Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cacao covered nuts

Merry day after Christmas to everyone! I know that my sugar cravings have definitely been high these past couple of weeks! Especially with all the holiday sweets around, there is definitely the temptation to try some of those cookies, and the pie, and the cake, and well... there goes being sugar free. Alas, I've come up with an interesting holiday creation of my own that satisfies my sweet tooth! Are you ready?

1 spoonful of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of almond butter (unsweetened)
1 tsp of unsweetened cocao powder
a dash of cinammon
2 handfuls of cashews or any other nut you like

1st I mix together everything besides the nuts until it gets creamy. Then add the nuts and mix together. You can also add coconut flakes. It turns out something like chocolate peanut butter nuts, but so much better because it's good for you and tastes good!

I've been trying to incorporate cacao into my diet lately. One of the lectures at my school was talking about how great it is. It appears to be good for your heart and mood (stimulates dopamine and serotonin). I'm willing to give it a shot :) You can read more here:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New site

Hey blog visitors! Thanks for stopping by. While I love the blog format, I've found that I'm able to reach more people by using facebook. On my facebook page, I post all sorts of plant-based recipes that work really well for anyone trying to incorporate more vegetables and unprocessed foods into their diets. Today's post is a quick garlic bean stew for the upcoming chilly evenings!

Please message me or post on the page if you have any questions or if you are looking for specific recipes and I'll be glad to respond. I know how important support and information can be when you are trying to change your diet. For those interested, I also offer one-on-one coaching sessions.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Homemade Roasted Red Peppers

This is a recipe that my family has been cooking as long as I can remember. I've had jarred red peppers and they are really not the same, plus they have preservatives in them which I would rather do without. Homemade roasted peppers are richer, earthier, and simply more delicious. Plus the jarred peppers can get pretty pricey! Give it a try and let me know if you think the two are comparable :)
·         As many peppers as you want, I like red best
·         Olive oil
·         Garlic
·         Lemon Juice
·         Salt  and Pepper, to taste
1.            Wash peppers

2.            Flip iron grate on stovetop upside down (this creates more space for more peppers)

3.            Turn on the flame and using tongs, place the peppers on the grate on the flame

4.            Turn the peppers every few minutes so that each side is completely charred and black

5.            Once all sides of the peppers are black, place them in a bowl and cover the bowl for around 3   minutes. You can also put them in a paper bag. The idea is to allow the steam to loosen the char.

6.            Remove the peppers and scrape off the char using the back of your knife. You don’t want to wash the peppers because it will remove the (delicious) oils.

7.            Slice peppers into thin ribbons and place in a bowl or jar with olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Use as much or as little as you like as it depends on your preferences. Keep in the fridge. 

Start with the peppers on the stove, don't forgot to flip the grate for more room

Use tongs to flip the peppers and don't forget to smile :) (that's my awesome roommate Michelle)

Once the peppers are charred, put them in a bowl with cover, paper bag, or in this case, pan with lid, to let them steam for a few minutes. This makes it easier to remove the burnt part and softens the peppers.

Use the back of your knife to scrape off the char and slice into ribbons (you can also tear the peppers into ribbons, no need to be exact)
Put the peppers in a jar with the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and shake it up making sure to coat all the peppers with the oil and flavors. These peppers actually taste better after a few days in the fridge.

Zaalouk: Eggplant and Tomato Dip/Spread... Yum!

Yesterday I had some people over for lunch and one of the things we made was zaalouk, a traditional middle eastern eggplant and tomato dip. It has all but 5 ingredients (not including olive oil and a few spices) and is super easy to make. Feel free to be inspired and add any other types of herbs or spices you like!

Here is my version:

1 eggplant
4 plum tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro depending on how much you like it
1/3 cup water
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs paprika
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne if you like some heat
1. Slice the eggplant in half the long way and roast it at 400 until it's soft (about 30 minutes).
2. Separate the flesh of the eggplant from the skin and rough chop it.
3. Mince the garlic, chop the cilantro and dice the tomatoes.
4. Heat pan with the olive oil. Saute the garlic in the oil for a minute or so and then add the eggplant flesh (discard the skin... or compost it if you're cool like that), the tomatoes, cilantro, spices and water. Cover the pan and lower the heat to medium.
5. Check on the pan every once in a while to make to sure there is enough liquid, you can also stir it around and help mash it together. Leave it covered and cooking for 25-30 minutes.
6. After 25-30 minutes, take off the cover and continue to let the mixture simmer if it is too liquidy. Add lemon juice and any additional salt and pepper. 

Serve with quinoa, salad, bread, or on it's on.

Preparing the eggplants for roasting
Separating the roasted eggplant flesh from the skins

Chopping the garlic and roasted eggplant
Place the minced garlic in the pan with hot oil for a minute before adding the rest of the ingredients
Add the chopped roasted eggplant...
And the tomatoes, cilantro and spices
Add some water

Cover and let the games begin

Uncover and stir, use the back of your spatula or spoon to mash the mixture together to create a consistent texture and add some lemon juice
Plate and serve!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Samantha's Shakshuka

Samantha's Shakshuka (otherwise known as poached eggs in tomato sauce)

Shakshuka is a flavorful and rich dish eaten in North Africa, Israel, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries (though it has different names and varieties). It's usually eaten for breakfast, but I prefer it for a light dinner or lunch. The great thing about this dish is you can individualize it as much as you like. The basics are tomatoes, onions, peppers, cumin, garlic, water, salt, pepper and eggs. Other than that, it's up to you. You can add paprika, or sometimes I cook it with a dried pepper like chipotle to give it a smokey kick. You can add hot sauce or whatever herbs you like. I personally use green peppers as that's the way they do it in Northern Africa, but in Israel they often use more tomatoes and red peppers. It's very versatile.
1 green pepper (diced)
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 tomatoes, I prefer plum but it's up to you (large dice)
1/4 cup water (more as needed)
3 eggs
2 gloves garlic (chopped)
2 tbs olive oil (feel free to add more or less depending on your preferences)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin (feel free to add more)
1 tsp paprika (if you like)
1. heat pan and add olive oil

2. once olive oil is hot, saute the peppers and onions over medium heat for about ten minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic after about 5 minutes, you don't want it to brown.
3. Add the tomatoes, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Saute for about a minute and then add the water. Cover the pan and let cook for about 5 minutes. Add more water if it gets dry.
4. Once the veggies have cooked down a bit and look a little saucy, crack the eggs into the sauce. It helps to make indents in the sauce and crack the eggs into each indent. You want to keep them separate.
5. Add a little salt and pepper and cover. You are basically steaming the eggs in the tomato sauce. I cook them until the yellow's are slightly cooked, I'm not into runny eggs. That's about 10 minutes. Feel free to cook them as much or as little as you like.
6. Serve on it's own, with a side salad, pita or bread. Add chopped herbs at the end (cilantro is a good match).


Friday, June 21, 2013

Hi there!

Hi strangers out there! I didn't realize anyone had actually viewed my blog. That's pretty incredible. If you happen to end up here, can you let me know what you were looking for and how you stumbled upon my words?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Neat trick for roasting peppers

I learned an awesome trick yesterday while watching a chef interview for a chef instructor position with our company. Whenever I roast peppers, I do one at a time and I have to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't roll off the burner. Well, not anymore!

If you have a gas stove, turn the metal rack over the flame upside down and then put the peppers over the flame. It provides you more space to roast more peppers at once and it creates a little basket to keep them from rolling around. Genius!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Who needs sugar?

A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to Siggy's in Brooklyn. I decided to go a little crazy and splurge by sharing a smoothie with him. This smoothie was so rich and satisfying that I would gladly take it over a more conventional dessert any day. I've made it a few times and it's just as delicious and now my dad is addicted to it too. It definitely has a lot of sugar in it, even though it's all natural, so this is not something I would suggest for someone on a candida diet.

8 oz unsweetened almond milk
1 tbs unsweetened almond butter
1/2 banana
2 dates (make sure you pit them!)
a dash of cinammon (optional)

Just blend and drink. No need for ice.

Lots of greens.. what do I do?!

Oh man. Last night I realized that I had a bag of trader joe's cooking greens (mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens and kale) sitting in the fridge with a best use date of... 6/9. I came home somewhat dreading figuring out what to do with them, but I have to say they turned out delicious!

Here's to simple recipes with lots of flavor! The dried chipotle pepper adds a smokiness that I imagine is similar to what bacon does (but don't quote me, I've never had bacon).

1 bag Trader Joe's cooking greens (16 oz)
1 onion (red or white)
3 cloves garlic
1 cap full apple cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 dried chipotle pepper
2 tbs olive oil

Sautee the onions and garlic in some olive oil with some salt.

2. Once they are translucent, add the chipotle pepper, garlic and ginger powder and the greens. If the greens don't all fit in your pot, fill the pot and wait for the greens to wilt a bit and add more. They will shrink considerably as they cook.

3. Cover the pot and let the greens cook down for about 15 minutes on medium heat. Add water if it looks like there is no more moisture.

4. Once the greens have cooked in their own water, add a capful of applecider vinegar (you could use another kind of vinegar if you prefer).

You're done! Enjoy!

If you want to add some protein, try chickpeas cooked with the greens or lentils.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tonight I made the most delicious fennel, I wish I had more!

I like to cook with pretty simple ingredients and whole foods. I'm not great at measurements or timing. But maybe I'll get better. In the meantime, here's my recipe for delicious fennel!


1 medium onion (I used yellow) sliced thin
1 fennel bulb cut into thin wedges
olive oil (as much as you want!)
1 small plum tomato
1 tbs butter

1. First melt some butter and olive oil in a wide non stick pan. After it's hot, throw it the thinly sliced onion and thin wedges of fennel and don't move them. Turn the heat up to medium high and walk away. You want the bottoms to brown a little which means not staring at the pot and fighting the urge to stir.

2. After the bottoms of the fennel and onions are slightly brown (maybe 10 minutes?) stir everything around, add the tomato (chopped however you like) and let it cook down for a minute.

3. Next add about a 1/4 cup of hot water and cover the pan. Turn down the heat to medium low and let it cook for about 20 minutes (until the fennel is as tender as you want it). You can add more water if the fennel isn't tender and it's getting dry.

4. Once the fennel is cooked, take the lid off the pan and continue to cook at low heat until there isn't that much liquid (this is called reducing and makes delicious rich sauces).

For those actually on candida diets, follow what your body is asking for. I didn't eat tomatoes for a really long time, but now I eat them occasionally. Fennel only has 5-10 carbs per bulb (depending on size) so it seems relatively safe for the candida diet and it's really good for digestion!