Monday, December 16, 2013

Low-fat Vegetable Split Pea Soup: the ultimate comfort food

I hate to be repeating myself, but the need need to open this blog with a big thank you to the Kosher Connection monthly link up. For the past few months, I have been blogging once a month only for this link-up.  I hope to start getting back to at least once every two weeks and ideally to once or twice weekly but in the mean time THANK YOU Kosher Connection!  Briefly, for those who don't remember, not familiar, or new to this blog, Kosher Connection is a bunch of Kosher bloggers from around the world who once a month "link up" and post a recipe based on that month's theme.  This month the theme is comfort food.

Here in Israel we are now in the aftermath of the country's biggest snow and rain storm in 20 years.  13,000 homes are still without electricity.  Public transportation is just starting to go back to normal in Jerusalem (I hope!), schools in Jerusalem and other places are still closed. So what is the best comfort food in this situation? Obviously,soup! If we were dealing with the area of comfort drinks, then this column might be on Hot Cocoa but I'm also not 100 % sure how I would overcome the low fat, low sugar issue with that one...

Back to the soup.  Years ago, in the mid 1990's when not everybody had computers (yes, there was such a time), and all we had was a laptop and a dial-up connection, I joined an email group called the Jewish-Food mailing list which also gave birth to a site containing all the recipes collected from the group.  My soup recipe for you today is loosely based on a recipe posted by a woman named Linda Shapiro who submitted a recipe for vegetable split-pea soup from The Low-Fat Good Food Cookbook.

Here is the recipe:

Low-Fat Vegetable Split Pea Soup


1 pound (500g) dried split peas
2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) water
1-1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped or sliced carrots
1 large or two small sweet potatoes (or 3 med. regular potatoes) chopped into large chunks
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper


Rinse the peas and combine with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Add two more cups of water, the vegetables, salt and pepper and other seasonings if desired.
Return to a boil and then reduce heat again and simmer another time, stirring every 15 minutes.
The soup is done when the peas are creamy, the vegetables are soft but hold their shape and the soup is thick but not stiff ( I find that this soup comes out thinner than most pea soups).

B'Teavon! Enjoy!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgivikkuh and Butternut Squash Donut Muffins: a Kosher Connection Linkup Post

All I can say is thank G-d for the Kosher Connection monthly link up! Lately, I've been so lazy about blogging but thanks to the link up, you can be sure that I will blog at least once a month.

The Kosher Connection link up is a bunch of Kosher bloggers from around the world who once a month rise to a recipe challenge based on a theme. This month's theme is recipes for the holiday of the century or as rumor has it, the holiday that we will have again in 70,000 years, a combo of Thanksgiving and Chanuka, otherwise known as Thanksgivikkuh!

To my children's chagrin, I am planning on celebrating this holiday with my family albeit on Friday night and not on the Thursday night of Thanksgiving.  My children, US passport holders, but born and raised in Israel and partially in South Africa, do not strongly embrace their American roots and tend to balk at many US customs and traditions.  On the other hand, they started a "custom" two years ago of decorating one of our potted trees from the balcony and calling it our Chanukka bush...which for me feels horrifically wrong but to them it is just good, clean fun.

But stubborn as I am, and always one for a "themed" meal,  we are going to "do" Thanksgivikkuh. It's next week and I'm still not sure what's on the menu but we will be having turkey legs and turkey breast for our main course and these pumpkin donut muffins as part of our dessert spread.

Butternut Squash Donut Muffins

Let me tell you the truth, these muffins have no resemblance to a donut. They are however delicious.  I have a feeling that Martha Stewart's recipe of this same name that is made with butter probably has a more donutty consistency but these are pure cakey muffins.  However, as I am trying to avoid fried foods to prevent high "bad" cholesterol, the name will stick.  At least, then I can say I had a Chanuka donut (muffin)! I will confess that I plan on buying a couple of the gourmet ones sold here in Israel from Roladin or one of the other Cafe chains...but to make them myself would be sacrilege, not to mention, TOO MUCH WORK!

This recipe is based on several that I saw on the internet but adjusted to be pareve (non-dairy) and more healthy.

 Ingredients for Muffins

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup demerara or golden pure cane sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. baking power
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
pinch or two or salt
1 tsp vanilla 
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups white flour
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup butternut squash or pumpkin puree from roasted or boiled squash/pumpkin


2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2-3 TBSP soy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 425 F/220 C
Line muffin pan with paper cupcake liners
In a large mixing bowl beat oil and sugars
Add vanila and eggs one at at time
Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
In a small bowl mix butternut puree and soy milk.
Add flour and puree mixture to oil sugar mixture a little at a time alternating until all of the ingredients are mixed well.  
Spoon into muffin pan.
Bake muffins for 1517 mins or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
Cool muffins slightly
Mix glaze ingredients together and drizzle on to muffins and spreading evenly on to the muffin tops. The glaze will quickly harden.
Taste a muffin to "make sure it came out ok" and then forbid everybody else from eating the muffins until Thankgivikkuh!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Baby Green Salad with Roasted Pears, Corn and Pecorino (Plus October Kosher Connection Linkup)

Hi, remember me.  I know, it's been a while. I have some excuses but none too good.  It all started with the Jewish holidays that took up around three weeks in September.  Ironically, I was cooking more than ever but had no time to write about it much. After that lull, my get up and go, got up and went.  So I needed something to motivate me again. Then this Kosher Connection linkup came about.

 This month you could choose two of the three ingredients.  Fresh pears, canned corn and Mike and Ikes.  I kid you not!  Guess which one I left out, even though I must admit I have a weakness for jelly beans and all of their friends and relatives.

 I immediately thought that pear and corn would go great together in a salad, and the question was what should I add.  I did some internet research and then based on a gazillion ideas, I made up my own hybrid which came out delicious (if I may say so myself).

So here we go:

Baby Green Salad with Roasted Pears, Corn and Pecorino

Salad Ingredients

150 g Baby Greens (half of a big bag)
4 pears
Juice from half a lemon
2 teaspoons demerara sugar
2-3 Tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese
1 can of corn


6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice from half a lemon
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon Silan (date honey)


Set oven to 450 F(225 C) and roast pears in lemon juice and sugar. 
Assemble all the salad ingredients in a bowl, putting first greens, then mixing in corn and pears and top with cheese.
Mix dressing ingredients and pour on salad and toss until all ingredients are evenly coated. 
Eat immediately!

Slicing the pears before roasting

Squeezing the lemon juice and mixing it with demerara sugar

What a delicious looking and delicious tasting salad!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Healthier Kugels: Sweet Potato-Pecan Casserole and Cauliflower and Leek Kugel

Ashkenazi Jews, especially those of Anglo (N. American, British, S. African and Australian) origin, often feel that it is not a holiday or Shabbat meal without the addition of kugels. For years already, I have cut down on my kugel production and consumption after coming to the realization that many of the recipes are just desserts disguised as side dishes and laden with sugar, margarine, flour, etc.

Instead I prepare a whole variety of delicious vegetable dishes, salads, grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. There is no question, however, that a kugel does impart that festive feeling to a meal.  No one said that kugels need to be unhealthy and dessert-like.I'd like to share with you two yummy recipes for healthier than average kugels:

Sweet Potato-Pecan Casserole


3 large or 4-5 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch (2 1/2 cm) chunks
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground ginger (optional)
1/3 cup candied pecans (in Israel="Pecan Sini")


Heat Oven to 350 F (180 C)
Lightly grease square, rectangular, or oval baking pan 
In the meantime, boil sweet potato chunks in pot until soft around 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and mash until smooth in large bowl.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients.  
Spread evenly in baking pan and top with pecans lined up in rows.
Bake 40-45 minutes until it begins to brown around the edges.


Cauliflower and Leek Kugel


1 package of frozen cauliflower (or 2 fresh medium heads) 6 TBSP olive oil, divided 1 large or 2 medium coarsely chopped leeks or 2 coarsely chopped red or yellow onions 6 TBSP breadcrumbs or matza meal 3 large eggs 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, divided 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper 1/3 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted


Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) Cook cauliflower until tender, put aside in bowl break into smaller pieces or mash slightly if desired Saute leeks in 3 TBSPs of oil until tender and just beginning to color, about 5 mins Add leeks to cauliflower Mix in bread crumbs, set aside. In a seperate bowl mix eggs, 1Tbsp parsley, 1Tbsp dill, salt and pepper and then mix into cauliflower. Pour mixture into 11 x 7 baking pan brushed with one TBSP olive oil, Mix almonds remaining parsley, dill and oil together and sprinkle evenly over kugel. Bake uncovered until set in center and beginning to brown on top, about 35 mins. Let stand 10 mins.
Get a piece before your family and guests finish it,nothing is ever left of this kugel at the end of the meal!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rosh Hashanah Post #2--Simanim and Black-eyed Pea Soup

First of all, I owe you all an apology.  After my first Rosh Hashanah post, I promised to post more recipes and then I got busy with work, life and cooking for Rosh Hashanah that I had no time to write about cooking.  I still have a ton to do, but the Jewish guilt got to me and I decided that I better get one more post in before the holiday.

For those who don't know, Simanim or significant omens, the custom of eating special foods that symbolize something good or that the name of the food (in Aramaic, by the way) connotates something good that we wish for in the coming year. This custom and the list of foods is mentioned in the Talmud and the list is as following: (though not necessarily in this exact order)

I must add that there are different opinions on what food is to be used for each Siman, I am sharing what is widespread and what I biasedly do.

Kara-gourd or squash
Rubia-Black eyed peas
Slika-chard (beet greens)
Rosh-sheep or fish head

We have a whole "taster's menu" of the simanim where we eat various dishes that I prepare from the symbolic foods and some we just eat by themselves. There is a special prayer known as a "Yehi Ratzon" that we say on each food.  Only after this "feast" and ceremony do we begin our main meal which consists of usual holiday fare such as roast, chicken, sides, etc. and we finish up with scrumptious homemade desserts.

As I write this, it is less than three hours before the holiday here in Israel so I apologize that I only have time to share one of my recipes with you.

Lubia or Rubya, AKA Black Eyed Pea Soup

This recipe is based on a recipe from "The Jewish Heritage Cookbook",by Marlena Spieler, another present from my sister in law Michelle.  I have been making this for Rosh Hashanah for around 10 years.

Rubia means plentiful in Aramaic.  While the prayer talks about us having many good deeds or virtues.  It is interesting that there is a custom in the southern United States to eat black eyed peas on the secular New Year and this custom is thought to bring prosperity. One of the theories to the origin of this custom is that Sefardi Jews immigrated to Georgia in 1730 and the custom then spread to the non-Jews of the area.


2 cups black eyed peas
2 T olive oil
2 large onions chopped
4 garlic cloves
spicy red pepper flakes (I give a couple of shakes)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 9 oz (250g) canned diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)


Put the beans in a pan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, then cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to stand for 2 hours. Drain the beans, return to the pan, cover with fresh cold water, then simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the beans are tender.  Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for five minutes or until the onion is soft. Stir in the cumin turmeric, tomatoes, water, coriander and the peans and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice right before serving. 

Can be served hot or cold.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Classic Potato Salad

I know what you are thinking.  Potatoes?! Even on a pseudo-healthy blog, this seems unacceptable.  I have stressed the whole "eating to lower blood sugar" thing, so where do potatoes come in? Also, what does potato salad have to do with Rosh Hashanah?  The answer to the second question is--nothing.  The answer to the first question is that cold potatoes have actually been found to lower blood sugar as they are a "resistant starch" which is basically a carb that resists digestion and is passed through to the large intestine where it acts as dietary fiber. Consumption of resistant starch has been proven to assist in blood sugar management.

So here I am thinking that potatoes are evil, which they may be when they are hot and they definitely are when they are fried but when they are cold, they are good news!  And you know what's even better? Vinegar, a crucial ingredient in most cold potato salads has been found to help halt the sudden rise or spike of blood sugar that occurs after eating a meal. Not sure how to defend the mayonaisse part of the salad but I use "light" mayonaisse so it's not that bad.  

I actually can probably count on one hand the number of times I made potato salad over the last seven years but now that I've made my "discovery" maybe I will make it more and maybe I'll even make it for Rosh Hashanah (except that my kids don't like it)

Classic Potato Salad


4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
8 pickles (preferably in vinegar not brine, but brine works, too)
1 medium white or red onion or 3 green onions or a bunch of chives
3 heaped Tablespoons light mayonaisse
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon salt or to taste.


Boil potatoes until soft but firm and chop into 1-inch (2 1/2 centimeter) cubes
Chop pickles and onions finely and add to potatoes
Add the rest of the ingredients

Serve as part of a salad buffet or as a side.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Rosh Hashana Post #1: Apple Cake and Date Honey Cookies

Rosh Hashanah is around the corner and it's a three day holiday.  For the unitiated, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and it is three days this year because it falls on Thursday and Friday and then Saturday is Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).  One of my daughters once called it a four day holiday because the Jewish days actually start in the evening so the holiday begins on Wednesday night.  The holiday entails lots of beautiful prayers and seven festive meals! Wednesday supper, Thursday lunch, Thursday supper, Friday lunch, Friday supper, Saturday lunch and Saturday supper (aka Seudah Shlishit--the third Sabbath meal).  This is a lot of food.  We don't really do the Seudah Shlishit so much... but we are already organized.  Two meals with guests, two meals invited out and two meals on our own as a family.

People stress out over all this cooking and eating which includes all sorts of special foods which I will try to cover in my coming posts.  One of the central foods that we eat is apple dipped in honey, symbolizing our wish for a sweet new year. Many people prepare or buy honey cakes and apple cakes.  For years, I searched for the ultimate honey cake recipe and still have not found it or maybe I have just found out that I don't like honey cake so much.  I do however love my apple cake recipe which I will share with you in this post.

About honey cookies, when I first came to Israel and was on Kibbutz Ma'aleh Gilboa I was offered cookies. I turned and I saw these fat round sticky things.  I asked what they were and was told "Duvshaniot" (honey cookies).  I had never heard of them but took one bite and was addicted. I never thought of making these cookies until last year before Pesach (Passover) when I was looking for recipes to bake away all my flour which is forbidden on that holiday. I had too much Rye flour so I opened up my cookbook "The Healthy Kitchen" (in Hebrew "Hamitbach Habari shel Al Hashulchan") and found an amazing recipe for date honey duvshaniot made with rye flour which turned out to be surprisingly delicious.

Now on to the recipes!

Family Apple Cake

This recipe is an adaptation from the (out of print) cookbook, "The Pleasures of your Food Processor" by Norene Giletz.  It does contains margarine.  For the record when it comes to baking I do not usually "follow the rules" of healthy eating.  I do substitute at least half whole-wheat flour in most of my baking recipes, however.

For Illustrative Purposes Only

Ingredients for Filling:

8 or 9 apples, peeled cored and sliced into eighths ( I use my apple corer and slicer)
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1 T cinnamon
2 T. flour

Ingredients for Batter

1 cup margarine 
4 eggs
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. apple juice or whiskey
2 3/4 c. flour
4 t. baking powder


Mix filling incredients and set aside

Beat margarine eggs, sugar and vanilla with mixer for two minutes. 
Add juice/whiskey and beat for a few seconds. 
Add flour and beat in until flour disappears.

Spread 1/3 of batter in a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan.  
Arrange half of the apple filing over batter.  Do not allow filling to touch sides of pan.  Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with batter.

Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 70 to 75 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool for 20 mins.  You can dust with icing suar when cool.

Date Honey "Duvshaniot" Made with Rye Flour

There are two types of Silan/Date honey-natural, made only from dates and one with water and sugar added.  Try to buy the natural one. In Israel, you can buy the natural one at the regular supermarkets or at health food stores.  I'm assuming that outside of Israel, that you can probably find it at kosher stores, middle eastern food stores and health food stores.  


2 c. whole rye flour
1 heaped t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup Silan/date honey 
1 egg


Heat oven to 175 C (approximately 350 F)
Mix flour, baking powder and spices
Add sugar oil, silan and egg and beat in mixer into a sticky dough
Form balls around 4 cm in diameter and place on cookie sheet lined with baking paper, flatten a bit
Bake 15-20 minutes until the cookies crack a bit but are still slightly soft.  
Cool completely and transfer to a sealed container.  
Cookies can keep up to a week.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Blueberry,Spinach and Mango Smoothie

I have been wanting to make a green smoothie for a long, long time.  I just never got around to it.  Today in the middle of my cooking and my Shabbat preparations, I decided that the time had come.  I was hungry and the spinach was starting to look a little sad.  So I put all the ingredients in a blender and voila...nothing!  The blender was broken, again!  It's still on warranty and I can't tell you how many times that we've brought it in. Ironically, I never use kids do.  But never fear, stick blender was here, and I managed to make a delicious smoothie and splatter purple all over my kitchen cupboards, counters, appliances, etc.  My two vegetarians tried it but were not so keen on drinking spinach.  So I finished up two large glasses on my own...yum!

Here's the recipe:


2 cups baby spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 mango
1 cup water
honey, to taste ( I used two teaspoons)


Blend all ingredients together and pour into tall glasses.

Makes two very full glasses

Some of the goodies

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Couple of Salads

We almost always start our Shabbat (Saturday) lunch with different salads.  Of course, that's after the kiddush wine and the Challah and what Israelis call salads (salatim) which are really spreads:  Chummous, eggplant, matbucha (red pepper spread), etc.  I used to make a large variety and some were more starchy and some were more vegetable-y.  Today I tend to serve 1-3 appetizer salads that are usually vegetable or legume based, and then I save the carby salads for side dishes.

It's a great way to get some veggies and some other goodies into your system and a lighter way to "do" appetizers as opposed to egg rolls, burekas and other heavy greasy things we sometimes eat at the beginning of a meal.

So today I am going to share three recipes with you:  carrot and cilantro salad, cabbage salad with goodies, and my friend Sima Navon's fava bean salad from her blog Just Add Flax.

Carrot and Cilantro Salad

This is my 10 year old daughter's favorite salad!


4 medium carrots, peeled into ribbons
1 bunch of fresh cilantro (coriander, cusbara), roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon canola oil
salt and pepper to taste


Mix first four ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cabbage Salad with Goodies

The secret to this salad is the dressing!  You can vary the amounts of cabbage and the types of goodies but whatever you do, don't change the dressing!

Salad Ingredients

3 cups of grated cabbage (green or a mixture of green and purple)
Nuts (raw, toasted and unsalted, carmelized or candied)
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds (raw or toasted and unsalted)
Dried cranberries (you can try other dried fruit, too)

Dressing Ingredients

1/8 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar (you can use a bit less)
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut butter
salt and black pepper to taste


Put all the salad ingredients in a bowl and mix well
Mix dressing ingredients until peanut butter is more or less dissolved
Pour dressing on salad and mix in well
Serve immediately

Note:  it is possible to get the "naked" salad and dressing ready ahead of time and store in fridge and then mix right before serving.

Fava Bean Salad

Follow this link to this great recipe.

Happy salad eating!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Be Proactive with Your Health

Just came back from my second appointment with the dietician.  The truth is that I went with a little bit of trepidation. I was worried she would not be so pleased with me as I haven't been following her plan to a tee.  So I planned out what I would say and how I would say it.  You know that "good news, bad news" method: first you tell the good news and get them happy and then you break the bad news while they're still on the high from the good news.  That way it cushions the "blow".

So, I started to list to Ilana, my dietician, all the lifestyle and diet changes that I have made over the last five weeks since my last meeting with her: two walking dates a week of 40 mins to one hour, two Zumba classes a week, the addition of flaxseed, pomengranate juice, green tea, oats, blueberries, barley, cholesterol lowering yogurt (Danacol) and other sugar and cholesterol lowering foods to my diet, cutting down from two teaspoons of sugar in my coffee to 1/2 to a scant one teaspoon and more, etc.  She was impressed.  When I told her that I am not drinking 10-12 cups a water like she suggested or always eating every three hours, and that I ate creme brulee and creamy pasta for my husband's birthday she wasn't annoyed.

She actually was impressed by all the changes I did make and suggested that I already go have my blood tests done as she was curious to see how these changes have made a difference.  All I can say is phew and maybe after the blood tests whew! She also weighed me and after five weeks I lost 1 pound (500 grams).  My reaction was: "aw shucks" (clean version), her reaction was: well done.  Conclusion:  I am the one being hard on myself not the dietician.

About being proactive, back to my numbers...they're not so bad to begin with.  My sugar is 104 (regular is under 100), my LDL is 140 (again normal is 100 and from 130 is borderline high) but my total cholesterol is 194,which is good and my triglycerides were always fine.  What is my point?  I am 45 (and proud!) and only borderline but now is the time to get things under control before it's too late.

 When was the last time you had blood tests? Go for regular check ups and tests. You may be unaware of health issues you have. Make changes in your diet. It doesn't have to be extreme, but you also need not live off burgers, pizza, schnitzel and Doritos all week long!  Yes, modern medicine has developed all sorts of meds but they have side effects, and do you really want to get to the point of filling your body with chemicals when you can possibly get on top of things now?  Listen, I understand the need for medication in many cases when necessary, but the point is to try to take care of ourselves in a way that will eliminate or at least minimize the need for future medication.

Enough lecturing for today with the exception of one more piece of advice.  Always remember to enjoy life!

My husband Dorron and I enjoying ourselves at the Colosseum in Rome.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Delicious Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Ok, so two days ago it was my husband's Hebrew birthday (according to the Jewish calendar) and we went out to celebrate.  We had a gift certificate for various restaurants in Israel and we chose an Italian dairy restaurant owned by Frenchies.  Cheating on my low-cholesterol and low sugar diet is probably an understatement here, when describing our meal.  After the antipasti, we proceeded to have butter-slathed cream-drowned pasta dishes that in my eyes were good  (I actually never was into creamy high fat stuff) but in my husbands eyes were amazing. The piece de resistance was dessert--the most delicious creme brulee! Afterwards I saw that this dessert is referred to on the internet as a mini cholesterol bomb.  But you know, some things are just worh it once in a while and this is one of those things!  Did I mention that the owners are French?  So creme brulee is where they exceed and succeed!

 You will not find a recipe for creme brulee here today. Firstly, I am trying to stay healthy and trying to pass on healthy recipes and tips, I also have never made one. At the same time, I am thinking of making a creme brulee cheesecake recipe for my husbands regular birthday which is coming up in a couple of weeks and I may share it if it succeeds.  I am not a hypocrite, just a human being and this blog reflects that.

The Recipe

So when my vegetarian twins went to England last year to stay by my in-laws, my mother in law wanted a list of foods that they would eat.  Amongst other things, I told her that they eat a lot of lentils.  So my MIL found this great vegetable lentil soup which she gave to me, I basically stuck to the recipe with a few minor changes.  It is absolutely delicious and packed with nutritional goodness. I make it all the time! Enjoy!


3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 large carrots, grated
1 cup lentils
6 cups water or vegetable stock
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro or a combination
1 bay leaf
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (can omit)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a large pot

Add chopped onion, crushed garlic, basil and carrots.  Stir fry for a few minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients.

Stir-fry for a few minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients

Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils are mushy, stirring occasionally.

Healthy and Yummy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Challah and Chummous

Those of you outside of Israel probably associate Chummous, that delicious middle eastern chickpea spread, with Pita.  And you are right that there is no better way to eat Chummous then to "wipe" it (lenagev) with a Pita.  However, in most Israeli homes, along with the Challah that you find on the Shabbat tables you will also find Chummous, and a variety of other spreads including chatzilim (eggplant), matbucha (peppers and tomatoes), schug (hot spicy stuff) together with olives and pickles etc.

In our house this "course" is so holy that if I dare bring the soup too soon, I am accused of rushing the meal.  My family likes to savor this part of the meal especially because the Challot are usually home baked and the Chummous is usually homemade.  When it isn't I get complaints especially from my soldier girl who doesn't even get regular Challah in the army!

My Challah is made with half whole-wheat flour and half white flour.  It's funny we used to always have one white Challah and one whole-wheat Challah at every Shabbat meal and slowly but surely the kids started preferring the whole-wheat (ok the 1/2 whole-wheat).

I only started making homemade Chummous around seven months ago but once I began there was no going back.  All my Chummous eaters except my youngest (aged 10) prefer it.  So that's it.

And now for the recipes:

Half Whole-Wheat Challah


As much as I love cooking, I am quite primitive in the kitchen.  I've never owned a big Kenwood, Kitchenaid,  etc. mixer.  I just have a cute little hand mixer.  So as far as Challah goes I use the mixer part of the time and the rest of the time I mix it by hand.  It comes out great but yes it probably takes me longer. I got my recipe somewhere on the net but I can't remember from where so I apologize for not giving credit.

Here's the recipe:


3 cups warm water (luke warm plus, NOT HOT or you will KILL the yeast. Speaking from experience).
2 pkgs or 4 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup honey
2/3 cups canola oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon salt
6-7 cups whole-wheat flour, sifted
6-7 cups white flour, sifted


Dissolve yeast in water in large bowl.  Add honey and let stand 2 minutes.  Add oil, eggs and salt and mix well. 

Gradually add flour two cups at a time, mixing after each addition. Knead well for approximately 8 minutes. Dough should be pliable not sticky.

Let rise in a bowl covered with a towel for at least an hour, dough should double in size.  Punch down and separate Challah (a religious custom) without a blessing.  Shape into 4-5 small loaves (braid, etc.).  Let rise again for around another hour until doubled in size.

Brush with egg and sprinkle with seeds as desired.

Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from pans and cool.


I sometimes take the train to and from work and they have a book sale stand at the train station.  One of my favorite things is to read cookbooks but I rarely ever buy them anymore as I love to look up recipes on the net.  One day, I saw this great cookbook in Hebrew called The Healthy Kitchen or HaMitbach HaBari shel Al HaShulchan. To say I fell in love, is an understatement! Finally, a cookbook that is chock-full of the types of recipes that I want to make.  It has everything in it from spreads, salads, soups, appetizers, main courses to desserts and more all made with wholesome and healthy ingredients.

This is the Chummous recipe from the book that I use almost every week:

Ingredients(Makes about 1 kilo/2.2 pounds of Chummous)

1/2 kilo (approx. 1 pound) dried chickpeas, preferably the smaller ones, soaked overnight in water with a tiny bit of added baking soda. 
1/2 cup raw tachina (tahini)
Juice squeezed from 1 lemon
2-3 large garlic cloves
salt and cumin according to taste


Soak chickpeas as above.  Drain water and cook chickpeas in new water also with added baking soda for approximately two hours until soft.  DO NOT ADD SALT! This will block the chickpeas from absorbing water and not allow for softening.

Drain chickpeas and save cooking water.

Put the chickpeas and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor gradually adding cooking water until the Chummous reaches your desired consistency.  We like it pasty! Some like it more runny.  You decide.

Spread on Challah and Pita, etc. 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sushi Salad

Everybody loves sushi or is that Raymond?  Either way, sushi has become a staple fast food on the same level as hamburgers and pizza.  We all take this fact for granted but recently I was watching old reruns from the late 80's early 90's (either Blossom or Saved by the Bell--don't ask!) and there was a scene where a kid brought sushi in his school lunchbag and this was considered really weird. I am sure today that if a kid takes sushi for lunch, he will be considered cool not weird. When were living in South Africa, one week they had a platter of sushi at the Synagogue's Kiddush. We had to fend all the kids off and tell them that the sushi was exclusively for adults. Anyway, I think that I've made my point!

There are also so many people who make their own sushi including my own daughters and they will tell you how easy it is.  Could be, but it is not as easy as making sushi salad, which is basically taking the sushi ingredients and mixing them in a bowl and voila you have a delicious side dish! My recipe is based on a recipe given to me by my good friend Shelley who is one of the most amazing cooks ever!

The picture here is of the sushi salad that I made last night.  I did not have all of the ingredients for my usual recipe so I winged it a bit and thank G-d it came out yummy!

The Recipe


2 cups uncooked brown rice
5 cups (or slightly less) of water
1/2 cup of rice vinegar
1/4 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 Tablespoons soy sauce
granulated garlic to taste
2 med. cucumbers-peeled and finely diced
2 carrots-peeled and finely diced
5 green onions
1 avocado-finely diced (optional)
3 sheets of Nori seaweed cut with a scissors into tiny pieces
1 red pepper-finely diced (optional)


Cook rice in water until all is absorbed then cool and fluff and separate with a fork
Bring vinegar, sugar, oil, and salt to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved
Mix rice and vinegar mixture together and then add the rest of the ingredients

Enjoy profusely!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Easy Grilled Chicken Breast on the Grill Pan

Easy Grilled Chicken Breast on the Grill Pan

Around a month and a half ago, I bought a new kitchen toy.  A Tefal Thermospot grill pan.  I had eaten "grilled" chicken breast by people with perfect black lines on it, only to have the "secret" revealed that they made it on a grill pan.  A grill pan is a frying pan with lines on it that gives your meat, poultry, fish or tofu a grilled look and taste and you use little or no oil in the process! It is a great,tasty, low-fat way to make and eat chicken. It makes the chicken breast so well (though I must confess, I can't succeed in making those black lines!).  I am going to ironically share with you my easy recipe.  Ironically, because I am so sick of it already and am currently looking for new ideas!  It is, however, quite delicious.  I just wouldn't recommend eating the same thing 3-4 times a week!  That is a recipe for needing a new recipe!  It's actually not really a recipe with amounts and all that, more of a cooking suggestion.

The Recipe

6 skinned and boneless chicken breast halves
a little olive oil
granulated garlic
dried basil and/or oregano

Heat the grill pan according to instructions.
Meanwhile, rub each chicken breast with a little oil and sprinkle the seasonings on both sides
Grill the chicken breasts on both sides until no longer pink in the middle.

Best eaten immediately (melts in your mouth!) but can be heaten up on the Shabbat hot plate.  If you reheat, try to do it that same day.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato and Spinach

Quinoa Past and Present

Even though quinoa was a staple in the diet of the Andean people 3,000 years ago in South America, it only become popular again over the last six years or so.  It is so popular these days, that the United Nations declared 2013 as the "International Year of Quinoa".  Contrary to what you might think, quinoa is a seed, not a grain and is in fact a complete protein containing all of the nine essential amino acids.

Quinoa and Diabetes

According to Stacey Hugues, a registered dietician:  "I often recommend using it (quinoa) in place of white rice or pasta.  The extra fiber allows the digestion of carbohydrates to be slowed, assisting with blood sugar control." Yes you will find mixed opinions on the internet but to be quite honest, I like this one so I hope that it's right.

The Recipe

In April, when my husband and I were in Italy, we met up with my sister in law and her husband who travelled all the way from Australia. At this special meeting one of the presents that we were showered with was the "Quinoa for Families" cookbook by Rena Patten.  This recipe is my adaptation of one of the recipes in the book and has been a real hit in my house especially with my 19 year old vegetarian twins.  The original recipe called for mushrooms (despised by my twins) and dijon mustard ( despised by me).  I did not replace the mushrooms but I did replace the mustard with Silan/date honey. Yummarooney!


1kg (2 lb 4 oz) sweet potato
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
3/4 cup quinoa (the original recipe calls for red quinoa--to date I've only used white but only because that's what they sell at our supermarket)
1 1/2 cups water
200 g (7 oz) baby spinach leaves
1 red onion haved and thinly sliced


2 Tbsp Date honey 
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground blck pepper


Preheat oven to 180 C(350 F) and line a tray with non-stick baking paper.
Peel and cube sweet potato, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss well and place on the baking tay in a single layer.
Roast in the over for 20-30 minutes until sweet potato is tender and crisp.
In the meantime place the quinoa in a small pot with the water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until all the water is bsorbed.  Remove from heat and cool.
Place sweet potato, quinoa, spinach and onion in a bowl and gently toss together until combined.
Mix together all dressing ingredients, pour over salad and gently toss. Leave to stand for about 1/2 hour before serving.

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-8 (depends on if you serve it as a main course or as a side dish)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Yogurt with Flaxseed, Granola, Cinnamon and Walnuts

Yogurt with Flaxseed, Granola, Cinnamon and Walnuts

I need to begin this post with a preface.  I am not a health expert, I am not a guru and I am not even always a good follower of the instructions that I am given by my health professionals.  I can't even promise that all the recipes in this blog will be 100% healthy.  All that said, I started this blog with the purpose of sharing recipes and information and to include you all on my gastronomical journey towards better health. 


Flaxseed, flaxseed, wherefore art thou flaxseed?  Preliminary studies show that Flaxseed  may help fight heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer. I had encountered Flaxseed in the past when my daughter had some minor health issues and the Homeopathic doctor that we were seeing added Flaxseed oil to her diet but that was around 9 years ago and since then Flaxseed hadn't entered my front door.  No particular reason.  But then last week, my dietician gave me her "recipe" and for the last week I have been having flaxseed every day in my yogurt except yesterday when I skipped the yogurt and opted for oatmeal. 

Note:  Flaxseed can cause gas and stomach upset, I learned this the hard way (TMI?) .  Do not exceed, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily and it is recommended to start with a smaller amount to build up your body's ability to digest it. I did not do this and paid the price (more TMI, sorry!).


Granola, my old friend, who goes into my low fat yogurt everyday has now been upgraded to sugar-free, oil-free granola.  I miss my old granola, but a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do!  Granola's main ingredient, Oats are very beneficial as they help in regulating blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


There's that cinnamon again!  Yes, a half of a teaspoon of cinnamon a day can help significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.  And I love cinnamon! So there is no problem for me whatsoever in adding it to my daily diet.  Just remember, cinnamon rolls don't count! That would sort of defeat the purpose.


I like nuts! Walnuts are not necessarily my favorite but they're ok. But this is what my dietitian said to put in the yogurt and for good reason.  There are a number of small studies that show that walnuts help lower cholesterol and have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (which I am not 100% sure of what that means health wise but I know that it's a good thing!).

The Recipe

1- 1 1/2 % fat unsweetened yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed (see note above)
2 Tablespoon oil-free, sugar-free granola
2 coarsely chopped walnuts

Mix it all together in a bowl and eat!  I somanetimes add a little bit of honey even though my dietitian raised an eyebrow about that.  Balance, people, balance!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Welcome to Blueberry Oatmeal with Cinnamon

Welcome to My Blog

Hi I'm Cindy.  I am happily married and a mother of five girls between 10-20.  I am originally from Skokie, Illinois and have been living in Israel for 27 years!

I've been talking forever about starting a blog.  I love cooking.  Actually,  I am obsessed with cooking and all things food. In recent years I have become much more health conscious but always with balance.  I.e. I use grains, legumes, whole wheat bread, olive oil, etc. etc. but things like choc chip cookies, hamburgers and pizza still would make their way into my home at least once a week (ok, probably more...).

A few months ago my blood tests showed that I have borderline diabetes (pre-diabetes) and borderline cholesterol.  My doctor instructed me to go to a dietician and to follow her plan for three months and she basically said that if I don't or if I do and it doesn't work then she will have no choice but to put me on medication, for the pre-diabetes not the cholesterol.

As this condition can often be controlled with diet and exercise, that sounded like a good plan except that this scenario took place right before the Jewish holiday of Purim when we eat Hamantashen (yummy jam filled cookies) and exchange Mishloach Manot (food packages).  A month after Purim comes Pesach (Passover) where we consume large amounts of carbs (Matza and potatoes) and tons of eggs.  Yet another reason to procrastinate... Immediately after Pesach my husband and I were going on our long-awaited dream trip to Italy and how could I not enjoy all the pasta, pizza and gelato!  So we came back from Italy and I had my appointment all scheduled but for technical reasons I had to push it off and then it was Shavuot--the holiday when we eat Cheesecake and lots of highfat cheesy things.

So... the excuses finally ran out, we now have no Jewish holidays until September.  I went to the dietician and found out that I don't have to make such major life changes as I thought but now I am much more conscious of what I eat and drink and how it effects my health.  In this blog, I plan to share lots of recipes, most healthy and some others and to share with you my experiences on my journey to control my health. So on to the recipe which holds the name of this blog.

Blueberry Oatmeal with Cinnamon

I have now embarked on a journey to heal myself through nutrition or more correctly, to prevent future health issues through nutrition.   I've begun to learn that to lower cholesterol and sugar in your blood is not only about what not to eat but also about what you should eat.  There are many foods that you can eat to help increase your HDL (good cholesterol) and lower your LDL and there are others(or some of the same) that can help you control your sugar.  The good news is that I like most of these foods! And guess what three of these foods are blueberries, oatmeal and cinnamon!  

So today, I went grocery shopping and couldn't wait to get home and start making my late breakfast.

The Recipe

Serves 1

1/2 cup of quick cooking oatmeal (I used organic--not for any reason besides that it was on sale!)
1 cup low fat milk
1 teaspoon brown sugar (I know that I should probably leave this out but my dietician said it's sort of ok)
1/2 T cinnamon
1/4 cup frozen blueberries (if you have fresh then go for it--we can't find them around here)


  1. Put milk, oats, cinnamon and sugar together in a small saucepan on the stovetop and bring to a boil while stirring
  2. Cook for approximately 2 mins until thick
  3. When fully cooked stir in blueberries they will defrost inside the oatmeal
  4. Eat and enjoy!