When Chia Met Chocolate Almond Milk..

They danced all night, and in the morning... they were one!

I happened upon this recipe for Chia Chocolate Pudding at Simplysugarandglutenfree.

I tried a version with Coconut Milk which I posted before, but I have to admit I prefer less coconutty flavor so this one is right up my alley!

Got a Chia recipe you like?  Share it with us!

 

The recipe makes 2 servings, so double it for leftovers!

  • 1 c. unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 1/4 c. Chia seeds (regular or Salba brand)
  • 2 Tbs. currants, dried cherries, or dried cranberries (optional)
  • 5 - 6 drops liquid Vanilla Stevia (alcohol-free), or to taste

Pour almond milk in a pint mason jar. Stir in the chia seeds and dried fruit.

Place the lid tightly on the jar and refrigerate overnight.

Stir well, and add additional almond milk to adjust the consistency if desired.

                                    photo courtesy of Chow.com

Sweeten to taste with liquid vanilla stevia.

Serve in stemmed glass pudding cups with a sprig of Mint for a beautiful presentation.

~ Cheers!

Kale to the Chief? .and How to Plan Your Meals

He'd be a lot healthier! If you told me 6 years ago, that I would grow to love this vegetable with a head of curls that vies my own, I would have fallen over into the clover, laughing like crazy Maizy (whoever she is)!

kale2
kale2

But the seemingly impossible has once occurred. It happened with Eggplant about 22 years ago.

1/2 cup of cooked Kale has an ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbent capacity) of 1150.  A minimum of 6500 is the recommended daily intake.  Add just 1/4 tsp. of Cinnamon and you've upped the dish by another 2675 to give you over half the daily goal in a 1/2 c serving of food!

If you have a cup of blueberries for breakfast or dessert (ORAC 3250), you've met your daily minimum of health supporting anti-oxidants.  Easy when you use the ORAC Chart.

shiitake
shiitake

I am always experimenting with Kale, since it lends itself to flavor exploration. Below is recipe that includes Shiitake Mushroomswhich are known for their anti-fungal, anti-tumor and anti-viral properties. Lentinan, an active compound found in shiitake mushrooms, helps boost the immune system, enhancing your ability to fight infection and disease.

Kale with Shiitake and Garlic

  • 2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 med. organic White Onion, diced
  • 1 head of organic Kale, washed, and chopped
  • 7-8 Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced or diced
  • 2 c. hot Water
  • 4 cloves organic Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed organic Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon

Place a large pot over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add oil and wait 2 minutes.  Add onion and turn to medium low.  Saute, stirring, until onion is translucent.

Add kale and cook stirring until kale is bright green. Add mushrooms and stir to mix. Add hot water, return heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Add garlic, lemon and spices, stir to mix.  Cover and simmer on low for another 10-15 minutes or until Kale is cooked through.

Kale and Shiitake
Kale and Shiitake

Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with lemon wedge alongside brown rice and chicken or fish.

~ Sahtein (double health)! ♥

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! ♥

Authentic Baba Ghannouj... or When Eggplant Meets Tahini

It's difficult to translate the name Baba Ghannouj literally because there isn't one word that captures the adjective "Ghannouj" but I'm going to try. When someone, usually children or girls up into their early 20's, act cutesy, shy and cuddly we say they are a "ghannouj" for a male, or a "ghannouji" for a female.

Baba means father.. so Baba Ghannouj means Dad is being cutesy and cuddly!

Now here is my creative genius at work:

The term fits the unusual looking Eggplant... perhaps because it has to act cutesy and shy to tempt us into eating it! Or, it could be that this dish is so yummy, that Father had to act all cutesy and shy before he had the nerve to ask the Mom to make it!

Choose your version... either way... it's delicious!  :)

Recipe

  • 1 large organic Eggplant (close to 1 lb)
  • 2 medium cloves organic Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 - 1/3 c. freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 c. Sesame Tahini, mixed well to incorporate oil Garnish:
  • 2 tsp. virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. chopped organic Parsley
  • Pomegranate seeds (opt.)
  • Sprig of fresh Mint

Charring the Eggplant

Remove leaves from around stem, but don't but stem off.  You'll need to use it as a 'handle'. Cut several small gashes around the eggplant to allow steam to escape during charring.

Place Eggplant in preheated 375º oven, and bake for 30 minutes, or until outside is crisp and inside is soft.

Allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Holding by stem, cut open eggplant and scoop out the flesh into colander. Discard the skin and stem.

Drain for about 10 minutes. Allowing the liquid to drain will eliminate the bitterness.

Making the Dip

Mash garlic with salt in a mortar and pestle until a smooth paste. Scrape into a medium bowl, and add eggplant pulp. Mash together with pestle until it is of uniform consistency with very few lumps.  (Small ones are ok).

Add the lemon and mix, then add the Tahini and mix again until well incorporated.

Once cool, cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Transfer Baba Ghannouj to a shallow serving dish.  Wet the back of a large spoon, and use it to smooth the surface of the dip, leaving a raised rim, much like a pie crust. Keep a small mound in the center so you've created a moat around it.

Decorate the center with sprig of mint, or a carved red radish. Sprinkle parsley around the rim in clumps, alternating with pomegranate seeds...or create your own pattern.

Drizzle olive oil into 'moat'.

Serve with whole wheat Pita bread, or crudités.

~ Sahtein!

Two-Berry Parfait - non-Dairy

I REALLY wanted something creamy, dreamy this morning...but that would be acceptable for breakfast. I need my anti-oxidants (berries), a healthy protein (tofu) and something to satisfy my sweet tooth (stevia, apricot jam, dark chocolate!) I'm not too fond of smoothies (ouch!) so I thought I'd whip up a quick parfait.

I have a return to make at JC Penney, and some shopping to do before it gets too hot, so gotta run soon.  I think we're going to hit 89º today.

Ok so here's my quick n easy...

Strawberry - Blueberry Parfait

  • 8 oz. organic Silken Tofu
  • 2 packets Stevia
  • 1 generous cup organic Strawberries
  • 2 Tbs. low-sugar Apricot Jam
  • 1 tsp. Rose Water (Maward)
  • 1 c. organic Blueberries
  • 1 oz. Dark Chocolate (opt.)

Rinse and slice strawberries.

strawberries
strawberries

Place tofu, Stevia, strawberries, jam and rose-water in food processor.

parfait1
parfait1

Blend until smooth.

parfait2
parfait2

Fill parfait or wine glasses 1/2 full with strawberry mixture.  Add a layer of blueberries.

blueberries
blueberries

Pour more parfait on top. Add another layer of blueberries.

parfait3
parfait3

Decorate with chocolate shavings and half a strawberry.

parfait4
parfait4

Refrigerate 20 minutes to an hour.

~ Enjoy! ♥

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!

Make room for Mushrooms.. It's What's for Dinner

Chanterelle Mushroom – Chicken Pie

Adapted from Tom's recipe at www.tallcloverfarm.com

For the vegetarian version, omit the chicken and add three pounds of mushrooms.  This is a great vegetarian pie as chanterelles are meaty little guys with rich texture.

You will need:

  • Two Pie Crusts: Your favorite Whole Wheat,  Spelt (Whole Foods has a wonderful frozen Spelt crust), or Gluten Free crust of your choice
  • 1.5 lb Chanterelle mushrooms
  • 3 T. Virgin Olive oil
  • 1.5 lb organic, free-range Chicken
  • 1 T. whole wheat Flour
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 1 c. Soy Yogurt (Sour Cream if you can eat dairy)
  1. Sauté mushrooms in oil, until tender and most liquid evaporates
  2. Add onion, sauté until translucent
  3. Add diced chicken to pan, cook until tender
  4. Add flour, stir, cook for a few more minutes for thickening
  5. Add lemon juice and yogurt and stir. Let cool to room temperature

Preheat oven to 425 F. Place baking sheet in oven.

Line crust in 9-inch pie plate (10-inch works, too).

Add cooled filling to crust. Place second crust on top and crimp edges. Vent top crust by making 5 – 6 cuts with a knife.

Brush top crust with egg wash (one egg, 1 t. water, mixed).

Place pie on baking sheet in oven, on the middle rack. Bake for 15 minutes, or until top crust begins to brown.

Lower temperature to 350º F, continue baking for another 30 – 35 minutes, until golden and center is firm.

Serve warm (reheats well).

chanterelle mushroom pie Slicin Up Some Chanterelle Mushroom Piephoto credit: http://www.tallcloverfarm.com

Serve with a green salad and roasted balsamic asparagus!

 ~ Bon Apetit!

The Most Delicious Ice Cream You'll Meet!

I'd like to add two fantastically yummy words to your vocabulary today: ASHTA and MASTIC GUM.

Ashta..

a word that will make most Lebanese people swoon.  Ashta is the creamy foundation of many Lebanese Desserts. It is made with either dry milk, or for a richer flavor half and half.

Ashta is used as a filling for cannelloni-like soft shells, shredded phyllo 'bird's nests', and between layers of syrup laden pastry...drool... But WAIT!... what am I doing?? This is a blog about healthy, only good-fat, no sugar recipes!

Remember Houdini?  (What brought him here?) He did the impossible, that's what brought him here.  And I am determined to do the same. To attempt to offer you some decadent delicious dishes served on a plate labeled "Approved for Good Health"!

Well, pull up your shorts and get ready for a taste sensation...

Ashta Ice Cream is heaven on earth. Lebanese ice cream is made with mastic gum, which lends it a gelato-like texture. It comes in many flavors and is served in narrow cones.

Thanks to Anissa's blog for photo.

Mastic Gum

This is a resin made from the pistacia lentiscus tree. The mastic plant originated in the Mediterranean nations in the south of Europe, northern portions of Africa, and the Middle East. The gum has a variety of uses in cooking, art, and alternative medicine.

For cooking, mastic gum requires boiling in hot water or another liquid, because the hardened resin will not dissolve in cold water. It comes in little 'crystals' and can be crushed into a powder to add to puddings.

One of Mom's trademarks was chewing mastic gum, which is quite prevalent in the Middle East.  It wasn't until very recently that I found out that chewing  mastic gum prevents tooth decay, and is an ingredient in some toothpastes and mouthwashes.

If you chew the crystals, add a tiny bit of beeswax to soften the gum. (Mom would nibble at the end of a candle!)

Back to the business of ASHTA and dessert!

Since milk products are off our list (for you vegans and cancer survivors).. we will use non-dairy ice cream as the base.

1 pint Vanilla flavored soy, coconut or rice milk Ice Cream 1/4 c. Orange Blossom water ( Mazaher) 1/4 c. Rose water ( Maward) 1 c. finely chopped Pistachios 1/2 tsp. crushed Mastic gum

Crush the Mastic gum in a mortar and pestle till it becomes very fine (almost powdery).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer ice cream to a bowl.  Add the flavored waters, mastic and 3/4 of the pistachios.

Mix well, but don't over melt ice cream.

Transfer to a round cake pan. Sprinkle remaining pistachios on top of ice cream. Cover with wax paper and freeze for 2 hours or overnight.

Take out of pan and store in a freezable container.  Serve in plain cones or individual cups.

~ Sahtein! 

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!

Cheesey Stuffed Mushrooms - Non Dairy

Tomorrow evening I am having a few people over to test their anti-oxidant levels with the amazing machine I spoke of in my post on April 27th. I'm so excited to have access to such a wonderful tool.  My teenage son agreed that most kids in his class would rate quite poorly, and he's anxious to see what his results will be. To supplement his diet, I started him on the Teen vitamins Pharmanex makes, and so in 4 weeks we'll do another reading to see if his levels rise. (It takes about 4 weeks for the change in your anti-oxidant levels to reach the skin, which is what the Biophotonic Scanner is measuring.)

I am going to try to get as many doctors in our area to incorporate this piece of data into their health evaluations!

Anyway, I want to make a little treat to serve tomorrow night and thought these quick and simple to put together appetizers would be fun.  (If you are someone who can eat dairy, then substitute goat cheese for the rice cheese.)

Makes about 24

  • Olive oil, for baking sheet
  • 3 slices whole wheat Sandwich Bread
  • 1 small Garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz grated Rice or Almond Cheese
  • 1/2 c. fresh organic Parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. Red Pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
  • Coarse Sea salt
  • 2 packages (10 ounces ea) white button mushrooms, stems removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.

In a food processor, pulse bread and garlic until fine crumbs form; set 1/2 cup aside. To food processor, add cheese, parsley, and red-pepper flakes. Season with salt, and pepper and pulse filling until combined.

Spoon filling into each mushroom, and roll filled side in reserved breadcrumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet; bake until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cheers!

Another Wonderful Salad - Fattoush

When my daughter was a little girl, there were certain words that made her giggle...Sfoofwas one of them (a turmeric cake served in the mountain villages of Lebanon) and Fattoush another. When she helped me find a location for my Cafe, she said; "You know that you're going to have to name it Sfoof's, right?"

Well, I did.  We were known as Sfoof's Woofle Cafe! Say THAT 5 time fast! :)

sign final
sign final

And...her favorite salad is still Fattoush

Fattoush
Fattoush

Traditionally this salad is made with Purslane, another wonderful edible plant treated like a 'weed' in the West.  My gardeners accidentally weeded my wild patch of Purslane... but they only did it once!

purslane
purslane

According to David Beaulieu: When you taste the "weed," purslane in cooking recipes, and familiarize yourself with the research concerning its nutritional benefits, you might re-think the outdated logic that says, "This plant is a weed; therefore, it must be eradicated from my landscape!"

Instead of fighting it as a weed, you may begin to find it eminently logical to treat it as a herb of edible landscaping.  Purslane just happens to contain alpha-linolenic acid, one of the highly sought-after Omega-3 fatty acids.

Click here for more on the Health Benefits of Purslane.

Recipe

Fattoush is great as a picnic dish.  It complements grilled meats.

  • 2 c. organic ripe Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small white Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. organic flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh organic Mint, chopped
  • 1 organic Green Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 c. Purslane leaves (no need to chop if they are small)
  • 1/2 c. Pomegranate seeds (opt.)
  • 2 loaves whole wheat Pita bread, toasted, broken into bite-size pieces (Omit for Gluten-Free version)

Dressing

  • 1/4 c. organic Lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. dried Sumac *

Combine all veggies in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Add dressing to veggies, and toss. Just before serving, Mix in toasted pita bread.

    * Found in most Middle Eastern or specialty markets.

~ Sahtein! ♥

Broccoli - Throwing out the Baby with the Bath Water

Broccoli, what a gift of a veggie. Its tightly packed florets are not only unique and pretty, they pack a healthy punch. The other night my boyfriend was in charge of preparing the Broccoli for steaming, and after separating the florets to my horror he was about to toss out the stems!  I must have shrieked, because he froze, holding the stalks in mid-air on his way to the garbage bin, not daring to do whatever it was that elicited that reaction.

Slowly his eyes met mine, and hoping to erase the look of horror on my face, tried to grin.

"You're NOT about to throw those out are you?" I asked.

"These?... Uh, no.. of course not." He slowly backed up to the cutting board.

"Good!' I went back to stirring the lentils.

From the corner of my eye, I watched as he placed them back on the board and twisted the knife around seemingly to slice the stems.

"You can peel them first, if you like," I hinted. "Bite size is good."

"Yeah," he looked relieved.

Stem Injustice!

I have often felt that we throw away much more than we should of the Veggies we prepare.  Stems seem to be thought of as unnecessary 'extras', when they are actually the conduit of foods to the parts we do eat... hence are likely to be filled with 'good stuff'.

I feel this way about greens, like Chard, Mustard Greens, Parsley, and Kale.  If the stem is woody, like Mint, then of course you wouldn't want to eat it.

Broccoli Benefits

On my list of the Anti-oxidant Capacity of Veggies, Fruit n' Spices, Broccoli was up there with about 1600 ORAC units per 1 cup serving.  (We're aiming for at least 6,500 units per day).

Broccoli  contains an anticancer phytochemical that increases the body’s ability to get rid of toxic substances linked to the development of cancer. It is also capable of inducing cancer cell death. A friend indeed!

This is a quick and tasty way to serve Broccoli:

Sesame Broccoli Recipe

  • 1 large organic Broccoli, broken into florets, stems peeled and chopped
  • Salt
  • 1/2 c toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 3 Tbs. Rice Vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. organic Tamari Sauce
  • 2 tsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. grated fresh Ginger
  • 2 tsp. Stevia (or organic Honey)

Steam or cook Broccoli in salted boiling water until crisp-tender. Drain thoroughly and hold under running cold water for 30 seconds, then drain again.

Let cool to room temp.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Shortly before serving, add broccoli and toss to mix well.

Good with Fish like Ginger Cod, and Brown Rice.

~ Sihk faahn!

Grilled Eggplant Panini

Eggplant is another one of those veggies that some people shy away from if they've had it undercooked.  'Curing' eggplant with salt before cooking leeches out some of the bitterness and the excess liquid. Grilled eggplant is delicious.

How to Cure Eggplant Before Cooking

Peel the eggplant in alternating strips (zebra like) and  slice 1/4" thick.  Sprinkle with salt on all sides.  Place in a bowl lined with 2 - 3 thicknesses of unbleached paper towels, with more paper towels on top, and press with a heavy pot.

Wait 15 minutes.  Then wipe eggplant off with fresh paper towels, removing as much salt as possible.  Cut per recipe instructions.  Reduce Salt in recipe by 1/2, and then add more to taste if needed.

Panini

For a tasty take away lunch, this Panini is satisfying and can be made the night before (without toasting bread) and grilled the next morning.

2 Tbs. Vegenaise 2 Tbs. organic fresh Basil, finely chopped 2 Tbs. extra-virgin Olive Oil, divided 8 slices (1/2 inch size) Eggplant 1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper 8 slices whole-grain Country Bread (e.g Trader Joe's Tuscan Whole Wheat Panini) 8 thin slices Rice cheese (fresh mozzarella for those who can have dairy) 1/2 c. sliced jarred Roasted Red Peppers 4 thin slices Red Onion

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Blend Vegenaise and basil in a blender. Using 1 tablespoon oil, lightly brush both sides of eggplant and sprinkle each slice with garlic salt and pepper.

With the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, brush one side of each slice of bread.

Grill the eggplant for 6 minutes, turn with a spatula, top with cheese, and continue grilling until the cheese is melted and the eggplant is tender, about 4 minutes more.

Toast the bread on the grill, 1-2 minutes per side.

To Assemble Panini

Spread 'basil mayonnaise' on half the slices of bread. Top with the cheesy eggplant, red peppers, onion and the remaining slices of bread. Cut in half and serve warm or room temperature.

  ~ Cheers!

Eat Wild Thyme for a Wild Time!

Thyme, botanically known as Thymus vulgaris, is a perennial garden herb that has been employed since ancient times for medicinal and culinary uses.The World's Healthiest Foodsnotes that thyme has traditionally been associated with courage, with medieval women giving sprigs of thyme to knights going into battle; it has also been used as an herbal remedy for a host of ailments (PMS, Indigestion, Coughs..). It is an excellent source of iron and manganese, a very good source of calcium and a food source of dietary fiber.Since the 16th century, thyme oil has been used for its antiseptic properties, both as mouthwash and a topical application. Thyme tea, rich in volatile oils, minerals, beneficial phenols and flavonoids, is a healthy beverage choice. One of the popular culinary herb plants, thyme is native to Southern Europe and Mediterranean regions.

For thousands of years, herbs and spices have been used to help preserve foods and protect them from microbial contamination. Research shows that both thyme and basil contain constituents that can both prevent contamination and decontaminate previously contaminated foods.

Thymol has been found to protect and significantly increase the percentage of healthy fats found in cell membranes and other cell structures. In particular, the amount of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) in brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes was increased after dietary supplementation with thyme.

In Lebanon we use green and dried thyme extensively.  Dried thyme mixed with sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt is called Zaatar.

It is the main ingredient in the most traditional breakfast food, namely the Man'oushi...or Zaatar pie, which is sold in every bakery and many street vendor carts.

Mom was certain to serve us Zaatar on mornings when we had exams at school.  She said it helped with memory.  Although she wouldn't have known science was behind her belief, she was right!

 (photo courtesy of Stephen Masry)

Culinary Tips

Green wild thyme makes a very healthy salad!  Serve it with grilled meats and fish, or accompanied by Feta cheese and tomatoes for breakfast.  I like to use it in place of Oregano in some pasta dishes.  Dry Zaatar is delicious sprinkled on yogurt, hummus and plain omelets.

You can find Zaatar at most Middle Eastern markets. Make sure you choose Jordanian or Lebanese Zaatar.  There are some inferior products out there that taste like dirt!

Amending Store Bought Zaatar

For each cup of store bought Zaatar (Middle Eastern Thyme mix) you will need:

  • 1 Tbs. dried Sumac (available at Middle Eastern markets in packets or jars) 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 2 tsp. toasted Sesame Seeds (even if there are some in the mix)

Mix all together and store in airtight jars in the refrigerator for 6 months, or freeze for up to 2 years.

Green Wild Thyme Salad

  • 1 bunch of green Wild Thyme, rinsed and leaves picked off stems
  • 1 very small Onion (yellow or white), finely chopped
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped organic Green Onion
  • Juice from 1 freshly squeezed Lemon
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt (opt.)

Mix all together in non-metal bowl.  Serve at room temperature for best flavor.

~ Sahtein! (double health) 

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!

Lentil Soup with Chard

Shawrabit Adas bi Hamud  = literally, Lentil Soup with Lemon

This is the traditional Lebanese name for this soup, which is a popular winter meal in the mountain villages.

It's fragrant and hearty, and sure to warm you from the inside out.  The following recipe is based on my Mom's version, adjusted to lower the fat content! :)

 Lebanese Lentil Soup with Chard

  • 1½ c. organic Brown Lentils
  • 2 c. hot Water or brewed Green Tea
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt
  • 2 c. organic Swiss Chard, sliced into thin strips
  • ¼ tsp. Sea Salt
  • ¼ c. organic Cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbs. Avocado Oil
  • 1 c. Yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs. organic Lemon Juice

Rinse chard and slice, discarding lower half of stem.

Place sorted lentils in a pot and cover with water.  Add the 1/2 tsp. salt, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Mash cilantro, garlic and 1/4 tsp. salt in mortar and pestle until a smooth paste.

Place oil in saute pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add cilantro-garlic paste and Swiss Chard. Stir until wilted. Remove from heat.

When lentils are tender, add the Chard mixture and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.lentils_Indian style

Adjust seasoning to taste. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Serve warm with toasted whole wheat pita bread or whole grain toast.

~ Sahtein!

 

 

Lentil n Rice Mash aka Mjaddara

Mjaddara - Background

I make this dish when I want to travel back to my youth, to the days when someone else took care of me and cooked my favorite dishes, to a time when summers were spent at cousin's houses...walking downtown among colorful shops and busy streets... with multi-flavor ice cream cones in hand, and a string of relatives in tow.

Mjaddara tops my list of comfort foods. The warm, creamy texture and goodness of the lentils are incomparable. In Lebanon this is considered a peasant dish...I think it is King among lentil dishes!

 

Mjaddara

  • 1/2 c. organic Brown Rice
  • 2 c. organic Brown Lentils
  • 1/4 c. virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 large organic Yellow Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. Salt (or a little more to taste)
  • 2 c. hot water

Rinse rice and soak in water for 1 hour.

Pick through lentils, rinse bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.onion saute

In the meantime, sauté onions in oil over medium heat until just golden.  Add the 2 c. hot water and boil 5 minutes over low heat.

Add to the cooking lentils along with the rice and salt.  Continue to cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with wood spoon.

Turn to low, cover and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes or until rice is done, stirring frequently to keep from sticking to bottom of pot. Consistency should be like a thick pudding.

Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.  Then place 1 cups of the lentil mash in food processor and pulse 4 -5 times until mostly blended.  Return to pot and stir into remaining lentils.  (If you like your lentils whole, you may skip this step.)

Scoop Mjaddara into large bowl, or several smaller bowls. May be served hot (on cold days) or cold, accompanied by a green salad, pickles, radishes and fresh sweet onions.

Note: Traditionally this dish is eaten with pieces of pita bread folded into cones to form a scoop, then topped with a slice of onion, tomato or pickle!

mjaddara

~ To Your Health!

Decadent Dairy-Free Mousse - Vegan + Sugar Free

Minted Chocolate Tofu Mousse

So I was really in the mood for something decadent tasting last night. On my cancer diet that isn't as easy as it should be. Then I remembered messing around with whipped tofu a few months ago, and decided to tweak a tofu mousse I had come across.

mint 1
mint 1

I love the combination of mint and chocolate.  If you don't, you can substitute orange zest or Rum extract for the mint!

  • 10 oz. (1-1/4 c.)  Silken Tofu
  • 1 c.  Dark Chocolate, in pieces (I used 72% dark)
  • 1/4 c. organic raw Cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. Green tea or water
  • 1 Tbs. Almond extract
  • 1/2 c. Xylitol or 4-5 packets Stevia
  • 1/4 c. fresh organic Mint leaves, chopped  ( or 1 tsp. dry mint)

Place chocolate, cocoa, water, extract and sweetener in pot over medium-low heat (or in a double-boiler over simmering water). Stir until chocolate pieces melt and mixture is blended.

Remove from heat.

In food processor, whip tofu until smooth.

tofu mousse1
tofu mousse1

Add chocolate mixture and process until shiny and well blended. Add mint leaves and pulse 4 - 5 times just until mixed.

Scoop into dessert cups or bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour.

tofu mousse2
tofu mousse2

Your mousse will be thick, rich and oh-so-good!  Sprinkle additional chopped mint on top for garnish.

~ Bon Apetit! ♥

Argentinian 'Pesto'

Chimichurri Sauce

In South America this sauce is traditionally used over grilled meats.  It works well with fish as well.

You may adjust spiciness as you like.

 4 servings

  • 1 c. organic Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c. organic Baby Arugula, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh organic Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed Red Pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs. virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs. Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until well mixed.  Alternately you can hand chop the veggies and mix all together.

~ Buen Provecho!