Thursday, July 25, 2013

Getting Back on the Wagon and a Basic Quinoa Recipe

Ok, I admit it, I've eaten a lot of "garbage" this week.  Sunday night had a family get together for dinner at a dairy restaurant.  Although we did start with salad and I ate quite a bit, we proceeded to soup (not too bad) and then creamy pastas complete with ice cream for dessert. Monday I took my daughter and some friends to the gourmet ice cream place in Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem and ate a lot of delicious ice cream. Tuesday, I behaved and yesterday (Wednesday) I ate two, albeit small, eclairs at a work function and then came home and ate the last two pieces of Pizza Hut pizza.  My first pizza in three months!  In short, forgive me father for I have sinned.  Have I mentioned that I haven't done any exercise since my Zumba class on Sat. night.  How many "Hail Moseses" must I say? (I'm Jewish).

It is so easy to "fall off the wagon". Although I am not soooo strict with my diet...three day food orgies of this sort are not acceptable.  I can just feel my blood glucose catapulting.

I'm trying to get my husband on the wagon, his LDL is quite high, 171, to be exact.  Not an easy task.  His doctor is giving him 6 months to get the cholesterol down or she is putting him on meds.  I think I will send him to my dietician and get him on track...

Anyway, on to the recipe!

Quinoa Pilaff

Quinoa is a great pseudograin for those watching their carb intake.  Quinoa is actually a seed and not a grain.  It is a complete protein, rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, ribloflavin and lysine. See this link to learn more about quinoa's benefits.

I think that this was my first quinoa recipe or maybe my first quinoa recipe after learning how to cook plain quinoa.  I got it from Suite 101. com and the author of the recipe is Stephanie Gallagher and have minorly adapted the recipe. It's a great warm side dish and also kosher for Passover (without the peas) if you hold that Quinoa is not kitniyot or if you are Sefardi (and then you can have the peas, too). 


2 T olive oil
1 med onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 medium red pepper chopped
2 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly through a fine sieve
4 cups water
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a a pot over medium high heat. 
Add onion and cook until soft, 3 minutes.
Add garlic, carrots and red pepper, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add quinoa and water and bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Stir in frozen peas and salt and pepper.

B'Teavon! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lubavitch Miso Soup

My first cookbook, which was given to me by my mom, Shelly Schwartz, was the original Spice and Spirt Cookbook published by Lubavitch (a Chassidic Orthodox sect of Judaism).  It was a blue hardcover cookbook with a yellow paper jacket, published circa 1977.  Mine is long without the jacket, and the hardcover has fallen off, but I still use it.

In the 1990's they came out with a newer addition with a purple hardcover and no jacket and even more recipes--800+. This edition was given to me and my husband as a thank you present from Rabbi Alex Carlebach and his wife Tzipora from Chabad (Lubavitch) Johannesburg when they went away for a few days. My husband took over as substitute Rabbi at his congregation and I ran Tzipora's nursery school.   

This cookbook is even more comprehensive and the recipes are very user friendly and not difficult.You really don't need to be Jewish to use this cookbook, just be aware that you won't find any recipes mixing milk and meat, using shellfish or containing pig meat.  Besides the recipes, there are great expanations about Judaism, it's laws and its customs. Take heed, however that it is a bit strict and I recommend not to use it as a book of Jewish law but rather to consult with your local Rabbi (if you are Jewish and observant and that's the kind of thing you do).

I must have 50-60 cookbooks but these days I often go straight to the internet when I'm thinking of trying a new recipe.  When I decided to make something with miso, I thought to check the Spice and Spirit first, and lo and behold I found the most amazing and delicious soup recipe.  That is my opinion and the opinion held by my two vegetarian daughters and my 10 year old.  The rest of the family liked it but didn't seem as thrilled. And of course my pickiest daughter did not try it at all. But as this is my blog and I loved it, I have chosen to share it with you.

Regarding miso's health benefits, see this link.

Here is my adaptation of the recipe:

Miso Soup


3 T shiro (or any light) miso
1/2 cup water
3 T oil
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup celery , thinly sliced
1/2 cup onion thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup minced parsley
6 cups water
3 T tamari or regular soy sauce
1/2 pound (500 g) tofu cut into chunks


In a small bowl mix miso in 1/2 cup water and set aside.
In a pot, heat oil on low flame.
Add prepared vegetables and saute for 10 minutes.
Add 6 cups of water.
Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are tender, appoximately 30 minutes.
Add miso mixture and tamari/soy sauce and stir thorougly.  
Do not boil miso, it will lose many of it's benefits.

Add tofu chunks right before serving.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tisha B'av and Rustic Bagels

I am writing this as I am fasting the Jewish fast of Tisha B'av.  Not the best time to write a food blog. Though fasting does cause one to think about food, not only for obvious reasons.  Today, I found myself thinking about how many of us our controlled by food in our day to day lives, not completely but to a certain degree. It may be a craving that we give in to or we may feel we need to eat to be able to concentrate, etc.  On a fast day, we are all of a sudden empowered, we overcome our physical need to eat for one day.  Obviously we need to eat to live and to be healthy and I of all people love eating and all things food.  But a fast day, allows us to realize that we are not purely physical beings with physical needs and allows us to get more in touch with our spiritual side.

Along with the above sentiments, I find in my household that we still find ourselves thinking about food and we deal with it by baking.  My 10 year old, who fasted until 5:30 pm even though it is not required of her, wanted to bake both peanut butter cookies and cupcakes. I limited her to the cookies. I then decided to bake bagels as I didn't have a chance to pick up any and I've always wanted to give it a try. They don't look super successful but I hope that the taste will make up for it.

I took a break to get the break-fast meal ready and now I'm back. The fast is over and we broke the fast on the bagels.  They were delicious! They tasted like real bagels although they were a bit thinner and looked very rustic.

See them here:

Anyway, I am still looking for the ultimate bagel recipe.  I think that I found one.  I promise to post a recipe, once I am more satisfied with my product.  As you can see from the color, I used whole-wheat flour for slightly more than half of the flour called for in the recipe.  I did the whole boil first and then bake method and they were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. But again, still waiting for a slightly more perfect recipe before I share.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kale: Super Food and Super Recipe!

As I have noted in the past, I define myself as a foodie.  I am obsessed with most things food. I read cookbooks and internet cooking sites and blogs in my free time and when I daydream I am often planning menus.  Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of other things in my life, work (non-food related), family, friends, Zumba, etc. but food is definitely up there!

Therefore, the way I have approached this whole business of controlling my sugar and LDL (bad cholesterol) through diet (and exercise) as been more about what I can and should eat and finding new and exciting recipes using various foods.  Rather than what I can't and shouldn't eat too often.

Right now in the middle of blogging the phone rang and it was my doctor and I got all nervous as I knew she was calling with my blood test results.  Of course, I thought the worst, that my numbers had probably stayed the same or gotten worse and that I was going to have to stop blogging due to my failure.  But... IT WAS GOOD NEWS! My sugar is down from 104 to 97 (under 100 is normal!). My LDL is down from 140 to 107 and my total cholesterol is down from 194 to 153!  On one hand, I feel like I deserve to celebrate with a creme brulee cheesecake but on the other hand I guess I should "keep up the good work!" and I do enjoy healthy food.  But, for the record, I still eat cheesecake and other yummies every once and a while. But usually only on the weekends or at special events and occassions and the amounts are "within reason".

Anyway, I feel like it's not fair to digress, while you sit and wait with bated breath for the kale recipe.  I would like however to tell you just a bit about kale.  Kale is high in phytonutrients which prevent cancer, and is also a great source of B vitamins, folic acid and manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar and is essential for proper immune system function. To read about other health benefits of kale, read this article by Alison Lewis on the MindBodyGreen website.

And now (drumroll please!) for the recipe

Kale with Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic

This recipe is based on a recipe posted this week to a facebook group I'm in called "What's for dinner?".  It definitely falls under the category of nutricious and delicious!  This is a great and different vegetable side dish to a meat,poultry, fish, or vegetarian/vegan main course.  Serve with the whole grain of your choice and your meal is complete!


1 package of fresh kale, washed and chopped, stalks removed
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
2-3 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
3 med-large tomatoes
salt, pepper and cayenne or chili pepper to taste
a little water


Sautee onion and garlic in a large pot or pan until onion is soft and translucent
Add chopped tomatoes and sautee for a minute or two more
Add kale, seasoning and water and cover
Simmer and continue cooking while covered, stirring quite often until kale softens but still has a little bit of "bite".

Enjoy!  We did.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vegan Chili: A Low Fat Recipe for the Nine Days

For those of you are not in the know.  The "Nine Days" are the nine days leading up and including the 9th of the Jewish Month of Av, Tisha B"Av which is considered the saddest day of the year for the Jewish people.  It is the day that the both Jewish temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, the first in 586 BCE and the second in 70 CE.

 For Orthodox Ashkenazim, Jews of European descent, the three weeks before Tisha B'av are considered a period of mourning and during this time do not  celebrate weddings and other major occasions, listen to live music, shave or have a haircut. The last nine days of this period are even stricter for the Orthodox Ashkenazim who in addition to the above restrictions will not eat meat and drink wine (except on the Sabbath) bathe in hot water, swim for pleasure, or do laundry.

I gave you this brief background but would like to concentrate on the not eating meat thing.  There are those who "freak out" about what to make for meals during this period.  There are those who go crazy with making cheesy, creamy dairy suppers during this period.  But not eating meat does not have to mean eating high fat foods like mac and cheese, fettucine alfredo or creamy quiche.  As a mother of two vegetarians who are practically vegan, I make a lot of low fat, parve (nondairy) dishes all year long which are both nourishing and filling.

Last night I made a variation on one my vegetarian/vegan chili recipes based on what I had in the house and it came out delicious.  Here you go!

Vegan Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
1-2 cups sweet potatoes cut into 1 inch (2.5 centimeter) pieces
cayenne pepper or hot paprika (optional--If you are using the Israeli beans as noted below then not necessary  )
2 teaspoons cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 cans black beans or red kidney beans (I used the Israeli "chili" beans which are kidney beans spiced for chili)
1 can sweet corn
2 1/2 cups water
1 can of diced tomatoes in juice
3 cups of coarsley chopped Swiss chard leaves


Heat oil in large pot, add onions and garlic and saute until tender and golden, about 9 mins.
Add rest of the ingredients except chard and brign to a boil.
Simmer until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in chard, and simmer until chard is tender about 4 more minutes.
Adjust seasoning, ladel into bowls and serve.

Note: Can be served as is or on top of grains or whole-grain pasta for a more filling option


Monday, July 1, 2013

A Lentil Sauce Recipe and Tales of a Dumb Teenage Vegetarian

I was a teenage vegetarian.  I was a dumb teenage vegetarian.  I thought that being a vegetarian meant not eating meat. I stopped eating all meat when I was 14 because I mainly ate red meat.  My "logic" was that since I was told that red meat was not healthy I would give up all meat.  I didn't give up candy, chocolate, cookies, cakes, fries, pizza, etc.  But I thought that I was being healthy because I was vegetarian.  Must I repeat, I was a dumb teenage vegetarian!

 When my friend Sari's mom asked me if I knew what I was doing, I had no idea what she meant.  "Of course", said I, the dumb teenage vegetarian.  To myself I thought:  "Vegetarians don't eat meat and I'm not eating meat, what's to know?" At age 18, I ended up in the emergency room and was diagnosed as anemic but I still didn't learn. A half a year later, I passed out on the Kibbutz kitchen floor but still didn't learn.

A few months later, my parents came to visit me on the Kibbutz in Israel and took me out to a steak restaurant in Jerusalem. My dad then teased me and said: "You are welcome to eat side dishes but wouldn't you prefer a nice juicy steak?"  I think I surprised him when I answered:  "Yes".  Bye bye dumb teenage vegetarian.

I am now a mother to two teenage vegetarians, one is practically vegan.  I am no longer a dumb teenage vegetarian but am now a smart mother of vegetarians.  I love vegetarian and vegan cooking.  I cook lots of grains and legumes, tofu and vegetables, nuts and seeds, blah, blah, blah.  Seriously, I do.  I fiind that many people do not understand that a meal does not have to mean a slab of something dead on a plate next to a carb and a veggie.  They puzzledly ask me, what I make for my vegetarians.  People can't comprehend that dishes comprised of legumes and grains or tofu and vegetables can replace a steak and a potato and a brocolli stalk.

So for those of you who suffer from vegetarian cookingaphobia here is an easy basic recipe to help start your repertoire for your vegetarian guests or your teenage children who may one day turn to you and say: "Mom/Dad, I want to be a vegetarian". Help them be smart vegetarians! Or clever vegetarians if you are from Britain, Australia, or South Africa!

Versatile Lentil Sauce

This sauce can be served with pasta, rice, or other grains or even top a baked potato.  It is also delicious on its own!  It is so easy to make and is a hit with many non-vegetarians as well!


1 cup red lentils
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 cups water
1 chopped onion


Throw all of the ingredients into a pot. 
Cover and bring to a boil. 
Boil for 20-30 minutes and then serve over grain or pasta.

Servings:  4