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Giveaway: T-fal OptiGrill!

This is kind of the greatest thing to happen to my tiny NY kitchen: the T-fal OptiGrill. Not gonna lie, it looked intimidating to use when I first got it, but I found the smart grill makes cooking meat a no-brainer with its color-coded cooking indicator.

T-fal OptiGrill

The grill has an automatic sensor grilling so no matter what the thickness, it indicates by beeping when the meat is rare to well-done. When you turn it on, you just click the button showing what meat you’re cooking (they have options for beef, chicken, fish, sausage, etc.). Just close the grill to let it pre-heat, and it’ll beep when it’s ready. Then place the meat, and the sensor will change colors depending on what stage the meat is (rare, medium, medium-well, well-done, etc).

But the to me one of the greatest things about this grill is you can cook frozen meat right on it since it has an option to de-frost the food, then cook it in one shot. Here, I made an easy breakfast of eggs and chicken sausages from Honest Chops (side note: they have pre-seasoned meats available there which I love because it saves me so much time).

Honest Chops frozen chicken sausage before and after

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Brunch: Jack’s Wife Freda in SoHo

I feel like people have consistently recommended Jack’s Wife Freda to me for brunch, and today when a couple friends and I were deciding where to go for food, this place ended up coming up again in an article I found about the best brunch places in NY. Not only was the food delicious, it said, but it’s CHEAP (something not necessarily associated readily with the neighborhood it resides in). Happy to say we weren’t disappointed on any front.

Recommended: Poached eggs with grilled tomato & haloumi (served with sourdough bread). Small, tasty, and a perfect mix of poached eggs over easy, grilled tomatoes and haloumi.

Poached eggs

Must try: Their hot sauce. It’s not a typical sauce, made in-house with what looked like an avocado base. Just a little add so much flavor to each dish.

Rosewater waffle

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Brunch at Ted’s Montana Grill + Giveaway!

Living in midtown, I feel like I’ve exhausted some of my favored brunch places. The usual suspects for me have been Eatery and Norma’s, but all said, the area’s not known for their brunch spots as much as places like the Village. Restaurants have been trying to counteract that rep though, most recently Ted’s Montana Grill who just unveiled a new brunch menu and invited me to try it out.

Inside the spacious restaurant, Ted's Montana Grill

I didn’t even know this place existed even living a few blocks away. Interestingly, the restaurant was created by media entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner (CNN) and George McKerrow (founder of LongHorn Steakhouse).

Brunch at Ted's Montana Grill

My friend Priya came along to give the menu a try. The great thing about this place is even though it’s huge, it has cozy, dimly lit booths for a more personal feel. Priya and I got a sampling of their Chantilly Waffles, Crab Cakes Benedict, and day’s special, Huevos Rancheros.

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FiberChoice 30-Day Get Picky Challenge: Why I’m joining

Almost every nutritionist I’ve met over the years have been reiterating the benefit of including fiber in your diet. Why? Fiber helps support our digestive tract and keeps food moving through our system. The recommended daily fiber intake is 25 to 30 grams, but according to the American Dietetic Association, most Americans get only about half that amount. I’ve tried consciously including more fiber-rich foods in my meals (brussels sprouts, kale, and flaxseeds among them), and also begin my day with fiber-enriched bars. The only downside to the latter is they are a bit heavy to rely on solely for most of my fiber source. And as a food blogger, I do eat a lot at different restaurants where it’s not always easy to make sure I’m getting in the amount of fiber I should be.

In steps FiberChoice, inviting me to be a part of their 30-Day Get Picky Challenge, which is pretty easy: they provide me with a 30-day supply of supplements (which helps get the recommended amount of daily fiber), and I report to you all about how it’s been working for me.

FiberChoice Chewable Calcium

I chose to try their FiberChoice Prebiotic Fiber Chewable Tablets plus Calcium + D (for the record, it was hard to resist opting for their gummies…I’ve had them before and would eat them like candy, so to avoid that and maintain the normal recommended amount instead, I decided to go with the tablets). Also, after reading about all their products, I learned that calcium is a mineral your body needs but can’t produce so it’s obtained by foods and absorbed in your digestive tract (foods like dairy products which I try to have minimally, dark leafy green veggies, bread, soy, and tofu products are all sources of calcium). Also, I love that they use 100% of the natural fiber already found in fruits and veggies.

I’ll keep you guys posted on how it’s going, if I stuck to the challenge, and if I noticed a difference. Full disclosure, the product was provided by FiberChoice and they compensated me to stick to the challenge, but I’ll share my real thoughts on what I thought and if I’ll continue with it going forward! I’ve always remained true to working with brands that have either helped me reach my nutritional goals and I was already, as I mentioned, someone who has bought their fiber-infused gummies whenever I could (fun fact: it’s one of the few supplements that don’t contain gelatin, which also aligns with my dietary restrictions, so thank you FiberChoice :) ).

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Orange is the New Black’s Jackie Cruz talks hair, lipstick, making out with a Kardashian, etc.

Jackie Cruz has every reason to be full of herself. Let’s just put that out there. The Domincan-American beauty, who plays the goth and often unaware Flaca Gonzalez on Netflix’s #1 series Orange Is the New Black, is a talented actress, (real-life) singer and songwriter who you would I expected to be sitting in a VIP corner when she recently hosted Überliss‘ braid bar at the Paramount Hotel in NYC. What I found instead was a disarmingly funny and down-to-earth interview that felt a lot more like talking to a bestie I was trading makeup and boy secrets with the first ten minutes (true story, although the latter is off-the-record). She was down to dish all with no pretense. Read on for her favorite new hair brand she recently partnered with, beauty secrets from her grandma (apparently vapor rub is the new Windex solution for everything), and yes, her infamous kiss with a certain Kardashian.

Jackie Cruz from Orange Is the New Black

Beauty and the Feast: Tell me a little about why you decided to partner with Überliss.

Jackie Cruz: I have crazy curly hair that I’m always using straightening treatments on, so that’s really how it started. Überliss has a lot of products that’s really helping with my dry hair. Their Rituoil is my favorite. My hair gets really frizzy in the summertimes so this keeps it nice and smooth.

BATF: What are your must-have beauty products?

Cruz: I’ve perfected the cat eye with Chantecaille’s eyeliner. I love it, it’s perfect. M.A.C.’s Ruby Woo lipstick is a must. I really can’t live without a luminizer. I love the one by RMS. When I wear it, I’m just glowing. I use it everyday, not just on the red carpet.

Jackie Cruz's must-haves

BATF: Do you have any beauty secrets that were passed on to you from your mom?

Cruz: I’m Dominican and we have curly coarse hair. I’m big on avocado treatments and egg whites to keep my hair shiny. You just apply it and shampoo wash it off and it makes your hair really glossy. My grandma puts vapor rub on everything. Dominicans mix it with baby oil and apply it on a zit. I also have a problem with bags under my eyes, so I just put a cold spoon on freezer and place it under my eyes for a few minutes to minimize them.

BATF: What’s one of your favorite story lines from OITNB?

Cruz: I love Lorna. In the first season, she was sweet but you don’t know why she’s in prison or her obsession with Christopher. [Yael Stone] is such a great actress and amazing person. We read lines to each other. She’s a great person to work with and a great friend. Just very talented.

BATF: How did you prepare for your role as Flaca?

Cruz: I have a friend who’s Flaca. She’s the real life Flaca from back in the day. We used to waitress together. I told her, you’re going to own a Black Card one day. She’s like, ‘Aww that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever told me!’ That’s Flaca right there. She used to do crazy things and I told her one day I’m going to play you on TV. For two years I’ve been imitating her. So thanks to her, I’m Flaca. I don’t mention her name, because she wouldn’t want me to. But only me and her need to know about that. She’s always representing that, she posts my things and supports me unconditionally. Now she’s in college and a motivational speaker – Flaca! She’s Flaca’s future.

Jackie Cruz as Flaca on OITNB

BATF: Let’s talk about the other half of my blog — food! Do you cook at all? What are your favorite things to make?

Cruz: I was also raised Italian. My Italian family taught me how to cook. I can make a mean lasagna and spicy meatballs. I can’t cook Dominican food sadly– I like to go to my aunts house in the DR and have the real thing. I was so spoiled.

BATF: Let’s do a speed round. Finish the sentence with the first thing that comes to your head. One of my worst habits is…

Cruz: Salt and vinegar chips

BATF: I don’t understand people who don’t like…

Cruz: Mexican food

BATF: My style is…

Cruz: Edgy, different.

BATF: My style role models are…

Cruz: Sophia Loren, Cher.

BATF: I get inspired by…

Cruz: French magazines.

BATF: My favorite place in the whole world is…

Cruz: My home. It can be anywhere. I’m a gypsy. That’s why my album’s called Hollywood Gypsy.

BATF: My celebrity crush is…

Cruz: He not alive though — does that matter? Elvis Presley.

BATF: Last question. I looked up your character on a site, and all it said in your bio was, “once kissed Kourtney Kardashian.” Any comment?

Cruz: (laughs) We need to change that! It was something that happened five years ago. I was just a girl having fun. I’m sure you’ve kissed a girl in your life…

BATF: I can’t say that I have…

Cruz: Wow, you must be one in a million! I used to practice. It’s just something you do randomly in the moment. I’m focused on my career now. Now I have a name for myself, people bring that up but I say let it go.


Thanks to Jackie Cruz and Uberliss for a fun interview!

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5 things I’m loving about #IntelTablets right now (review)

A couple months ago, Intel reached out to me to let me experience their Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet and see if it’ll help a blogger out. A) I never owned a tablet of any kind so I was down to try it; and B) My laptop is not the of the lightweight kind and lugging it around to blog has been giving me shoulder pains lately, so now I’ve turned this into a health issue (see what I did there?).

My very own Dell tablet!

Also everyone makes fun of how I’ve been blogging for years but have the most outdated tech stuff — including but not limited to my laptop, phone, and iPod. #haters.

ANYWAY. Here are 6 things I’ve already loved about having it around:

1) Twitter and Facebook are much more fun to peruse

Home screen

2) It’s soooo small I can carry it around when I’m blogging on the go.

On the go

The built-in camera has helped me with restaurant blogging and I can upload it right to my blog if need be. But its tiny size has been the biggest plus for me so far. It’s lighter than my camera, for real.

3) I can catch up with my shows (in HD!) with their Netflix and Hulu+ apps

Hulu+ FTW

Finally re-joining pop culture conversations again.

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Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with Cilantro-Lime Mayo Spread

I was having a super lazy Sunday (like, wake-up-at-2pm-and-wear-PJs-all-day kinda lazy) with my friend Qareena, until I decided to do at least one productive task and cook dinner for us. I set some chicken cubes I just bought from Honest Chops out to thaw and started looking for new recipes. Honest Chops is, by the way, “an all-natural, organically-inclined, halal butcher shop” a few of my friends run in the East Village and the quality of their meat is far superior than any meat I’ve cooked with. I can easily taste the difference so I prefer to cook with their meat now when I can. Totally a plug but not really a plug without reason — I really think everyone should know about this place and try it out if you’re in NYC (PS, they deliver). But…I digress.

I stumbled upon this recipe for spicy chicken sandwiches with cilantro-lime mayo and they had me at “lime.” I had almost all the ingredients, but I substituted a couple of things based on what I had, mixing up the spices a little. Also, the original recipe uses chicken breasts which would make it better for a sandwich, but because I already had chicken cubes thawing, I decided to try it both as a flatbread and sandwiches. The original recipe is here, but I’m posting what I used below:

Crispy chicken flatbread

1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lime
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp garlic paste


1 lb chicken cubes
4 eggs
6 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash for chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp chili pepper
4 1/2 ounces baked tortilla chips (about 6 cups). Note: I totally just did this by eye, I think I used half a bag of tortilla chips
2 tablespoons olive oil

Remaining ingredients:

6 100% Whole Wheat Arnold Sandwich Thin Rolls. Note #2: I’m completely obsessed
Red onion slices
Lettuce. Note #3: I didn’t have this so I didn’t use it. I mean, I had kale I was going to use but remember, Lazy Sunday. Next time.


To prepare mayo, combine the first 5 ingredients. Squeeze all the juice in the lime half to add in mixture

Spread ingredients

Cilantro lime mayo spread

To prepare chicken, I whisked eggs, hot sauce, Mrs. Dash, peppers, and salts in a bowl and saturated the chicken cubes in it.


The recipe calls for you to marinate it in a Ziploc for a couple hours, but seeing I didn’t have any, I let it sit in the bowl for a couple hours instead, occasionally mixing it through the mixture.

Marinating chicken

**Pausing from our regularly scheduled recipe for a NOTE ON TORTILLA CHIPS: I know I’m completely accident prone (See: bleeding for avocados), but a word of caution: Tortilla chips are dangerous, people. The original recipe also calls for you to process the chips in a food processor which I JUST ORDERED A WEEK AGO. But alas, I didn’t have one so I decided to crumble them by smushing them with my fingers in the most ghetto way possible. And then, one of the pointy corners of a chip actually cut my pinky. Not a knife. A tortilla chip. Third finger I cut in one month from cooking. A wise old man told me the smarter thing to do would have been to crush them with my knuckles. So there’s that. But this part took a considerable 15 minutes to finish. Also, I assume most of you own a food processor in which case you read all this for nothing. Pleasant side effect of using your hands, though: mine were soft as a baby after from the oils in the chips (did I just unearth a beauty tip? Well, then).**

Tortilla chips

If you’re trying to take the day’s stress out in a healthy way, go ahead and grind those chips with your knuckles. If in the off-chance you want to do this like a civilized human being, place tortilla chips in a food processor and process 1 minute or until ground. Place ground chips in a shallow dish.

After letting the chicken marinate, remove, allowing excess to drip off. Coat chicken completely in chips. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken and chips.

Coating chicken

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned and done.

Frying chicken

Spread mayo evenly over cut sides the sandwich thins. Layer bottom half of each roll with 3 onion slices, 1 lettuce leaf, and a couple chicken pieces; top with top another half to serve as a sandwich, or as is to have a delicious crispy chicken flatbread.


Crispy Chicken spread

Crispy chicken flatbread

The cilantro-lime spread really makes the taste in this recipe, and the tortilla chips give the chicken a nice texture. The original recipe called this a spicy chicken, and even with the hot sauce and added chili pepper, I thought it wasn’t super spicy, but you can use spicy chips to make it moreso. This was my first time successfully cooking crispy chicken though and the tortilla chips worked amazingly well (I tried with bread crumbs before but it didn’t work out so well then…). Try this and let me know what you think!

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Zespri: Let’s talk kiwis.

Zespri Kiwifruits

In case you may have noticed on my social channels, I’ve started a slightly new obsession with kiwis. You can totally blame Zespri, a New Zealand-based brand of kiwifruit-growers who recently hosted an event in NYC where they not only fed us delicious bites that contain the ingredient, but they also had dietition Rebecca Scritchfield on hand who taught us all the health benefits that go along with them.

Virgin kiwi mojito -- recipe below

And you can ask my friends, I’m passing that info to everyone — for example, two medium-sized Zespri Kiwifruit have fewer than 100 calories, MORE vitamin C than an orange, and MORE potassium than a banana.

Kiwi dishes at the Zespri event

And besides being low in fat and free of cholesterol, they are fiber powerhouses (helping you digest your food through an enzyme called actinidin). We also got to sample their newest breed, the SunGold Kiwifruit, which is a cross between green and gold kiwis, and a little sweeter in taste than the green kiwis (Read: Where to find SunGold kiwis). It also happens to have TWICE the amount of vitamin C as the green kiwi.

Snacks at home

I’ve been stocking up every time I go to the grocery store now and trying to include it in at least one meal a day since right now they’re in-season (their season goes from June to October).

Easy eating a kiwi with a splice -- a double-ended spoon and knife

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Shout out to charity sponsors: Profound Aesthetics, A Peace Treaty, Sol Republic, Davio’s, more

I was recently tasked with heading up an auction for an upcoming ICNYU fundraising dinner which benefits the NJ-based SMILE charity, specifically towards their Women’s Fund which helps assist women going through extreme hardships like domestic violence. Everyone has been working tirelessly to organize fun and creative ways to raise money leading up to the dinner this Tuesday. In a very short amount of time, it was amazing seeing so many people come together and dedicate themselves towards such a great and needed cause.

Putting the auction together was a bit daunting because I never organized one before. I knew I wanted to include items and experience packages people would really be excited about and decided my starting point should be brands I really love myself. I was blown away by the response — every single brand I reached out agreed to donate something. It was really inspiring to see how people band together and want to help for a good cause. I wanted to showcase those items here, not only because they are seriously awesome but because the sponsors deserve a little more attention for stepping up as do-gooders. People have already started bidding on the items (which you still can by emailing your bid by tonight to, but all of them will also be continued to be bid upon at the actual sold-out event on July 22nd!


Donated items from Profound Co

1. Scriptures Tee
2. Signature Script Snap-Back in Red
3. Natural Wood Wrislet
4. The Rest is History Tee


Donated items from A Peace Treaty

1. Gold-plated Hapi Earrings
2. Gold-plated Moasi necklace




1. DECK Wireless Speaker
2. RELAYS In-Ear Headphones


Donated item from Savvystuff

Armor Necklace from SavvyStuff



A $100 Gift Card to Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in NYC


4 Elements of a Perfect Shave Full Size Kit in Ocean Kelp




1. “The Refresher” package at Truman’s Gentlemen’s Groomers Lounge in Midtown. Includes signature straight-edge shave, handshake maintenance (manicure), shoe shine, hair wash and scalp massage.
2. Truman’s Product Bundle. Includes Protector Shave Cream, Cleaner Shampoo, and Finisher Control Paste.



10-pack fitness classes at Exhale Spa

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Recipe: Healthy Avocado Chicken Sandwich

If you told me I’ve been on an avocado kick lately, I’d say you wouldn’t be wrong. I guess my mom noticed too because she called me telling me to try making a sandwich with an avocado spread. Just further proving moms are always right, this came out so delicious. Plus it’s a great, healthy meal that took me 15 minutes to whip up (since the chicken was already done). Apologies for the less-than-perfect picture — I was on a time crunch and snapped these quickly with my phone!

Avocado chicken sandwich

It’s essentially chicken with a little modified guac but the mayo makes it a little more creamy:

Makes 2 servings


Season 1/2 lb chicken breast with salt, pepper, garlic salt, Mrs. Dash (for chicken), and thyme. Fry until slightly brown with avocado oil or olive oil (I used the former). Cut into pieces.

Avocado spread

1 avocado
1/4 tomato
1/2 red Onion
2 tbs cilantro
1/2 lime
1 tsp mayonnaise
Garlic Salt
Chili Pepper
Whole wheat sandwich thins (I used Arnold)

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