Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil

This is one of our favorites. Lentils are about as nutritious and inexpensive as you can get, so those are two big pluses in my book. Make a double batch and stick half in the freezer for a ready made meal.

From The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee

6 cups water
1 1/2 cups lentils
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
2 med potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cubed
2 unpeeled carrots, cut into 1/3 inch rounds
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin

1. Combine the water, lentils, bellpepper, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, soy sauce, pepper, and bay leaf in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for 45 mins.

2. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a small saucepan over low heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the ginger, turmeric and cumin. Stir and set aside.

3. When the stew is cooked, add the spiced oil. Season with salt and additional pepper, if needed. Remove the bay leaf. Serve hot.

I like to remove a little and puree it, then return it for a thickened stew.

This stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. I recommend doubling it and freezing half. Simple!

Mexican Taco Casserole & Salsa Recipe

As a busy mom of five little ones, I’ll take any help I can get; anything that makes life a teeny bit simpler. Enter: The Casserole.

Casseroles can be assembled when convenient and baked later. They freeze well. We lived on soups and casseroles for a while I’d prepped ahead when baby#5 arrived.

And Mexican food….Love it. But once the little guy became 2 guys and then 3 guys (now 4) who all needed help assembling tacos, we knew something had to be done.

Time to combine the two. How to do it? Simple. Take all your ingredients, layer them in a casserole dish, and bake. It’s as easy as that.

Ex: salsa first (helps to prevent sticking), rice, salsa, beans or meat, cheese if you’re using it, another rice or beans layer, chopped onions & black olives, cracked corn chips w/cheese to brown on top. Serve with lettuce and tomato, guacamole, salsa & sour cream. Yum.

You can sneak veggies in there too. This time I sauteed onion&garlic with eggplant, carrots, and cabbage. Usually I add zucchini but I didn’t have any. You just make them taste “Mexican-y” with salsa, garlic, and lots of onions.

Make your own salsa cheap & easy w/canned crushed tomato, lemon juice, chopped fresh cilantro & chopped onion.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. It’s very rich, so I don’t make it very often. But the flavors of these ingredients combined are amazing. I first found the recipe here and it was an instant hit. I’ve made a few changes/substitutions, and as always, with soup, am not too specific with measurements. I’m attempting to measure so that I can write it down for you here.

1 large piece pumpkin (5 cups chopped)
2 large onions
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cans coconut milk (of course, fresh would be the best)
8 Tbsp molasses or 1 cup black rum (I’ve tried both; I prefer the molasses)
1 stick butter (you could substitute oil, I’m sure. I haven’t tried.)
Zest and juice of 2 large lemons (limes would be better)
1 Tbsp (approx) of curry powder
Kosher salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
1/3-1/2 white wine
*brown sugar — you can substitute a little extra molasses and honey. About 1/2 c or to taste.

You will need 2 pots.

1.Pot 1: Boil pumpkin chunks with stock, rum/molasses, and water if needed to cover until very soft.
2. Pot 2: Saute sliced onions in butter or oil until soft. Add coconut milk, lemon juice & zest, curry, honey, bay leaves. Simmer about 1/2 hr.
4. Combine all and blend or puree
5. Taste and adjust seasonings and thickness (you can add more water or stock or wine or…)

Soup is a very forgiving dish. You can really play around with ingredients and amounts; feel free to experiment! I don’t have any white wine today and am making it without it. Never think you can’t make something unless you have all of the exact ingredients.

Serve it up with some freshly baked french bread, a salad, and enjoy!

Breadsticks/Baguette/Pizza Dough Recipe

This is my most versatile bread recipe. It came from my BreadBeckers cookbook. I use it for Pizza, Breadsticks, or French bread. Here it is:

1 1/4 c hot water
1/2 c milk (I use fresh almond milk) -makes lukewarm temp. when combined
2 Tbs. oil
1 Tbs. honey
2 tsp. instant yeast
4-5 cups freshly milled flour (here’s why)
2 tsp salt

Combine water, milk, yeast, oil, and honey. Add flour and salt. Stir until well mixed. Knead to make a smooth ball (about 5-10 mins by hand). Let rise until double. Turn dough onto a generously floured surface working with just enough flour to make the dough workable.

For Pizza Dough: Divide in half. Use rolling pin to roll to desired thickness; place on oiled pans for about 20 mins to rise. Bake 15 mins in preheated 400 F oven. Cool, add toppings at convinience, then bake again about 20-30 mins till done. (We use lots of toppings; it takes longer to dry out than it would with few toppings. Nobody likes soggy pizza!)

For French Baguette: Divide for 2 small, or leave together for 1 big loaf. I usually do one. Roll into a rectangle and then roll each side in tightly, tucking under the ends. Placed on greased pan. Let rise until double. Bake at 400F for about 30 mins. May glaze with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds the last 5 mins of baking.

For Breadsticks: Roll out onto oiled pans, and use a pizza cutter to cut into strips. Let rise about 20 mins, then bake at 400F about 15 mins. I like to sprinkle with oregano before final rise, and baste with butter as soon as they come out. I also add 1 tsp garlic powder to the dough if I want them garlicky. Yum.

Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe

From my BreadBeckers cookbook.

3 cups freshly milled flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c oil
4 eggs
3-4 cups buttermilk*

Mix together dry ingredients (or empty your homemade mix into a bowl). Add liquids. Stir just until mixed. Fry on hot oiled griddle or nonstick pan. Serve with fresh chopped fruit and real maple syrup or raw honey.

Sometimes we have some leftover breakfast oatmeal from another day; this can easily be mixed in to the pancake batter. Tastes good and eliminates waste!

*Anyplace I see buttermilk in a recipe, I substitute 1 cup milk (any kind; I use nut milk) + 1 tbsp vinegar. I know some like to avoid vinegar; I am not sure if lemon juice would work instead, but it might.

Sick And Tired of Feeling Sick And Tired

No, I don’t get as much sleep as my body wants (although I am SO thankful that my baby sleeps through the night after some training her to do it). No, I don’t get much “real” exercise (unless you count chasing after little ones, carrying them and going up and down and up and down stairs all day). I wish I had the time to do better with those things. I’m sure I’d feel better if I did.

The one major impact on my health (and the health of my family, of course) that I can really influence without trying to find more time in the day is DIET.

Why is it so hard to eat right? Well, for many, it’s due to lack of knowledge. We are poorly educated about what we should eat. All we know is from how we were raised. I grew up eating meat of some kind for dinner almost every night. Once I was grown, I continued that habit; the meal just didn’t seem complete without it.

It was only in Chiropractic School that I learned to think much more logically about the body and how it works. To respect it as the marvelous machine that it is, and to trust its ability to heal and function properly, given the right conditions. I’ve continued to learn more since then.

One of the main things I’ve learned is that most, if not all, illness or sickness results from a toxic environment inside the body. Translation: there’s garbage in there. How it got in there is a topic for another day. Just trust me. The garbage needs to come out. And your body knows how to get it out, all on its own. Your body knows how to heal its sick cells, all on its own. It only needs you to not interfere.

One of the biggest way that we interfere with our body’s ability to heal is by taking the energy that it wants to use on that healing and forcing it to use it for something else. Like handling whatever we decide to put in (translation: food). Did you know that ONE THIRD of your body’s energy is used for digestion? Can you imagine if you were able to use that energy to heal instead?

The best way to enable your body to heal or detox thoroughly is by fasting. Dr. Jeff Hazim, a good friend of mine, has an excellent teaching on this. It is a free 1 hour video available at DetoxOrDie.com I highly recommend it.

But, fasting isn’t always practical.

There is something else you can do, not as good, but still excellent. Eat Live Foods (raw).

Imagine your body like a furnace, needing to burn something for fuel. You put the food in, light it, it burns, you go. But it needs to be dry. It needs to be chopped up. It needs kindling, it needs to be lit, maybe lighter fluid, fanned….you get the picture. If you put in a piece of meat or even cooked whole grains, your body needs to supply the necessary help to light it.

BUT….if you put in a LIVE piece of fruit, vegetable, nut, seed, etc, it’s like an all in one package. Those live enzymes contained in the live food have all you need-the starter fluid, the kindling, the lit match, everything. Your body gains without needing to spend.

Some people opt for an all raw food lifestyle. I believe this is the most healthful, but I am just not there yet. However, when I or any of my family members are not feeling well, we do eat only raw for a day or 2 or as long as we need to. It really does wonders.

Our 3 year old has been exhibiting symptoms indicating something going on in his body. We have decided that he needs to detox and are going to feed him an all raw diet for at least a few weeks. Today is day 3.

I’ve been looking around for raw food recipes. I came across this for granola. I am looking forward to trying this, since I always make granola for Saturday morning breakfast, and I didn’t know what I was going to make this week. I’m also going to start soaking my almonds before making the milk. They are much more nutritious after they’ve begun the sprouting process.

I’ll let you know how it goes. New challenges, new challenges. I must say I’m a little glad that I’m doing this for our little guy, because it’s forcing us to all eat more live foods. Something I’ve known that we’ve needed for a while, but just haven’t been finding the “extra” time needed to make that salad. So we’re all benefitting.
What’s something you can do this week to increase your live food consumption?

Middle-Eastern Chickpea Soup

I love making soup. It’s an easy to make, filling, and inexpensive meal. And the variations are endless. I usually don’t follow a recipe for soup, but just take the ideas of the ingredients and then run with it. This is an exception. I tried this recipe and loved it so much that I don’t want to change a thing. Except that I switched from white rice as originally called for to whole grain. And since there are also chickpeas in the soup, you get a complete protein.

Add a salad and/or some fresh homemade bread, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal. Remember “The Soup That Eats Like A Meal”? Well, this one does. Only without the MSG and bad food combining.

The recipe was adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee.

Middle-Eastern Chickpea Soup

1 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 c chopped carrots

1/2 c chopped celery

3 garlic cloves, minced

5 c vegetable stock or stock of your choice ( use my easy chicken broth, stored in frozen 1/2 cups)

2 tsp salt (I find this to be a little too much; try 1 tsp)

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp black pepper

1 bay leaf

1/3 c rice

1 16oz can chopped tomatoes

1 c cooked chickpeas


lemon wedges

chopped fresh cilantro

grated parmesan cheese

  1. Saute onion in olive oil until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook until soft, another 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until it begins to turn golden, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the stock and turn the heat to high.  Bring the soup to a simmer, then add the salt, cumin, pepper, bay leaf, rice, and parsley.
  3. Add the can of crushed tomatoes.
  4. When the soup returns to a simmer, turn the heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chickpeas and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
  5. Serve hot.  Garnish with lemon wedges, cilantro, and a sprinkling of cheese.

It’s REALLY good. And very easy to make. And filling. And has unique flavors….Can you tell that I really like this soup?

Tell me what you think of it!

Cuban Black Beans

I grew up in Miami, eating Cuban food. Fried plantains, guava pastries, cafe’ con leche….not the healthiest things, to say the least. But mmm.

Good black beans and rice, though, is a good thing. Arroz Con Frijoles Negros, Cuban style. Healthful, a complete protein (with whole rice only, of course), and inexpensive, you can feel good about preparing this for your family.

And when you make extra beans, you can make my favorite black bean burgers with them later in the week.

This recipe comes from Three Guys From Miami. Here it is:

2 1/2 cups dried black beans
9 cups water **note: I have always found this to be WAY too much liquid. Try 8 cups or even less.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled, and mashed with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
Olive oil for sautéing
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons vinegar
3/4 cup dry Spanish wine (I use Emerald Reisling. Any white wine will do.)
2 teaspoons sugar
Olive oil

Cover dry beans with water and let stand covered overnight. Drain and discard water.
Place the cleaned black beans in a large 6-quart saucepan. Add water and olive oil—this will prevent the beans from foaming. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
Do not add salt to the beans when they are cooking. Salt at this stage of the game will make your beans very tough.
You may also cook the beans in a pressure cooker. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for exact times, but our pressure cooker takes about 20 to 25 minutes to cook the beans completely.
Whichever method you use, do not drain the water from the cooked beans.
Meanwhile, chop onion and green pepper. Mash the garlic with salt and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle.
Sauté the onions and green pepper in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add mashed garlic and sauté another minute or so.
Add the cooked beans, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, vinegar, and wine. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf.
Some cooks—including us—like to thicken the beans by taking about 1 cup of beans and mashing them to make a thick paste. Mix the mashed beans back into the pot.
Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the sugar; then drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the beans. Immediately cover the pot, remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes.
Serve the by now fantastically prepared black beans over white rice.
You may garnish the beans with cilantro and chopped white onions. Not only do they look good presented this way, they taste even better than they look.

Buen Provecho!

Easy Hummus Recipe

If you’ve never tried Hummus, you’ve been missing out. Hummus is a Mediterranean dish made from pureed chickpeas (garbanzo beans.)It’s delicious on sandwiches or as a dip for veggies. There are many varieties and flavors; if you don’t like it one way then that only means that you haven’t found “your” secret ingredient.

The basic ingredients are:Cooked Chickpeas,Garlic,Olive Oil,Lemon Juice.

Israelis add Tahini, which is a paste made from sesame seeds (like peanut butter, but from sesame seeds). Tahini is a critical ingredient to Israelis; I don’t like it, and I make my hummus without it, like the Greeks do.

I can’t give you an exact recipe because I don’t use one; I just:

1)Put my cooked chickpeas in the food processor and add:

A garlic clove

Some lemon zest, and juice of 1 lemon


Cumin (optional)

Blend till smooth, adding water as necessary, tasting and adjusting seasonings.

Variations include: Adding roasted peppers, fresh herbs such as cilantro, dill, or parsley, cayenne pepper for a little kick. Be creative! There are many things you can do, it just depends on your taste.

For a nice presentation, spread the hummmus on a shallow dish, with an “edge” higher than the rest, and a slight depression in the center. Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil; add some olives if you’d like.
I serve this with Roasted Eggplant and Couscous Tabouli Salad, with pita bread for dipping or making sandwiches.
Here is a video showing the basic steps for making Hummus. It’s not my video; I don’t use all of the same ingredients. But it shows the main idea and what it should look like when you’re done. Because there are so many variations, you can take some, all, or none of the ones shown here.

Couscous Tabouli Salad

Living in Israel offers many differences to living in the US. Being here this long, I have begun to really appreciate the flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Most tabouli is made with bulgar wheat; I prefer the taste of the couscous. I had just been introduced to these types of foods before moving here; they are healthful, and neither expensive nor difficult to prepare. I’ll add recipies for the accompaniments as I can.

Couscous Tabouli Salad

Serves 6
Adapted from: Chez Christine

2 cups whole wheat couscous
1 garlic clove, minced

2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, & finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped 1 bunch fresh mint leaves 1bunch fresh parsley approx 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons’ worth)
Salt & pepper

1. In small saucepan with tightly fitted lid, mix DRY couscous with 2 tsps extra virgin olive oil.
2. Add 2 cups boiling water to couscous. Immediately cover and let stand 5 minutes.
3. After 5 minutes, fluff with fork, and leave uncovered to cool.
4. In the meantime, in large bowl, combine chopped tomato, cucumber, and garlic.
5. Finely chop mint (separate from stem) and parsley leaves. Note: I have tried to use the food processor for this to save time, but was not satisfied with the uniformity and size of the results. If your food processor is better than mine, go for it. Otherwise, I find it worth the effort to chop by hand. Add to bowl.
6. Add couscous, and gently mix to combine
7. Add olive oil.
8. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover and chill.
9. Add crumbled feta just before serving.

I serve this together with homemade hummus, roasted sliced eggplant, and labana cheese (similar to yogurt) along with olive oil for dipping and some nice bread or pita. Yum!