Tiffany and Michele Steeb, CEO
Tiffany has a gorgeous, sunny smile and bright, clear eyes. She is gloriously happy, perhaps for the first time in years...or maybe even her life. She has a roof over her head, her son with her, and a bright future. This is in stark contrast to just six months ago when she and her son were living in her car and she was (and still is) dealing with custody battles with her in-laws. She had been homeless for over a year, living in her car and on friend's couches. Tiffany represents the growing number of homeless families in Sacramento and her happy smile is due to one thing - finding help at Saint John's.

Saint John's Program for Change is a charity that was founded in 1985 on the footsteps of St. John's Lutheran Church. It's mission is to help women in crisis come to grips with their lives, battle their demons, and through education, assistance, and a job program, lead them to a new life of independence, productivity, and self sufficiency.

I had recently been asked to come to one of Saint John's guest chef dinners, which we'll get to later. I had been to the dinners before and have ready many posts and articles about them. I wanted to know more.  I wanted to know about the program leading up to the Plates Cafe and to the success stories that come from Saint John's.

I stayed for a week in Honolulu for my vacation in January. In that week I went to Koko Head Cafe three times for breakfast.  It's that good.

Located a few miles from Waikiki in the Waialea neighborhood, Koko Head Cafe  calls itself an "Island Style Brunch House". It's become one of the most popular breakfast destinations on the island for the locals and word has spread enough to attract tourists as well. In fact, while I was there I watched Japanese media filming the place. It's tucked in just off of Waialea Avenue in a nondescript building, but inside it's bright and cheerful with a number of booths and counter seating. The staff are just as bright and cheerful too.

I went three times because the menu is so diverse and so enticing. It also demonstrates what I love most about Hawaiian cuisine, true fusion of American and Asian in a way that only the islands can achieve. Like our own Bacon & ButterKoko Head Cafe only serves brunch from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. While you can find pancakes and eggs on the menu, they will be treated with a Hawaiian touch. For instance, Hawaiian style pancakes are made with a ricotta batter and don't need any syrup because they are sweet enough with their topping of chopped island fruits of pineapple, mango, and/or whatever is in season.

I am no fan of Yelp.  I hate the negativity of the bad, sloppy reviewers that you have to read through to get to good, insightful reviews. 

Yet Yelpers do seem to get the Top 100 list right. Recently the 2015 Top 100 Restaurants reviewed on Yelp came out. (I like to make clear that this is a list compiled from Yelp data.  Just like I wish people would realize that the Top 100 list on OpenTable is only of OpenTable restaurants and not ALL restaurants.) Anyway, the point is that two Sacramento area restaurants made this year's list and one was Ninja Sushi and Teriyaki in Roseville. 

Disclaimer:  Ninja reached out to me asking me to come by and check them out. I told them that I would have to come unannounced in order to do an honest review. They did send me a gift certificate to pay for my meal. But that in no way is what is influencing this review since I truly do see the reason they have such great reviews on their own.

Ninja is located just off of Highway 65 at Pleasant Grove Boulevard on the west side of the freeway. The complex has a lot of restaurants, including the new Chando's Tacos Roseville and the Brazil churrascaria restaurant, Flame and Fire. I went with a friend on a Sunday night to find that every table was occupied and there was a wait. 

I am no juicing expert, but I have gotten into juicing — in a rather convoluted way. You see, I'm a bit of a tightwad and so I see no sense in paying a juice store to do something I can do for far less money on my own.  The irony is in how much I've spent on actual juicers.

I started out with a Breville centrifugal juicer. When it busted I got a Ninja Bullet. Then when the Ninja busted (from me cramming too much into each jar) I went for the big bucks and got a Vitamix so that I could emulsify and keep the fiber.  But I got tired of so much fiber and so I went out and got an Omega cold press juicer to keep all those nutrients.  Finally, I received a free, new Ninja Auto IQ Blender, which I fell in love with.  Yes, I've spent a lot of money on juicers for being a tightwad.  

When I say that I'm not an expert, it's mostly because I don't make a variety of good tasting juices that I switch up each day. No, I keep things simple. I know that you should have mostly vegetables because fruit adds calories, so my juices are pretty green and veggie filled. My routine consists of going to the farmers market on Sunday morning, washing my purchases, then juicing or prepping for the entire week's worth of juices. 

Yes, my juices pretty much taste the same all the time, but I don't care.  I'm getting my nutrients. What do I put in?  Typically I go to the farmers market and buy the following (1 bunch each):  kale, cilantro, carrots (including the greens), celery, parsley, sometimes mint, a few cucumbers, green apples, sometimes kiwis.  At home I'm lucky enough to have a giant grapefruit and lemon tree to take care of the citrus. Citrus is important to cut that green, leafy taste. I'll also add the following at home, varying upon my mood: chia seed, tumeric and coconut oil (they need each other to work), cayenne pepper, pineapple, and ginger. As you can see, my juice is veggie heavy. 

I juice on Sundays and have juices every day for the rest of the week. And I don't lose much nutritional value because I freeze everything. 

Over the course of the last year I have developed three different methods for doing this.  Each has its own merits. Sometimes it's a matter of how lazy I am and sometimes it's a matter of if I want a lot of fiber or do I just want the juice. The common denominator is that I'm not interested in taking time every day to juice and clean juicers.  I'd rather clean up the whole mess just one time.

1. Mason Jars

Mason jars can be put in the freezer because the glass is so thick. The key things to remember is that you must use the wide mouth jars and you must leave an air gap because liquids expand. Forget the air gap and the freezing liquid could make your jar crack or explode in your freezer.