A Note from The CEO

Every Good Gathering

Summer is flying by and Fall will be upon us soon. Stop for a minute to reflect on the change of pace and the photo worthy memories you made this summer. I immediately think back to the 4th of July and the neighborhood parade I took my 9-year-old daughter to.

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It's nothing fancy, but the kids decorate their bikes and everyone marches around to the grand finale, the fire truck and red, white and blue popsicles! We invited our neighbors over for a potluck feast made up of smoked ribs, baked Nashville hot chicken, fresh salad, Taziki's Whipped Feta, and my 15-year-old son's famous flag cake - decorated with fresh blueberries and strawberries. 

We concluded the night with a toast as we took in some backyard fireworks and the impressive fireworks from a rooftop downtown overlooking the river. Perhaps you finished a book or two, spent some time at the lake, or got away to the beach. Either way, notice how food plays a part in every good gathering. It turns a meeting into a party, and a party into a celebration!

So, now, as high temps and humidity give way to crisper evenings and sweaters, we look forward to the kids going back to school, football and the next round of gatherings with the right food bringing people together.

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At Taziki's, we've been cooking up some new things recently, and you may have noticed. Our new Kebobs and Quinoa Bowls seemed to have been your favorite this summer! We welcome the Whipped Feta Appetizer back into the spotlight as a part of our partnership with our friends at The Dairy Alliance (did you see it in Garden & Gun?).

Dairy, specifically feta, is a critical element to amazing Mediterranean food. Did you know that we source all of our dairy products from a group of family-owned, award-winning farms in Wisconsin? We’re incredibly proud to support American dairy farmers with the Whipped Feta offering.

Fall teaches us the art of letting go of the things that keep us from growing so we can focus on creating a rich life for ourselves. Let us do the cooking so you can focus on your next family reunion or tailgate. We have a host of sharable options that will fit inside your budget and your goal to eat well. The best part is everyone will be happy. Here's to many more good gatherings this fall. Cheers!

All the best,

Dan Simpson
CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café

A Note From Our Founder: Keith Richards

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I hope this note finds you well, and that you’re enjoying summer and grilling season by spending quality time with family and friends. One of my secret summer grilling recipes is just adding a tablespoon of Whipped Feta to a freshly grilled steak or a burger.

Some exciting things you can expect this summer include a facelift on our menus and a more intuitive design of our website. We look forward to sharing these exciting new projects and much more with all of you very soon. 

Lastly, our Taziki’s family feels more complete as we celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of our Coronado Village location in Panama City, Florida. We continue to support the revitalization of Panama City while they work to recover from Hurricane Michael. 

I hope you continue to have a great summer. Stay cool, it’s getting hot in Bama!

All the best,

Keith Richards
Founder


Kicking Off The First Day of Summer

Featuring Guest Author, Blogger Rachel Awtrey

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Summers come and summers go. But, this summer, Thomas and I have decided to make the most of the opportunities to gather, spend time with friends, invite people into our “every day” and do small things well. Yes, traveling, beach trips and vacations are so much fun but being home isn’t too shabby either (if you make it fun). Picnics are a great idea! Grab a quilt, grab your friends and family, and head to your local park or favorite spot with your favorite meal. For me, it was a no-brainer to grab some of our favorites from Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe for our picnic! Grilled chicken, rice, Greek salad, Taziki’s sauce, and pita is the best combination for any type of eater (picky or not) and easy to grab and go for a “luxury” picnic dinner. Don’t forget to grab cookies with your order because we all know the most important part of a picnic is dessert!

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Want to take it up a notch? Bring a Bluetooth speaker, put on your favorite music and leave the phones in the car! I have a feeling this won’t be our last picnic, especially when it’s made easy by Taziki’s! Not a picnic person? No worries! You can set up this same spread at your next dinner party. It’s easy, just call in your favorite entrees and picking them up on your way home. Throw it on a platter and your friends will still be able to enjoy the best Mediterranean dishes (and you can take all the credit)!

A busy life can be fun but don’t forget to slow down and be present with those you love over some fresh, healthy food. Take your meal to the park for a picnic, on a hike through your favorite trails, or eat around a Taziki’s table (or yours)!

A Note from The CEO

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Summer is finally here! It’s officially the end of the school year for kids, and the beginning of hot days, getaways, and grilling out on the weekends with family and friends. This time of year is nostalgic for me because when I was a kid, my siblings and I spent our summer mornings weeding our vegetable garden, and helping around the house. After that, we would hop on our bikes (complete with baseball cards fixed to the back tires so it sounded like a motorcycle) down to the nearest lake to cool off. Our evenings were filled with making pies and enjoying board games. These days, many of you will find your way to the beach to return sun-kissed and well-read. Others will escape to the cooler elevation of the mountains and enjoy some hikes and bikes. Wherever this summer takes you, find time to enjoy a meal with your loved ones.

What are your favorite summer dishes? How about watermelon on a hot afternoon? Strawberry rhubarb pie? Or ribs on the grill? At Taziki's we've been cooking up a balanced menu of marinated Chicken and Beef Kebobs, grilled to perfection alongside our current Limited Time Offer, The Quinoa Bowl!

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This dish is healthy, refreshing and jam-packed with protein. Order on the Taziki's app and skip the line, or we'll even bring it out to your car, curbside. Don’t forget to schedule your catering for your next family get together. Either way, we welcome you to enjoy Taziki's as part of your summer traditions! We look forward to sharing all the stories and Instagram-worthy moments that summer has to offer.

From the entire Taziki’s team to you, have a safe and fun rest of your summer!

With Gratitude,

Dan Simpson
CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café

How to Plan a Convenient Summer Party

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One of our favorite attributes of the Summer season is the energy and life that it brings. Summer is the season where everyone craves spending time outside with the ones they love. Praise the time of year where gathering outside for sporting events, meals, or relaxing while spending quality time with others becomes the norm!

When it comes to entertaining, there are two types of entertainers. Let’s face it, party planning is hard and in this busy world, who really has time to obsess over every little detail? This summer, we’re vowing to make being “the hostess with the most-est” attainable again. Here are a few tips on how Taziki’s will be your best pal for your next event.

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Order a Dinner for 4 meal! These are a go-to for many and satisfy the entire family. You get to choose your favorite protein, side, & salad and ta-dah, the cooking is done! Also -- you can skip the line and order this online (you’re welcome).

 
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Order a few of your favorite appetizers and have items that encourage sharing among your guests.

Nothing is better than having multiple options to snack on at a party. Our Whipped Feta, Signature Hummus, and Taziki’s Dip are guaranteed to make your guests excited -- and they come in pints (so darn easy!).

Are you having a family reunion aka wedding or something bigger? Call your local Taziki’s and we will be happy to help you plan a custom menu of items that will best suit the taste buds of your crew (and we’ll come set it up).

Cheers to the entertainment season!

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Teddy Bear Returns Home

Not all superheroes wear capes! A few weeks ago Jacob Bogard, a manager for Taziki’s Chattanooga, stepped up to make someone’s day a little brighter.

The Robinson family was traveling back to Birmingham from a trip to Dollywood and stopped at in Chattanooga for a meal at Taziki’s. They are loyal fans of the Birmingham locations, and their daughter's favorite meal is the Kid's Turkey Melt with Fruit. The parents love to order the Grilled Chicken Feast and, of course, they never forget to get an order of Hummus and Pita!

After the family finished their meal, they continued their journey back to Birmingham. It wasn’t long before their daughter realized she had lost her beloved Teddy Bear! The family immediately called the restaurant and Manager Jacob swooped in to save the day.

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According to Mrs. Robinson, “The manager was so kind and offered to mail it back to us immediately. We visit Chattanooga nearly every year, and we are extremely likely to go back to this location again!”

Watch a full video of this sweet little gal reuniting with her baby once again here:

Introducing Our New Quinoa Bowl!

Every dish at Taziki’s is created from the true love and passion we have for fresh, Mediterranean ingredients. The newest feature on our menu is The Quinoa Bowl! It was inspired by a recent trip to Greece where Keith Richards, our founder, visited some of our local farmers.

The best part of The Quinoa Bowl, you ask? The majority of the ingredients used can be bought fresh from your local farmers market for you to re-create this healthy summer dish in your own home.

Here’s what you need:

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  • Your Protein of choice

  • Quinoa

  • Tomatoes

  • Cucumbers

  • Onions

  • Olives

  • Feta Cheese

  • Capers

We aim to provide fresh, quality ingredients that are sourced straight from the Mediterranean to serve our customers all across the country. We encourage you to do the same by supporting local farmers in your area. To learn more about the “why” behind our new menu item, click here.

Teaching Life Skills In Conway, AR

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At Taziki’s, we are proud to have local partnerships across the country to support our HOPE Project mission of working to get every restaurant in America to hire just one individual with a disability. Our purpose is to help people flourish. We see an opportunity to help students with disabilities and at-risk youth in every community. We give them jobs. We teach them how to contribute. We give them hope. Learn more here.

And on March 21st, when Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared March 21st Developmental Disabilities Employment support day, our Conway, AR location continued our mission. Taziki’s Conway partnered with Conway Human Development Center to provide a job shadowing opportunity for their employees aimed at teaching life skills. The CHDC offers on-campus work opportunities for residents who wish to take part, and they were excited to have the opportunity to learn more about what Taziki’s employees accomplish on a daily basis.

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Taziki’s Manager Micheal Niederhauser said that opening the restaurant’s doors to CHDC residents on Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employment Support Day is something he plans to do again. He and other employees often support residents at the facility. A few weeks ago they banded together, forming a team to participate in CHDC’s annual Bowl-A-Thon. Only 35% of people with disabilities are employed, and we are excited to see this amazing work that Taziki’s Arkansas is doing to change that!

If you’d like to see the full story, you can do that here.

Introducing our New Hand-Crafted Chicken and Beef Kebobs

Kebobs, also spelled, Kebabs, can be found all across the world, with each region offering its unique take on this dish, including the Mediterranean. In fact, in Greece, the original name for the gyro was, döner kebab. Our new hand-crafted Taziki’s chicken and beef kebobs pay respect to its Mediterranean origins. Our meats are freshly sliced, lovingly marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, dried thyme, and a dash of salt and pepper. We then grill them to perfection and they are available to complete your favorite feasts, salads and more, which can be ordered for dine-in, to-go or even catering. And just as any Mediterranean family would do, we’re sharing our recipe with you to make from home. Just tap the link below to download the recipe.

We know life can get busy and challenging to make dinner at home and finding flavors the entire family will enjoy can be tough. That’s why we’re here to serve incredible tasting, freshly made, healthy lunch and dinner options for the entire family. Now you can order and pick up your food quicker than ever with our new App. Download it now by tapping on the link below.

 
 

Get Healthy Now With Taziki’s: A Note From The CEO

At Taziki’s we’re always looking to step into a healthier lifestyle and the New Year is the perfect opportunity to recommit to all the elements of getting healthy, including diet.

In my experience, a healthy lifestyle starts with inner peace (grounded psychology and spirituality) and physiology (breathing and exercise). Yet, with a quick Google search, you can find articles highlighting why diet is far more important than even exercise when it comes to losing weight. The average person burns between 5% - 15% of daily calories through exercise, which is small in comparison to the food our bodies intake for energy at each meal.

One of our corporate team members Sam Stamps, shared her story, “Calories Aren’t Everything” including how she embraces the healthy lifestyle in her own life. Sam elaborates on how she changed her approach when it comes to calculating calories which helped her lose 30+ pounds!

“Your body doesn’t treat all calories the same. If you eat high-quality foods that are rich in nutrients, like leafy greens, nuts, and chicken, you will fill up quickly and stay fuller for longer. It can also trigger the release of hormones that tell your body to burn fat (yay!).” - Sam Stamps, Training + Technology for Taziki’s Corporate

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At Taziki’s we understand that a healthy lifestyle is tied to the table. Whether you are dining in or taking out, we have nutrient dense food constructed to give you energy throughout the day while keeping you full and satisfied. My go-to dish is the Mediterranean Salad with Salmon. It’s so colorful and it has an amazing cravable flavor profile! And the generous portion always leaves me feeling full and ready to go!

This year, I’m committing to starting each day with prayer and mediation, exercising 30 minutes a day, and kicking off January with a modified “Whole 30” reset (internally I jokingly call it the “Whole 29”). After a year of boxing with Title Boxing (great workout), my wife and three energetic kids all joined me in a climbing gym membership and we’re already enjoying the challenge of scaling the walls together!

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We invite you to tackle your New Year’s resolutions goals with Taziki’s. Our team is here to help you along your journey!  What are you looking to accomplish this year? Let us know by commenting on our Facebook post!

With Gratitude,

— Dan

CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

Meet Our Staff: Bill Teany

At Taziki’s we strive to create an environment that combines extraordinary food with meaningful human connection. Bill Teany, General Manager at Taziki’s Southland Drive worked his way up to his current position after joining the team in 2016. We invite you to learn more about his journey below:

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Tell us about how you were introduced to Taziki’s?

I have been working for Taziki’s since July 2016 (2+ years). When I moved to Lexington, I had a friend that worked for one of our sister company restaurants and he told me about the new Taziki’s that they had opened on Southland Drive. He said how it was a growing company with a lot of opportunity. I am so glad that I went and applied because he was right!

Was it in the plan to work up as a manager?

In my first interview for Taziki’s, I did express a desire to move up to be a manager and I continuously strived to learn more and prepare myself for this goal.

Tell us more about your journey?

I was promoted to kitchen leader and then shift manager all in less than a year. I was very proud when I was asked to come to our second store and train the kitchen staff before opening.

I took it as an opportunity to show what I had learned and teach others. I enjoyed teaching everyone and seeing the impact I could make on people’s lives. About 8 months ago I was promoted to kitchen manager and transferred to the Hamburg location that I helped open.

How has the adjustment been?

The move was relatively easy because most of the employees already knew me from the store opening. My bosses also know I always try my hardest, so I wasn’t afraid to make a mistake. I enjoy the mentally challenging stuff, so for me, the adjustment has been fun and very rewarding.

How do you motivate your employees? 

I look for ways to compliment them anytime I’m giving them constructive criticism. I like to get my hands dirty and show them how to do things, so sometimes I come in on a slow night with a couple pizzas and a cleaning list. We do challenges like who can sell more nightly specials or desserts.

Mostly, I think it’s important to explain things thoroughly; the “what” as well as the “why”. When people full understand their actions they are more likely to make good choices.

What is your favorite part of leading a team?

It’s one thing to be able to do and check everything yourself, but it’s really rewarding when you can teach others to do those things as well. I was able to leave my store with our corporate inspector and a shift manager through the lunch rush, while the rest of the management team went on a marketing blitz. Everything ran perfectly and it was a really rewarding day for me and the whole team.  

How do you "Live the good life" outside of work?

This past summer I went skydiving and to Mammoth Caves for vacation, which was great! I enjoy amusement parks, and went to Kings Island a few times. I enjoy playing pool, racing go-karts, and going around town trying new places. Kayaking and hiking are two of my favorite pastimes to do outside.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m always working towards my next goal. Currently, I’m learning General Manager responsibilities so I will be ready when the opportunity arises. A good friend once told me, “don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” and I try to apply this to all areas of my life.  

Happy Holidays: A Note From The CEO

With the holiday season upon us, the entire Taziki’s family would like to wish you and your family a fulfilling season of giving. This time of year reminds me of the sentimental Nat King Cole records my grandparents played when I was a boy, the anticipation of Christmas morning and Jimmy Stewart’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It’s reminder that “Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole.”

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Likewise, we strive to be a small, but a special part of your community. We believe that great food brings people together and it’s a privilege to make great food, build relationships, and serve your community. We know the best memories are made and shared over a meal, and the holiday season reminds us of that.

As we wrap up another year, a few highlights include celebrating our 20-year anniversary, launching TAZ Rewards, being named as one of Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, and welcoming a few new locations to our store family - Bartlett, TN; Oviedo, FL; Bent Tree - Raleigh, NC; West Chester, OH; Eagle, ID; Edmond, OK; Hattiesburg, MS.

Without the support of you, and our entire Taziki’s family none of this would have been possible. With that said, the holiday season is a time to “Live the Good Life” while enjoying time with people who mean the most. We hope you take this invitation to spend your time intentionally.

We also invite you to enjoy the Tomato-Basil Soup (back by popular demand) with the brand new Grilled Pimento Cheese. Step away from the fast-paced holiday season and warm up with this perfect combination from the inside out.

From the entire Taziki’s team to you, have a safe and happy Holiday season.

With Gratitude,

— Dan

CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe


National Feast Day Winner!!

At this time of year, many of us are feasting and enjoying time together. In honor of the release of our new Taziki’s app, and TAZ Rewards, we decided to celebrate by making December 1st National Feast Day -- a chance to win free feasts for a year!

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Many of our guests took the opportunity to join in on the celebration by purchasing their Chicken Feast on our app and online.

Congratulations to Kristy Cerro of Opelika, Alabama for winning our National Feast Day giveaway! Kristy has been a loyal guest at our Opelika location and didn’t want to pass up on this opportunity. When we told Kristy she was the winner, she made our day even sweeter by telling us how much she loves Taziki’s!

“I am so excited to win!!! This past Friday was my birthday and my several of friends surprised me with lunch at Taziki’s! We love going to eat at Taziki’s,” said Kristy Cerro, Winner. “The food is always fresh, fabulous!”

“The following day while out doing Christmas shopping, my friend and I ordered our lunch from the app so it would be ready when we arrived and it was! Thank you for chance to win, can’t wait to take advantage of my winnings!!!”

Thanks to everyone who participated in National Feast Day on December 1st. We’ve received such great feedback and look forward to running future giveaways to reward you again in the future.

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We All Love Baklava

Honey, flaky filo dough, and walnuts...need we say more? Baklava (pronounced bock-la-vah) is the quintessential Greek dessert that we join our Taziki’s guests in loving. It’s the ideal ending to a meal but we wouldn’t judge you grab one for lunch or dinner.

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Many countries claim this decadent dessert as their own original creation. Placing origins aside, Baklava today is made differently in every culture. For example, the country of Jordan makes it with pistachios, Lebanon makes it with an orange blossom and rose water syrup, and Israel typically makes it with cinnamon and orange.

Unique to this dessert, there are what seems to be a hundred light and fluffy layers. It’s handmade in a bakery with real ingredients, one of our favorites is honey. We can put it down in our books as healthy, right?

Our Baklava is an authentically sourced product, made fresh from Hellas Bakery, our partner in fine Greek pastries and specialty desserts. All of their pastries are made fresh daily from only the finest ingredients. Not only are they made in-house, but they are delivered daily.

“Everything we do is about quality at Hellas. Everything is made in-house. We've been making baklava the same way for 100 years now. Pretty soon we will have our fourth generation family members working,” says Nick Karterouliotis, a family member who helps run the bakery. “Taziki's does business in the same fashion so it just makes sense to have two similar partners.”

For us, living the good life equates to balance in everything. We work, have fun, eat salads and baklava. We share moments together over food and know it’s nourishing power to our bodies and our souls. Allow yourself to be present in the moment and fully enjoy that piece of baklava today! Life is too short, don’t skip dessert!


Taziki’s Is Thankful: A Note From The CEO

Taziki’s family, as we look back over this past year, we have so many things to be thankful for. Without our amazing guests and staff members, none of our achievements this year would have been possible.

Our team wanted to share what we are thankful for as we approach the holiday season. We made a special video just to share with you:

We invite you to tell us what you are most thankful for you by commenting on either our Facebook or Instagram posts. We will be choosing a lucky winner on each platform to receive a $100 Taziki’s gift card! The winner will be announced on Wednesday, November 21st.

You can comment on Facebook by clicking here. If you want to double your chances for a gift card you can comment on Instagram by clicking here.

With Gratitude,

— Dan

CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe


National Feast Day - December 1st!

National Feast Day Giveaway is Coming!

We’re excited to bring you another exciting opportunity to win something special! We’ve deemed December 1st, Taziki’s National Feast Day!

We’re giving you a clean and seamless chance to share in the goodness that comes with easy ordering and stress-free dining.

On December 1st, order your Chicken Feast through our app for a chance to win a Free Chicken Feast a week for a year! We couldn't be more excited to share in the spirit of giving this holiday season!


We will announce one lucky winner on our app, social channels, and blog on Friday, December 7th.

Before you go, we’ve made it even easier for you. Get started by downloading our Taziki’s app here!

Good luck, friends!

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Looking Forward To TAZ Rewards: A Note From The CEO

The holiday season is nearly upon us and this time of year reminds me to practice gratitude and generosity. With so much to be thankful for, we wanted to offer a tangible expression of thanks.  After increasing our online and to-go orders by over 60% in the last six months, we knew it was time to develop something special to elevate our online and app experiences. With that said, we are excited to announce a newly designed version of our app and introduce you to TAZ Rewards, a built-in loyalty and rewards program this winter.

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COMING SOON

Our gift to you this holiday season is when you dine with us in the restaurant or order online, you can earn rewards. Your path to a reward will be clean and simple. Soon, for every $5 you spend, you’ll earn a star. Get to 25 stars, and we’ll share a $10 reward that you can apply to a future meal!

By providing our regular guests with the opportunity to enjoy complimentary Taziki’s, we hope to make it a little easier for everyone to #livethegoodlife this holiday season and beyond. We thank every single guest who has believed in what we do for over 20 years. We applaud you for joining us in seeking a healthier lifestyle. You are the reason we source authentic ingredients from the Mediterranean, from American farmers, and local produce partners in the towns we serve. You are the reason we go to such great lengths prepare every meal from scratch every day. These are things we’re thankful for.

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With TAZ Rewards, we welcome you into the inner circle, and our family of regulars and insiders. As our guest, you allow us to achieve our mission to create an environment that combines extraordinary food with meaningful human connection!

Want to get ready to earn your first reward? Download our app and it will ping you when TAZ Rewards is launched! After that, you can join either in-store or through our Taziki’s app.

With Gratitude,

— Dan

CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe


Six Health Benefits Of Greek Yogurt

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Did you know that one of the oldest fixtures of the Mediterranean diet is Greek Yogurt? Greek Yogurt is both delicious and healthy.

Some of the benefits include:

  • High amounts of protein to build and repair tissues

  • Vitamin B12 the nutrient that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy

  • Iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body's metabolism and many other important functions.

  • Calcium to build bones and keep them healthy. Also enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat.

  • Good fats -- like omega 3’s and unsaturated fats which reduce inflammation and help you stay full longer

  • Probiotics giving us microbes in the lower intestinal tract that help digest food, fight harmful bacteria, and regulate the immune system.

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Notably, the probiotics in yogurt are really what sets this food apart from other dairy products. Probiotics keep your gut healthy and in-turn, keep your brain healthy as it is said your gut is your “second brain”! Greek yogurt is a perfect after-workout snack, breakfast, substitute for sour cream and mayonnaise, and can be the perfect addition to many appetizers, main dishes, and even desserts. Here’s a link to one of our favorite at home recipes for a post-workout snack.

At Taziki’s we recognize how Greek yogurt as a powerhouse food! As we fully embrace the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, we choose to incorporate it as a staple ingredient in our Taziki Dip, which is a guest favorite appetizer.

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Greek yogurt combined with fresh cucumber and lemon creates this light signature favorite and we pair it with soft pita slices or baked pita chips.

DID YOU KNOW?

Yogurt has a long history dating back to the 6th Century B.C. in Turkey. It is believed that Central Asian herdsman stored goats milk in containers, which led to fermenting, thus came about yogurt! Over centuries, yogurt has evolved into many varieties, and expanded from home production to mass production. It is a staple in many diets throughout the world, especially the Mediterranean diet. In particular, Greece has long used it as a base to their tzatziki dip and as a dessert, with honey and spooned sweets on top.

What Does Winning Look Like? Good Choices.

By: Mike Smith

I grew up in Wentzville MO.  It is a small town about 40 miles west of St Louis MO.  Wentzville is not a place of historical significance with only a few notable residents. The town considered itself the “Crossroads of America” due to the fact it just happens to be the location that Interstates 70 and 40 intersect.  It was a blue-collar community driven around manufacturing, construction, and farming.

As a young kid, I hated vegetables.  This may be partially because I associated them with working in our 1-acre garden.  Other than picking the strawberries, which were in my mind the only reason we should even consider this laborious endeavour, I wanted nothing to do with it.  We also butchered our own hogs and steers at my uncle’s farm. This labor I was a little more bought into because it yielded the salivating rewards of steaks and bacon we could feast on and grill for the next year.  Again, this had to be done in a hard way in the dead of winter to keep the meat cold during the butchering process.

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As my parents aged and my older brothers moved away, there was less labor to be shared in our own food production and my family yielded to the habits of the changing world and buying cheap and often processed foods.  Sometimes, we would visit the local produce stands or pick fruits in season, but when those were unavailable processed foods were everywhere.

I often opted out of boring meals all together and just went to my room or went to bed early until football re-entered my life.  Sports were a big part of life growing up, but until high school, it didn’t truly matter. Enter the “Friday Night Light” effect. To be a contributor I had to get bigger, faster, and stronger.   To do this I had to gain muscle and healthy weight.

Exit junk and processed foods. I started making my own dinners or at least my own sides at family dinners.  I made requests around different shopping choices and my parents were supportive enough to buy the healthier foods I requested.  Often times I would cook the majority of the meal for the family so I could have it the way I wanted. Food was the one luxury we could afford and so began my experimentation with food and quest around a healthy lifestyle fueled by great tasting food.  

The passion for fitness I learned playing high school sports carried over to college and beyond.  From humble beginnings at the “crossroads of nowhere,” I have been lucky enough to get out and see some of the world.  I spent 13 years in San Diego where the mountains and beach were always just a bike ride or short drive away.

Today almost every trip I take has some adventure or fitness event attached to it.  I have been so fortunate to hike the coasts of Hawaii, Dolomite Mountains in Italy and to the base of the Eiger in Switzerland.  I have snowboarded in 4 different states, jumped off cliffs, and climbed waterfalls in Jamaica. My list of what to do next is just getting started.

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A couple years ago I made the trip to Birmingham to meet with the Taziki’s team.   I ate at several restaurants in Nashville and Birmingham and fell in love with the food. When I became a part of the Taziki’s team it was the first time that I was able to connect my passion for healthy and flavorful food with my career.  

Too many times in the restaurant business we sacrifice our healthy souls for a little extra flavor or to give a giant portion that creates an artificial perception of value.   Value is balancing natural flavorful foods that fuel us to thrive in other areas our lives. Today, I am fortunate enough to be a part of a team that wants to share that philosophy with our guests and we execute it every day.

Anyone that has been around me knows that I am competitive and love a challenge.  We have been competing with humans and nature for thousands of years and we compete to win.  In order to win we have to define what it takes to win or at a minimum what winning looks like.  What does winning look like to me?

Winning looks like living a fit and active lifestyle.  That includes traveling and trying the food inspired by people around the world.  For you, winning might be getting off the couch and running your first 5K or hitting the gym in your hometown.  Either way, I hope next time you sit down to eat you look at your food as a choice that fuels your life and that your life is if nothing else is an adventure.

What am I working on next?  My goal is to do 100,000 push ups before the end of the year and my next adventure – Tough Mudder Nashville.  Looking to build my team for both goals. If you want to join me reach out and connect!

How I "Live The Good Life": Red Williams

June 1st, 2016 is the day my life would forever be changed.  I’ll never forget showing up to Flywheel and feeling so out of place.  Everyone there was perky and had the ideal physique bodies. In my mind I kept thinking “I don’t belong here.  This is embarrassing. Abort mission!!!” However, when we got into the studio, you could immediately feel the energy shift from fear to excitement.  Our instructor, Joyce McNally, came right up to Nikki and me to introduce herself and get us set up on the bike to make sure we were comfortable.

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I could tell right away that this woman loved what she does and that this was going to be something special.  And it was. The lights went down and the music went up. It was the perfect atmosphere to focus on you and only you.  To feed off the energy that was in that studio. To close your eyes when you needed to just let go and get lost for a bit. The endorphins hit me for the first time in a LONG time.  I was immediately hooked! I was completely terrible, but hooked nonetheless.

I ended up buying a monthly membership at Flywheel so I could go an unlimited time each month.  At first I was only going 1-2 classes a week. However, once I started seeing and feeling results, I became addicted.  So I started going at least 4 times a week. It started to become my passion. The community there started to become family.  We would all push and inspire each other. Not only does Flywheel offer spin, but they also have a Barre room that I was scared to death of.  But with persistent pushing and encouragement from friends and instructors, I took my first step in that room on March 1st, 2017. And that made all the difference my last year at Fly.  For 2 solid years, Flywheel was a catalyst to something I never thought could happen.

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I never believed I would be in love with taking care of myself again.  Before Flywheel, I was in a dark place. I didn’t even realize how bad of a place I was in until I started shedding off the weight.  With each workout, and each pound lost, I was slowly finding my smile. My heart was starting to wake back up. My soul was starting to burn again.

All I kept thinking after walking out of that studio was “I never want to lose this feeling.  Everyone should feel like this at some point. In some way.” 2 years at Flywheel taught me what living vs existing meant.  And I know now that I’m LIVING my best life because I have found myself.

When I realized I wanted to move back to Birmingham, I had to start mentally preparing for not seeing the studio on a regular basis.  I struggled with that a bit. Actually, that was the hardest mental struggle I dealt with. I wasn’t sure I was disciplined enough to hold myself accountable the way my #Flyfam did.  I had hit a wall as far as weight loss, so I thought it would be a good idea to start weaning myself off of the bike and getting into a gym to switch up my routine.

Another good friend of mine took me to Planet Fitness one day and showed me a dozen exercises or so.  She knew what I wanted to work on the most, so she made sure I had some things in my arsenal to start. It felt good to actually lift heavier weights and start working with muscle groups differently.  Again, once I started seeing results, I was hooked.

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Once I started getting on a routine of going to work out by myself, along with catching a spin class 1-2 times a week, I realized a switch had flipped inside me.  I realized that I would be ok to move back home. That working out had become a lifestyle. I recognized that on some of my bad days, I craved working out. That my time in the gym is the most quality “me time” I can get.  It is where I go to shut everything else out and commit an hour and a half to myself. Because I’m worth it. I love myself too much to go back to that dark place. I will forever remember that dark place. Because it is a very real place.  But I’m strong enough to keep it at a distance.

Now that I’m back, I have kept up with going to Planet Fitness 3-5 times a week.  I’m always researching different workouts to fit into my goals. Goals are so important to have.  When I started Flywheel, I never had a weight loss number in mind. But, once I got on the scale and started to see that number go down, I made goals each month.  Small goals like 5-6 pounds a month (I had it to lose). I still have goals, but the weight number isn’t as important anymore.

Now it’s all about how I feel.  I also believe in rewarding yourself when you achieve a goal.  My biggest goal crusher was breaking the 200 barrier and getting into “one-derland” for the first time in 15 years!  And when I did that, I rewarded myself by doing something that scared me to death…I went zip lining. It was the most liberating experience.  My next goal for 2018 is to be able to a 5k without walking. FYI – I LOATHE running.

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I hope my story has reached someone that has been playing with the idea of becoming active.  If it’s to lose weight or simply just to get out there more and enjoy life. Do not let your mind set you back.  Mine did for far too long. And some days I have to remind myself how far I’ve come to refocus. Get out there and take the first step.  That’s the hardest part. But once you take that step, all you’ll have to do is put one foot in front of the other to keep going. I never would have guessed spin was the key for me.  You never know what’s out there that could reignite your spark! Go feed your soul! You’re worth it!

Living the good life is something we embrace daily but it’s also an aspect of our life that is long term. I’d love to hear how you find happiness outside of your workspace. Feel free to share on our Facebook page!