I recently started my second round with a diet/food-cleanse called Whole 30, in which you eat nothing but unprocessed, unrefined, sugar-free food, while also cutting out entire food groups such as dairy, soy, and grains (oh and booze too). I am sure to many it sounds a bit crazy, but I will share that throughout the 30 days I woke up easier and stayed awake throughout the day, my body felt physically and mentally alive in a way it had not in years past and I felt stronger when I worked out.
Cutting out dairy, sugar, grains and booze? Ok, I could do it. But I could never do without my coffee, which thankfully you are allowed. In order to enjoy my one permitted cup of coffee, I needed to make my own almond milk since almost all sold in stores contain added sugar. I also wanted to find a natural way to sweeten the almond milk to make my coffee a little more enjoyable. So I added 1 medjool date when making the almond milk for the sweetness I craved with my coffee, but without any sugar.
I have come to love making my own almond milk so much that I do it even when I am not on the diet. There is something gratifying about knowing exactly what is in your food and drink. If you are going to try your hand at this I highly recommend buying a nut milk bag, but if you have a cheesecloth available that will work fine.
Homemade almond milk is for more than just crazy diets: it is great for baking, especially when making nondairy desserts, for making smoothies, in your cereal or oatmeal or just drinking too.
For the almond milk:
1 cup raw almonds
3 cups water
1 pitted medjool date
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
For the vanilla banana smoothie:
1 ¼ cup home made almond milk
1 ½ frozen banana
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
To make the almond milk:
Soak the almonds in 3 cups of water for 12-24 hours. Drain the water from the almonds.
Place the almonds, 3 cups of water, the date, cinnamon and salt in a blender. Start on a low speed and quickly accelerate to high speed until all the nuts are completely pulverized. Pour the nut milk into the bag to strain.
Tip: Don’t waste the almond meal left after straining the liquid. Save it and dehydrate it. It becomes perfect almond flour.
To make the smoothie:
Place almond milk, frozen banana, cinnamon, vanilla and honey in the blender and pulse until smooth. Sprinkle some cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder on top.
We made it through the first set of the holidays. Congrats to all of us. Of course we look forward to and enjoy the holidays with out families, but they are also exhausting.
And what’s next? Another holiday of course. It’s time for Sukkot.
By the time it’s Sukkot I am ready for lighter meals, which is why a delicious soup with a salad, cheese and crackers is my ideal menu. It’s satisfying, but a little lightened up after the past few weeks of meal-laden celebrating.
Sukkot also coincides with the fall, and my obsession for all things pumpkin. Cakes and pies, grilled and roasted: you name it I have done it or will be doing it. This soup is amazing because when you are roasting the pumpkin and red pepper with the sage you entire house will smell like the warming flavors of fall.
Note: I prefer to roast the red peppers the day before making the soup. The skin comes off more easily with plenty of time for cooling.
2 sugar pumpkins
3 red peppers
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
20 sage leaves
2 medium yukon potato, cubed
½ cup olive oil plus olive oil for brushing the pumpkin
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 cups water
1 tsp of maple syrup
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried sage
leftover challah, cut into cubes
Split the pumpkins in half, rub inside with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the maple syrup. Place 16 sage leaves inside and roast on a baking sheet at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours until inside of pumpkin is tender.
When there is a half an hour left, place the whole red peppers in the oven. Peppers should roast until the skin is crisp and a little black.
Once the pumpkin is out of the oven, discard the sage. Place the roasted red peppers in a paper bag. After the peppers have cooled, peel the skin, remove seeds and cut into pieces.
Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin using a large spoon. Discard the skin.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the
Add potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the roasted red pepper, the pumpkin flesh, and the remaining sage leaves. Sauté all veggies for another 5 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
Add the liquid and bring to a boil. Once boiled turn down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can puree in batches in a food processor or regular blender.
Spread the challah cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with dried sage and minced garlic.
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool.
Serve soup with challah croutons and sage as garnish if desired.
Every Sunday over the summer months was BBQ night for my family and my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents would all get together for a big, family feast. One of my favorite dishes at these gatherings was Miami Ribs marinated in my mom’s “secret sauce.” When I moved to the U.S. from Canada, I kept asking the local butcher for Miami Ribs and each time I was met with a look of confusion and told that they did not have them.
I clearly needed my mom’s touch, because a few weeks ago she walked into the butcher and explained exactly what I was looking for to which the butcher responded “Oh, of course, thinly sliced Korean ribs.” Once I knew I could get the ribs, I needed to know more about the sauce. To my surprise this incredible sauce that I loved all these years comes from a bottle and is only available in Canada where I grew up. Tragedy.
But instead of merely accepting this fate, I began experimenting how to develop the perfect marinade. And this past weekend when I hosted my own Sunday night BBQ, guests raved about the ribs and were dying to know more about “Miami Ribs” and the special sauce I was able to recreate.
These ribs are easy for a BBQ night and pair well with any grilled side, including grilled pineapple and asparagus.
10 Korean thinly sliced ribs
1 ¾ cup ketchup
5 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Franks Hot Sauce (or hot sauce of your choosing)
1 tsp water
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
A pinch of ground pepper
Whisk together ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, hot sauce, water, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper.
Pour marinade over ribs and place in fridge for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
Preheat outdoor grill on medium heat. Place marinated ribs on medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve with grilled vegetables or pineapple.
I don’t mind admitting that Passover completely stresses me out. Inevitably I will start to cook something and realize I don’t have the correct kitchen tool or that I forgot to get one ingredient and running out to the store is just not an option.
But what really makes me stressed are lunches! I am happy with all the meat at the seders, but in general I need a lighter lunch and try to avoid eating matzah.
I typically love salads for lunch but need something to go with it – the veggies alone do not always cut it. So I came up with a more substantial salad that is delicious cold or warm and fulfills my desire for fresh vegetables and my need for something starchy.
This recipe is great to make ahead of time to serve as lunch on chag or the perfect tupperware lunch during chol hamoed. Looking to add additional protein? Serve with some grilled salmon.
For the sweet potato patties:
2 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa (only cook half a cup)
½ red onion finely dices
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
½ Tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil for frying
For the blackberry mint salsa:
1 pint fresh blackberries, chopped
½ red onion, finely diced
½ jalapeno, finely diced (more or less to taste)
½ cup chopped mint
1 tp salt
juice of 1 lime
For the arugula salad:
Bag of fresh arugula
2 ripe avocados sliced
To make patties:
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add in sweet potato, onion, salt and pepper, stir, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until potato is soft (easily able to be mashed). Remove lid and add garlic and cayenne pepper, cooking for an additional minute.
Transfer cooked sweet potatoes to a large bowl and mash. Add in quinoa, thyme, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Using your hands to bring it together, form equally-sized patties. Heat the same skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
To make the salsa:
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and mix.
To make the salad:
Combine ingredients and dress with juice from lime wedge
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Having leftover challah has never been a bad thing. Sunday morning brunches, Shabbat afternoon sandwiches; the options go on. Since I am hosting most Friday nights and am constantly left with challah I decided I needed to be a little more creative with the leftovers.
This past weekend I also happened to have a bowl of mixed berries left over and knew right away this was the week to leave my comfort zone and make stuffed challah french toast using both these delicious remains.
French toast is one of my favorite foods and eat it any time of day. And now that I have created this challah masterpiece, I may never stop. I even went as far as to make homemade blueberry syrup to go on top, but you can leave this step out if you prefer plain maple syrup.
For the French toast:
1/2 loaf leftover challah
½ cup mixed berries
4oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup
½ cup milk
Butter or oil for pan
For the blueberry syrup
½ cup of sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
½ cup water
½ cup of fresh blueberries
½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter
Pinch of salt
To make the French toast:
Slice the challah into 2-inch thick pieces. Using a paring knife, cut a deep slit across the top in the middle of each slice, approximately 4 inches long - This will form your “pocket.” Once you’re done, set the bread aside.
Put the room temperature cream cheese, vanilla and mixed berries in a bowl and combine using a wooden spoon. The berries will crush a bit and that is good. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, add 2 eggs, cinnamon, maple syrup, and milk. Mix well.
Take the fruit-cream cheese mixture and stuff into the "pockets" of the challah.
When done stuffing each piece of bread, completely coat each piece in egg mixture. Make sure all sides are covered.
Put butter or oil into a hot skillet and melt completely. Add the stuffed challah to the skillet and cook roughly about 3-6 minutes on each side, until it reaches a nice golden brown. You want to make sure the cream cheese mixture heats through.
To make the blueberry syrup:
Combine sugar, cornstarch and water over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the blueberries and simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the butter, cinnamon and salt simmer for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Top the stuffed French toast with berry syrup.
I don’t know about you but I am just thrilled that September is over and we have moved past the chagim and into a new month. Beyond the happiness I feel for the chaos of the holidays being behind us, like many others I am so happy that it is officially fall and that everywhere I look there are pumpkins! While the temperatures where I live in Boston have remained in the 70’s it is still fall and therefore time for soup.
A few years ago, my husband and I went to New Orleans to visit friends. The wife, who is a fantastic cook, is always trying new recipes and she made us a delicious pumpkin soup. It was a fall version of minestrone soup with totally different flavors than I had tasted before. I happily received the recipe from her, and have been experimenting with her version ever since. Anything with pumpkin is a must try and anything that is easily brought as lunch the next day is also a winner, and I promise, this make a great lunch!
For this recipe, I toast the pumpkin seeds with salt and cayenne pepper to top the soup. It adds extra crunch and flavor.
1 19 oz can of chickpeas
4 carrots, cut into 2-3 large chunks
4 medium potatoes, quartered
2 large onion, quartered
salt and pepper
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp (less or more to taste) cayenne pepper
7 oz pumpkin, cut into 6-8 large chunks (peeled and seeds discarded)
4 zucchini, cut into 3-4 large chunks
half a green cabbage, quartered
4-5 stalks celery cut coarsely
7 cups of water
I cup prepared Israeli (pearl) couscous
1 bay leaf
Bring salted water to a boil.
Add the carrots, potatoes and onion, season with salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf. Cook 45 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Add the remaining vegetables and cook for 10 minutes.
Add chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary and remove the bay leaf.
Prepare the couscous according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Place a heap of couscous in a deep dish. Arrange the vegetables on top and ladle the soup around and over the couscous.
I have a love-hate relationship with the High Holidays (who doesn’t!?). It always seems to coincide with a busy time of work and I never have enough time to cook all the recipes I want to try. This year is the first time my husband and I will be celebrating the holidays at home (as opposed to going to family or friends). We are hosting lots of meals, which means I am forced to/have the opportunity to explore new recipes and adapt some of my favorites.
The one thing I make year after year without fail is my mom’s honey cake. It is moist, sweet and the perfect addition to any Rosh Hashanah meal. It is the first thing I eat after the Yom Kippur fast with a big glass of orange juice. When I think of the holiday season I can smell the honey cake and see my mom’s kitchen counter covered with honey cakes and challah.
This year, I wanted to change up the cake by utilizing the same concept and making it a little more interesting. Here is the recipe for a Honey Pomegranate Cake with a pomegranate glaze on top. You can make the cake ahead of time and freeze it for later, however you should not glaze it until you the day you are serving.
For the cake:
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1 ½ cups honey
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup cold brewed pomegranate tea (brewed for 30 min)
For the glaze:
½ cup pomegranate juice
¼ cup sugar
juice of ½ lemon
4 Tbsp powdered sugar
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and slowly add to liquid ingredients. Pour into 10” ungreased angel food cake pan (tube pan), not a Bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
When the cake is done invert and allow to cool completely before removing.
For the glaze, combine pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil then let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes stirring frequently. It will become a syrup and reduce to about half. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and whisk in powdered sugar until smooth.
Stir in pomegranate seeds and pour over the cake.
When the summer months arrive there is nothing more that I love than baking with fresh berries. There is a constant debate in my house of berry pie vs. berry crumble. See I love berry crumbles – the lightness of the berries with the crunchy sweet toppings while my husband tends to prefer the classic berry pie.
I finally decided I had to merge the two if I was going to be happy and keep my husband happy at the same. The result was nothing short of amazing. I mean, what is not to love about pie crust on the bottom filled with fresh berries, and topped with melt-in-your-mouth crumble? When served at a dairy meal or a late night snack, top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
This recipe makes two pies – and trust me, it is so good you will want to bring one to work, share with friends, or keep it for yourself. This pie also freezes well, so you can put one away for a rainy day.
I know it seems like a lot of steps, but they are all simple and do not take very long. Reuse the bowls along the way for fewer dishes to be washed at the end.
For the Crust:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
For the Filling:
4 cups mixed berries
2 cups peeled apples cut into small pieces or peaches
zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
For the Crumble Topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter or margarine, at room temperature
For the pie crust mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the shortening. In a second bowl, mix together the water, vinegar and egg. Mix wet ingredients into flour mixture. Divide into two equal pieces. Roll out pie crust in (two) pie tins.
For the filling, mix all together in a bowl split between two pies crusts.
For the crumble topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oats, and butter in a bowl.
Combine until the mixture resembles large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.
Bake pies for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.