Quinoa and spice and everything nice... That's what POWER SALADS are made of!

These bold colors--with textures and flavors to match--remind me of my travels through Marrakech, Morocco... (more on THAT in my travel blog!)

 The longer the salad sits, the more flavorful it gets...

I think I've found my new favorite salad :)

'ROCCAN RED QUINOA SALAD (serve as 2 large salads OR 4 side salads)

'ROCCAN RED QUINOA SALAD (serve as 2 large salads OR 4 side salads)


  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 15 oz. can organic garbanzo beans/chickpeas (drained)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup chopped Medjool dates (pitted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios (shelled)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned into matchsticks
  • 1 beet, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 3 stalks green onion (scallion), chopped
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • juice of one (1) lemon
  • 1.5 tablespoons liquid sweetener (I use agave nectar)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


Prepare red quinoa according to package instructions and cool. In a large bowl, mix quinoa, beans, apricots, dates, pistachios, carrots, scallion, and parsley together. In a small mason jar with a lid, add cinnamon, cumin, salt, lemon juice, sweetener and oil and shake well until combined. Pour over salad mixture and continue to combine with spatula. Adjust seasonings to your liking, serve and ENJOY!

(keep leftovers refrigerated :))



From Florence, my husband and I took the train to Venezia (Venice), Italy. The trip was scenic and fairly short–because we got off ONE STOP TOO SOON! (If you're traveling to Venice, please note, there are two train stations. One on the mainland before you get to Venice and another in Venice proper.)

Not knowing we got off on the wrong stop, we exited the train station and hailed a cab. We asked our taxi driver (as best we could) to take us to our hotel. To our surprise, he drove us to a dock area where there were several shuttle boats called "vaparettos". The vaparettos work like a city bus. They have different routes which go to different points in Venice. We were totally confused because although we knew Venice has waterways for streets, we weren't aware of how to actually navigate the city. Nevertheless, we found the vaparetto that would take us closest to our hotel, purchased our tickets and climbed aboard.

The ride was breathtaking! I could not believe the locals get to experience those views daily. Everything was like a a scene in a painting. I spotted Moorish architecture everywhere I looked, and the picturesque buildings and waterscapes were even more gorgeous in person! Boats in Venice are like cars in America. Moving along water 'highways', it was wild to see folks driving boats while chatting on cellphones. Taxis and limos, or even massive construction vehicles, dump trucks and more all converted into boats! The whole scene made me giggle. The city itself was a labyrinth of canals and little corridors, with bridges connecting the whole island. My photographs don't do justice to what we saw!

Once we got off the boat, to say we got lost would be an understatement. Those little streets were a nightmare to navigate with all the luggage we had--to make it worse, the wheel broke on our largest rolling suitcase!

Desperately lost with broken luggage-- IMAGINE THAT!  

We must have walked forever, occasionally stopping to ask for directions, while everyone else seemed to stroll about happily. Finally, after what felt like hours, we spotted our tiny Hotel Maurizio over the horizon and let out a HUGE sigh of relief.

As we were settling in, my youngest daughter called me. (Sidenote: I had been nervous to speak to my children because I feared that hearing their voices would make my anxiety flare WAY up and I'd end up trying to catch the next thing smoking back home to them. We had been corresponding via text, but this was the first time TALKING to my daughter.) I answered nervously. She was ecstatic! Joyfully telling me about her day at a dance workshop she was attending for the week, and how her dance instructor wanted to mentor her. Then I heard my mother's voice in the background telling me everything is fine, the girls are having a great time and she hoped I was as well!

And just like that--I wasn't anxious anymore. It was like a MAJOR weight had been lifted off of me and I felt I could take take on the world... like I had always dreamed! With a newfound courage and immediate burst of energy, I was ready to hit the Venezian streets and get lost--in a good way this time!

Venice was a wanderlust heaven, with twist and turns everywhere. Dozens of West African street vendors lined the sidewalks with knockoff purses, asking "How much, how much?" LOL! We did witness lots of beggars (called 'gypsies', interestingly) on the streets, who would keep their heads down with hands stuck out for money. The food was delicious, and it just so happened that Venice was the place I had my 1st glass of wine--EVER!

Think we didn't ride a gondola when we DID! It's a totally "touristy" thing to do, but a MUST! It was a bit pricey ($80 per ride), but it's not everyday that we're in Venice :)


One of our main focus was to visit La Biennale di Venezia; alas, when we finally arrived to the main exhibit hall, they were closing for the day-- and it was our last day in Venice. *Price is Right losing horn

Nevertheless we had a great time. Whether it was exploring the historic buildings and public art, getting lost in the narrow streets, people-watching while dining along the canals, enjoying the melodic singing of the gondoleros, or hanging with our friends we met up with in Florence, visiting all the high-end couture boutiques, cooing over Italian made leather goods and hanging in after-hours bars. Venice was a gorgeous place... and quite romantic (wink)!



I barely blinked as we drove from the airport to our apartment. I couldn't believe my eyes-- I was in ITALY!!! The streets seemed almost too narrow to pass and I was secretly a bit worried about our safety. Once we got close enough to the apartment, which was in the center of the city, the taxi driver told us we would have to walk the rest of the way as cars were not permitted to drive there. It wasn't a problem though, we were literally less than a block away.

The door to our AirBNB   

The door to our AirBNB


Alas, our largest bag which contained most of my husband's things didn't make the flight. He didn't seem too bothered, but it became more of an inconvenience when we were told the airport wouldn't deliver the bag. We would have to return to the airport to claim it, but there wasn't much time to worry about it. Due to the delays, we had just enough time to put our things down in the apartment and make our way to the conference!

Villa La Pietra, Firenze, Italia

Villa La Pietra, Firenze, Italia

Our Air BnB host gave us the number for a taxi and we took a quick ride to one of the most beautiful and historic sites in Florence; La Villa Pietra. The grounds of this beautiful castle were like something out of a fairytale! It was made more beautiful by the site of dozens of Black artists and scholars wandering about dressed to the nines. I thought I'd stepped into a photoshoot for Essence magazine! I saw a few familiar faces and met some new folks from other countries. While waiting for my husband's lecture to start, we explored the grounds, "oooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" at every turn...and trust me,  there were LOTS of 'turns'. The villa covered a few gorgeously manicured acres.

Though we had some challenges traveling to the conference, it ended up being quite an amazing and enlightening experience. My husband's panel was one of the last events for the conference. Everyone was brilliant with amazing ideas. I felt so energized. 

After the closing, several of the conference participants got together to sight-see in downtown Florence. Being that we arrived so late, we didn't get to do as much as we'd planned, but we did get to see the stunning Il Duomo, the main cathedral in Firenze (Florence). 

As we chatted with our friends, we learned that like us, several of the conference participants were planning to travel to Venice the next day to attend the Venice Biennale. We made plans to meet up once in Venice and keep the party going! By this time, all of the emotion, anxiety, and physical toll of traveling started to bear down on us. So my husband and I found a cool little restaurant to have dinner. (You have NOT tasted authentic pasta and marinara until you've had it in Italy! There's DEFINITELY a difference in taste. Plus, I had no problem dining vegan --there are plenty of grilled vegetables (verdure alla griglia) and dairy-free sauces to choose from.)

We dined al fresco as we watched the sunset and then took a easy stroll back to our apartment. 

Sadly, the 3 days we planned to have in Florence was cut to less than 36 hours, but I still managed to have a good time. My anxiety about traveling was rapidly slipping away.Though I didn't get the full Firenze experience this time, I don't feel too bad, because I will be back. It's a city that I'd definitely wanna revisit and FULLY explore!


I hadn't travelled internationally since I was a child when I visited the Dominican Republic with my parents. Oh, and there was that one time I spent about 24 hours in the Bahamas to do some a voiceover work (but given my fears, I don't think I need to tell you how THAT went!)

But here it was, the moment of truth, my first real international travel experience. Florence, Italy was the destination. I was all packed the evening before, but I clearly remember trying to pump myself up by reciting over and over, "You better go towards your dreams or die trying- this is IT!"

I tried to put on my 'big-girl-face' when my daughter dropped my husband and me off at the airport. We were flying to Florence for the Black Portraitures II conference, hosted by NYU, where my husband was a featured panelist. I was shook walking into the airport, knowing that each step I took was one step closer to boarding a flight... to Italy. But somehow, I made it through security, to the concourse and ultimately to the flight gate without turning back. Whew!

But my victory was short-lived. I guess I should mention an important part to this story; we were flying standby. 

If you've ever flown as a stand-by passenger, you know that a seat is not necessarily a guarantee. It's something of a gamble. Sometimes it's no problem to board a flight. Sometimes your seat can be upgraded. But in the event a flight is full, you will most likely get 'bumped' and you'll have to wait for the flight and hope they have seats available. 

For some reason, it seemed EVERYONE in Atlanta was headed to Italy that day.  We got bumped. Not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES!

Watching our names appear on screen at the end of a very long stand-by list, my anxiety grew exponentially. On the outside I played it cool, but internally I was ready to break for the door! Maybe this was a sign NOT to go?

Time was of the essence. We had already secured an AirBNB in Florence and as a result of the delays, we would end up losing a night's stay. But more importantly, my hubby was scheduled to speak during the conference, so not making it wasn't really an option.

Ultimately we were able to re-route our flight. Instead of traveling direct from Atlanta to Rome, we decided to take the last flight available to London. Once inside the EU, it's significantly less expensive to travel between countries. This was good news because our new flight plan required that we buy tickets from London to Rome and then from Rome to Florence.


So after spending all afternoon waiting for and rearranging flights, we finally boarded the flight to London's Heathrow Airport that evening. It was an overnight flight, 7+ hours. Once I settled into my seat on the plane and the door shut, I felt like life as I knew it had ended. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew this was the beginning of my transformation. Thank goodness I was exhausted from all the waiting and negotiating with airline representatives, so I slept the whole way!

I awoke in London. Disembarking the plane, I found myself in awe of Heathrow's hustle and bustle. But perhaps even more, listening to the British accents!

While waiting to board our flight to Rome, we decided to eat at a quaint Mediterranean spot in the airport and let our family know we made it safe. I even took a step outdoors just to see what London air smelled like! Crazy, I know, but this was a completely new experience for me. A birthing of a sort. I simply wanted to be in the moment. Once I took a whiff, I realized I was being ridiculous because there was no difference in "American" air and "British" air! 

The flight to Rome was short and smooth. But I can't say the same for the line at customs!!! It appeared that every tourist in the world arrived in Rome at the same time. Both my husband and I became extremely anxious because we only had a brief window of time in which to catch our connecting flight to Florence. We waited in line for over an hour and a half. After being cleared we made a mad dash to find our connecting flight only to discover it had JUST taken off. Not only that, we were told there would not be another flight until the next morning. The cherry on top; we would have to buy more tickets for the next flight because the ones we purchased were non-transferrable!

I simply broke down. I don't think I ever cried so hard in my adult life! I'm talking about that UGLY cry, WITH snot! (I'm laughing hard as I type this, but it was no laughing matter at the time).

Here I was-- THOUSANDS of miles away from my children and I can't do anything for them if they needed me. I never felt so helpless in my life. I was certain that I'd made the biggest mistake ever. My husband (bless his heart) comforted me and said, "Let's just get some dinner and a room for the night and be ready to go to Florence in the morning." 

And that's what we did.

Next morning we were at the airport bright and early, ready to keep it moving.

We boarded our flight to Florence and before you know it... WE MADE IT! *cue Drake song*

Our taxi driver spoke very little English (and our Italian was pitiful), so we basically just showed him the address of our AirBNB and trusted that he'd get us there.

The ride from the airport to our lodging was fascinating! Almost all the cars there are Volkswagen Bug-sized, and all signs were in Italian (duh!). The radio stations had Italian songs playing! I know I'm being Captain Obvious right now, but it was these little nuances that affirmed to me that I MADE IT! And I was still breathing and shit!

I kept saying to myself, "Am I in Florence? Am I in FLORENCE???"

I was.


Come back so I can tell you about my time there!



Remember when I briefly mentioned in my first post about my deathly fear of traveling abroad? Well, thank goodness I took that leap of faith. Otherwise, I wouldn't have had the most life-changing experiences to share with you.

Heathrow Airport (London)

Heathrow Airport (London)

Why was I afraid? Initially I thought because I was afraid to leave my (then) younger children behind for an extended period of time. Then they became 20 & 17 years old. Young adults. I couldn't use that excuse anymore-- and an EXCUSE is just what it was. Clearly, I had to do some self-evaluating and unveil why I felt the way I did!

Here I was-- presented with an opportunity of a LIFETIME to travel abroad for a MONTH! May to June 2015--Italy to France to Morocco to Spain-- incredible, right? My mouth was certainly saying so, but my head was in total opposition. Anxiety immediately set in. The mere thought of leaving everything and everyone I've known would shut all my senses down. Am I control-freak? Too much of a home-body?

I mean, everything about my lifestyle (from home decor to fashion sense) SCREAMS "global/international/worldly", yet my fear prevented me from reaching my dreams--that is, until I had to put my life into perspective.

There were four main reasons I made the leap of faith: my hubby, my children, my best friend, and death. Yes, death.

HUBBY: My newlywed hubby and I hadn't gone on our honeymoon immediately after the wedding (Oct 2014) because he and I both had busy schedules to tend to--until his Paris art show in June 2015! He decided to turn our "skip over the pond" into a world tour! With my heart thumping out of my chest, I totally agreed, all the while thinking, "I have 8 months to snap out of this ridiculous anxiety!" I mean, this is basically my HONEYMOON-- I couldn't bail out on that! 

CHILDREN: My children knew how much I wanted to travel, and have been steadfast cheerleaders for me to 'just GO, Mom!' I wanted them to see me conquer my fears and be proud of me, so failure wasn't an option.

((I think part of their declaration had something to do with the fact they'd have the house and car at their full disposal with NO parental supervision!))

BEST FRIEND: My bestie of nearly 25 years said to me (and I quote):

"Its natural to feel nervous and anxious. As much traveling as I have done, it still happens to me very often. Don't stress it. As a matter of fact, every time I would travel I'd get that "this is not a good idea" feeling and literally wanna back out... And 100% of traveling somewhere for the first time. Perfectly normal. And guess what? After I went, I was always happy 100% of the time that I went--despite all of my reservations. So if u are feeling worrisome, just put one foot in front of the other and move FORWARD. You'll be glad u did. The only thing that would be waiting for you in Atlanta is a world of regret. Ahead of you? The world!!"

DEATH: Days before my departure, and still spazing about my upcoming trip abroad, a great friend of mine's life was tragically cut short. Shook me to my core. She was an avid arts activist who was young and vibrant and I simply adored her. All I can think to myself was, "Tomorrow is not promised to me, so I GOTTA pursue my dreams and live life to the fullest right NOW...PERIOD."


So, there you have it.

Full disclosure.

No holds barred.

Complete vulnerability here. I'm sharing this with you because if I can overcome my greatest fear, YOU CAN TOO. Whatever has you fearful can be conquerable. I promise. 


Now, for the good part- the TRAVELS!

Stay tuned and join me as I go down Memory Lane and recap the most exhilarating time of my life...'cuz my passport is LIT :)



"All Things Mexico" is in the air because today is Cinco de Mayo!

People of all backgrounds and ethnicities take to Mexican restaurants across America-- inhaling tacos and syphoning tequila until they pop. As a lover of Mexican food, I start celebrating two days in advance as to NOT get caught up in the rapture of those who can't contain their excitement for Cinco de Mayo (also known as 'drunk people')...

Then I visited Tulum, Mexico.

Tulum had changed my perspective on AUTHENTIC Mexican food, and ultimately my perspective on life... Ergo, Mexican Food is LIFE :)

One restaurant in particular that stands out in my mind (and on my tastebuds) is RESTAURARE VEGAN CUISINE

Restaurare's ambiance was beautiful and serene (in a lush green 'middle-of-the-jungle' type way) with a great staff and EXTREMELY delicious food! The owner even took the time to tell me a beautiful story on the meaning of the word 'Restaurare' itself and the inception of the restaurant that I grew to love with each bite I took!

(More on that story in a future blogpost--I have a method to my blogging madness- trust me!:)) 

The menu is perfectly curated and the juxtaposition of texture and taste were on point. These dishes were FULL of complex flavors, exactly what Mexican cuisine is (in my opinion) known for!

And the mole.....ohhhhh the cacao mole..... was theeee BEST I've EVER had in my life! The owner was tight-lipped about the ingredients in the mole (rightfully so), so I asked if she'd consider selling a bottle to me, which she agreed to! 

(Alas, the day before I came back home to the USA I stopped by Restaurare to purchase the mole--and it was closed (mental note: they are CLOSED New Years Day)).

Although I returned to the States with high hopes, I've yet to find Mexican food in America that can remotely compare to the restaurants I dined at in Tulum. So until I return, I'll just be in my lab (read: kitchen) attempting to recreate the deliciousness I've had the honor of chowing down on! 

Happy Cinco de Mayo, folks!

(P.S.- if you happen to go to Tulum, bring back a bottle of mole from Restaurare for me, please and thank you!)




































It's that time of year again... Time for the BIG game and all the festive, fried, greasy, cheesy treats that come with it. However, if you're vegan or vegetarian- or maybe even still holding on to that new leaf you turned over for New Years - the big game could be a big stress.

We want everyone to enjoy the action and SNACK-tion. So here's a recipe for a delicious and hearty vegan CHILI "NON" CARNE...

It's quick and easy to make and will have even the most carnivorous grid-iron giants drooling!



2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
14 oz. can dark red kidney beans (liquid included)
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 pkg. vegetarian ground “beef” crumbles
1 ½ cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
2 bay leaves, dried
4 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
cayenne pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar


In a large pot, add oil and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 3 minutes or until translucent. Add remaining ingredients, stir well, cover and simmer on low to medium low heat for 30 minutes. For a spicier chili, add cayenne pepper or red chili flakes.
Serve with tortilla chips and even set up a chili bar featuring: vegan sour cream, shredded soy cheddar cheese, chopped scallions (green onions) and fresh jalapeno slices.


EAT YOUR BRUSSEL SPROUTS...(please and thank you.)



  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh brussel sprouts, halved 
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 4 cups fresh brussel sprouts, halved
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated vegetables
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • ground black pepper (to taste)
  • red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)

In a large cast iron skillet (preferably),  heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, adding brussel sprouts and stirring frequently, about 4-6 minutes. Add dehydrated vegetables and broth and simmer (covered) until brussel sprouts become tender (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat, add seasonings and ENJOY!

Hey- maybe I can start a campaign to change public opinion of brussels sprouts! Who's with me?



I remember as a child, the WORST thing you could do was put a plate of BRUSSEL SPROUTS in front of me.  Uggghhh-- I hated the mere idea of them. It seemed like the general concensus; with everybody from my little sister to the children on TV seemed to be disgusted by brussel sprouts. Who can forget all the TV Moms trying to get their children to eat these things?

Then along came adulthood, a different palate, and some imagination.

"Hey; I'll just call these 'mini cabbage' and see how I feel about them!"

What do you know? I DO like brussel sprouts! And if I can change my mind, so can YOU. In fact, I'm pretty confident I can make a non-believer convert with this recipe!




I'm pretty confident in saying that Ghion Cultural Hall is the absolute best in Ethiopian dining in ATL! The staff is friendly (and beautiful). The front dining room is set-up "homestyle" including two flat-screens showing Ethiopian news and music videos! Meanwhile the back dining room is a newly renovated banquet hall with an atmosphere that captures the warmth and zest of Ethiopian culture; including fabrics, traditional paintings and mosobs– traditional handmade woven serving tables where people gather to have a communal meals. The food portions are generous and I always leave feeling satisfied. 

Does it help that the owners of the restaurant (the Asnake family) are friends of mine? Sure!

However, the food does speak for itself. My family and I fancy the veggie combo platter–which consists of 4-7 options (a way to taste a wide spectrum of dishes)... It's basically an assortment of  lentils (MISER are red lentils and ATER are the yellow lentils), collards (GOMEN), stewed cabbage (TIKEL GOMEN), potato stew (DINECH WOT) and a tomato salad (TIMATIM SALAD)... OOOH- and the shuro (a stew of powdered chickpeas and seasonings) is to-LIVE-for!

Ignore that whole 'don't eat with your hands'-thing. Ethiopian food is a hands-on experience. You start by tearing a bite-sized piece of injera (a traditional Ethiopian bread) and use it to scoop up any portion of your platter you choose. PLEASE REMEMBER to eat with your RIGHT hand. Using your left hand while dining is considered disrespectful, as that hand is generally used to take care of some sanitary duties (or doodies *insert drum rimshot*), if you catch my drift!

If you're in the ATL area, I HIGHLY recommend Ghion Cultural Hall.

Head's up: this is not a grab-n-go type of joint. Be prepared to kick back, relax with a glass of TEJ (Ethiopian wine), learn a word or two in AMHARIC (one of the languages spoken in Ethiopia) and maybe even attempt the traditional "shoulder dance" (as I like to call it).

It's a great experience and one that'll have you coming back for more :).


(Located: 2080 Cheshire Bridge Road, NE Atlanta, GA 30324)


...meet me in the trap.

...meet me in the trap.

Why? Well; why not? 

A wise woman once said, 

"There are many sides to me/kinda like geometry..." It's who I am.

When you think "vegan", what comes to mind? An acoustic guitar-playing, birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging hippie with a gang of stickers plastered on their car?

Well, that ain't me!

I drive to yoga class...playing Future.

I juice my fruits and veggies... while dabbing with 2Chainz.

While my trap playist on Spotify might make (you) or your Granny's ears bleed, it keeps me company and it makes my food LIT AF!!!

Some of you may ask, "What the heck is TRAP music?" "Trap" is a hip-hop euphemism that refers to hustling, i.e. making your way by any means necessary. This often manifests in behaviors and lifestyles that many might consider to be less-than-desirable. But trap music has become the theme and dominant sound of contemporary rap music. Though some of the lyrics are cringe-worthy, the beats are infectious and fun. I appreciate the creativity and ingenuity of the young artists making this music, and I'm old enough to know right from wrong.

...Even Beyoncé is on it...

...Even Beyoncé is on it...

See, it's about being yourself. I design MY life, tailored to MY preferences.

Don't get me wrong; my musical taste is vast and varied. However, I love the contrast of how we imagine "the trap" in contrast to the image of someone with a "conscious diet". C'mon--I know I'm not the ONLY one in this world who feels the way I do--right? :) Where my peeps at? Holla if ya hear me! 

(P.S.- the Vegan/TrapMusic tees are available for pre-order NOW--JUST in time for me to get down with some TRAP KARAOKE...

Meet me in the trap; it's goin' down :)

(P.P.S.- I do wear Birkenstocks.)