All Articles Tagged "food"

Serious Question: Where Are The Soul Food Restaurants Around The World?

May 29th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Yesterday morning I woke up craving grits and catfish. Problem? I’m in Cape Town, South Africa, and have been for the past couple of months and, unlike home, where there are soul food spots on just about every corner, there are no places here that serve the traditional African American delicacy.

I set out to find a restaurant that served anything close. That turned up nada. I went to one restaurant known for their seafood and asked if they had catfish, however all the hostess heard me say was “cat” and then she subsequently frowned her face and told me I was in the wrong part of Africa for that. I went from supermarket to supermarket, but there was not a black eyed pea or blue and white Jiffy cornbread mix box to be found in the vast land. Defeated, I decided to make the next best thing: red speckled sugar beans curry and stew perch and putu pap, just like somebody’s South African grandma used to make. It was tasty. But it was just not the same. I need some collard greens, some fried chicken with tons of hot sauce, some baked macaroni and cheese and some hush puppies, dammit.

Throughout my short travels around the world, I’ve always wondered why soul food has been missing from the culinary exchange. The time I visited Brazil I remember walking down the strip near my hotel room in Salvador Bahia and being inundated with restaurant choices from Italian, to Chinese, to Mexican and even Thai. And yet there was not a single place to get a decent hoppin’ john or good gumbo.

I had the same feeling and experience in The Netherlands. And in Jamaica. And in Ghana. And now South Africa. However, there is a KFC…

I remember being in Ghana a year after it got its first franchise peddling the 11 herbs and spices. It was in Osu, which is in central Accra, and was a multi-level structure, almost three times the size of any KFC I have seen in America. A couple of my local friends told me of the excitement folks there had upon its grand opening. Not only were there lines around the block, but people wore their best Sunday outfits for the occasion. Today, the chain, which once tried to position itself as a soul food restaurant, is now on its third restaurant in Ghana and has since opened up franchises in the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique.

And yet, an authentic soul food restaurant has yet to make its mark in the place where most of its ingredients and cooking techniques originated.

And why not? It’s not like folks throughout the world don’t have a taste for global cuisine. Heck there isn’t a modern place in this world that doesn’t consider eating “exotic” foods a matter of showing one’s social status and how supposedly cultured we are. Surely Soul Food has a place in the fine dining global experience?

And so what if soul food is loaded with fats and high cholesterol. Mexicans are the fattest people in the world, but that hasn’t stopped us from chowing on half-priced tacos and margaritas. Italian people are pretty heavy too (According to the UK Daily Mail, 36 percent of Italian boys and 34 percent of girls are considered overweight or obese), but I don’t see the global community pushing the pasta away from their plates. So why, too, can’t soul food have a global audience appreciating it?

The thing is, it’s happening right under our noses.

In the piece titled, Like it or Not, Soul Food is Black History Too, I wrote about popular Charleston, South Carolina, “Southern food” chef Sean Brock who took a trip to West Africa a couple of years ago in an effort to trace the roots of several popular soul food dishes. He found them in Dakar, Senegal. As noted in the Food and Wine article about his trip:

“Throughout his visit, Brock was scribbling down notes in a red book and communicating with the cooks in his kitchens back home, sending them changes to menus in real time. At one point, as he watched Ly steam rice over a pot of aromatic broth to infuse it with flavor, he cried out, “Genius! Why don’t we do this?” He then promptly emailed his sous chef to tell him about it. “I would love to see what I’ve learned here not just on my menus, but on low-country menus everywhere,” he says. “Western African traditions have shaped one of the oldest cuisines in America, but as we modernized these dishes, they lost their soul. We owe it to both Southerners and Western Africans to find it back again.”

And as I noted in my previous piece, there was not one single sentence in the article that bothered to mentioned how the traditional style of West African cooking and recipes managed to end up on these shores. (Here’s a hint: it has to do with the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which not only on produced free labor out in the fields but in the kitchens as well. For more specific information, see this article by Christina Regelski on the history of cornbread, okra, greens and yes, even barbecue in the South). In fact, the term “soul food” is nowhere to be found in the article. Instead the author, as well as Chef Brock, opted to use the more racially inclusive term, “southern food.”

Food gentrification is not just happening stateside. Over the last decade or so, London, UK, has seen an explosion of sorts of “American Southern Food” restaurants serving everything from BBQ, okra, hoppin’ john and other traditional soul food recipes.The thing is, the grand majority of these restaurants are owned by white people whose roots are nowhere close to these shores, let alone the American Black community. One such example of this culinary white washing is the very popular Anna Mae’s Street Food truck, which has been profiled in not only the Guardian UK but also British GQ as a favorite among the Southern Food eatery. Only thing is that Anna Mae is not run by an older Black woman with a southern drawl as the name would suggest. Anna Mae is a petite white woman who said that she and her equally white husband Tony got the “Southern Food” truck idea from her many visits to the States, including soul food eateries in Harlem, NYC.

Now I am not a chef; I am a writer. Therefore, the chances of me opening up a soul food eatery in South Africa are close to nil. Still, for a long time we have been taught our food is bad, unhealthy and not worth the scraps from the table it was taken from. But obviously folks like it. And they like it enough that they are running with it worldwide. The problem is that we, the creators of this cuisine, are nowhere to be found in Soul Food’s globalization. And that means that not only are we not profiting off our own creation, but it also means that our history is once again being erased and washed over. So perhaps it is time that those of us who are professional chefs and restaurant proprietors to begin setting up shop in places outside of the U.S? God knows, Harlem, Philly, Chicago, and Memphis don’t need another soul food restaurant.


Can You Eat Your Way To Thin? 15 Foods That Help You Lose Weight

March 31st, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Ready to kiss those hunger pangs goodbye? These foods help you lose weight by tackling cravings before they start and burning calories as you eat them.

Working It Out: The Eating Habits That Led To My 63-Pound Weight Loss

March 25th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Working It Out is a health/fitness column chronicling MadameNoire Manging Editor Brande Victorian’s journey to drop the pounds and get healthy. Follow more of her story on

March 12, 2015 vs. October 20, 2014

March 12, 2015 vs. October 20, 2014

A month ago, I revealed that I’d dropped 54 pounds within five months and many of you asked me to share details on the eating habits that got me there. Now with a total loss of 63 pounds under my belt, I’ve narrowed down a few key behaviors that have contributed to my success. Keep in mind, I am not a nutritionist, personal trainer, or doctor, but I can say that incorporating these methods has helped me stay on track during the past six months.

1. Counting Calories: Weight loss is math. About 3,5000 calories equals one pound. If you want to lose one pound per week, you must have a deficit of 3,500 calories per week, which would mean eating 500 less calories per day. I went about my current weight loss journey more aggressively, with an average loss of about 2.5 pounds per week, which means on any given day I eat about 1300 less calories than I expend.

To figure out how many calories to eat, I recommend an online calorie calculator like this one that takes into consideration your height, weight, age, and activity level, and recommends a small range of calories you can eat to lose, burn, or maintain your current weight.

2. Measuring Everything I Eat (and Drink): Yes, I have poured vodka in a liquid measuring cup before putting it in a glass with a splash of club soda and lemon and lime. Don’t judge me! Part of counting calories is making sure you’re calculating the right amount. While there are plenty of portion guides that will tell you four ounces of chicken is equal to the inner palm of your hand, I’m pretty anal about knowing the caloric value of everything I eat. So before anything goes in a baking pan or my stomach, it hits a food scale or measuring cup. #PortionControlOnFleek

3. Logging Everything I Eat: After I measure my food, I log it. I won’t act like this isn’t one of the more meticulous aspects of my journey (especially when calculating the total calories for a dish with a million ingredients), but for those times I step on the scale and don’t see the figures I expect, knowing that I didn’t underestimate my calories (and can therefore likely chalk up the disappointment to water weight or muscle gain) gives me peace of mind. I currently use DotFit to log all of my food because it comes with my Crunch personal training but prior to this I used MyFitnessPal.

Logging not only keeps me organized, but it keeps me accountable. It’s easy to convince yourself that you didn’t eat that many baked tortilla chips, but when you actually count and log your portions you know whether there really is room in your caloric budget to have that late-night snack you’re craving or if you need to drink some water and lay yourself down.

4. Tracking Calories Burned: If you want to take the accuracy of your caloric input and output to the next level, I recommend some method of calorie tracking. I use an Exerspy, again, via Crunch, and a couple of my coworkers use a FitBit. There are a couple of benefits to calorie tracking. The most obvious being that when you know how many calories you’ve expended, you know exactly how much you can eat to hit your deficit goal (again, weight loss is math). Calorie tracking also serves as a reminder to get moving. If it’s 4 p.m. and you’re thinking about skipping the gym tonight but you’re nowhere near 10,000 steps for the day, you know you need to get your butt moving! Third, we also tend to overestimate the number of calories we burn working out at the gym — as do the exercise machines we use — and a personal calorie tracker provides the highest level of accuracy.

5. Giving Up Everything I Thought I Loved: I don’t want to be too TMI, but the fact that I would end up on the toilet in the middle of the night every time I ate Popeyes, which I used to proudly proclaim my love for, should’ve been an indicator that such food wasn’t for my body. That’s why I say I’ve since given up all the food I thought I loved, like fast food (minus the occasional sub from Subway), soda, and even fried food that left me with “the itis” instead of energy.

Protein shakes and bars have been a big part of my diet over the past six months. I typically have two of either option per day, usually either as breakfast or a snack. I mix the shakes with unsweetened almond milk because it tastes better than water and has less calories than skim milk. And even though I’m totally over chicken at this point, I do routinely eat grilled chicken and also shrimp or turkey. For a dose of healthy fats, I almost always cook with either extra virgin olive oil or Pam cooking spray, and I love avocado. My carbs consist of corn tortillas, which I have to chill on sometimes; quinoa, which is considered a super food due to all of its benefits, and green vegetables like spinach that I can admit I don’t always get enough of.

Foods I’ve tried to get away with that my trainer shut down include: grits (oatmeal is more nutritious); canned soup (too much sugar); chips of damn near any kind, from corn, to pita, to spinach, and tortilla, although Quest protein chips have been approved; steak (not a lean meat); and chicken wings (they’re mostly fatty skin, though I do trim a lot of the skin off).

Foods I should be eating more of include: healthy nuts, fish, sweet potatoes (a healthy carb), and Ezekiel bread (if you have to have bread). I’ve included screenshots of some food logs on the next couple pages for more insight into my day-to-day eating.

6. Using #Fitspiration: Instagram has kept me on my toes almost as much as my trainer in two ways: Number one, I follow at least 15-20 women who have lost a significant amount of weight and maintained that loss to remind myself that I can do it too. Seeing their workout and results posts also keeps me from going off track (90 percent of the time) when I want to say eff it and either eat something I have no business or skip workouts. I also follow another dozen women or so who post healthy recipes. They help me switch up my meals and enjoy eating healthy more.

Hopefully this helps you on your journey. Of course, if you have questions leave them below. FYI, I’m currently working on a way to visually share my workout routine with you as well.

Hair Superfoods: Eating Your Way To Healthier Locks

December 2nd, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Ever seen a woman with beautiful hair and wondered what her secret could be? It could be what she’s eating.

Good hair nutrition starts from the inside out. Try these hair superfoods and you could maximize your locks’ potential they way topical products just can’t.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock


Want long locks? Don’t skimp on the Starbucks. Coffee doesn’t just stimulate your body, it can stimulate your hair follicles too! A cup a day will increase circulation to your hair follicles working at their maximum potential.

Learn How To Make Laila Ali’s Famous Oven Fried Chicken

December 10th, 2013 - By jade
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The holidays are here and if you're a busy mom it means your time is limited! In this episode of Mommy in Chief, we are showing you to make Laila Ali's Famous Oven Fried Chicken.

The full recipe can be found here.

Want More Mommy In Chief? Watch these episodes:

Season 4

 Season 3

Season 2

Season 1


New Host! New Topics! Mommy in Chief is Back!

December 6th, 2013 - By jade
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Mommy in Chief is back for Season 4 and this time it is brought to you by USPS®. Our new host is the beautiful and talented Laila Ali and on this season she will go over topics that range from preparing the perfect Holiday Care Package with her famous Oven Fried Chicken ingredients to inviting some of her celebrity friends to share advice on how to find me-time for yourself.

Make sure you watch the first episode airing on December 10th where she will be making her famous oven fried chicken, just in time for the holidays!




Want More Mommy In Chief? Watch these episodes:

 Season 3

Season 2

Season 1




Thanksgiving Blues: How to Cope with Spending the Holidays Away From Home

November 26th, 2013 - By Nicole Akoukou Thompson
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She woke before the birds and the sun, your mother. She wandered to the kitchen, slipped on an apron, and she began to work.  Her hands were busy: basting the ever-baking turkey, peeling and mashing the potatoes, boiling and cheesing the macaroni, and skinning and candying the yams. The stuffing, cornbread, cranberry sauce, salmon, ham, collard greens, and sweet potato pie yet to be completed and on the family table, but she would somehow have it all prepared by 4 p.m. She turned the kitchen into a workshop. And, when you and your siblings were a bit older, you joined her, helping to bring ease to the brave task of having to prepare a vast meal for a large family. She would share her recipes with humor as she overwhelmed the house with rich flavor. And, about six or seven hours after, the separate ingredients will have transformed into a generous meal. Long hours of preparation gives way to decadent consumption, and you and your family sit down for a grand meal, sampling everything that was made, filling yourselves with food and conversation until you feel too swollen to move.

However, this year, you can’t make it home –perhaps for the first time ever–for a number of reasons, including being broke or too busy. You’ve found yourself in a different city or different country, and you’re DEVASTATED about the fact that you won’t get the chance to eat your mother’s five-star pie or your sister’s incomparable eggplant Parmesan. That’s my story. But don’t fret. While it’s evident that you can’t enjoy the fine eats or familial company, there are ways to cope with spending the holiday away from home. Here’s what I’ve figure out.

You Can’t Go to Your Family, So Bring Your Family to You (Kinda Of)

Since you’ll be apart from your family for Thanksgiving, consider setting up your computer and turn on the video chat if you’re feeling lonely. You can prepare a meal virtually, alongside your family, while you converse with one another. Or, simply set up chat when it’s time for dinner. Your family members can place the computer at the end of the dinner table, and you can experience all the drama, love and confusion that’s associated with any family gathering.

Have a Good Network of Friends

There’s no feeling quite like being completely alone on a national holiday, particularly one that’s family-oriented. So, if you’re forced to be away from your family on such a day, look to friends. Look to the people around you and reach out…even if you might feel embarrassed. There’s no shame in not wanting to be alone–and friends will comfort you with food, fun and drinks to make up for the fact that your family isn’t around. Chances are, they’re celebrating without their clan too. Together, you and your friends can collaborate to make a lavish meal, potentially saving yourselves money and time.

Learn To Create New Traditions

Thanksgiving can be fulfilling, just as it can be exhausting. The good thing about being an adult and away from traditional obligations is to that you can make traditions of your own. Forgo the usual Thanksgiving turkey and take advantage of the day off of work in a different way. Grab a friend and explore your city, grab lunch at a great sushi place, grab early bird drink specials, and go shopping. Contrary to popular belief, not every store is closed, and a lot of them are kicking off their Black Friday sales early. Also, if you have a serious need for Thanksgiving cuisine and you don’t want to cook, there are a few restaurants that have carry out Thanksgiving food: Bob Evans, Boston Market, Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurants, Cowboy Chicken Wood Fire Rotisserie, Cracker Barrel, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, HoneyBaked Ham, Luby’s, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, Popeyes and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Also, consider ending your evening with a trip to a bar, a club or karaoke bar. Who says that holidays can’t be ALL fun. And if you want them to be more than fun, you can always volunteer to provide food to people in need.

No matter what you decide to do in your family’s absence, attempt to make the best of your day. Eat plenty, have fun and share it with someone else. Don’t pout or whine, but instead be thankful that you have a family who misses you, and plenty of loved ones who care for you, even if they’re not sitting right next to you on Thursday.

Pass Or Play: Kelis Has “Been Given A Morning” On Latest Single

September 22nd, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Kelis Been Given A Morning"

This is why we love Kelis: She’ll be lowkey for months and then, out of nowhere, she drops new music and we eat it right up!

That’s exactly what happened on Saturday as “Been Given A Morning” surfaced on the internet. The first thing you notice is that Kelis, known for her unique beats and sometimes harsh lyrics, traded that in for a super mellow joint.  Yes, she had a moment that was more “soft and pink” than bringing her milkshake to the yard.

In the track, Kelis opens up her vocals to a vulnerability many of us haven’t seen from her since she stepped on the music scene (when she was super angry, Kelis).  The song was produced by Basshitter and on Instagram, he described it as a mix of classical, soul and pop music.  We’d agree.

What makes this song extra special is the horn and violin playing right before Kelis begins the second verse. That composition alone is almost enough by itself to give a second listen.

Yes, it is different from what we’ve heard from Kelis but one thing we should never forget: she ALWAYS switches things up. Kelis is truly a musical chameleon and you’ve got to be able to appreciate that.

It looks like “Been Given A Morning” will be on Kelis’ new album, FOOD, which likely has a 2014 release date.

So check it out and tell us what you think!

Is Cooking At Home Becoming More Expensive Than Eating Out?

August 23rd, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Last year, researchers ordered a 10 oz. rib-eye steak from Outback Steakhouse along with soup, salad, and asparagus; the bill was $17.99. Cooking the exact same meal at home, the price tag climbed to $20.52. The controversial study concluded that it is cheaper to dine out, but a Boston Globe author wasn’t convinced.

“Not possible,” Jane Dornbusch wrote. There was no way, Dornbusch thought, that cooking at home could be more expensive than dining out. One writer at GoBankingRates tried to persuade her that the study indeed made sense:  “She cited the high cost of groceries and the surge in value menu items (such as $1 fast-food burgers) to support the notion that dining-out and cooking-in prices are converging,” Dornbusch added.

Still unconvinced, Dornbusch took matters into her own hands and replicated the study herself. “I’d compare costs and factor in time and convenience, and see which meal really is more expensive,” she said.

At an Outback Steakhouse in Framingham, MA., Dornbusch ordered the rib-eye steak, but it came with soup or salad for $18.29. The original study claimed that the meal came with both soup and salad. To match the meal, Dornbusch opted for the salad and ordered a cup of tortilla soup which added $2.99 to the tab. Throwing in asparagus as well, Outback charged Dornbusch an extra dollar.

Not including tip, the whole meal (for two) cost Dornbusch $47.68. Making the same dinner at home for two, this is what she found:

A few days later, I went to my local supermarket and bought the groceries I needed to make the meal. The bill came to $45.86 — surprisingly close to the restaurant tab. Maybe the study was onto something.

Splitting the bills in half to compare with the original study, the Outback meal cost Dornbusch $23.99 (compared to $17.99) and its cook-at-home counterpart was $22.93 (compared to $20.52).  Dornbusch says that these numbers, however, are misleading. “Yes, I had to buy a whole head of romaine and a whole head of iceberg for the salad, but that gave me enough lettuce for a week’s worth of salad, not just one meal.” The same goes for many other ingredients she purchased for the dinner.

In doing the math, Dornbusch discovered — with leftover ingredients for more meals — eating at home only cost her $11.84 per person and $23.84 at Outback. Clearly, cooking at home is the winner. Let’s not forget that dining-in is healthier–who knows what’s going on in that hidden kitchen.

While Dornbusch agrees that groceries are getting more expensive, we cannot yet say that dining out is cheaper. Your thoughts?

Summer Time is Here! Behind The Scenes Photos of Episode 2 | Home Savvy Producer’s Blog Post #3

July 11th, 2013 - By jade
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Grilling Party


Summer is here and in Episode 2 of Home Savvy, our host Patrice J. Williams showed you how to create the perfect grilling party. Here are the behind-the-scenes photos of our amazing crew, working hard and having fun on set!



Producer, Raven Carter examining one of the cameras on set.

Max On Set

After a long day of taping, Camera Operator, Max Goodrich is taking a break on set. After hours of being on set, a quick break is always healthy!