in regulating blood sugar levels. I am also not really a big fan of the taste of raw bell peppers but I just adored the addition of the bright pop of color, and the prettier my food looks, the more I want to eat it. My favorite ingredient in this recipe was the fresh cilantro which added a crisp, rich taste that paired well with the freshness of the lemon juice.
This salsa is so versatile, it can be enjoyed in so many ways. Use this black bean salsa as a topping on tacos, burritos, rice, quinoa or on your favorite salad. You can even enjoy it over a baked potato, with some veggie sour cream, but my favorite way to eat this amazing salsa is with some crispy, lightly salted tortilla chips!
Cinnamon-Bay Leaf & Clove Tea has to be my absolute favorite spice tea, especially around the winter time. Not only does it taste and smell amazing, it also has great health benefits as well. Bay leaves are rich in iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A and C. Enjoy a hot cup of Cinnamon-Bay Leaf & Clove Tea before bed as it soothes and relaxes tension and anxiety. These three ingredients are best known for improving digestion and they also help recharge the immune system. Cinnamon boosts the activity of the brain and helps to improve the circulation of blood due to the presence of blood thinning properties. This blood circulation will also help to significantly reduce pain and ensures oxygen supply to the cells, which leads to higher metabolic activity. Whether you enjoy this spicy and fragrant tea sweetened or unsweetened, day or night, it will surely leave you feeling relaxed, calm and ready for anything.
Ginger-Lemon & Clove Tea is a natural and organic way to help soothe those winter cold and flu symptoms like congestion, nausea and sore throat. These three ingredients have natural medicinal qualities that create a spicy citrus elixir which also acts as an antioxidant providing vitamin C that helps boost your immune system. Even outside of cold and flu season, this tea is a great pick-me-up in the mornings which may even help kick caffeine dependency. Usually, because of it’s tanginess, this recipe calls for some form of sweetener like honey, agave or brown sugar, however, if you’re trying to moderate your calorie intake this tea can be enjoyed unsweetened as well.