Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Kosher Cafe with Atmosphere


My husband and I shared a uniquely pleasant lunch today, the third anniversary of our immigration to the Holy Land. My husband chose the location - Cafe Hagiva (just a few bus stops past my daughter's school, where we had a meeting this morning). The outside looks like an old warehouse, but the inside is spacious, with post-modern art, and a large bar. An eclectic mix of heavy wood chairs and tables fills the dining hall and trails through the sparse grove out back.

The weather was perfect, so we took our chances and sat outdoors. (I can't stand cigarette smoke!) We had the most pleasant meal I can ever recall.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tofu Pad Thai

There is something about the end of December that puts Jews in the mood for Chinese food, or at least Asian food as it has evolved in the diaspora. If you find yourself with a block of tofu or some leftover chicken, you can whip this meal up from things you probably already have in your pantry and freezer. (You could also add scrambled eggs for protein.) NOTE: Instead of me writing "optional" on all the ingredients, just assume all the ingredients are merely suggestions.

For tofu, start by slicing or cubing the whole block. Put it in between paper towels or tea towels. Lay a cutting board on top and put some cans or other heavy things on top to squeeze out the water. This works best if all the slices/cubes are the same thickness, thus squeezed equally. You may need to switch the paper towels if they are soaked.

While the tofu is draining, mix the marinade. Use your own taste and what you have in the house, but something like
  • terriyaki sauce
  • soy sauce
  • ginger - fresh grated or powder
  • garlic - fresh grated or powder
  • silan (date syrup), molasses, or sugar

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sufganiot Gallery and Ode to a Great Mocha


My family took our first ever family vacation last week. We rented an apartment in Jerusalem for five days and four nights. ( I would highly recommend At Home in Israel for apartment rentals.) After the restaurant we had planned to go to turned into a sushi bar, we wandered into Shosh Cafe.

The restaurant and menu looks like your average Israeli dairy restaurant/cafe. However, the ingredients, flavor, and presentation had that extra something you don't get from a chain. All the food was delicious, but what really stood out was the REAL mocha. I think cafe mocha should be a cross between good cappuccino/cafe latte and good hot chocolate, but it is usually only one or neither. It should be based on good espresso and good chocolate. I've had many good "cappuccinos" and many great "shoko-ham"s (hot chocolate), but never the two shall meet... until today. Now I've only been to Shosh Cafe once, so I can't promise it wasn't a fluke. Maybe the barista was just in a good mood and tossed some extra chocolate in my drink, but this was good espresso with steamed milk and real chocolate. The milk was hot enough to melt the chocolate and the proportions were perfect. Maybe Jerusalem just has higher standard for their hot drinks.

The first day of Hanuka I took my kids and a friend to the "big mall" and the "big park." I was overwhelmed with the variety of sufganiot, filled donuts, on sale. All the pictures are from English Cake, a bakery chain with a store in the mall.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Easy Peasy "Pashtida" - Dairy free

You can call this a quiche, pie, casserole, or pashtida. I call it yummy.

Ingredients:

  • Something sweet and starchy (butternut squash), cooked to soft
  • Something green (frozen peas and corn)
  • bread crumbs (preferably Panko Japanese bread crumbs)
  • About 5 eggs
  • About 1 cup of soy milk
  • salt
  • garlic powder (optional)
  • nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. It starts with something you need to use up. I had two butternut squash that I peeled and steamed/boiled in my pressure cooker. Mash well.
  2. Then look in the freezer and add something green. I mixed about two cups of peas and corn into the hot squash. Baby peas, broccoli, and spinach would all be good choices.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kefir - Not Your Mamma's Yogurt


Kefir Starter Grains
Last week I told you how my mom's friend, Liz, taught her to make kombucha. Today I'll tell you haw my mom made kefir, a fermented milk* beverage. You can probably find kefir in the dairy section of your local health food store. But why buy it when it's so easy to make?

*Kefir can be made from animal (cow, goat, buffalo) milk, as well as coconut water and other vegan 'milk' (soy, rice, almond, etc.).

Add milk.
Compared with kombucha, kefir is incredibly fast to make, and kefir starter grains are comparably easier to acquire than a kombucha 'mother'. But unlike kombucha, we don't recommend you start your kefir and then go out of town for a few weeks! Dairy milk takes less than 24 hours to ferment; non-dairy liquids take closer to two days.

My mom found this kefir starter on the internet, but you can also get starter grains from any neighborly kefir maker. Liz started my mom out with some kefir starter grains in a clean glass jar. The grains look a little bit like the cauliflower or the curds in cottage cheese.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Kohl-slaw" Kohlrabi Salad




My whole family loved this, from my 1 year old to 7.5 year old, and my gluten-free, soy-free guest. My one regret is it's so boring looking. Next time I will have to add a little shredded raw beets, bell peppers, or carrots.
  • 3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sea salt (or tamari sauce)
  • 1-2 tsp Fresh ginger - grated
  • 1.5 Tbsp natural sugar (substitute stevia, agave, or Splenda, or use less sugar for diabetics)
  • optional: fresh grated garlic or garlic powder
  • optional: hot water
  • 2 heads/bulbs of kohlrabi
  • 1-2 (preferably firm, green) apples 
  • 1-2+ radishes (I used one giant one, like bigger than your average beet) (optional)
  • optional: shred something with color (something edible, of course!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A walk in Tel Aviv, lunch at Armando


I had a lovely day today with my guest. We began by heading through Shuk HaCarmel, the crowded outdoor market in the center of Tel Aviv. Next door to the shuk is an area packed with fabric, notions, and trimmings stores, were there is a large arts and crafts fair held every Tuesday and Friday. When our tummies got bored of fabric and crafts, we headed down Allenby Street and made a right on the Tayelet, the promenade along the beach. It was worth the walk!

I'm a sucker for all you can eat salad spreads. At Armando, included in the price of an entree are 16 salads, bread, and a surprise bowl of fruit for dessert. Yes, I said sixteen!

Upon our waiter's recommendation, I ordered the European Sea Bass baked in rock salt (no, it's not salty!) and my friend got grilled Seabream. Both fish were delicious, fresh, moist, and tasty. However, the "architecture" of my baked bass was easier to navigate. It can take a little practice to navigate a whole fish. (For a tour, watch five and a half minutes into the first video on Fish: Dress, Bake, Eat.) Or take me out to lunch and I'll take out the bones for you; but I might use my fingers!

I'm glad we sat at a table for four, or we never could have fit all that food. The waiter placed the potatoes right on top of the other salads!

Below: Clockwise from top left, spicy carrots, roasted red peppers, shredded beets, eggplant (with other veggies or something, really yummy), spicy cooked beets, and shredded carrots.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Southwest Chicken Salad

I have a special guest arriving today with multiple dietary challenges, including
  • gluten free
  • soy free
  • egg free
  • dairy free
  • peanut free
  • low fat

among other allergies and dietary requirements. She even has an intolerance for iodine; so she can't eat seaweed!

I wanted to make something that we could all enjoy on Shabbat, and that my guest could also eat when she comes. My husband went crazy for this. Inspired by Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass, I created this festive low-fat chicken salad. I've done lots of gluten-free, egg-free experimenting in the last month. I hope to post some of those ideas this month, so stay tuned!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Are You My Mother?



I've been a little obsessed lately with the idea of naturally "cultured" or fermented foods and drinks, but I haven't actually made anything. I really enjoyed learning about the beer-making process; however, I think my husband would be too scared to even allow me to keep a little kimchi on the counter.

My mom, on the other hand, has been chomping on chia seeds, sprouting, and juicing her own wheat grass for some time now. We had both been reading a lot about the positive health effects of eating fermented foods that contain large numbers of probiotics. While I was piling extra sauerkraut on my falafel, my mom has been guzzling Kombucha, a fermented tea drink, and mixing her muesli with kefir, a fermented milk yogurt-type drink. (Check back next week to learn about kefir.)

My mom had been purchasing both of these products at her local health food market when her friend, Liz, offered to teach her how to make them. I sent her with strict instructions to take lots of pictures and give me the full report.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Vegetarian's Dilemma


Do you tell your hosts you're a vegetarian? 

Many say, you don't want them to go through any trouble and you can just eat the side dishes. I say YES, YES, PLEASE TELL!

1. (Unless you are a vegetarian or vegan purely for health reasons) isn't having someone purchase meat on your behalf half as bad as eating it?

2. What's so bad about influencing your hosts menu? If you believe in the cause, wouldn't you prefer your host serves more plant-based foods?

3. Your host wants to please you. A good host plans a meal around what she hopes her guests will enjoy. A lot of thought goes into this and if you can steer your host in the right direction, it is helpful.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rosh Hashana Menu

Beginning with Shabbat, tomorrow night, through the second day of Rosh Hashana, on Tuesday, there are six festive meals with barely one day to cook in between.  Since I'm having guests for five of those meals, I thought I might want to plan a menu. I don't want my the two young men staying with us to get hungry over the next six days and I want to make sure we have enough FRESH foods left for our big meal on Tuesday. I've had my hands quite full with my non-cooking activities, so I'll be relying on store-bought challah and dips, and uber-simple dessert.

Thankfully, most of my shopping is done, but I'm hoping to go to the shuk (market) tomorrow for fresh salmon and vegetables.
Pesto Zucchini

Here's my provisional menu:


Friday night
  • Turkey with tomato sauce, red wine, mushrooms, olives, and basil
  • Challah and dips
  • Rice
  • Lightly roasted zucchini with pesto sauce
  • Dessert: Mango

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homebrewing - Part 2: The Process, Amazing Hops, Useful links


This is the second post in our series on brewing beer at home, by special guest, award winning brewer Boaz Harel.  CLICK HERE to read Part 1: Why make your own beer?

One little piece of advice before you forge forth: Looking at all this stuff can be intimidating, and it's easy to get overwhelmed or feel like this is too complicated for you to do. It's not. Making beer is easy. Primitive stone age people did it 6000 years ago with clay pots and a bonfire, it it worked fine. The only difference now is that we've got much better equipment, and many more people to help you if you get stuck.

Using Wort Extract by Jason Pratt
In the Part 1 I discussed why you should brew your own beer at home. Now, I'm going to talk about the basic process of brewing, and try to tackle some of the common questions of new homebrewers. If you are familiar with the process (or are just impatient) you can skip to the links at the bottom of the post for more concrete instructions and resources for brewing at home. 

Let’s start with the most basic question: What does brewing involve, exactly? Well, simply put, when you brew you take the sugars and flavors from malted grain, mix it with water, boil, season to taste, cool, and ferment. See? It's simple! Now go brew!

Ok, so maybe it's not as simple as it sounds. To get the sugar out of the grain you have to rinse it out with water at specific temperatures for specific times, using the twin processes of "mashing" (soaking the grain) and "luthering" (rinsing the grain and filtering out the particles). Doing this at home means that you start with a bunch of dry grain and end up with a big pot's worth of grain-flavored sugar water, known as "wort." When you start your brewing from grain you are using "all-grain" brewing.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Argentine Family Traditions

Zeide and me drinking Mate on the back porch

Today would have been my grandfather's 81st birthday. He passed away October 19, 2011, a few days before my son was born. Pablo Hackman, my Zeide (we called him by the Yiddish word for grandfather), was born in Poland and moved to Argentina as a baby. There he married my grandmother "Lala" and they had two kids before moving the family to New York. I wanted to celebrate his birthday by reminiscing about a typical family gathering.

Our food and get-togethers were very much influenced by Argentine culture. And Argentine culture is influenced by Italian culture. We ate lots of pasta, and said "ciao," and probably did lots of other things I don't realize are more Italian that South American. I grew up in Florida, living near my grandparents and my Aunt Monica's family. We got together often to enjoy asado Argentine barbecue.

We would all meet at Lala and Zeide's house in the afternoon. We might sit outside by the pool, or inside with a soccer game on the TV. At some point, maybe in the afternoon, my grandparents would prepare mate (mah-TAY) for us to share. (I was going to make this whole post about yerba mate, but that will wait for another day.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quick Electrolyte Drink

It's hot outside! It is so hot that running simple errands can take a lot out of me. Do you ever feel so thirsty and exhausted, but water just isn't cutting it? When I return home from a sweaty walk, this is what I like to put in my water bottle:

  • 2-3 lemon slices
  • a little drizzle of agave syrup (maybe 1 teaspoon)
  • TINY pinch of low-sodium salt substitute. Read the ingredients. You want something with sodium AND potassium. I use something that is half sea salt (sodium chloride) and half potassium chloride.
  • ice
  • water

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Foraging PLUS Purslane Tips and Recipes

Last week I took a very pleasant and informative "Wild Edibles Class" with experienced forager, Ronit Peskin. We walked through Gan Sacher in Jerusalem and found over a dozen edible plants - fruits, herbs, spices, medicinal plants, and more. I can't wait to tell you about everything I found and what you can do with it! Today I will discuss Purslane - the lemony, crunchy, weed of summer.

First, what did we find in Jerusalem?
Trees: Pine, fig, carob, olive, sumac, dwarf pomegranate, Judas tree/redbud, thorny Hawthorne, yucca
Bushes: capers, wild carrot/Queen Anne's lace (bird's nest), myrtle, rosemary, lavender, wild fennel, black mustard, wild oats, Roses
Low-lying Weeds: plantain (plantago lagopus), mallow, clover, purslane, prickly asparagus. prickly lettuce

Now, all about Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Also known as: Cat's tongue, pourpier, ma chi xian - horse tooth amaranth, verdolaga, pigweed, little hogweed, pusley, pussly, perpine, munyeroo, portulaca, garden purslain, rigla, or רגלת הגינה

Where to find it: Purslane is everywhere! In the city, in the forest... Maya commented on my Facebook Page that she used to collect purslane at her family's farm in North-West Pennsylvania. And here in central Israel, where it has been a very hot dry summer, it's still green.

How to pick: Look for bright green, thick, paddle-shaped, waxy leaves (like a jade plant), on knobby, fleshy green (or red, pink, or brown) stems, and tiny yellow flowers. Purslane generally hugs the ground and grows in a sprawling spider or web-like shape. The biggest leaves and the thinner stems are best for eating. It can be gathered without any tools, since it lacks thorns or a woody stem.

Poisonous look-alike: At some stages, purslane might be confused with poisonous spurge.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Grilling Ideas PLUS Kosher Recipes Link-Up

I recently joined the Kosher Connection. Each month we'll jointly host a "Link-up" on a different theme. Today I'd like to share some general ideas about:

  • Nontraditional dishes that make the most of a tradition grill (like things you can serve on Shabbat or bring to a pot-luck)
  • Tips for using non-traditional "grills" (great for cooking on vacation or in dorm-style situations)

The smoky, dry heat produced by a grill gives food some amazing flavors. Once you already have the grill set up, there's no reason to stick with simple grilled veggies and the traditional meats. You can use the grill as a flavor-boosting step in so many dishes.



By using the grill you can add an exciting summery flavor to dishes that can be taken to a friends house, to work, rewarmed for Shabbat, or eaten cold.

This Shabbat I served a crustless quiche or pashtida. The main ingredient was grilled butternut squash. The grilling (or roasting) carmelized the squash in a way that wouldn't have been possible if I baked the whole cassarole at once. Instead, the squash was soft and sweet and fully cooked by the time the egg was done. I even enjoyed this cold for breakfast yesterday!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gluten-free 3-cheese Vegetable Lasagna



This dish is heavy on the prep, but very rewarding. My husband and I decided we liked the leftovers even better, hot or cold.

Avi watching me slice eggplant
Fried eggplant

You will need three cheeses:
  • Something salty (I used Bulgarit)
  • Something soft like ricotta or cottage cheese
  • Something stretchy and melty like mozzerella (I used "gvina tzuba", something like Edam.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sabra Sorbet (Frozen Prickly Pear) PLUS How to Safely Cut Them Open

Photo by Sarah Melamed
Drive down any highway in Israel this summer and you will see spiny golden balls generously sprinkled along the tops of the cactus patches. This cactus fruit or prickly pear is called tsabar צבר in Hebrew and is the name sake of the native born Israeli - called a Sabra - prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside.

I don't have patience for Sabras. All the Israeli friends I've made in the last couple years were friendly on the outside, and any prickly people I've met still scare me. But this year I decided to get over my fear and buy my my own tsabar. Of course, I wasn't venturing into a cactus patch, I was just crossing the street to buy some de-clawed sabras. But even with the big thorns cut off, they can bite. 

Since the sabras were packaged, I was forced to buy a whole kilo. If I had only bought one or two, I probably would have been turned off by the seeds and quit, but being stuck with a whole bowl-full, I had to find something to do with them. It turns out they make a wonderful sorbet!

Friday, August 10, 2012

My First Lychee Encounter with VIDEO


Lychee "nuts", or Litchi chinensis, are technically in season, though they're still not cheap. My kids go crazy for them and I think they are really beautiful inside and out. (I'd love to do an art project with the skin/shell.) They have prickly, leathery magenta skin. It doesn't have sharp spines, so you can easily handle them. If you leave them in the fridge the skins will dry out and become more difficult to cut open, but the taste of the fruit remains sweet. The texture is in between a grape and a plum, the pulp is white and translucent. I would describe the taste as sweet and perfumy. If you cut straight through to the the seed, like you might open an avocado, the flesh easily separates from both the skin and the seed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Homebrewing - Part 1: Why make your own beer? Guest Post

Boaz with Sam Adams Award
I am honored to introduce Boaz Harel, the first place winner for Pale Ale in the 2012 Sam Adams Longshot home brew competition in Israel, and author of the Three Cats Brewery Blog. Boaz is also married to  Maya, the author of the hilarious and informative blog How to Be Israeli. I first met Boaz and Maya when we were college students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This October we both welcomed our first "Made in Israel" babies into the world. Congratulation Boaz and Maya!

Let's try a simple exercise. Go get yourself a glass of cola. Now look at the glass and ask yourself what's in it. Chances are you couldn't answer the question, and with soft drink companies being so cagey about their products (and for a reason - if you knew what was in it you'd probably never drink it) you'll probably never know. Now go get a glass of beer and the same question. What's in this? The answer to that question is just four words: water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. What's more, all the wonderful variety of beers in the world, from the black roasty Guinness, to the pale crisp Bud Light, is made from those same basic four ingredients. Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast (and magic :) ).
Beers from Three Cats Brewery

In fact, beer is such a simple, easy, and natural beverage, that you can actually make it at home. In the second part of this post I'll show you how, but before we get into that, let's talk a little about what beer is, and why you should make it. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Easy Arepas (Corn pancakes)

When I was growing up in South Florida, my family would go to Miami to see the Marlins play baseball. One of the highlights of the trip was the delicious, sweet, greasy, cheesy arepa I would usually order for dinner. I don't think this was the most authentic Venezuelan or Colombian arepa, but it was utterly delicious. Two sweet corn pancakes were fried on a griddle, with white Jack cheese melted in the middle. You eat it like a sandwich with a little cardboard holder. Imagine my surprise when I learned that every stadium and fairground in the United States does not host Arepa Queen stands!


I wanted my family to have a little taste of the pleasure that comes with this wonderful flavor combination, so I've been making my own wonderfully un-authentic arepas using an inexpensive sandwich maker. This could easily be made in a dorm or hotel room if you bring the ingredients. You can also serve it with salsa or guacamole on the side.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Kosher Cooking Carvival - Av

Welcome to the Kosher Cooking Carnival for the Hebrew month of Av. In the spirit of the nine days, we'll skip the meat, and the frills.  Welcome to the first ever Parve KCC! First, some news:

Tamar opened a "blogsite" - Kosher With Food Allergies - for information and resources for Jews dealing with food allergies. Maybe you have allergies and need tips for traveling outside your comfort zone, or you have guests coming this summer with food allergies, this is an incredible compilation/portal of resources.

Yocheved Golani is looking for a publisher for her new book The Comfort Foods Cookbook: Recipes to Calm You Down FAST Without Widening Your Waistline.  I've posted an excerpt from her book about whole grains and spreads.

Batya of me-ander is traveling to the states this summer and wants to know, So Which Starbucks is Kosher?

Israel has been threatened with rolling blackouts. Hannah K. of Cooking Manager wrote about Preparing Your Refrigerator for a Power Outage.

Photo credit: Mordechai Treiger
David Lebovitz (Living the Sweet Life in Paris) takes a culinary tour of Jerusalem.

At Isreview, Daniela reviewed PriGat’s "Retro" Blood Orange Juice and Bagel Bagel's Aleph-Bet Shaped Pretzels.

My friend Hannah Z. has revived her blog Keen on Quinoa and wrote A Lesson in Hilchot Kashrut.   Hannah posted several other blueberry themed posts including How to Can Blueberries, plus lots of cookie recipes.


Yosefa's Shakshuka
Now for the recipes:

I've been feeling extra Israeli in the kitchen lately. I recently posted Keys to Great Eggplant (you HAVE to try my eggplant and tehina) and I made sweet and easy Shakshuka.

Mrs. S. wrote The requisite fast day food post, including a  recipe for zucchini soup,  at Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress.

A great idea idea for summer - Ester, of Frugal and Kosher, made Roasted Vegetable Gazpacho with a mixture of raw and cooked veggies. What a nice idea to get the fullest range of flavor and health benefits. Ester also made a vegan Raisin-Bran Cake. My mouth is watering!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Keys to Great Eggplant

Egglant with tahini (Hatzil v'tehina in Hebrew) is my Israeli claim to fame. My hummus might taste too Ashkenazi, I don't like to make shnitzel (fried, breaded, flattened chicken breast), and I've only recently started making shakshuka. But I would be proud to serve my eggplant to any native Israeli.  I have posted about this before (Eggplant & Tehina), and I've made some very good and very bad eggplant since then. I've gotten cocky, skipped steps, and learned the hard way that there are a few rules you shouldn't forget.

1. Salt the eggplant for at least 20 minutes. Unless you are dealing with the youngest of the skinny, light purple Japanese Eggplants, you should slice the eggplant and salt it very generously before any additional prep. This draws out moisture and bitter flavors and tenderizes the eggplant. Use the flaky kosher salt, or any salt that will stick. The eggplant will sweat. I often do this in the morning and leave it out for a couple hours while I prepare other things.  Then rinse it and blot try with paper towels or a tea towel.

2. Do not save the juices. The liquid that comes out of the eggplant while it cooks contains unpleasant flavors. It is best to cook the eggplant in a way that lets most of these flavors drip away. If you have a grill, use it. If not, you may use a grill pan or broiler pan. Lately, I have been making my own disposable grill pan by folding or twisting strips of aluminum foil and laying them out parallel on a larger pan to hold the eggplant off the pan and out of it's juices. I have made excellent eggplant without this step, but I find this is like broiler insurance. If you cook it in a flat pan it is good to put the cooked eggplant in a place where some of the liquid can drip off before you season and serve it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Healthy Comfort Foods

This is a guest post from Yocheved Golani, auther of It's MY Crisis! And I'll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge. Yocheved is writing a new book, The Comfort Foods Cookbook: Recipes to Calm You Down FAST Without Widening Your Waistline. The idea intrigued me, so I asked Yocheved if I could share an excerpt with you. Below is an excerpt from the book about whole grains and sandwich spreads. These foods are comforting in the mouth and on a chemical level, but won't expand your waistline and made you feel like lethargic like traditional comfort foods.

Use fresh produce and grains. The evidence is in that commercially prepared products hold harmful synthetic chemicals. Fake foods are wreaking havoc with thyroids, metabolism (your body’s ability to burn calories), fertility rates, lifespans and lifestyles. Keep life simple. Don’t sicken yourself on additives, preservatives, food colorings and flavor enhancers. They make the scale stick its tongue out at you, too.

Want some bread? Great! Make yours whole grain. Those complex carbohydrates leave you feeling fuller. They also balance your body’s chemicals, including sugar levels. Bye-bye hunger pangs!
BONUS: Better4U Sandwich Spreads!

Smear avocado on the bread. Packed with potassium, hormone-balancing avocado (yes, ladies) is especially good for a woman’s cervical and womb health.

Men, avocados are guy-friendly, too. Avos, as South Africans call the fruit, hold compounds that can prevent oral cancer. Their oleic acid is a protection against breast cancer (YES, men do develop breast cancer!).

One avocado week can help almost anybody to shed excess weight and possibly prevent some cancers. The fruit is rich in lutein to support everyone’s eye health, too.

Top that snack with sliced tomatoes, loaded with lycophen for healthier hearts and blood systems! Tomatoes even hold four chambers, just like human hearts. Lycophen compounds are linked to lower rates of breast and prostate cancer.

Pears have the same properties as avocados, so enjoy them often. Ladies, pamper your PMS-y selves with avocado salads, guacamole and even plain old avocado scooped from the peel. Their natural fats are soothing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Very Easy Apple Sauce Cake

My husband's birthday is on Thursday, but we're expecting a crazy week, so we had a little surprise celebration today. I had just over an hour until he would be home, in which time I hoped to clean the whole house, start dinner, and bake a cake. All with four kids at home. Thankfully, I had the perfect cake recipe for the occasion! It's a recipe I posted previously, Leah's Easy Applesauce Cake, but with a few changes of my own (in bold).
      
   Ingredients
  • 2 cups (260 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) demerara sugar
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (I used freshly grated)
  • pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • 2 tsp aluminum-free Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (237 ml) olive oil
  • 1 cup (237 ml) natural, unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 - 3/4 bag of chocolate chips (save some to put on top in the last 15 minutes of baking)
Mix all ingredients very well. Bake at 180C / 350F for about 45 minutes.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shakshouka

I never understood what the big deal was with shakshouka - a tradition middle eastern dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. It seems like a staple on every breakfast buffet, from the watery sauce to the over-cooked eggs.

Then my friend Tzippy took me to Shvil Izzim restaurant. We shared (among other things) the best shakshuka I've ever had. Sweet bell peppers in a flavorful sauce with fresh tomatoes and not too much spice. And the eggs! Not the baked-to-death eggs I'd experienced in my previous shakshouka history. Delicate, gently poached, with rich, runny yolks!  And, of course, fresh bread to soak up all that rich tomato-y goodness. (See my post on Shvil Izzim and my photo restaurant review on Facebook.)

When I saw heaping piles of brightly colored, inexpensive peppers on sale, I immediately had an itch to recreate this traditional dish.  Shakshuka is the perfect nonrecipe meal. You make it how you like it. I didn't use a recipe and I didn't have an Israeli (or Algerian or Tunisian) grandma to teach me how to make it. But whatever I did, it was yummy AND EASY!
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