Feta Accompli

Feta, the stuff of myth and legend, has been a hot commodity since Byzantine Greece, first appearing in written record in Homer’s Odyssey. Loosely described as curdled sheep’s milk, it was the Cyclops that began what could be considered the first cottage industry business out of his cave.

Not to discount the early efforts of an innovative entrepreneur, I just can’t help but think it’s high time to stop following the herd. Over 6,000 years later, we ought to collectively crawl out from under that rock and start a new narrative for feta. No more sheep, no more strife.

Celebrating a robust 50-year heritage, Follow Your Heart may not have quite the same storied lineage, but they’re certainly out there making history. Introducing the very first dairy-free crumbled feta on the modern market, the “alternative” is one so good, it’s really impossible to justify traditional methods.

Firm, squeaky curds, briny and and slightly sour, like buttery unsweetened yogurt, they’re good enough to Greek out about. Each package contains diverse proportions of gleaming white morsels, ranging from nuggets the size of marbles to tiny specks akin to sea salt or coarsely ground pepper. This varied consistency is ideal for most applications; the smaller pieces evenly coat the vegetables, grains, or proteins in the mix, while the heftier chunks stand out for bold bites of concentrated cheesy flavor.

It’s a good thing there’s such a wide range of particle sizes, including such a fine spray that defies roving fingers, because it would otherwise be too tempting to simply eat out of hand.

This feta was born to be used in recipes, and not just salads, either. Blending Greek origins with Italian inspiration, it’s right at home in pillowy soft planks of fresh baked focaccia. Here, it gets mixed into the dough itself to infuse that distinctive umami flavor throughout, with more sprinkled directly on top for an irresistible browned surface. Nothing more is needed to dress up such a simple but bold bread, though it would be pretty incredible sliced in half and filled with your favorite sandwich fixings.

Soft, tender, and buttery slabs of flat bread would be hard enough to resist, but when each slice has morsels of compellingly salty feta embedded into every bite, no amount of willpower stands a chance. Give in and take a big bite; as your teeth sink into the crisp, caramelized crust, pushing past toasted garlic and aromatic herbs, you’ll wonder why you don’t bake bread everyday. That is, until you polish off a pan in record time, perhaps. It might be dangerous to make a regular habit. The feta is both the cherry on top, and part of the essential foundation. No other cheese will do, and certainly not one made from conventional dairy.

Follow your heart, mind, and stomach to a better feta. This will go down in history as yet another innovation that makes milk moot.

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Rose Gold Standard

Restless nights turn into bleary-eyed mornings, turn into days of drudgery and afternoon lulls. Better double up on the coffee just to keep going, right? It’s a satisfying quick fix with reliable results, but a hasty solution that often comes back to haunt as nighttime drags on. Sleep becomes more elusive, more coffee is needed to fill the gaps, and so the vicious cycle deepens, like the cavernous craters beneath furrowed brows and tired eyes.

Don’t get me wrong; I love caffeine, but it’s clear from our long, tumultuous relationship that it does not love me back. Though I’d never contemplate relinquishing my morning shot of espresso, it’s the second and third pull that get me into trouble. I’ll start shaking like a leaf long before my brain gets the message to wake up, which only arrives when I turn in for bed.

Nothing can replace a full, proper night’s rest, but that’s at least more feasible when caffeine isn’t interfering with normal sleep cycles.

Basic hydration can do wonders for mood regulation and overall health, so just drinking enough throughout the day goes a long way. That’s why I’m drinking more turmeric lattes, served over almost equal parts ice while the summer heat is on, please.

We all know that turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting free agent, but it takes a team to win at this daily game. Coconut milk brings medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to the playing field, which are easily digested as an immediate source of energy. Maple syrup on the other hand, offers a slower burn than processed white sugar, to prevent a deleterious crash later on. Spices like ginger and black pepper are simply invigorating flavors, like lemon juice, which can brighten any recipe.

Rosewater, delicate flower that it is, may seem like an inauspicious recruit, just like the tart and tangy hibiscus blossoms included in the brew. Sustained energy is all about playing the field, and these two make up a killer defense. We’re talking antioxidants galore which may lower blood pressure and help regulate glucose. Though they failed to turn my drink a blushing shade of Millennial pink, their subtly sweet flavors reinforce the meme-worthy title.

Most importantly, no matter how much (or how little) uninterrupted sleep you enjoyed last night, this canary-yellow latte is downright delicious. The subtle, natural energy boost is just an extra little win.

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Midnight Cravings

There’s no accounting for midnight cravings. In the dark of night, after all reasonable people have long since retired to their beds, strange things can happen in an unguarded kitchen. It’s a crime of opportunity, based as much on cravings as availability; the resulting creations are a whole different sort of guilty pleasure. Guided by a vague desire for something savory, restricted to the contents of a poorly managed pantry, there’s no telling what Frankenstein foods could be wrought from the scraps.

Originally devised by those same conditions in a faraway land, the medianoche literally translates to “midnight,” and is so named for its popularity in Havana’s night clubs, served sometime around the witching hour. Similar to a Cuban sandwich, it traditionally layers various forms of pork, mustard, Swiss cheese, sweet pickles on bread; all staples you could easily dig out of a mostly bare kitchen on a whim.

Granted, I’m not exactly out late partying when this nighttime hunger gnaws away at my stomach. Quietly shuffling around in my pajamas, I’d much rather pile all those goodies into a bowl than try to manage a handheld stack. Uncoordinated in my finest hours, my ability to eat neatly declines precipitously with every passing hour. Sandwich fillings would stay between the bread for approximately 2.5 seconds before ejecting unceremoniously onto the floor at that rate.

That’s why the concept of a bread salad is so ingenious. It’s the full sandwich experience that you can eat with a fork, no muss, no fuss, and no judgement. Perhaps the contents are still a bit unconventional, but this is one crazy concoction I wouldn’t hesitate to share in the light of day.

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Taste the Rainbow with Popit!

Chia pudding is a perennial staple around here, appearing on the menu as breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and desserts alike. For a quick fix full of fiber, protein, and brain-boosting omega-3’s, the tiny seed just can’t be beat. Of course, plain old vanilla does get dull after so many big bowlfuls. That’s where a bit of meal planning wisdom comes in, with a bit of help from our friends at Popit!

Big batch advanced prep is a big part of the appeal for chia pudding. Mix it up en masse, chill, and enjoy as desired for a full week. Cool and creamy, it’s an ideal healthy treat to eat on the fly, straight out of the fridge or on the go. By breaking it down into separate, single-serving containers, you get that same convenience with the flexibility to infuse each sweet spoonful with completely different flavors. While the effortless base starts the same, the end results are uniquely delicious.

The Popit! Baby Food Storage Set is ideal for making a full rainbow of bold chia puddings to suit every mood. Each BPA-free container holds 3 ounces with a patented lid and hollow silicone seal system to lock in freshness and prevent leakage. These are just the right size for a light snack or healthy treat, anywhere, anytime. The most difficult decision here will be deciding which one to eat first!

Starting with some bakery inspiration, Red Velvet gets its alluring hue from pureed beets, but tastes only of buttery cake with a touch of cocoa. Lightly sweetened yogurt swirls throughout to take the place of more sugary icing. Pitaya Princess Cake paints the Swedish pastry with a shock of bright pink pitaya puree. Nutty almond extract gives it a marzipan-like quality, paying homage to the traditional decor. Carrot Cake takes shape with naturally sweet carrot puree, warm spices, and chewy raisins mingling throughout the mix.

Moving on to more fruity flavors, Orange Zinger is guaranteed to wake you up with energetic, zesty orange zest, spicy crystallized ginger, and a dash of sunny yellow turmeric. Lemon Drop is another option made for citrus lovers, keeping it simple with fresh zest and a tangy, creamy vanilla yogurt. Banana-Nut will sooth any cravings for quick bread or muffins, with mashed banana and sticky peanut butter blended in, crowned by even more crunchy toasted nuts. Don’t forget the pinch of salt that really makes it sparkle.

Painted with the cool color spectrum and offering some cold comfort, my personal favorite, Mint Chip is like a spoonable milkshake without the sugar rush. Crunchy cacao nibs add textural contrast to this minty treat, although you could always go for chocolate chips or chunks instead. Blue Moon uses alluring butterfly pea tea for a naturally brilliant hue, with blueberries to add substance beyond mere style. Everyone’s favorite purple tuber, Ube makes an appearance alongside toasted coconut flakes, tasting like a little tropical getaway in a jar.

Taking a more decadent turn for the final three, I’ve got a whole Latte Love for the combination of instant coffee AND whole ground coffee for a serious midday perk. When I’m really craving dessert, this pudding-based Devil’s Food provides a sinless way to get my fix, with a serious dose of cocoa and rich chocolate curls on top. Finally, dark as night, with a mysterious allure, Black Sesame offers a uniquely nutty, lightly gingered flavor that’s sure to satisfy the more adventurous eater.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking comfort in consistency. If you fall in love with one flavor and want to make the whole batch to follow suit, simply multiply those ingredients by 12 and of course, omit the other optional additions.

What will be your top chia pudding pick?

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