Crock pot Chicken, Italian Style

Following is one of our family's favorite crock pot meals.

It's simple enough to serve as a casual weeknight dinner, and tasty enough to serve when company is present.  You may either cook this in a crock-pot or a large pot on the stove, depending on availability of equipment and time.

Crock Pot Chicken, Italian Style

This dish is abundant in lycopene, and onions are a major source of a Quercetin, a super-antioxidant. Similar to garlic, onions and shallots seem to be most helpful in cancers of the digestive tract (e.g. esophagus, stomach, and colon).

Bell Peppers offer the antioxidant beta carotene.

Thyme It is an excellent source of iron and manganese and Thymol has been found to protect and significantly increase the percentage of healthy fats found in cell membranes and other cell structures.

  • 1 large organic Red Onion, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 large organic Yellow or Red Bell Pepper, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 tsp. fresh organic Thyme leaves (1 tsp. dry)
  • 6- 2" long fresh Sage leaves (1 tsp. dry)
  • A handful of baby Bok Choy or Spinach leaves
  • 1 tsp. organic Oregano
  • 4 organic, free-range Chicken Thighs
  • 2 organic, free-range Chicken Breasts, cut in half (to make 4 pieces)
  • 1 shallot, diced (1 Tbs.)
  •  2 cups homemade or jarred organic Marinara Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (opt)

Place half the onions, peppers and herbs in the bottom of the pot.

chicken cacciatore2.jpg

Add 4 pieces of chicken, then the rest of the onions, peppers, and herbs and the last 4 chicken pieces.  Sprinkle shallot and seasoning on top.

chicken cacciatore

chicken cacciatore

Pour sauce over chicken, nudging pieces with a spoon to allow the sauce to make its way to the bottom.

Crock Pot: Cover and place on High.  Time for 3 1/2 hours.

Stove Top: Add 1/2 c. of water to chicken, and place on medium high until sauce begins to bubble.  Turn to medium low, cover and cook for 1 hour. Check at 30 minutes, gently stirring to make sure chicken is covered with sauce.

Serve with baked sweet potatoes and a fresh mixed green salad for a delightful meal.

~ Sahtein! (double health) ♥

chicken cacciatore 2014.jpg

Black Bean Salad Lunch Plate

Whenever I make Tabbouleh I am sure to make enough to last 3 days. That's about the limit for freshness. It goes so well with so many foods, and as a condiment in sandwiches. I had some left from yesterday, and some black beans left from making the Dark Chocolate Black Bean Bars, so I transformed the latter into a salad, and added the last piece of Ginger Cod. Very tasty, very healthy... high protein, omega 3's, high fiber, high antioxidant!

Black Bean Salad

  • 4 c. cooked organic Black Beans, drained
  • 1/2 c. organic sweet Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. organic Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 c. organic Mint, chopped
  • 1/2 organic Serrano Chili Pepper chopped (opt.)
  • 2 medium organic Tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 organic Green Onions, chopped
  • 4 Tbs. organic Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg's is best)
  • 2 Tbs. Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbs. Flax Seed Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin or more to taste
  •  

Mix everything together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. I added a sprinkle of black pepper.

My son ate some for a snack right out of the bowl. He's my gourmet, finicky food critic.  :)

~ Bon Apetit! ♥

The King of Vegetables and My Eggplant Caponata

As a child, eggplants were my least favorite vegetable, much to my mother's disappointment.  The only exception was Baba Ghannouj, a must at every Lebanese appetizer table.
You see, in the Middle East, the Eggplant is referred to as the King of Stuffed Vegetables due to its versatility and the large number recipes that feature this violet beauty.
When I was in my preteen years, I decided that every couple of weeks or so I would force my self to eat one food item that I did not like. When the eggplant's turn came around, it took a while, but slowly I grew to love that little bit of creamy bitterness it offers.  Soon my favorite recipes included 4 eggplant dishes... 1) Eggplant rounds pan-fried in olive oil and topped with a Spicy Tomato-Onion medley; 2) Eggplant stuffed with Rice, Lamb, Onions, Tomatoes and Spices; 3) Eggplant-Beef boats with Pine Nuts; and 4) Baba Ghannouj.
The recipe below calls for the Caponata to be served cold as an appetizer.  Since it is versatile, I have heated it up and spooned it over hot whole wheat couscous that has been cooked in chicken or vegetable broth, for a wonderful meal!

Recipe

Serves @ 10 as an appetizer
  • 2 lbs. organic Eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 c. organic White Onion, small diced
  • ½ c. organic Bell Pepper, small diced
  • 2 Tbs. Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 c. organic Tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and small diced)
  • ¼ c. organic Basil, fresh chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. organic Lemon, squeezed
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 1 small Green Chili, minced (opt.)
  • ¼ c. Green Olives, chopped
  • 2 tsp. Black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 Head of Green leaf Lettuce
Sauté diced eggplant in olive oil until lightly browned; removed from pan. In the same pan, sauté onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic for 2 minutes (vegetables should still have some texture, and garlic should not brown). Mix everything else together in a large bowl with the cooked vegetables.
Refrigerate overnight.
Serve a large scoop of pate over a bed of lettuce and surround with toasted whole wheat pita bread triangles, or scoop onto whole wheat Tuscan bread that has a light smear of Vegenaise.

~ Buon Apetito!

Petals and Panini

The Petals

The planting continues in the side and front yard. I spoke of my grandmother's hydrangea in my  Flower Patch post, and how huge and bountiful it's huggable round flowers were.

When I went shopping this morning I was greeted by a full display of flowers at the front of the market. To my delight, there on the top row, huddled together, were hydrangeas in several shades.

Below them cheerful daisies and mums. I smiled back as I walked past.

I made my way to the refrigerated section that carried dairy alternatives, and picked up a block of Almond Cheese and a block of Rice Cheese.

Then to the produce aisle to fulfill a lunch craving...some organic spinach, organic Roma tomatoes, and then a couple isles down for some black kalamata olives.  I completed the rest of my shopping and headed home on this 82º day in the valley.

The hills are beginning to turn yellow as we say goodbye to rainfall until October. Of course with the unpredictable weather patterns of the 21st Century... who knows... they may surprise us and flash green once more.

I like the contrast. The evergreens stand out against the hay colored hills, and Mount Diablo stands ever majestic looking over us, lending its protective energy to life here.

It's  a little after noon when I get home and unpack the groceries.

I am going to make Swiss Chard Turnovers for the week, so I chop and blend the ingredients for the filling. (Will post recipe for these delicious triangles later).  I make a batch of  the Basic Dough we discussed in Authentic Arabic Bread post, and leave it to rise.

Now I can make my lunch!  Am quite hungry by this time.

The Panini

Out comes the Panini grill.  While it's heating I slice some Almond Cheese and Tomatoes, and wash a few Spinach leaves.

The Tapenade

I throw a handful of Kalamata olives in the blender with a large clove or garlic, some dry thyme and a dash of lemon. I turn on the blender for 3 seconds, drizzle 2 Tbs. of olive oil through top opening, and pulse it another 3 -4 seconds to blend everything.

Assembly

Two Gluten Free slices of bread are ready to be smothered in Tapenade, topped with Tomato, Spinach leaves and finally the Cheese. Top bread slice holds it all together.

A light spray of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on each side of the sandwich, and onto the grill for about 3-4 minutes depending on heat of your panini maker.

My green salad is already waiting and lunch is ready!

~ Bon Apetit!

Stuffed Bell Peppers x 2 - 'Big Boss' Friendly

Well, I am ready to tackle another Big Boss Oil-less Fryerrecipe. Their book includes an Italian Stuffed Pepper recipe, but I read the ingredients, and while it sounds like a pretty good combo, I am inclined to use my Mom's filling for this experiment.

I will include their filling below for those wishing to try it.  I also included methods to cook my version in a Big Boss or on the stovetop.

sweet_pepper
sweet_pepper

Hoda's Stuffed Peppers:

  • 5 large organic Bell Peppers, variety of colors
  • 1 c. cooked Wild and Brown Rice, raw if you're cooking on stovetop (cook rice in broth or green tea)
  • 3/4 lb. grnd. organic grass-fed Beef, Lamb or free-range ground Chicken
  • 5 Tbs. organic Tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Allspice
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 3 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 c. organic Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh organic Parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbs. fresh organic Mint, chopped (or 2 tsp. dry)
  • 2 organic Tomatoes, sliced (for bottom of pot)

Sauce:

  • 1 c. organic Tomato sauce
  • 1 + c. Hot Water
  • 2 tsp. Salt, 1 tsp. Allspice, 1 tsp. Cinnamon

1. For Stove Top Cooking:

Do not cook rice.  Mix all ingredients together with 5 Tbs. of tomato sauce, reserving the 1 cup for pot.  Place tomato rounds in bottom of pot to prevent peppers from sticking.

Stuff peppers to within 1/2" from top, and place snug side by side in a large pot, so they support each other.

Mix 1 c. tomato sauce, spices and hot water.   Pour around peppers and add enough hot water to reach within 1 inch of pepper tops.  Scoop 2 Tbs. broth into each pepper to help rice cook.

Raw Stuffed Peppers in sauce 2014
Raw Stuffed Peppers in sauce 2014

Bring to a boil over medium high, then turn to low and simmer for 35 - 45 minutes or until rice is cooked.

2.  Big Boss Recipe:

  • 5 organic Bell Peppers, variety of colors
  • 1 c. cooked Brown Rice
  • 3/4 lb. grnd organic grass-fed Beef or Turkey
  • 1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves organic Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Tbs. dried Basil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh organic Parsley, chopped
  • 1 c. plus 5 Tbs. organic Tomato Sauce

Saute ground beef in med saucepan over medium heat until brown.

Cut tops off peppers, dice the tops and set aside. Remove seeds and membranes from pepper cavities. When beef is browned drain grease and place meat in a bowl.

In same pan add olive oil. Wait 1 minute and add onions, garlic and chopped pepper tops.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Add oregano, basil and stir 1 minute longer. Return meat to pan and add 1 c. tomato sauce. Stir well.

In a large bowl, combine meat mixture and 1 c. cooked rice. Stir well. Stuff peppers with filling.

Spray lower rack of Big Boss oven with cooking oil. Arrange peppers on rack. Top each with 1 Tb.s of tomato sauce.

Cook at 350º F for 30 minutes.

Stuffed Peppers 2014.jpg

When Fish Meets Spicy Red Sauce

I try to have a package of frozen, wild-caught Cod from Trader Joe's in my freezer at all times.  Fish is a favorite protein of mine, and hopefully of yours!  It's versatile, cooks quicker than other meats and is oh soo good for you. Herein lies one of my favorite fish toppings. The wonderful omega oils in the fish and the high antioxidant content of cooked tomatoes blend in a wonderful nutrition-filled dish.

It's quick and easy to boot.

This recipe can be made with Salmon or Snapper (not farm raised) if you prefer.

Cod in Spicy Red Sauce

  • 2 Tbs. virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped organic Onion
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 3 c. canned organic Plum Tomatoes, drained, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c. chopped Green Olives
  • 3 Tbs. organic Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • ¼ tsp. ground Fennel
  • 1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tbs. minced organic Parsley
  • Sea Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6  6-oz. cold water Cod filets
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish (opt.)

Preheat oven to 425º F.

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Cook onions, garlic and shallot until soft but not brown.

Add remaining ingredients, stir to blend, and then simmer for 10 minutes on medium low.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to accommodate the fish in a single layer.  Arrange filets in the dish.  Pour sauce over fish and bake for 15 – 20 mins.  or until fish is no longer translucent and the sauce is bubbling.

 

Serve w whole wheat couscous, wild rice, or whole grain pasta and a vegetable.

~ Sahtein! ♥

Vegan Eggplant and Spicy Chopped Salad Sandwich

Another warm day in the Bay Area.  I just finished ironing 7 shirts (my soon-to-be-17 son wears a larger size than my bf).  Lunch had to be something cool, refreshing, easy... Yesterday I made an eggplant/mushroom medley, and today it was going to be the guest of honor in my sandwich. I used the rest of the parsley and cilantro bunches, to make a spicy chopped salad.

Here are the recipes:

Eggplant - Mushroom Medley

I love this concoction because it goes well on pasta, in a sandwich, and as a dip.I make this with no oillike many of my personal recipes that call for sautéing onion. I drizzle virgin olive oil once a dish is cooked, for flavor.

  • 1 med. organic white Onion, chopped
  • 1 med. Eggplant, mostly peeled and diced
  • 5 organic Mushrooms, peeled and chopped
  • 1 organic Tomato, chopped
  • 1 c. chopped Parsley
  • 1 Tbs. organic Tomato  Paste mixed with 1/2 c. hot water
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (opt.)
  • 5 cloves of Garlic, chopped

Place onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, no oil.  Watch the onion, stirring until it begins to turn brown.

eggplant muchroom saute
eggplant muchroom saute

Add eggplant and cover, turn to medium low, and stir every 2 minutes, until eggplant is wilted.

Add mushrooms, tomato and parsley. Stir, cover and simmer over low  heat for 10 minutes.

Add the diluted tomato paste, seasoning and garlic, turn heat to medium, and cook uncovered for another 8 - 10 minutes, or until veggies are cooked through and water is absorbed.

We're adding the garlic last so it doesn't lose all its antioxidant power!

You may add a drizzle of olive oil once you remove from heat.  This dish is good warm or cold.

Spicy Chopped Salad

  • 1/2 bunch organic Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch organic Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 small white Onion, diced
  • 1 organic Tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 organic Jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 Tbs. fresh Lime juice
  • 2 tsp. fresh Lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 Tbs. virgin Olive Oil

Mix it all up!

Serve as a topping for rice dishes, stews, sandwiches or as a fresh dip with toasted whole wheat Pita bread, broken into 'chips'.

Assemble Sandwich

  • Vegenaise (opt.)
  • 1 Tbs. organic Tomato Paste
  • Bread

Take two slices of your favorite Whole Grain Bread.

eggplant sandw1
eggplant sandw1

Spread one slice with tomato paste and the other slice with Vegenaise.

eggplant sandw2
eggplant sandw2

Spread some of the Eggplant Medley over the tomato paste.

Top with Spicy Salad.

eggplant sandw3
eggplant sandw3

(You may add protein of your choice if you like).

eggplant sandw5
eggplant sandw5

Cover with other slice, press down, and munch!

~ Bon Apetit! ♥

Eggplant Tomato Bake

Eggplant, King of the Vegetables as it is hailed in the Middle East, lends its creamy texture and unique flavor to this pasta dish. I modified this recipe to decrease fats from dairy and increase fiber from whole grain pasta and flour.

  • 1/2 c. barley or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. dry whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 2 Omega-3 eggs
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 small organic eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 Tbs peanut oil
  • 1 (14 oz) jar organic marinara sauce
  • 1 c. silken tofu, crumbled
  • 1 c. grated Almond cheese (if you can have dairy may use Parmesan Cheese)
  • 1 organic tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 (8 oz) package angel hair whole grain pasta

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F (175º C).

2. In a plastic bag, combine the flour, bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Shake to mix. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. There should be enough oil to thinly coat the bottom of the skillet. Dip the eggplant slices in egg, then place in the bag and shake to coat. Fry the slices in the skillet until golden brown on each side. Remove, and drain on paper towels.

3. Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Cover with the eggplant slices, then top with more sauce. Mix together the tofu and Parmesan cheese; spread over the eggplant. Spread sauce over the cheese, and top with tomato slices. Cover with more sauce, and spread remaining cheese over the top.

4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

6. Serve the eggplant tomato bake over pasta. Serve with steamed Broccoli and green Salad.

~ Eat Hearty!

Green Bean, Carrot and Red Pepper Salad

Tonight was my night to cook 15 to-go dinners. Three times a week, people from our community volunteer to cook for 15 -20 people in the neighborhood who sign up for take away dinners.

I made Fasoulia, Green Bean/Carrot Salad and Pearl Barley Pilaf.

I'm not usually a fan of red peppers, but in some recipes, like this one, I love the flavor they bring to the dish.  This is a salad that is best at room temperature, but can also be served chilled.

You'll need:

  • 1 lb. organic Green Beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 lb. organic Carrots, sliced in 1-inch pieces or julienne
  • 1/2 organic Red Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 organic Red Onion, diced

 

 

Dressing

  • 2 Tbs. Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Stevia
  • 2 tsp. organic Tomato Paste
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Steam green beans and carrots until crisp-tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain and place in a large bowl. Add peppers and onion.

Mix dressing with a fork until blended. Pour over vegetables and mix well.

Serve at room temperature for maximum flavor.

~ Bon Apetit!

When Eggs Meet Vegetables - à la Lebanese

Two of the main spices in Lebanese cooking are Allspice and Cinnamon.  These are used in both savory and some sweet dishes. They were made for each other in terms of flavor compliments. Third in line would be Black Pepper, followed by Cumin. This is the basic 'Omelet' in Lebanon. As with many recipes it includes fresh vegetables and aromatic spices.  I was very scrawny as a girl, and Mom used to tell me stories and feed me bites of breakfast until my plate was clean.

This was one of my favorite egg-based breakfasts, with a few slices of tomato on the side, drizzled with virgin Olive Oil pressed from our own olives. It's still a popular choice at our home.

I'd love to hear how you like it!

*~*~*~*~*~*

Lebanese Garden Omelet

  • 2 Omega-3 Eggs
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. parsley
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped organic Green Onion
  • 2 Tbs. chopped organic Tomato
  • 2 tsp. pine nuts (opt.)
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

Place a sauté or omelet pan over medium-high heat, and brush lightly with organic butter just to coat bottom.

Wait 1 minute, then pour egg mixture into pan.  When edges turn light brown, turn heat to medium-low.  Fold omelet in half and cook for one more minute.

Flip omelet and cook an additional 2 minutes, or until just set in the center. (you can make a small slice to peek).

Serve with fruit, non-dairy cheese, cucumber or tomato slices and whole grain bread.

~ Sahtein!

 

My Marvelous Meatball Soup

We may have seen the last of the cool weather in Northern California, so I wanted to close the season with one more gathering around soup bowls. In the valley where we live, summer temps can reach 102ºC...HOT.  Today it was in the high 80's, still tolerable, but around 3pm I had to get the a/c going.

I realized that it has been forever since I made Mom's meatball soup. Rolling the tiny meatballs was an activity I liked participating in. Mom taught me how to roll two at a time, since we'd make about 150 of them sitting on the pink vinyl couch in our spacious kitchen, with a low table in front of us.

There was al,ways something going on in the kitchen. We had two live-ins since our house was a two-story with 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 3 living rooms, a formal dining room a laundry room and kitchen.  (Makes me pant to think about it).

My 4 aunts and uncle lived just 4 miles away and dropped by often.

So deciding to make this soup today was a trip down memory lane.  I seem to be doing that often these days.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground lean Grass-fed Beef (or Lamb)
  • 2 tsp. Wheat germ or Oat Bran
  • 1/2 c. organic Parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 c. chopped organic Tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. Tomato sauce
  • 1/2 c. chopped organic Onion
  • 1 organic Carrot, shredded
  • 1 large organic Carrot, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/3 c. Brown Rice
  • 2 Tbs. Parsley, chopped (as topping)

Mix meat, seasoning, wheat germ, parsley, onion and shredded carrot well.

meatball soup1
meatball soup1

Form into tiny meatballs, a little larger than a hazelnut.

meatball soup2
meatball soup2

Heat 6 cups of water in a large pot, and drop meatballs in a few at a time.

meatball soup4
meatball soup4

As it starts to boil, turn down heat and skim surface until clear.

meatball soup5
meatball soup5

Add tomato sauce, rice and round carrots, cover, and cook until rice is done, about 35 minutes, depending on rice you use.

Season with salt and pepper and a generous dash of cinnamon.

meatball soup6
meatball soup6

Cook 5 minutes longer, and add some chopped parsley.

Enjoy with a side salad and roasted sweet potatoes.

~ Sahtein (double health!) ♥

Baked Tomato Saucers

As the youngest of 7, I was still at home and got to help Mom in the kitchen over a 5 year span, as she re-created every recipe she knew and had collected, for her cookbook.  She needed to write the measurements (she never measured when she cooked). Most of my siblings were married and away, except for my sister #4 and me. So we were her tag team. We have all been blessed with Mom's love of cooking. My brothers are amazing chefs too.

In this photograph, she's making Middle Eastern couscous (mograbiyeh) from scratch, I mean the actual ingredient, not the dish.  It starts with a handful of bulgur wheat, flour and water, and a lot of patience as you spray the wheat, add flour swirl the grains around until coated and not stuck to each other, spray with water, add more flour...etc.. until the couscous are the size you want them to be!

Years ago, when I stayed with my #3 sister in Virgina during summer breaks from college...we cooked dinner for the family together.  We had gourmet nights, take out the Grill nights, and Eating on the Mediterranean nights.

One of the tomato side dishes I fell in love with was this recipe for Baked Tomatoes. I have modified it to fit in with our Anti-Cancer diet... but it's just as delicious. I call these Saucers because I use beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, and they're huge!

If you have a Baked or Grilled Tomato recipe, do share!

Baked Tomato Saucers

  • 2 large ripe organic Tomatoes, sliced 1/3" thick (about 5 -6 rounds each)
  • 3 c. Whole Wheat or Gluten Free Bread crumbs (tear bread into tiny pieces)
  • 1/2 c. organic Parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh Thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 packet Stevia or 1 tsp. Xylitol
  • 1/4 c. Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 c. shredded Almond or Rice Cheese (if you are eating dairy, use 3/4 c. Parmesan Cheese)

Preheat oven to 325º F (165º C).

Place tomatoes on large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  Divide bread mixture evenly among the tomatoes, pressing down a little.

Place in middle of oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until tops are crisp and tomatoes are soft.

Excellent with grilled meats... choose organic chicken, wild caught fish, or a 3 oz. serving of grass-fed lamb or beef.

~ Bon Apetit!

Rigatoni and Veggies

Dinner in a Flash

I had some left over Pasta noodles, zucchini and broccoli. I decided to toss them all together with a spicy sauce rich in antioxidants... due to the Garlic and Tomatoes (Lycopenes)... for a healthy and quick dinner.

Use any combination of veggies you have on hand.

  • 2 c. whole wheat Rigatoni, cooked per directions (I use Fiber Gourmet brand, or Al Dente Carba) Substitute Brown Rice pasta for Wheat-Free version.
  • 1/2. sun-dried Tomatoes in oil, chopped up in blender
  • 1/4 c. hot Water
  • 1/2 c. each lightly steamed Zucchini and Broccoli, bite size pieces
  • 2 cloves organic Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. Red Chili Flakes (opt.)
  • 1/4 c. organic flat leaf Parsley, chopped

Place pasta, tomatoes and water in a pan over medium heat. Stir.

Add veggies, garlic and spices. Cover and simmer over low heat until warm...about 10 minutes.  Add parsley.

Serve with a small slice of Whole Grain bread (Udi't Millet or TJ's Flaxseed) sprinkled with virgin Olive Oil and organic Garlic Powder.

The two Breads mentioned above meet our Formula for 'Healthy Carbs'.   ~ Buon Apetito!

Make it Colorful!

Breakfast Buzz

The best possible plate of food is a ColorFULL one.  The more the colors (and I don't mean food coloring sneaky peak) the better for you.

I posted a Breakfast Idea that included vegetables a few days ago, and mentioned that in Mediterranean countries the lack of fresh veggies at the table is unheard of.  Tomatoes, cucumber, fresh mint, parsley, olives, radish, and yes, even pickles are a common feature.

Since I am off dairy completely(with the exception of Whey Protein which has anti-tumor benefit), I eat Rice or Almond Cheese.

To the right is the yummy and healthy Flour-less Flaxseed Pancake!  I sprinkled mine with cinnamon (anti-oxidant power) and Stevia.

My big bunch of Dandelion greens called me this morning, and they are so good wrapped around an Olive and stuffed in a pita bite that I happily included them on my plate.

Fresh Tomatoes sprinkled with dried mint (I make my own), and half an Avocado with salsa and lemon juice (more anti-oxidant power).

Here's a tip..

Bright and vividly colored vegetables—such as the ones used in salads and salsas—are rich in carotenoids, powerful plant pigments that reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and cataracts. But here's a little-known secret: To fully benefit from these disease-fighting compounds, you need to eat them with fat. In fact, Ohio State University researchers found that people who ate a salad topped with half an avocado absorbed five to 10 times more beta-carotene and lutein—carotenoids found in carrots and spinach, respectively—than those who had salads sans the fatty fruit. And eating avocado with salsa boosted the absorption of lycopene—a carotenoid in tomatoes—by almost five times.

"Fatty acids are needed to help carotenoids dissolve in the intestines," says lead study author Steve Schwartz, Ph.D. "These lipids are also an essential part of creating lipoproteins, which transport the carotenoids in the bloodstream."

~ Ye-haw!

Hoda's Fresh Salsa with Pear

After my massage therapy appointment this morning, I headed for Whole Foods to replenish my veggie bins. It's a bright, warm, sunny day in Northern California...a day that calls to you to walk among the produce bins!

I had a list.. and I allow myself to add about 4-5  things depending on what looks good that day.  Well, I came back with a couple of bags full, and laid them out on the counter to figure out what I wanted to play with first.  Since the bunch of Cilantro was huge, I decided to make it the star of this morning's creation.

I love pears when they're still crisp, so I picked one of them as the co-star.

2 cups packed organic Cilantro, chopped 1 med. ripe organic Tomato, chopped 1/2 Anaheim or Poblano pepper, minced 2 Tbs. minced organic Shallot 1/2 small under-ripe pear, diced 2 tsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. cider vinegar 1/2 tsp. Tabasco.. or your favorite chili sauce 1/2 tsp. salt.. or to taste

Mix all veggies and pear.  In small bowl, combine lemon, vinegar, and Tabasco, stir.  Add to veggies with salt, and mix.

Enjoy with homemade whole wheat pita chips*.

* Stack three loaves of whole wheat pita bread, and slice into 8 wedges like a pizza, or into squares. Separate the tops from the bottoms and place single layers on cookie sheets.  Mist lightly with virgin olive oil, and if desired a sprinkling of organic Garlic salt.

Bake in 400º oven until lightly brown. About 4-5 minutes. Time will depend on thickness of pita bread... so watch carefully because they can burn easily.

~ Cheers!

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Mint

Nothing is as refreshing to me as the flavors of fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes and freshly chopped mint. Add a drizzle of virgin olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt... and you're done! Well, this recipe adds two B's to raise the taste-bud orgy...basil and balsamic vinegar.

3 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar 1 Tbs. extra virgin Olive oil 3 lbs. mixed organic heirloom Tomatoes, firm 3 Tbs. fresh organic Mint, chopped 3 Tbs. fresh organic Basil, chopped Salt and cracked black pepper Shredded rice or almond cheese (if you can eat dairy, use Asiago shavings)

In a small bowl, mix/whisk together oil and vinegar.

Rinse and core tomatoes, and slice 1/3" thick. Arrange on a platter in layers drizzling dressing over tomatoes and sprinkle mint, basil, salt, pepper and cheese evenly over each layer.

Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

~ Cheers!

Tabbouleh - Authentic Recipe

tabboulehTabbouleh has become a popular offering in restaurants and grocery stores across the U.S.  Most of what is passed as Tabbouleh is someone's own version of the Lebanese classic.  It either has too much bulgur wheat or includes spices that are not in authentic Tabbouleh. Havng grown up in Lebanon, I wanted to share this easy to make, nutritious and delicious salad with you.  This recipe has just the right balance of flavors. It can be a side or a meal in itself.

Authentic Lebanese Tabbouleh

Serves 6-8

2 bunches organic Italian parsley, chopped fine 1 bunch organic mint, chopped fine 6 organic green onions, chopped 2 c. chopped ripe organic tomatoes 1/4 c. fine whole wheat Bulgur, soaked in 1/2 c. warm water * 1/3 c. lemon juice 1/4 c. virgin olive oil 1 tsp. Sea Salt or to taste

Soak the bulgur wheat for 10 minutes, until it is no longer crunchy.  If you're using a coarser bulgur grain, soak a little longer.

Mix vegetables in a large bowl. Squeeze the bulgur wheat by the handful and add to veggies. Do not mix in yet. Pour the lemon juice over the bulgur wheat in the bowl, then add the olive oil and salt, and mix well. That's it...!

If you want to eat this salad as the locals do, then have some fresh organic lettuce or cabbage leaves on hand.  Fill with Tabbouleh and enjoy.

Note: The dressing is usually added to the Tabbouleh veggies 20 minutes before serving. It will keep covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

* To make a gluten free version, substitute quinoa or bran flakes for the bulgur.

P.S. Sometimes I add finely chopped radish to the salad... don't tell my relatives!

Knockout Cannellini Bean Soup with Kale

Very yummy, filling and worth adding to your Recipe files!  This can be made with Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth if desired.

Cannellini Bean Soup with Kale

Serves 6.

  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 c.  organic Onion, diced
  • 1 c. Celery, diced
  • 1 c. organic Carrot, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 tsp. fresh Rosemary, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp. fresh organic Basil (1/2 tsp. dry)
  • 1 Tbs. of chopped Garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • One 14.5 oz can organic diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 4 c. organic Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 4 packed cups organic Kale, cleaned and sliced
  • Two 15 oz cans Cannellini beans
  • 1 Tbs. fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbs. of grated Rice or Almond Cheese

Pour olive oil in stock pot over medium heat and wait 1 minute. Add the onion, celery, carrots, rosemary and basil, and sauté over low to medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Add tomatoes, cumin, vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Wash the kale well. Remove and discard the lower half of stalk, then slice. Add kale and beans to the pot, bring back to a low boil and simmer, covered, until kale is tender (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Turn off the heat, remove bay leaf, add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Top each bowl of soup with 1/2 tablespoon rice or almond cheese if desired. Serve with a nice whole wheat loaf of crusty, whole grain bread. (I like Trader Joe's Tuscan Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane - 4g fiber to 23 carb). Click here for 'good carb' formula.

~ à votre santé!

Bulgur Wheat Pilaf

'Bulgur' is the Westernized pronunciation of the word Burghul (spoken with a guttural 'g') . . . an Arabic word meaning 'made of tiny chunks'. Bulgur is commonly used as a cradle for stews, as a side dish with chicken or grilled meats.  It is added to some salads, like Tabbouleh, and in ground meat dishes like Kibbeh.

Whole wheat bulgur has enough fiber to be on our healthy diet. You still want to limit your intake to about a 1/2 c. per meal.

Bulgur wheat pilaf is a tasty substitute for rice, and much healthier.  Only gaba sprouted rice comes close in nutrition.  If you have a wheat allergy, then gaba rice can be used instead. I buy the latter in bulk from Amazon.

This dish is sometimes cooked with a handful of garbanzo beans. The two compliment each other.

Bulgur Wheat Pilaf

  • 1 Tbs. virgin olive or expeller pressed Coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 c. coarse grind, whole wheat Bulgur, rinsed
  • 1 small organic white Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. organic Tomato paste
  • 2 c. Boiling water or hot Green Tea
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon

Place medium size pot over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add oil and wait 2 minutes.  Add onions and stir until they are translucent.  Onions should not sizzle very much.  If they do, turn heat to med-low.

Add bulgur wheat and stir for 1 minute. Mix tomato paste with 1/2 c of the boiling water, and add to pot. Add the rest of the water and the salt and spices.

Stir once, cover, turn heat to low and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 12 - 15 minutes.

Good served with stews or alongside a healthy chicken or fish dish.

~ Sahtein!