Good for your sinuses!


Here is a great example of using what my Daddy taught me… and fulfilling my constant craving for ethnic food. My sister and I made some homemade Indian food tonight! I’m not a big fan of recipes, but my sister insisted. We made some modifications and tweaked it as I saw fit.

indian curry

Indian Vegetable Curry

Serves 4-6

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

2 tablespoons sweet or mild curry powder

1 ½ teaspoons garam masala

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, finely diced

12 oz. red potatoes, cut into a ½ inch dice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chili, minced (seeds and ribs removed if you’re sensitive to heat)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ head cauliflower (about 1 ½ lbs.), cored and cut into 1 inch florets

1, 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon table salt

1 ¼ cups water

1 ½ cups green peas, fresh or frozen

1.If using canned tomatoes, transfer them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5-6 times until finely chopped, then set aside. If using fresh tomatoes, this step is unnecessary.

2.In a large, heavy bottomed pot, toast the curry powder and garam masala until fragrant over medium heat, about 1 minute. Transfer the spices to a small bowl and set aside. In the same pot heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and add the onion and potatoes. Sauté for 10-12 minutes, until the onions have softened and the edges of the potatoes are beginning to brown. Clear a space in the center of the pan and add the garlic, serrano, ginger and tomato paste and sauté for 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Add the toasted spices and stir to combine, letting them toast again until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower to the pot and toss thoroughly for 2-3 minutes, until the cauliflower is well coated with the spices and aromatics.

3.Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, water, and salt, turn the heat to medium-high, and simmer briskly for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender. Add the peas, stir to combine, and let simmer until the peas are hot, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the curry to a serving bowl and serve immediately with basmati rice and naan.

-We subbed 1 lb frozen cauliflower for the fresh- By the way, I believe that cauliflower and white vegetables are underappreicated since they don’t look like they have much color or nutrients in them. However, cauliflower is a great source of glucosinolates-sulfur containing compounds that help prevent cancer. A one cup serving of raw cauliflower contains 320 mg of potassium and 52 mg of Vitamin C.
-We used dried ginger instead of fresh-just reduce by 1/3
-We added extra water since there wasn’t really enough sauce
-We skipped the chili since I don’t do well with too much spice
-We used a blender for the tomatoes since I did not feel like cleaning my food processor at the end of all of this

Of course, I didn’t measure the spices exactly and I may have added a bit more garlic than the recipe called for. It was delicious though! Everything I love about chana masala plus some extra veggies!

This isn’t completely authentic since we did not use basmati rice and we did not make naan. That will be a cooking adventure for another time 🙂


Chip off the ‘ol block

chip salad

Hello from Chipparelli’s! I celebrated a very special going away dinner Thursday night for my dear friend Mhinjine. Little Italy in Baltimore set the scene for this lovely dinner. We were supposed to see the tree lighting in Mt. Vernon, but gave up when parking proved to be impossible. The night ended up being just what we all needed. Good food, wine, people, laughter, and conversations about saving the world with healthy food, one corner store at a time.

My mom used to work as a waitress at Chipparelli’s back in the day, and the family joke is that she worked there just long enough to steal the famous recipe for their salad dressing. That may be where I got some of my waitressing skills from… or my love of salad. This salad has become famous in my family and is a staple at every Christmas Eve dinner. I’m not usually a fan of iceberg lettuce due to its lack of flavor and nutrients, but the combination of that with the oil, vinegar and freshly grated parmesan in the dressing made for buttery taste with a little crunch, making it one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Sorry  mom, Chipparelli’s does it better than you…


After our salads came, I started off with a glass of Chianti (my brother, the Italian wine connoisseur’s favorite). Chianti, which comes from the Chianti region in central Tuscany, is hard to describe. It reminds me of Malbec with its spiciness. According to, it is characterized by its red and black cherry character, with notes of wild herbs, mint and spice, supported by a racy acidity and mellow tannins. It must be aged for a minimum of four months. It paired really well with the Gnocchi Bolognese that I ordered.

chip gnocchi

I heard from a friend that the gnocchi is one of dishes Chipparelli’s is known for.  I’m glad I took his advice! I love gnocchi and have tried quite a variety during my culinary adventures. The menu described them as handmade fresh ricotta dumplings with a traditional ragú of beef, pork & veal. These were the lightest, fluffiest little pillows of heaven I’ve ever had. This dish was so light, I did not feel like there was a ton of bricks in my stomach. I’m usually one to default to a vegetarian option when I got out to eat, but the meat had so much flavor and I’m glad I tried something different.

chip tiramisu

The night would not be complete without dessert. There is always room for dessert, and we got three forks so it worked out to be just enough. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I make an exception for anything involving chocolate and/or coffee. The Tiramisu, which literally means “pick me up” in Italian, was creamy and rich, not too heavy, with subtle notes of coffee and a light dusting of cocoa on top. Perfection. My brother made us some Tiramisu when he came back from studying in Italy and I must say he did well because this authentic home-made Tiramisu from Little Italy reminded me of what he made us a few months ago. Maybe he is the chip off the ‘ol block!

Please pay Chipparelli’s a visit next time you are in Little Italy!

B’more Thankful

Celebrating Thanksgivukkah Baltimore Style!

natty boh

My celebration began Wednesday night serving up Natty Bohs while beer tubbing at Looney’s Pub! They know how to throw a good pre-thanksgiving party and it was so great catching up with old friends.



My parents hosted this year, so it was a bit of a busier day than usual. However, our day began as a lazy morning as it always does with the Macy’s parade and french toast casserole.

On the menu was turkey of course (which is probably the second best turkey I’ve ever had, due to the chicken broth my mom put in the bottom of the pan to ensure it stayed moist). My sister and I were like the professional basting squad, basting obsessively at least every 15 minutes. There was also cranberry apple stuffing, sweet potato casserole (made with brown sugar and pecan topping not marshmallows), mashed potatoes, our polish staple of sauerkraut and polish sausage (which is amazing mixed with mashed potatoes), tarragon broccoli, and my grandma’s specialty of peas and dumplings.


Thanksgiving and Hanukkah last overlapped in 1888 and it won’t happen again for another 77,798 years so Colleen brought some gelt. We don’t have any ounce of Jewish in us, but we figured why not try to appreciate the culture since it was the second night of Hanukkah?


It would not be a holiday for our family without more dessert than we know what to do with! Fenwick bakery provided a lovely coconut cake. My grandma’s famous cheesecake of course was a hit as always. But I think what stole the show was an apple crumble pie with candied nuts on top.


My night was complete with some Baltimore football. Despite Emmanuel Sanders’ completely disrespectful jerk move of doing Ray Lewis’ touchdown dance in our stadium, the Ravens still came through for a win! It was like the whipped cream on top of pumpkin pie 🙂

I know this post  is a day late (I still have not gotten the hang of blogging in real-time) but now it counts as a “Foodie Friday” post. I will have to post the recipes later and I may be working on adding a separate recipe page to this blog so stay tuned!

One thing I have have realized is that Baltimore has a lot of transplants (like people, not just kidney transplants). And I am so thankful that my family all lives in the Baltimore area so I did not have to spend the day traveling or running around. At times, I do take my family for granted, but have been recently reminded that I need to b’more thankful that I have them closeby.

Thankfully yours,


A Very Maryland Birthday


Today is another honorary blog post complete with a miserable picture from my childhood and a not-so-miserable picture from some birthday festivities. I’m posting today in honor of my dad, whose birthday was yesterday.

daddy bday pic

Everyone feels love in different ways. My mom is definitely “words of affirmation,” but my dad is much more into quality time and acts of service. Hence, the all day adventure in college park and the cold football game. For those of you who know me, you know that is love because cold and I do not mix.

maryland game sunset

Even on his birthday, my dad was thinking of us and buying hot chocolate, offering up his gloves and letting us leave the game early when our fingers and toes just couldn’t take any more. That was a great reminder to me that people show love in different ways. My dad shows love through acts of service and I think it took me a while to realize that. Over the years, I definitely took things for granted like my dad coming to the rescue and fixing my car whenever something happened that seemed like a crisis to me.

Check out The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman for more information. This book really helped me understand every relationship in my life so much better.

So this post in itself is n0t the present like it was for my mom last month. Instead, my dad, a guru of the English language and future creative free-lance writer, will be a guest blogger for charm city magic!! My dad has always been so supportive of everything I do, including this blog 🙂

So Dad, this is for you. You get to pick a topic of your choice and write a blog post to be published here sometime in the next month!

daddy bday pic 2

P.S.We had a lovely lunch at Franklin’s Restaurant and Brewery in Hyattsville (another post coming with more details..for now check out their website In addition to my goofy, dry sense of humor that I get from my dad, I found myself using a “daddyism” at lunch without even realizing it. My sister Caitlin was eating a very spicy curry dish and I reassured her, “Don’t worry it’s good for your sinuses.” Our entire family has allergy and sinus issues so there will be many more posts coming with all kinds of fun ethnic, spicy foods!

Finding the Silver Lining.. I Mean Diner

silver diner

So I have been super behind on blogging this past week with the transition into my new job. But I have decided I at least want to do one post per week that is a traditional “foodie post.” Foodie Friday is what I will call it, although I’m a bit late with this first one. I’m doing a special post today on the Silver Diner, a hidden gem in College Park. It looks like a typical diner form the outside, but is a complete farm to table masterpiece on the inside, complete with organic ketchup!


The diner is very clean and has a great atmosphere. Lighting was not too bright or dim, temperature was perfect, not too hot or cold, super friendly staff, and they even have their liquor license! Shout out to our server Wall-e, who kept our waters full, knew the menu inside and out and how to work his charm! The prices were reasonable, especially considering how much selection there was on the menu and how many of their ingredients were locally sourced. I’m not usually indecisive when it comes to food, but everything on the menu looked amazing! Thanks to my sister Colleen for finding this place and having a birthday so we could go there 🙂 Even though this was a belated birthday celebration I’m glad we made it happen!

lamb burger

The biggest dilemma at a diner is whether to go sweet or salty, and then whether you want breakfast or real food. We were there for dinner, but the best thing about having a sister is you can share and get the best of both worlds! I decided on the pesto burger with local goat cheese, basil pine nut pesto, arugula, roasted red peppers and sweet potato fries. We substituted lamb for $2 extra and whole wheat toast for free.

quinoa pancakes

To balance out the salty, Colleen chose the quinoa coconut pancakes with blueberries, pecans, strawberries, grilled bananas and agave. We nibbled on them and saved the rest for a post race snack! Another post to come about the 5k we ran that night!

silver diner staff

Life has been good these days and I love my new job, but the areas I work downtown can be depressing at times and traffic to get down to College Park always seems to suck the life out of me so this dinner and conversation we got to share really was the silver lining!

Check out the diner’s website here:

Fully yours,


Celebrating Cambodian Style


Finally a post about cooking! It’s funny how I always imagined having a food blog, yet very few of my posts so far have been traditional foodie posts. I had dinner with my family Wednesday night to celebrate my new job. My sister was so sweet and found this gem of a recipe courtesy of food and wine- Cambodian chicken and rice soup. This will be a post for another time, but some of you know I have spent some time in Cambodia and this country is very near and dear to my heart.

We did not have fish sauce, so we substituted low sodium soy sauce. We omitted the chiles just because I am not a fan of spicy. We also added bok choy and mushrooms to it. Soup is not complete without some veggies!

It was super easy too!


  • One 3 pound rotisserie chicken
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup cooked jasmine rice
  • 8 shelled and deveined medium shrimp,  halved lengthwise (about 1/4 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges, for serving ( I remember EVERYTHING in Cambodia was served with limes, even our omelettes!)


  • Cut the chicken into legs, thighs, breasts and wings. Cut each breast crosswise through the bones into 3 pieces. Remove the thigh bones and cut each thigh in half.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, water, fish sauce, honey and rice and bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook just until opaque, about 1 minute. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro, basil and chile and serve right away, passing lime wedges at the table.
 *Pairs well with Riesling wine.

Follow the link below to the full recipe:

Nostalgically yours,


Delight Yourself


Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

-Psalm 37:3-5

I remember sophomore year of college my best friend and I committed to follow this verse with our lives and hold each other accountable. It’s easy to read this and expect that God owes us something because we are obedient to Him. It’s really saying that delighting in God each moment of each day should be the focus of our lives. And that when we live in such a way, He will provide us with not just what we need, but things we desire as well. And this does not mean He will magically give me a new car, or new shoes. The more we walk with God, the more our hearts desire things He wants.

Delight is defined as great pleasure or joy. I view this as spending time with the Father each day, each moment acknowledging His spirit, seeing Him work, and thanking Jesus for everything.

Now, I cannot say I always do this. I have spent a good amount of the last few months feeling frustrated or angry with God. He knew my heart for Baltimore city and my love for kids, and my skills in research. But why wasn’t he giving me a job? I got mixed advice from people. Some telling me to apply to any job and get my start in a nursing home or hospital just to get some experience. Others said to wait on God’s perfect timing and that when He brings something, it will be better than I ever imagined. I hated hearing both of those things. I knew in my heart I could not spend another year of my life in a hospital, but I also didn’t think I would be one of those lucky people to get my “dream job.”

I get a lot of fulfillment from work in general and I view it as a very spiritual experience. I’m currently reading Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller so there will be a future post about that! But I knew that if God wanted me to stay here, He had to provide a job. I doubted myself and God many times and started looking into opportunities all over the country and world. But my heart was not in the right place. While I love traveling and I feel that sometime in the future God will use me in that way, my motivation was bitterness. I was thinking, “Ok God if you won’t give me what I want, I’ll just up and leave.” The problem is, no matter where I escaped to, my heart would still be in the ugly state that it was.


I finally came to peace about everything one day when I was house sitting earlier this month. There is something about being away, even just out of your routine and away from distractions that gives you clarity. I realized that I was seeking a job to define who I was, thinking that my life would start once I had a job or a steady paycheck. The same way a month earlier, I was hoping passing my RD exam would define give me fulfillment. I was feeling like a failure and feeling completely useless and sorry for myself. I was wasting time I could be using to invest in relationships, start new hobbies, be present and serve others. I realized I had been given the gift of time, and I wanted to use it well. I made up my mind that day to practice my baking skills, start a blog which has been a longtime dream of mine, take some classes to learn more about human trafficking domestically, and take steps to get licensed in Maryland to do private practice nutrition counseling. I had put that off for a while, since I had times of doubting whether I wanted to stay in Maryland. I realized at least for now, God had me in Maryland and for a reason, so it was my job to be present here, until He called me elsewhere.

I was reminded that my purpose in life has NOTHING to do with being a dietitian or having a job. God just simply asks us to know Him and help others to do the same.

Now here is the part of the story with the big announcement. That very same day, I got a call from a former colleague asking if I wanted a job. We had a conversation about a month before about some opportunities through her friend, but she never followed up with me. I almost did not apply. It looked like something I was overqualified for and I never heard back so I kind of forgot about it anyway. She said her friend was asking about me and they wanted an RD for the position, but could not find my application. She said that she would give her my cell number to set up an interview. I could not believe it. All the hard work and stress was for nothing, a reminder that it’s never about my own strength or efforts. Here was something falling right into my lap! I still did not get my hopes up and I did not have a ton of information.

I got a call the next day from HR to set up the interview. In my research and preparation, I realized this was my dream job. It combined everything I have ever wanted to do. Kids check, childhood obesity check, policy check, research check, food insecurity check, working with people check, not in a hospital check, prevention check, Baltimore city check, department of international health check.

I had a feeling deep down that this was the one I had been waiting for and a peace that I have not felt with any other job or opportunity. God’s timing is really is perfect. I still tried to play it cool and did not want to jinx it. It had to be too good to be true. I didn’t even tell my parents until I was selected as the “top candidate.” I got my official offer letter yesterday, so I figured it was safe to share with the blogging world. I will be working as a Research Program Assitant II in a Childhood Obesity Center. It’s not glamorous by any means. I’ll be driving around low-income neighborhoods interviewing families and doing diet recalls, but I can’t wait!! I could not have picked a better job myself.

Thanks for hanging in there for this long post. I just wanted to share everything to be real about my struggles and show how God has been working in all of this 🙂
Gratefully yours,

Food Stamp Challenge Day 5,6,7 Reflections


So here we are. I survived the food stamp challenge! I did not get any email updates with themes for the last two days. The theme for day 5 was focusing on the cuts in food stamp benefits that will occur on November 1st. More information can be found at the links below.

I apologize if the posts this past week have been kind of depressing. I think this has been a great way to raise awareness about what is going on around us and we cannot turn a blind eye to it. For those of you who know me well, I am a pretty deep person so I will probably have a lot of depressing future posts with my thoughts or injustices of the world. But I have to be honest, towards the end, I started to dread posting because I felt like there wasn’t anything worth saying. I didn’t have a glamorous life to post about like trying new foods at ethnic restaurants, a cool new happy hour spot, or some great run I did because I did not have the energy or resources for that this week.

I definitely feel that it got slightly easier towards the end of the week, especially the busier I was so I didn’t have to sit at home around a ton of food that I couldn’t eat. But it may just be that my body got used to starving and didn’t feel the hunger cues as much. Which sort of resembles an eating disorder, which is not a good thing..a post for another time. I just want to let you know that my intention with this was not to lose weight. If I ever did this again, I would totally shop around and get more food for my money. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the power of prayer. I started praying a lot when I would feel that the hunger was unbearable.


Some things I learned this past week:

-I have a lot of people in my life that love me and feed me-physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I know some people living in poverty or on food stamps do not have a support network in place. It sounds so simple, but love is the answer to a lot of the problems in this world. Love really does win. And it’s encouraging to keep in mind that we have victory through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We’ve already won the battle so we don’t need to get bogged down by struggles of this life… or we can at least have hope in the midst of the struggles.

– I’m lucky that I have friends and family willing to sit down and share a meal with me. I realized how much of my social life revolves around food. It really brings people together and I felt that I was missing out in some ways, eating my rice and beans for dinner instead of what my family made.

-I can survive without caffeine and chocolate.

-However, if I ever do this again, I will budget for one dark chocolate bar to ration out for the week.

-Chicken noodle soup really is magical and not just when you’re sick. After that night of my “charity meal” I woke up feeling like a champion and banged out some squats and push ups before going in to work.

-I’m not a huge fan of meat and I eat like a vegetarian 90% of the time. But I realized I could never be a vegetarian 100%. I am craving a burger right now so bad, which doesn’t happen very often. I’m just so nutrient deprived I think my body needs iron. And I’m not talking a McDonald’s dollar menu burger. I need a grass-fed buffalo or lamb burger.

-There are glimmers of hope in the darkness of despair. Whether it’s an urban garden or finding messages of inspiration on the streets of Baltimore, change is coming.

Hopefully yours,


P.S. Stay tuned for a big announcement in my next post!


Food Stamp Challenge Day 4: Children and Hunger


Childhood hunger is an issue near and dear to my heart. I always knew I wanted to work with kids in pediatric nutrition one day. But after my community nutrition rotation during my internship last year working in schools in the city and on urban farms, I was convinced my calling was not to a hospital.

I got an email from Maryland Hunger Solutions today with some interesting statistics:

“According to a Gallop Poll analyzed by the Food Research and Action Center, 1 in 5 households with children in Maryland reported having difficulty affording food for their families sometime over the past 12 months. In Maryland – the richest state in the richest country – 43% of children in public schools receive free and reduced-priced meals (according to the state Department of Education). In Baltimore City, that number skyrockets to 84%. ”

Childhood hunger is a vicious cycle that will lead to the detriment of our country if left unchecked. Kids who are hungry do not do well in school, are more likely to get sick and develop health problems later, less likely to graduate high school or go to college, and ultimately will have a job where he or she has trouble putting food on the table to feed their kids. The problem is bigger than just food. This problem not only affects health, but also has far-reaching educational and economic impacts. A society where people are not educated does not progress.

For more information, visit:

Thoughts from today:

-I got called into work last-minute so it was nice having a distraction all day. I felt like I was able to think about things other than food (ironic I know working in a restaurant). Luckily, it wasn’t busy enough to require a ton of concentration but steady enough to keep me busy.

-I haven’t really had any headaches today, which is good.

-I had a make-up training for some street outreach I’ll be doing with Safe House of Hope post for another time) and I counted that as my “charity meal” for the week. Some challenge participants went to lunch at our daily bread this week to show that food stamps are not enough and most people need to supplement with emergency feeding programs. So I had chicken noodle soup and a cookie at the Yates household tonight. I could not turn down the hospitality and I thought it would be a good example of how food stamps are not enough.

-I had a banana and peanut butter for breakfast and beans and rice for lunch.

– I was able to squeeze in a mini boot camp session with some squats and push ups for my workout today.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow. I am officially at the halfway point 🙂





Day 3 Food Stamp Challenge Reflections


So I’m almost halfway there!! I’m already missing dark chocolate and I don’t seem to have the energy to work out today 😦 I’m hoping to rest up and eat up today to have some energy for a strengthening workout tomorrow.

I slept in again and ate an apple, peanut butter and bread when I woke up. I got creative and made a black bean burger for lunch over a salad and ate some more bread. I’m noticing food stamp diets are very carb heavy. I’m probably not the norm since I’m using brown rice and whole wheat flour, but it’s still making me feel like I’m in a constant state of carb coma. I also have the time to make everything from scratch, so lukcily I have not needed to utilize McDonald’s or anything out of a box.

For the black bean burger, I doubled the recipe since I was so hungry but it’s super easy! Just 1/3 cup black beans, 1 tbsp flour, and seasonings of your choice. I used worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, dried minced onion, and a sprinkle of old bay. Mash it all up with a fork, form a patty and saute in a pan with some olive oil- about 4 minutes per side. I got this recipe from KERF. Maybe I can pretend it’s a crabcake.

Dinner was uneventful: rice and some veggies. I babysat tonight which was a challenge to be excited and engaged while interacting with children when all I could think about was food. Today, I started thinking about how the food I bought is possibly going to last me the rest of the week. It’s a worry I’m sure is a scary reality for some people every week of their lives. The theme of the day is food as medicine. I did not realize how quickly I would start to feel the effects from a lack of nutrients. I can only imagine that once I start eating normal again with copious amount of fruits and vegetables, my energy level, mood, and everything will improve. Antioxidants do the body wonders.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates