Claudia Hanna

Ayran is an all-natural drink made with Greek yogurt, salt, dried mint and water. Photo courtesy Claudia Hanna

Say no to the sweet stuff when quenching your thirst

We’ve all heard it before: We need to replace all those lost electrolytes with…a sugar-infused “sports” drink (whatever that means)? But there is a healthier alternative to that sugar-laden drink that those in the West consider critical in replacing all those lost electrolytes. Before we begin, though, let’s break down the story of electrolytes. According […]

Ali and Meryem Erarac created their hibiscus tea as a healthy alternative to sweet-infused drinks.

Local couple brews up idea for hibiscus tea

Fourteen years ago, Meryem and Ali Erarac moved from Turkey near the Marmara Coast to Charlottesville so that Ali could earn his MBA at Darden  School of Business. Meryem, a biologist by study and trade, enjoyed the relative quiet and greenery here. Within a few years, Ali graduated, landed a job at General Electric Finance, and […]

In the Mediterranean, pomegranates weigh down the thin branches of their tree and split open, showing their ripeness. Photo by Claudia Hanna.

Mediterranean Corner: I heart pomegranate (molasses!)

You are probably familiar with the powerful antioxidant punches of the almighty pomegranate. Loaded with phytonutrients, pomegranates lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and increase the speed of heart blockages. They are also packed with fiber, vitamins C and K, and folate. In the Mediterranean, October is the month of pomegranates. With pomegranates weighing down the […]

Mint is added for flavor and color to most Mediterranean dishes, and to relieve an assortment of ailments.

Mediterranean Corner: mint condition

I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and went to UVA (wahoo-wah!). Between the summers of my third and fourth years, I landed a summer internship that would change my life. It was on the island of Cyprus, the third-largest island in the Mediterranean. While there, I fell in love with the natural, wild ways […]

Labneh can be eaten in both sweet and savory dishes. For breakfast you can top labneh with strawberries, walnuts and honey.

Labneh: the better schmear

If you’re like me, you love the taste of a freshly toasted bagel with a dollop of cream cheese spread thinly across, melting into the porous openings. It’s my children’s favorite too, especially on a chilly morning with a cup of cocoa. My daughter, who loves cream cheese, was a toddler when we moved from […]