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.