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FAVORITE DESTINATION: SALVADOR, BRAZIL


Salvador, Bahia

Salvador, Bahia

One of my favorite travel experiences was going to Brazil with my boyfriend and his parents. The country is rich in history, culture and diversity.  One facet of Brazilian culture that is underappreciated is the multi-ethnic population.

 

My favorite city in Brazil was Salvador, which means “Salvation” in Portuguese.  Historically, the city was the center of slave trade under Portuguese colonial rule; however, today it is the center of Afro-Brazilian culture.  

 

A 2010 census of Salvador revealed 2,480,790 people residing in the city of Salvador with the following self-identification: 1,382,543 persons identify as pardo (multiracial) (51.7%); 743,718 as Black (27.8%); 505,645 as white (18.9%); 35,785 as Asian (1.3%); and 7,563 as Amerindian (0.3%). The Pardo and Black ethnicities drive the culture of Salvador and created a unique and rare experience for me, as a multi-ethnic American.

FAVORITE DESTINATION SALVADOR BRAZIL via Swirl Nation Blog

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DIVERSE MOVIE NIGHT PICKS! THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE


DIVERSE MOVIE PICKS THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE via Swirl Nation Blog

Things We Lost In The Fire was one of the first mainstream movies that I felt broke many movie barrier rules and portrayed the beauty of biracial families and marriage.  Released in 2007, the film didn’t receive the recognition it deserved.

DIVERSE MOVIE NIGHT PICKS THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE via Swirl Nation Blog

Without giving away too much of the plot, Halle Berry plays a wife and mother struggling through grief and heartache over the death of her loving husband.  Her husband, played by David Duchovny, is a doting father to their two beautiful bi-racial children.  The love between their characters is evident, truthful, deep and honest.  Another storyline within the film, depicts the husband’s friend, played by Benicio Del Toro, who struggles with addiction.  The movie reveals the gritty truths of human struggle, paralyzing fear, death, forgiveness, growth, love, change, friendship, family, and most of all inner strength.   


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VALENTINE'S FUNFETTI PANCAKES WITH VANILLA GREEK YOGURT SAUCE


VALENTINE'S FUNFETTI PANCAKES via Swirl Nation Blog

Light and fluffy pancakes are fun and festive thanks to sprinkles in the batter. Greek yogurt is used in both the pancakes and the vanilla sauce, giving these funfetti pancakes tons of filling protein. Such a delicious and celebratory breakfast! 

I came across this recipe on Pinterest. I was looking for something yummy, easy with a  traditional twist.  Everyone has fond memories of pancakes growing up or as an adult:)  I enjoyed homemade buttermilk pancakes with fresh blueberries and pure maple syrup. We didn’t have them often so they were always a special treat.  

Fast forward to now, and my boyfriend’s favorite breakfast treat is oven-baked pancakes.  I have eaten more pancakes as an adult than ever… Not sure if that’s a good thing.  I reduce the calories by making gluten free pancakes and using yogurt instead of syrup.  So, in the spirit of Valentine’s day, heart-shaped sprinkles pancakes with Greek yogurt sauce would be a perfect breakfast for your children, boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, wife and family.  The bonus, they’re healthy and tasty! Happy Valentine’s Day!


INGREDIENTS FOR THE PANCAKES

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles (the oblong kind, not the tiny dot kind)
  • For the Sauce
  • 1 5.3 oz container vanilla yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons honey (more or less to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons milk

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat a griddle pan or large frying pan over medium low heat.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg, oil, and vanilla until well combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.
  • Divide the batter into two bowls, and gently mix half the sprinkles into the first bowl.
  • Lightly and carefully grease your pan.
  • Spoon the batter into four places on the griddle pan. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, until golden brown. Flip and cook for 1 - 2 minutes on the other side. Remove pancakes to a wire rack.
  • Stir the rest of the sprinkles into the remaining batter, and repeat cooking process.
  • For the Sauce
  • In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, vanilla, honey, and milk. Add more milk until desired consistency is reached.
  • Serve pancakes topped with yogurt sauce and extra sprinkles.
VALENTINE'S FUNFETTI PANCAKES via Swirl Nation Blog

Original recipe and photos from www.chezcateylou.com


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SWIRL KITCHEN: BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES


SWIRL KITCHEN: BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES

There was a period of time, during my teen years, when I lived with a Mexican- American foster family.  During that time, we ate traditional homemade Mexican food:  mole, menudo and, one of my favorites, pozole.  The result of this experience is that now I am extremely picky about my Mexican food and know how authentic Mexican food is supposed to taste.  Jen Fisch, one of the founders of Swirl Nation and one of my best friends, got me a trial account with Blue Apron, which delivers farm-fresh ingredients and recipes to prepare home-cooked meals.  A few months into receiving dishes, pozole was on the menu as an option.  I was intrigued, wondering if it would taste as good as I remembered and read over the ingredients and instructions. They seemed fairly close to what I remembered as a teen and I wanted to give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised how flavorful and fresh it tasted. Now, it was not by any means authentic Mexican pozole, but it was extremely tasty and easy to make! Definitely a great dinner dish for the family during colder weather seasons.   

BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES 

Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup with its origins in Aztec cuisine. Though there are many variations, all of them center on hominy, a special preparation of maize. Our interpretation is inspired by the delightfully rich, slightly tangy versions of the dish commonly associated with the Mexican Pacific coastal state of Guerrero. Tomatillos (a tomato relative with papery skins) and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are some of the region’s hallmarks. Their delectable tartness and crunch, along with the cooling creaminess of avocado, complete this hearty dish.
BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES
BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES

1. PREPARE THE INGREDIENTS 

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Quarter the lime. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and onion. Remove and discard the papery husks of the tomatillos; medium dice the tomatillos. Drain and rinse the hominy. Pit, peel and medium dice the avocado; toss with the juice of 1 lime wedge to prevent browning. Trim off and discard the stem ends of the radishes; cut the radishes into matchsticks. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems.

2. BROWN THE PORK

In a large pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ground pork; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and just cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and set aside, leaving any drippings and browned bits (or fond) in the pot.

3. COOK THE AROMATICS & TOMATILLOS 

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pot of reserved fond. Heat on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, onion and all but a pinch of the spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the tomatillos. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking apart the tomatoes with a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes, or until the tomatillos have softened and begun to thicken into a sauce.

4. FINISH THE SOUP

Add 2 cups of water to the pot of aromatics and tomatillos. Cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined. Add the hominy and browned pork; heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer 7 to 9 minutes, or until slightly reduced in volume. Remove from heat. Stir in the juice of 1 lime wedge; season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. TOAST THE PEPITAS

While the soup simmers, in a small pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the pepitas and remaining spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant. (Be careful, as the pepitas may pop as they cook.) Remove from heat. 

6. FINISH AND PLATE YOUR DISH 

Divide the finished soup between 2 bowls. Garnish with the avocado, radishes, cilantro and toasted pepitas. Serve with the remaining lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!

BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES

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SWIRL ART: BOB MARLEY


As we celebrate and highlight African-Americans during Black History Month, I think of Bob Marley and how he touched the world with his music.  Who hasn’t been moved by him or his music? There is something magical about true artistic talent.  It has the ability to transcend time, cultural and unify racial differences and divides.  Everyone has a favorite Bob Marley song or, at least, knows the words to one of his many hits!  His words hit your soul and the island percussion lets you escape, dream and believe.

Dave Thompson, author of Reggae and Caribbean Music, laments what he perceives to be the commercialized pacification of Marley's more militant edge, stating:

Bob Marley ranks among both the most popular and the most misunderstood figures in modern culture ...That the machine has utterly emasculated Marley is beyond doubt.  Gone from the public record is the ghetto kid who dreamed of Che Guevara and the Black Panthers, and pinned their posters up in the Wailers Soul Shack record store; who believed in freedom; and the fighting which it necessitated, and dressed the part on an early album sleeve; whose heroes were James Brown and Muhammad Ali; whose God was Ras Tafari and whose sacrament was marijuana.  Instead, the Bob Marley who surveys his kingdom today is smiling benevolence, a shining sun, a waving palm tree, and a string of hits which tumble out of polite radio like candy from a gumball machine.  Of course it has assured his immortality. But it has also demeaned him beyond recognition.  Bob Marley was worth far more.

One of my favorite songs by Bob Marley and the Wailers performing in Boston, MA.



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Swirl Style: Moroccan Kaftans


I have always been drawn to the beauty and details of kaftans. I would see them worn during my travels and in fashion magazines. I became particularly fond of Moroccan kaftans when, a few years ago, a best friend gifted me two handcrafted kaftans during her trip to Morocco.  The wonderful thing about kaftans are the many variations of style, color, fit and detail that makes every woman looks fantastic and one of a kind.  

 

A kaftan or caftan (Arabic: قفطان qaftân) is a variant of the robe or tunic, versions of which have been worn by multiple cultures around the world for thousands of years. The kaftan is often worn as a overdress, usually reaching to the ankles. It can be made of wool, cashmere, silk, or cotton, and may be worn with a sash. The caftan is of ancient Mesopotamian origin, and is still worn by many middle-eastern ethnic groups.

 

The kaftan has evolved to include different cultural styles, purposes, and names. In many regions with a warm climate, the kaftan is worn as a light-weight, loose-fitting garment. The kaftan has served as a symbol of royalty in some cultures and as a symbol of marriage in others during some parts of history.  In the United States and modern Western cultures, a variation of the kaftan is a symbol of educational ascension (graduation robes) and judicial power (judge’s robes)


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SWIRL SKIN: Dermalogica PowerBright TRx three-step system


We all desire glowing, even-toned skin.  As we get older our skin is affected by the environment. UV damage, age and hormones can cause dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

I have been using Dermalogica PowerBright TRx three-step system for six weeks and am seeing significant results of increased skin brightness and lightening of hyperpigmented spots. This system is great for both sensitive/dry and normal/combination skin-types and uses gentle, hydroquinone-free ingredients to correct dull, uneven skin tones.  This is both a day- and night-time regimen to fade hyperpigmentation and brighten your skin tone.



C-12 Pure Bright Serum:  A lightweight serum (only use one or two pumps) spread evenly onto face (neck and décolleté, if needed).  This serum contains Rice-derived Phytic Acid, Zinc, Glycerolate and Algae which help control hyperpigmentation triggers.  Oligopeptides-51 combined with Oligopeptides-34 are the the new synthesized peptides used to prevent hyperpigmentation.  For best results, use both morning and night.


Pure Light SPF50:  This is a medium-weight daytime moisturizer (only use one or two pumps.)  This keeps skin hydrated with Hyaluronic Acid, which guards against water loss, and reduces the appearance of dehydration lines.  This sunscreen utilizes a new Oleosome technology, consisting of moisture rich spheres made from Safflower seeds, which boosts SPF protection while using lower concentrations of sunscreen.  The result is a product that is more wearable and less likely to cause skin reactions. For best results, use in the morning.


Pure Night:  A nourishing overnight moisturizer, (only use one pump.)  This treatment  moisturizer helps control melanin production, restore skin luminosity and maximizes the serum’s effect while the skin is as rest.   An active blend of Oligopeptides-34, skin brightening Vitamin C, Cranberry and Raspberry Seed Oil optimizes skin hydration.  For best results, use in the evening.



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SWIRL HAIR: Coconut Oil Hair Mask


The coconut. The magical fruit with multiple health and beauty benefits seems to be everywhere and in everything.  Whether as a beverage, used for cooking or moisturizing, it really is a unique fruit.

One of the many uses of the coconut is to use coconut oil as a hair mask. Coconut oil is extremely nourishing and moisturizing, and due to its chemical structure, it effectively penetrates the hair shaft to improve hair strength and reduce breakage and split ends.  The result is lustrous shine and soft, manageable hair.

•Start with organic, extra-virgin coconut oil, which has not been refined or hydrogenated.
•Apply before going to bed, (do not apply above the earlobe) cover with a shower cap to allow it to soak into your hair overnight.
•In the morning, when you are ready to shower, apply shampoo to your oil-slicked hair before wetting it (if you apply the shampoo after your hair is wet, it will remain greasy and difficult to remove.)  Follow up with a dollop of your regular conditioner and rinse thoroughly.
•Style as desired.
 

You will fall in love with the results and swing your hair around like a model.  As you should!
 


xoxo Jenn

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DENIM ON DENIM


I love denim!  The best pairing is to mix and match light and dark denims. When done right, it looks effortless and chic.  Plus denim for children provides multiple no fail outfits.  You can work this look by tucking in the shirt messy, buttoning it all the way up, rolling up the sleeves or layering it under a sweatshirt, sweater or jacket.  Finish the look with sneakers, loafers, booties or heels.

Examples from H&M, In Style and Media Prive


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