Let's Be Real Meals: Honey Sriracha Dipping Sauce

The LBRM April theme is: Greek Yogurt!

I keep a lot of staples in my kitchen for a quick, satisfying meal. Greek yogurt (or skyr, hi Siggi's!) and sriracha sauce are two of those things. There are honestly so many uses for a plain, high-protein yogurt that I knew this one would be easy. I ultimately decided on this sauce! I love the sweet and spicy combo of honey and sriracha and knew I could use this for a variety of recipes.

In this one I decided to make some roasted sweet potato wedges to dip. It was good! You could also try dipping chicken tenders, breaded tofu, zucchini fritters, use it as a salad dressing or drizzle over tacos! The possibilities are endless for such a simple recipe. 

Hope you enjoy it!


Recipe: Honey Sriracha Dipping Sauce
Ingredients:
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or skyr
- 1 tbsp sriracha sauce (Add more if needed)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- Salt
- Black pepper
For the sweet potato:
- 1 medium sweet potato
- Olive or avocado oil
- Salt
- Black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1  tsp thyme

To make:
- Mix sauce ingredients together with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside. It should last for about a week in the fridge!
Sweet potato wedges:
- Wash and dry sweet potato. Cut into thick wedges.
- Drizzle with oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and garlic and thyme. Toss.
- Roast at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes

Let me know if you try it!

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Brazil Recap Part 3: Minas Gerais

Welp, it has officially taken me almost two months to get to Part 3 of our Brazil trip! I've just been busy missing it, that is all:)

Some back story incase you have not read the previous recaps: Both of my parents are from farms in small towns in Minas Gerais, Brazil. They got married and moved to the U.S. in 1990. When I was growing up, they took my sister and I plenty of times. But even if we traveled around to different places within the country, we never full felt like we were "in Brazil" until we got to my grandmother's farm - that is my mom's mom. 

My grandmother devastatingly passed away about one month prior to our trip. I hadn't seen her in five years. From what my mom and family there had been telling me, she was no longer the same strong woman I knew. My grandmother raised 16 children (one who passed) with my grandfather, who died in 1989. When they were married, they acquired the farm from her father, renovated it and essentially built it from the ground up. My grandmother basically acted as farm manager - hiring, delegating, etc. According to my mom, her favorite job was caring for the chickens :)

As her health started to decline over the last few years, the condition of the farm went with it. My family had to turn their energy over to caring for her rather than caring for the house. This doesn't mean it is completely destroyed. It just means that normal upkeep has not been dealt with as much as it could have been. My grandmother started to have dementia and broke her hip last year. As much as my aunts insisted with her to move in with one of them so they could care for her, she could never leave Fazenda Padre Nosso (the farm's name).

Some of my favorite photos of her:

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The farm is special to me because I did not grow up with my massive extended family. The attention my sister and I got, and still get, when we travel to Brazil is remarkable. It feels good to be loved by so many people. And what I want you to know about this place is how much of a working system it is. When I say I go to my grandmother's farm in Brazil, I don't mean that I go and hang out with the few people that work there and play with the animals all day. There is someone who comes and cooks, another to clean and do laundry, my uncle takes care of the cows and makes cheese, other workers come to help him, and there are people who come and do maintenance/outdoor work. Can you imagine how many more people must have been working when there were 16 kids living there?

People are in and out of the house all day to do business or simply to say hi to whoever is there or visiting. When my grandmother was alive, she meant to much to everyone in this town that it was hard for people to drive by without stopping to have a coffee with her.

I was so excited for Kevin to get to experience this. However he reminded me that he still got to experience everything she created, and he was right. I know she would have welcomed him with open arms.

So here is our recap:

We landed in Belo Horizonte after our week in Rio and Bahia and met up with my parents who had flown from Boston. My dad stayed in the city for about 2 days to spend time with my grandfather. My mom, sister, Kevin and I got a taxi driver to drive us the 5 hours until we got to Materlandia, where my family's farm is. I used to love this drive but it was honestly so exhausting this time around, I think because we hadn't slept that much the night before and we were kind of crammed.

We stopped at my aunt's house on the way and then got to the farm around 9 pm. I had been dreading the arrival knowing that my grandmother wouldn't be there waiting. Instead, we pulled up and the lights from the upstairs varanda came on and a bunch of my family members came out. Aunts, uncles, cousins who had all spent the day there waiting for it. It was emotional but I am so thankful that they were there. My aunt even hung up a sign over Kevin's bed that said "Make yourself at home, Kevin"!

The next morning Kevin woke me up at like 6 am. I am so used to the cows, chickens and dogs that I can sleep right through it but he has never experienced this before and took it as a sign to get up super early. Obviously, I made him go back to sleep :)

Some things to know about the farm: There is no internet, the TV is small and has very basic cable, and we also did not have a car of our own. My dad came with a rental later, but it was a stick, which neither of us know how to drive. A lot of people get extremely bored on farms like this but I always loved it. It was a way to disconnect and be present. People are also in and out all day and I just love to talk to them!

Then again, I had never brought anyone with me before, let alone a boyfriend. Kevin loved it and all the attention he got but I didn't realize how ansty he might get. Because he isn't fluent in Portuguese, it wasn't like he could just have a conversation with people who were in and out all day. Also, since we started dating, we really become more adventerous and he was having a hard time accepting the fact that we couldn't just take the car and go exploring. I realized now we should have probably rented our own car, and we are definitely doing this next time.

Regardless, he pretty much met the majority of my family and really felt at home. We did end up going out a few times to visit family that lives in other places, go to waterfalls, and then to Belo Horizonte for the last three days!

Since two weeks is hard to put into words, here is the recap in the form of photos and captions: (Enjoy!)

 Fazenda Padre Nosso "Our Father Farm"

Fazenda Padre Nosso
"Our Father Farm"

 The farm is about 2 miles away from Materlandia (the town) so before my dad got there with the car we would just walk every day

The farm is about 2 miles away from Materlandia (the town) so before my dad got there with the car we would just walk every day

 View from the varanda

View from the varanda

 Getting some training sessions in with my sister ;)

Getting some training sessions in with my sister ;)

 Turned him into a cowboy! Check the boots ;)

Turned him into a cowboy! Check the boots ;)

 My mom taking over my grandmother's role - ironing!

My mom taking over my grandmother's role - ironing!

 And laundry. All of it is done by hand!

And laundry. All of it is done by hand!

 Did I mention my family is known for their cheese?!

Did I mention my family is known for their cheese?!

 My uncle makes regular cheese seen on the bottom called "Queijo Mineiro" or Cheese of Minas. The top one is a new aged one he has been trying out and it is SO. GOOD. He plans to sell it in the U.S. soon!

My uncle makes regular cheese seen on the bottom called "Queijo Mineiro" or Cheese of Minas. The top one is a new aged one he has been trying out and it is SO. GOOD. He plans to sell it in the U.S. soon!

 My Tio Marquinho making cheese. My dad calls him Jose which was my grandfather's name. When he died, my uncle took over the business :)

My Tio Marquinho making cheese. My dad calls him Jose which was my grandfather's name. When he died, my uncle took over the business :)

 My favorite spot.

My favorite spot.

 My other favorite spot. The best part of this house is everyone gathering at this table at any time of day to talk. 

My other favorite spot. The best part of this house is everyone gathering at this table at any time of day to talk. 

 Kevin hates reading but he was going a little crazy so I gave him one of mine and he read it in TWO days! Also note the sign my aunt put up for him above his bed! 

Kevin hates reading but he was going a little crazy so I gave him one of mine and he read it in TWO days! Also note the sign my aunt put up for him above his bed! 

 Typical meal: Rice and beans (always), ribs, tomatoes and plantains

Typical meal: Rice and beans (always), ribs, tomatoes and plantains

 Waterfall we went to in Milho Verde

Waterfall we went to in Milho Verde

 Acai bowls. Honestly considering opening a brewery/acai bar somewhere around here. What do ya'll think?

Acai bowls. Honestly considering opening a brewery/acai bar somewhere around here. What do ya'll think?

 Every single day a meal like this is made for lunch (almoco) - Rice and beans are staples, some kind of meat, vegetables, and I can't even tell you how good a fried egg tastes over all of it.

Every single day a meal like this is made for lunch (almoco) - Rice and beans are staples, some kind of meat, vegetables, and I can't even tell you how good a fried egg tastes over all of it.

 The two Marias who work there: Cooking, cleaning, making coffee ALL day

The two Marias who work there: Cooking, cleaning, making coffee ALL day

 Feeding the chickens! There's dogs, cats, chickens, you name it literally everywhere. Also that table in the front is where they dry all their dishes.

Feeding the chickens! There's dogs, cats, chickens, you name it literally everywhere. Also that table in the front is where they dry all their dishes.

 Apparently I'd forgotten how to gracefully milk a cow

Apparently I'd forgotten how to gracefully milk a cow

 Walking to Materlandia! This town is so small you can see the whole thing when you pull up to it from the main road. I love it :)

Walking to Materlandia! This town is so small you can see the whole thing when you pull up to it from the main road. I love it :)

 We had a cousin reunion on my mom's side! Like I said my mom is 1 of 16. I counted 30+ cousins that were not even in this picture!

We had a cousin reunion on my mom's side! Like I said my mom is 1 of 16. I counted 30+ cousins that were not even in this picture!

 Kevin always had the longest arms and became the designated selfie-taker. Last get-together before we left!

Kevin always had the longest arms and became the designated selfie-taker. Last get-together before we left!

 In Belo Horizonte we reunited with my dad's side for my aunt's 60th birthday (She's the third one to the right in the back row. Next to her is my dad.)

In Belo Horizonte we reunited with my dad's side for my aunt's 60th birthday (She's the third one to the right in the back row. Next to her is my dad.)

 Three breast cancer survivors: My Tia Eldi, Tia Heloiza, and my mom <3 

Three breast cancer survivors: My Tia Eldi, Tia Heloiza, and my mom <3 

 Found a brewery so he was happy :) Direct quote: "I think I am the only Irish person to have every ordered an Irish Pale Ale here."

Found a brewery so he was happy :) Direct quote: "I think I am the only Irish person to have every ordered an Irish Pale Ale here."

 My dad and grandfather!

My dad and grandfather!

 On our last day my aunt and uncle took us shopping at Mercado Central which is a huge indoor marketplace in Belo Horizonte. We got tons of things like bamboo shot glasses (duh), guava paste, spices and havaianas!

On our last day my aunt and uncle took us shopping at Mercado Central which is a huge indoor marketplace in Belo Horizonte. We got tons of things like bamboo shot glasses (duh), guava paste, spices and havaianas!

 It didn't rain ONCE during our entire three weeks until our last afternoon there! This is at my aunt and uncle's house and I am obsessed with that outside area. Kevin wanted to lay on the hammock but it was soaked

It didn't rain ONCE during our entire three weeks until our last afternoon there! This is at my aunt and uncle's house and I am obsessed with that outside area. Kevin wanted to lay on the hammock but it was soaked

I really hope you enjoyed this pictures! It means a lot to be able to share this experience here. If you've every traveled to Brazil or want to, let's talk about it! 

Have a good weekend :)

Let's Be Real Meals: Easy Tofu Scramble

Happy National Nutrition Month!

This year’s theme from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is to “Go Further With Food”. This can take several meanings. To me, it means to make the most out of your current food situation, whether it is using up the ingredients in your pantry/fridge/freezer before going grocery shopping, shopping locally and sustainably, and aiming to get balanced meals as often as possible.

For #LetsBeRealMeals, we decided to incorporate this theme into our videos this month!

I chose to show you how to make easy tofu scramble! I am a meat eater for sure. I don’t necessarily believe that labeling oneself as a specific diet-follower has anything to do with health (i.e vegan, vegetarian, paleo, etc). I just happen to be someone who eats meat that also likes tofu!

This very basic recipe shows so many ways I try to go further with food. Here’s some!

- All the ingredients in this video are staples in my kitchen. I buy peppers, onions, and greens on a weekly basis and usually have at least one block of tofu in my fridge. This makes for easy, versatile cooking, especially when there is “nothing to eat”.

- Tofu is a more affordable source of protein than meat and chicken, it cooks quickly, and I love it because it basically acts as a sponge to all the flavors it is being mixed with. Although we eat meat, probably over half of our meals each week are plant-based so that we spend less on groceries.

- This recipe is perfect for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Plus, you probably wouldn’t reheat eggs, right? But you can reheat tofu!

- Eating primarily plant-based is better for the environment, but we can eat meat sustainably by purchasing from local farmers!

- This meal is pretty balanced with carbs (veggies, toast on the side), protein (tofu), and fat (olive oil, cheese I added, and avocado on the side) meaning it should fill me up for a good few hours!

- I really don’t enjoy measuring ingredients unless I am baking. Cooking is fun for me when I can just throw different foods and spices together. Following a recipe to a T is something that I think personally takes away from the fun of cooking. For this recipe, I did not measure anything and I chose the amounts of ingredients to my liking!

I’d love to know how you “Go Further With Food”!


Recipe: Easy Tofu Scramble
Ingredients:
1 block tofu
Onion
Bell pepper
Mushrooms
Spinach
Turmeric
Salt
Black pepper
Olive oil
Optional: Shredded cheese

Instructions:
1.)  Press block of tofu by cutting in half and squeezing with a paper towel (but not too hard so that you break it). You can also do this by covering it with paper towel or a cloth and putting something heavy over it for about 10 minutes.

2.)  Heat olive oil in a skillet. Sauté onions for about 2 minutes, then add peppers and mushrooms and sauté for another 2 minutes.

3.)  Crumble tofu by hand into the pan and break it up with the spoon or spatula, let cook about about 5 minutes.

4.)  Add spinach and let it wilt.

5.)  Add spices: I chose turmeric, black pepper, and salt!

6.)  Optional: Add cheese!

7.)  Enjoy!
P.S. I highly recommend spicing it up with some sriracha!


Brazil Recap Part 2: Bahia

Basically if Kevin and I ever choose to invest somewhere in Brazil, it is probably going to be Bahia aka the Hawaii of Brazil. I've never been to Hawaii but Kevin has several times and this made him just as happy if not more, so that is a win for me :)

On January 3rd we flew from Rio to Ilheus, Bahia which is more in the northeastern region of Brazil. My mom has 3 siblings who live there (fun fact, they're all dentists!) - one who we did not see because he lives 9 hours inland - and we stayed at my Tio Adelmar's condo in Itabuna, which is about 30-40 minutes away from Ilheus. My Tia Jacinta also lives there. It was the best 4 days!

The air felt so good when we got off the plane. Rio was hot and sticky while Bahia feels like summer around here, especially at night. The day time heat is a whole other story.

We got to my uncle's house and unpacked and showered. I showed Kevin around his place and he loved it. I remember the first time I visited Bahia when I was 14 and I fell in love. There is something about apartments and homes in Brazil. They're so light and breezy, mostly white. Exactly my style. My uncle is also the most organized person I've ever met and there isn't a speck of dust anywhere. This makes my anxious, Type-A self very relaxed. Perfect for vacation mode.

 This was on our second night but I just wanted to show my uncle's living room! Kevin was dying of heat and they only keep AC's in their rooms so my uncle set up a fan for him. Kevin sat in the doorway of the kitchen so he could still talk to us lol :)

This was on our second night but I just wanted to show my uncle's living room! Kevin was dying of heat and they only keep AC's in their rooms so my uncle set up a fan for him. Kevin sat in the doorway of the kitchen so he could still talk to us lol :)

That first day we slept in pretty late. My uncle had put a blanket up on the window to block the sun but this made us sleep until like 10:30. Oops! There was also an hour difference between there and Rio because in Bahia they don't have daylight savings. My uncle made us breakfast with coffee, fruit, and pao delicia (sweet bread with shredded cheese in it - so yummy!) and we lounged for a bit. My aunt picked us all up and we went to one of the quieter beaches in Ilheus for the day. It's about a 40 minute drive and also - fun fact: Bahia is one of the largest producers of cacao in the world! There's tons of beautiful cacao farms on the way. Yay chocolate :)

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Bahia is amazing to me because of how the beaches are. I wish every beach experience could be like this! Along the coast there's TONS of restaurants/bars/shacks that line the beach, each privately owned and you basically just pick one with a table and you hang out there all day. No lugging massive coolers or dragging chairs and umbrellas to the beach. All of that is there for you and it takes the stress out of going to the beach (because yes it can be stressful). So on this first day we ordered coconut water all day, swam, talked, laid in the sun and then had almoço (Portuguese word for lunch aka the largest meal of the day) around 3. Kevin was like "wow you can really live like a king here", because the dollar is worth so much right now!

 Kevin and my uncle! This moment was so special to me because neither one speaks each others' language. Although I knew everything would be fine I was still nervous about how much I may have to translate, but everyone found their own way to communicate!

Kevin and my uncle! This moment was so special to me because neither one speaks each others' language. Although I knew everything would be fine I was still nervous about how much I may have to translate, but everyone found their own way to communicate!

 We had just found out there was a huge snow storm at home :)

We had just found out there was a huge snow storm at home :)

That day we left around 5 and went home to shower and then just relax and hang out. We didn't have dinner but that is pretty typical in Brazil. It's literally too hot to eat. But if you are hungry you usually have bread, fruit, or leftovers from lunch if you cooked at home.

 Relaxing on my uncle's balcony :) He can tell you every fact about these plants!

Relaxing on my uncle's balcony :) He can tell you every fact about these plants!

 Eating p ão delícia!

Eating pão delícia!

On day 2 we went to a separate beach at a resort called Jardim Atlantico. This day we went earlier and did the same as the day before, only we stayed longer. This was actually a resort but we were able to just use the beach. 

 Literally every day it was this cloudy until 11 am and then blue skies for the rest of the day!

Literally every day it was this cloudy until 11 am and then blue skies for the rest of the day!

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 Family pic!

Family pic!

That night my aunt took us out for tamaki - apparently Japanese food is having a major moment in Brazil right now. I didn't get a picture, oops!

The plan for the Day 3 was to go on a mini cruise from Camamu, about 3 hours north of Ilheus. We got up at 5 am to be able to get on the boat by 8:30 but about an hour before we got there we ran into this protest in the street. Brazilian "highways" only exist in major cities. Everywhere else, it's just one main road pretty much to get anywhere. This small town had a bridge that fell down in it and the mayor was taking forever to get it fixed so people protested by blocking the only other way through - the main road. They set logs and tires on fire and we (plus other cabs, busses, etc) all had to turn around. If it was here in the U.S. I imagine people would be seriously pissed and the protest wouldn't last this long. But the reaction among everyone was "This is Brazil". And it is. I liked seeing everyone's neutral reaction to the situation because clearly these people have it worse.

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We ended up doing what our plan for Sunday was which was go to Itacarezinho, the most gorgeous beach I've been to and also makes me want to say "This is Brazil"! It's called "Little Hawaii" and it is so calm, clean and peaceful there. Look at the meals we got!

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 These picture's don't do this beach justice.

These picture's don't do this beach justice.

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 Seafood pasta for Kevin

Seafood pasta for Kevin

 I got shrimp soup in pumpkin puree and it is probably one of the most delicious meals I've ever had!

I got shrimp soup in pumpkin puree and it is probably one of the most delicious meals I've ever had!

 We couldn't not get açaí&nbsp; everywhere we went :)

We couldn't not get açaí  everywhere we went :)

 Stopped for this view on our way home!

Stopped for this view on our way home!

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At night we went out to eat. In Brazil it is pretty common to order "porções" or basically a platter of different things plus tooth picks and everyone shares. 

 My uncle's girlfriend joined us this night!

My uncle's girlfriend joined us this night!

 Steak, garlic bread, charcuterie, olives (not a fan, never will be), salad and yucca fries! We also got salad and another plate with grilled chicken and actual fries

Steak, garlic bread, charcuterie, olives (not a fan, never will be), salad and yucca fries! We also got salad and another plate with grilled chicken and actual fries

 Back at my uncle's house. These lizards are literally everywhere!

Back at my uncle's house. These lizards are literally everywhere!

On day 4, our last day, my aunt stayed home to run some errands while we went to the beach (again, duh) with my uncle. First we had breakfast at her apartment though. It was another day of sleeping in and then staying at the beach until the sun started setting. It was so beautiful! My uncle prefers the livelier beaches and this one was fun. More crowded, also because it was Sunday. The water was so warm and there was live music. We had all actually gotten burned by this day. Kevin kept his shirt on and we all just stayed in the shade haha.

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 Shared a fried fish platter for lunch!

Shared a fried fish platter for lunch!

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 The shacks on the beach all close around 6 but you are still able to go to the beach and use the chairs if you like.

The shacks on the beach all close around 6 but you are still able to go to the beach and use the chairs if you like.

Went out to eat again! But also got another açaí on the way home first of course!

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Stayed up late talking/packing and then slept for 5 hours before we made our way to Minas Gerais! Recap coming soon :)

Let's Be Real Meals: Chocolate Lovers' Chia Pudding

Happy Valentine's Day! (*almost*) What better way to celebrate than with chocolate, right? But to be honest, chocolate is ok to have any day of the year. Seriously. I almost don't go a day without it and my health is in top shape. #NoFoodShaming

I went with chia pudding for this month's theme because it's a great recipe to have for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert. It was also another excuse to experiment with the Vitamix I won from FNCE back in October!

Chia pudding is something I've gone back and forth with. If you don't do it right, it comes out a bit too watery. I found via some other food bloggers that banana is the way to go! Plus it adds sweetness without added sugar. There are several optional ingredients that aren't listed in the video, but I'll be sure to add them to the recipe below.

This is a great option for meals/snacks if you're lactose-intolerant or don't tolerate yogurt very well, and is also a fun way to reap the benefits of the omega-3s from chia seeds using different flavors each time. 

Don't forget to search #LetsBeRealMeals on Instagram for more simple recipes!


Recipe: Chocolate Lovers' Chia Pudding

Ingredients:
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- 1.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 banana (Freeze the other half for smoothies or you can double this recipe for two people!)
- Raspberries
- Shredded coconut
- Optional: 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, stevia, strawberries as an additional topping

Instructions:

1. Mix milk, chia seeds, and cocoa powder (plus vanilla extract and stevia if using) in a small bowl or jar and place in blender with banana. Blend until smooth (about 15-20 seconds).
2. Leave in the fridge overnight or for 8 hours.
3. Top with raspberries and coconut and enjoy!

Double the recipe for a true chocolate lovers' snack or dessert. 

Check back soon for additional recaps from my Brazil trip!