Navajo Tacos & Dreams

In the fall of 2019, I went to visit one of my dearest friends in the Midwest. It was an eye-opening trip, as I got to learn more about the Native American population. I instantly became interested in their culture and values. In 2020, I enrolled in a doctorate course on cultural psychology, where I wrote my final paper on the Native American culture. As soon as I learned about the final assignment for the course, I instantly thought of the Indigenous People. I was excited for this assignment and couldn’t wait to start my research. I learned even more about these marvelous people. I have much respect for them. My paper covered the reasoning behind my interest to research about Native Americans, their history, family structure, immigration, acculturation, assimilation, incorporating cultural dynamics for therapists, and suggestions for family therapists.

While in my girlfriend’s hometown, I got to try Navajo tacos (featured image). It was very delicious AND filling. It was very similar to eating a taco salad, except the ingredients were on a fried bread. I found a recipe link from Allrecipes.com: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/247201/navajo-tacos/. I plan to replicate this dish and share it with my loved ones. I would also love to try more Native American foods when it is safe to travel again. While Hawai’i has a melting pot full of diverse people and food, we do not have many Native Americans who reside here, nor have any American Indian restaurants.

A few years ago, I’ve been intrigued by dreamcatchers, which originates from Native American culture. My dad introduced them to me many years ago as he had a collection of them in his bedroom. I began a small collection of my own around my house. I even have a few pairs of earrings! They’re such beautiful talismans. It is said that the dreamcatchers protect people from nightmares and bad dreams: https://www.onetribeapparel.com/blogs/pai/meaning-of-dreamcatchers. Let us all have happier dreams!

Happy March and almost spring! We’re one-forth into 2021. It’s mind-blowing!

FS x

Lunar New Year Celebrations & Good Luck Wishes Continue…

Happy Sunday! As previously stated last week, today’s ethnic food feature is a popular dish eaten to celebrate the Lunar New Year (LNY). LNY or Chinese New Year (CNY) is celebration across 15 days. Yea!

This week, I’m taking a trip down memory lane to Singapore. I’ve been to the country twice. This year marks 10 years since my first trip to Singapore. Time truly flies. Feels like I was there yesterday. Singapore is a beautiful country- and clean. Smaller than O’ahu, believe it or not, but is more populated by an additional three million people. I can’t fathom the thought of Singapore having more people than O’ahu. O’ahu is pretty crowded with about one million of us residing here. The two times I traveled to Singapore, I hardly saw any people while I was out in public. Although, I traveled to the country before and during the Lunar New Year, respectively. So, maybe a lot of citizens took a holiday and traveled out-of-country.

I learned that during this huge holiday celebration, this is the one and only time families get together and celebrate. It’s a BIG deal! It’s the once-a-year party/reunion everyone looks forward to. I’ve been to one celebration in 2011 with a friend’s family. It was wonderful to be in another country, experiencing a holiday that is so important to them. Their Chinatown was beautifully decorated and multiple festivities were occurring. A much different feel from how LNY is celebrated in Hawai’i, even though we have a huge Asian population in our state.

One of the popular dishes that is eaten during the LNY celebration is yusheng (see featured image). It’s a must-have. All the restaurants offer this on their menu. Yusheng is a mixed salad that includes ingredients symbolizing good luck, that are neatly organized on the plate. Everyone participates and mixes the salad. It’s been said that the higher you toss the salad, the greater the good luck. I was fortunate to experience eating this delicious salad twice, in 2011 and 2015. It was truly memorable.

I found a website that lists all the ingredients needed to make this salad- and its meanings of why it represents good luck. Very fascinating. I love what individual foods represent for different cultures. In many ways, this is what brings people together. Moreover, this is how we learn about and from one another. Through culture, through food, through history, and through story-telling. It’s so wonderful.

Yusheng ingredients:

  1. Raw fish
    • Abundance and prosperity.
  2. Pomelo, which is a very big grapefruit
    • Good luck. Optional to add.
  3. Pepper and cinnamon powder
    • A wish for prosperity. Optional to add.
  4. Oil
    • Drizzled onto salad in a circular motion. This is to symbolize that money is coming in from all directions.
  5. Carrots
    • Good luck.
  6. Green radish
    • Eternal youth. Optional, but recommended to add if serving salad to elders.
  7. White radish
    • Brings good business opportunities.
  8. Crushed peanuts
    • Hopes that your household will be filled with valuable possessions.
  9. Sesame seeds
    • Hopes for your business to flourish in the coming year.
  10. Golden crackers
    • Great wealth.
  11. Plum Sauce
    • Poured all over the dish instead of just one spot for the desired stronger ties with loved ones.

Happy celebrating! Have a wonderful Year of the Ox!

FS x

References:

Giant Singapore (2021). Yusheng ingredients you need to use for luck & prosperity. Retrieved from: https://giant.sg/yusheng-ingredients-you-need-to-use-for-luck-prosperity/

Shaloha with Love

It’s a long weekend packed with three big, diverse holidays- Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day! How cool is that?! I don’t think I’ve ever experienced three back-to-back holidays in one weekend. I find it so exciting!

Today is Valentine’s Day! One of my fave days to celebrate. I love the colors, especially the reds, pinks, purples, and whites. I love the balloons, hearts, flowers, candies, and cards. Everything about V-day brings a smile to my face and warms my heart. Affection and appreciation shouldn’t be celebrated just today, but everyday! Furthermore, Valentine’s Day isn’t only a day for couples to celebrate their love. It’s for everybody! Singles, family, friends… To my gal pals, it’s Galentine’s Day! Let us all celebrate in a special way. Love, appreciate, and self-care!

Did you know that V-day originates from the Roman priest, St. Valentine, back in ancient Roman times? There’s a long history of how V-day became to be the day we know today. A lot of has changed over the many centuries. I found this article explaining the history: https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2. There’s also some other links that lead to other articles about V-day in that link, such as interesting facts about St. Valentine’s and Cupid.

The other week, I finally tried the food at Shaloha, an Israeli joint in Kaimukī, across my alma mater. I had the privilege of returning to campus and spending the day there while I took care of some car issues at a repair shop nearby. It brought back a lot of memories to be back on campus again. I felt like a college student again. During lunchtime, I had planned to get a sandwich at Subway, which I hadn’t had in a long time. It was also the only place I knew that was nearby the my university. But then I saw Shaloha, which was in the same plaza as Subway, and was determined to try some new food. There were so many good choices off the menu at Shaloha. I decided to try the shawarma pita sandwich (see featured image). I instantly thought of the post-credits scene in “The Avengers.” That was the what they ate after fighting a crazy battle. Haha! It looked so good, I wanted to try it. Boy, was that sandwich packed with so much filling and taste. I was so full by the time I finished it. It was delicious, too. Their pita bread was made fresh, from scratch. So hearty! I could feel the love that was put in the entire sandwich. I need to go back again. I want to try the plates next. I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. It’s in my top five faves.

Shaloha made it into the Urban Dictionary. Too funny! https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shaloha. It’s basically a joint Jewish and Hawaiian word put together to mean “hello,” “goodbye,” and “peace.” Genius!

Shaloha is located at:
3133 Waiʻalae Ave.
Honolulu,, HI 96816
https://www.shaloha4u.com/
808-744-4222

Next week, we’ll feature a dish celebrating the Lunar New Year. Can’t forget about welcoming the Year of the Ox. LNY is celebrated over 15 days. Whoo!

Until then, be safe and have a glorious holiday weekend.

Peace,

FS x

Fish Tacos in Cabo San Lucas

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I’m looking forward to seeing Inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, recite another original poem at the pregame show. She’s gonna be amazing!

It’s terrific that 7500 vaccinated healthcare workers were invited to an all-paid expense to the Super Bowl. What a treat! I honor them every day! There will never be a day where they’ll go unappreciated. They’re our every day heroes, forever and always. THANK YOU!

In 2014, I went on a South American cruise. Our last stop on the cruise before heading back to the U.S. was Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I was so excited to try some authentic Mexican food. We have a bunch of Mexican restaurants in Hawai’i, but there are very, very few places that have good Mexican food here.

In Cabo, I ordered some good ol’ fish tacos. My fave and go-to Mexican dish… And, some Mexican beer. Yum! What a wonderful pair. It was really refreshing. I’m so glad that we had some time to explore the town and grab some authentic Mexican grinds. That’s what I look forward to most- trying cuisines in the country of origin.

Cabo was lovely. I recall it was a beautiful sunny day, and the temperature was just right. I hope to take a trip in the near future and tour the town more in-depth. And, eat more Mexican food. Perhaps order a margarita. My mouth is watering already.

Next week is the Lunar New Year; the Year of the Ox begins. It’s also Valentine’s Day. Looking forward to celebrating both holidays next week.

Take good care,

FS x

Uniting Good ol’ Biscuits and Sausage Together

What a week it’s been in the United States. The changeover of power and new leadership to steer our nation towards unity, tackling climate change, and ceasing this pandemic (just to name a few). It was a sight to watch history being made over and over on Inauguration Day. Lots of tears of joy!

Can I swiftly mention the youngest inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman? She was amazing! She quickly became an overnight sensation. Such a mature, poised, intelligent, humble, articulate, and stylish young woman. She recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” so beautifully and with precision. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz4YuEvJ3y4. I can’t wait to hear more from her. She’s going to move mountains. Madam President Gorman has an exquisite ring to it! 2036, here we come!

This week’s featured ethnic food is American. How fitting to the events that occurred in America several days ago. The highlighted dish is biscuits and sausage gravy (see image). According to an article from CNN, biscuits and sausage make up the top 50 greatest American food dishes: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/american-food-dishes/index.html.

In the fall of 2019, I traveled to visit my dear friend who lives in the Midwest. She took me to a beloved, warm, and hearty mom-and-pop restaurant in her hometown called “The Prairie Dog Cafe.” The food was exceptionally scrumptious and the people who worked there were so delightful. I heard they recently closed last year. I was so sad to hear. However, I was greatly blessed to have dined there.

My dad first introduced me to this savory dish some years ago. He disclosed that he used to eat this in the military. I appreciated that he shared this dish with me. A dish he ate while serving his country. How incredible is that? I’m sure it brought back a lot of memories. I instantly enjoyed it and when I saw biscuits and sausage on the menu at The Prairie Dog Cafe, I had to order it. It was delicious and absolutely filling. The plate was filled with biscuits, sausage, and lots of gravy. It was also served with eggs and hash browns- another CNN top 50 American dish.

I’m inspired to create my own version of “biscuits and sausage” very soon. I’ve got some ideas in mind to make the dish accordingly and adhere to my dietary restrictions. Be on the lookout for a post on my social media platforms in the near future! Also, keep watch for new things happening with Foodnista Soul later this year.

Now, onto the notion of harmony and unification. I believe that with an open heart and mind, we can come together as one. We don’t need to have similar beliefs and values to attain this. God made us all different for a reason. Having said this, we should embody respect and impartiality towards dissimilar viewpoints and opinions; not be judgmental and fault-finding. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We can still connect and create peace despite our differences.

Happy last week of January. Where did this month go?! Golly! Get ready for 2021 to zoom by!

Together,

FS x

Indian Lamb Curry & Self-Love

Happy second week of 2021! It’s only the third and we’re heading into the second week of the new year. The days are going to fly by! This supposedly “long” weekend of 2021 zoomed so fast. I got to hang out with friends I haven’t seen in a while due to the pandemic. It was interesting that the friends I saw this weekend all had a running theme of self-love. I believe it was a sign for me to incorporate more self-love into my life. That’s what I intend to do this week.

Here’s a powerful article I found on self-love: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201706/8-powerful-steps-self-love. The saying goes, you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself first. Give yourself A LOT of love! You deserve it!

Ethnic foods are simply wonderful. Whenever I’m introduced to a new cultural food, I get super excited. Being from Hawai’i, we’re so fortunate to be blessed with a melting pot of different ethnic foods. This week, I’ll be sharing my love for Indian food, specifically curry (featured image). Indian food is on my top five fave list. I could eat this every day! Plus, the benefits of the spices that make these delicious curries are so healthy for us.

I found this article online that shares the 15 Indian spices and their health benefits: https://www.boldsky.com/health/nutrition/indian-spices-and-their-health-benefits-132215.html

I’ve had the pleasure of eating Indian food in both Hawai’i and in Japan. The featured image is a lamb curry dish I ate in Tōkyō a few years ago. Believe it or not, there are a lot of hole-in-the-wall Indian joints in Japan. This place was really good. It tasted like the curry I’ve eaten in Hawai’i. Can never go wrong with Indian food. I wish we had more Indian spots here.

Have an extraordinary new full week of 2021. Until next week…

Ciao,

FS x

Nineteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Chicken and Waffles

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! The week has flown by so quickly! It’s been super busy. I’m looking forward to relaxing during the next holiday weekend, and welcoming in 2021.

We’re onto the 19th fact that 2020 has taught and reminded me. Let’s get to it!

19. Listen to your gut and body.

This has been a constant mantra for me. Trust my gut. It knows best. Most times, when I listen to my gut, I tend to be right about certain situations. I feel like it’s a way God’s connecting with me; speaking to me, guiding me, protecting me…

I live with my body and my body lives with me. I need to listen and take care of her too. If I’m in pain or am exhausted, I listen. My body is trying to tell me something. I’ve had history of overworking my body countless times and that results in negative consequences, like sickness, pain, weakness, and exhaustion. We’ve only got one body. It’s important to give him or her TLC, tender-loving-care.

I was first introduced to chicken and waffles (see featured image) when I was in college in Southern California. My resident assistants took my dormmates and I to Roscoe’s in LA at the end of my first semester. I dined there again years later with friends. That place is bomb! I wanted to make my own chicken and waffles at home. I love the strawberry Eggo waffles. It’s my number one favorite. I had baked chicken thighs. Seasoned it with garlic pepper. It was very basic and simple. I served the dish with some good ol’ green beans, tossed with olive oil and garlic pepper. Yum!

Last post for 2020 tomorrow. See you here.

FS x

Seventeen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Comfort Food Made With Love

Happy Monday and last week of 2020! We’re in the home stretch! Let’s make the best of our remaining days of the year. I want to end the year strong! Let’s show 2020 what we’re made of!

The 17th fact that the year has taught and reminded me was:

17. Every day is a blessing and gift.

Despite the year we’ve had, I did my best to see the light and optimism in the cards we’ve were dealt with. It was a tough and challenging year, but I was reminded that every day is a blessing and gift. It’s all about perspective and how you view things. I strongly believe that even with chaos amongst us, we can still see and experience positivity in and from it. I was constantly reminded of how much I have been blessed with. The fact that I get to wake up to start afresh every day is awesome. I have an opportunity to make better choices, be more loving to others, and make a difference. Life is a precious gift.

Last fall, I visited a dear friend in the Midwest. We made dinner together one night (see featured image). It was so special and yummy. My gf made her mom’s Swedish meatballs, which I never had before, and mashed potatoes. Double yum!! I had made Indian chicken curry. We also made rice and green beans. It was a delicious treat we, her family included, enjoyed very much. It was simply lovely.

Y’all know about my passion for cooking and food. Cooking with others brings joy and love in my life. We know that food connects people together. So does cooking. I always feel closer with whom I cook with. It creates a special bond I can’t quite explain. Overall, it’s lovely and cheery.

Wishing all of you a wonderful week. Until tomorrow. Peace!

FS x

Sixteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Brick Oven Pizza

It’s sweet 16.

16. Recognizing that everyone deals with crises differently.

We’ve gone through an ordeal of crises in 2020. I came to understand that everyone has dealt with the tribulations differently this year, including myself. While I was feeling motivated and optimistic, others around me were feeling stressed and depressed. As a compassionate person and licensed social worker, it’s in my nature to empathize and imagine myself in other people’s shoes to understand how the certain situations and multiple factors affect their emotions. Things like: familial discord, financial struggles, loss of vocation, lack of socialization and personal interaction, loneliness, and uncertainty of the future… This year’s circumstances immensely attested to our emotional and mental health. But we will rise from this. We always do. We are resilient. We come out better and stronger.

Overtime, I’ve experienced going through the spectrum of emotions this year. I started off feeling positive and driven, but those emotions slowly turned into frustration and despair. I had to practice a lot of self-talk, self-motivation, and self-love to get myself through the year.

I was searching the internet and came across a colorful wheel of emotions. This pretty much explains the entire year, and then some…

Last Christmas, my colleagues and I went to our boss’s house to make pizzas in her man-made brick oven (see featured image). It was a beautiful oven. The pizzas we made were delicious. I made a pesto base with spinach, vegan cheese, onions, and garlic. It was scrumptious. Yum!

Wishing you all the best last week of 2020. Let’s go out with a BANG!

FS x

Fifteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Air Fry Chicken

Hope you all had a peaceful and splendid Christmas. Now, onto preparing for 2021. I’m spending this weekend doing deep cleaning for the new year. It’s a cultural tradition I like to upkeep. Cleaning out the old to welcome the new.

I’ve got five more facts of 2020 lessons. The 15th thing the year has taught and reminded me is:

15. Appreciation of essential items: toilet paper, paper towels, gloves, masks, soaps, sanitizing wipes, sanitizing sprays, and hand sanitizers.

This year we were in desperate need of these in-demand essential items aforementioned that we easily overlook and take for granted. I have such an appreciation for these treasured items. I won’t ever take them for granted again. Across our nation, it was difficult to find TP, paper towels, gloves, masks, soap, sanitizing wipes, sprays, and hand sanitizers for months at the beginning of the pandemic. People would wipe them off the shelves and hoard as much as they could. Stores had to soon implement limitations on how many each household could buy so that there would be enough for others. Now, TP, paper towels, masks, and hand sanitizers are easily accessible again. Yay! However, I still am having a hard time finding gloves, sanitizing wipes, and sprays. Those items are constantly sold-out or not available.

This year, we’ve been very conscientious about germs and bacteria. I’ve always been health-conscious and practice good-hygiene, but since the pandemic, it’s been heightened to a greater extent. I’m constantly washing my hands, cleaning high-touched surfaces, and now, I sanitize groceries and other items that I buy from the store, that are delivered to me, or bought online.

This summer, I hunted high and low for an air fryer (see featured image). Seemed like purchasing an air fryer was on a lot of people’s minds, as it was hard to find. They were sold out in most of the department stores. After a lot of inquiring and driving, I was finally able to get one. I had made fried chicken (see featured image). It wasn’t like the deep fried chicken I envisioned from KFC or Popeye’s. Let’s just say using an air fryer to fry chicken makes it more healthier. The chicken was good. It looked dry, but it taste dry. The texture and the taste reminded me BBQing chicken on the grill. I can’t wait to utilize make more dishes with my air fryer.

Until tomorrow.

FS x