Monday, June 26, 2017

Okroshka- A Cold Russian Yogurt Soup

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Russian Yogurt soup

Okroshka or Russian Kefir soup is as delicious as it is refreshing.

On hot humid days,  there is nothing like an icy cold bowl of soup.
I know, it's hard to warm up to cold soup- but I assure you this authentic Russian recipe for Okroshka will win you over. 

Let's face it, who wants to cook when it's really hot and humid? This soup requires no cooking and is 
a nourishing thick soup that is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. This delightful soup is fast and easy to make and naturally gluten free.

Moscow city

I wish I could say that I was introduced to this refreshing soup on a trip to Russia, but that is not the case.  My husband and I were traveling through the northern part of Miami in Florida about 20 minutes north of South Beach.

We enjoy ethnic restaurants and found an Uzbekistan restaurant called Chayanya Oasis located in Sunny Isles Beach.

The food is a fusion of Russian and Middle Eastern cultures and is served on beautiful dinnerware in a truly authentic atmosphere. We ate there on a Saturday night when there was live music and dancing to boot.

Sunny Isles Beach, Florida or what is often referred to as "Little Moscow" boasts a flourishing Russian community; some of the Russian community are residents, some are snow birds, and others are vacationers.

You would assume that Spanish would be the primary language anywhere near Miami  but not in Sunny Isles. It seems like the primary language is Russian and there are many Russian food markets, Russian restaurants, Russian pharmacies, and other Russian owned businesses.

Samavur - Russian Tea Set
Russian Samovar Tea Set 

 Chayhana Oasis is run by Russian immigrants. This soup and the entire evening was a delightful experience as we indulged in interesting food, drank, danced to lively Russian and American music, and had a heck of a time!

Russian Dolls


Our waiter spoke English well, gave us great service, and had an awareness of which foods were gluten free- which was helpful to me. Okroshka was one of the gluten free items on the menu.

Although I usually shy away from carbs like potatoes, the small amount of potatoes in this recipe are cooked in advance and cooled immediately, making the potatoes what they call "resistant starch" which is supposed to be digested differently than when potatoes are hot.

Resistant starch is not absorbed as glucose but instead can actually break down into short chain fatty acids aided by the bacteria in our intestines- thus supposedly helping with weight loss.

I tried to duplicate the recipe at home and this is what I came up with. Feel free to increase or decrease the herbs to your liking.


Ingredients:

2 medium cooked potatoes,  cubed very small
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped very fine
3 Persian cucumbers , peeled and diced very small
3 radishes, chopped very fine
1/4 cup chive  thinly chopped chives
1/4 cup finely diced dill
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
4 cups of plain whole milk yogurt or plain Kefir ( ok use 1% if you insist)
1 cup cold water ( add ice if don't have time to chill)
1/4- 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice ( to your taste)
Himalayan salt and cracked pepper to taste.


Directions:

Pour the kefir ( or yogurt) in a large bowl. Mix in the finely chopped eggs, finely cubed potatoes, the cucumbers,  radishes, chives, dill,  and parsley.  Add 1/2 cup of water and and 1/4 cup of lemon juice and mix. Chill in the refrigerator until very cold. Reserve the remaining liquid until serving and add the remaining liquid only if needed. Season and serve.

My Notes: 
1. My sister in law Joyci uses her Nutribullet to chop herbs ( parsley, dill, radishes, chives);
2. This needs be chilled for at least 6 hours to be really cold


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Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Gluten Free Dinner and trip to New Hope, Pa

Have you heard of New Hope, Pa? We recently visited  and I had a great gluten free dinner in the area.

New Hope is a tourist town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with street-side shops, interesting restaurants, antique shops, boat rides, the famous Bucks County Playhouse Theatre, and many outdoor cafes for coffee and ice cream.- a real tourist attraction.

It is on the banks of the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania side.


On the other side of the Delaware River is the  New Jersey side where there is another tourist town called Lambertville that also has interesting restaurants with music on the weekends and other events in the area.

There is a pedestrian and automobile bridge that connects the two tourist areas.

People walk back and forth across the bridge to enjoy the restaurants and other attractions in the two cities. 




People walk across the bridge and enjoy the fun on both sides of the river.

The Delaware River in the late spring/early summer


The car ride to New Hope from our house is beautiful.




We drive about a half hour along the Delaware River viewing beautiful foliage, magnificent homes, picturesque scenery, farms, bed and breakfasts, shady paths, flea markets, antique stores,  and popular restaurants.



Home of The Famous Bucks County Playhouse



Although we only went for the evening, many tourists from distances spend the weekend in area hotels and quaint bed and breakfasts. From the hotels, they can walk to restaurants, the famous and old Bucks Country Theatre where many famous actors got their start  ( Dick Van DykeTyne DalyGrace KellyAngela Lansbury, Imagene Coco and Walter Matthau to mention a few ) .


Dick Van Dyke



Grace Kelly

We Ate Dinner in Historic Lambertville on the
New Jersey Side of New Hope

We ate at Caffe Galleria which has indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant is in an old
house.  The rooms are charming and the outdoor wraparound porch is delightful on a sunny 
day or pleasant evening. Sometimes on the weekends they have live music outside near the 
porch. The restaurant likes to promote artists in the area. They often have a local artists work 
displayed or a local band playing.

Lots of Gluten Free and Vegetarian Choices
The restaurant had gluten free pasta on the menu and other gluten free and vegetarian 
options.  In addition they also serve many fish, seafood, chicken and meat dishes. 

I was deciding between the eggplant rollatini and the Zorba Tofu eggplant. ( I find no matter 
I eat, I make sure the wait person knows I'm gluten free and double checks the prep of the
food.) 

I finally decided and enjoyed my generous portion of their eggplant rollatini served with gluten free
 pasta in a marinara sauce which was delicious. They also served me gluten free flat bread which was sort of hard
thin and not particularly to my liking. 

My husband ordered regular pasta primavera that he said was very tasty and he enjoyed his
 regular bread that was served in a basket.

We sat in the indoor front dining room near the windows and had a pleasant view. 
The service was good and all in all we enjoyed the meal. 
It's probably best to make a reservation as they do begin to get busy on the weekends.
Did I mention that it is a BYOB? 

After dinner, we walked from the New Jersey side of Lambertville  across the bridge to the 
Pennsylvania side to New Hope, Pa and browsed in the many different stores,
including a very interesting old bookstore ( Farley's Bookstore) which carries a large variety of books in other
of books including many in other languages. 

 We bumped into four different people that I knew but hadn't seen in years
The warmer sunny weather must have brought out all the locals.

 Ice Cream is a Must in New Hope

New Hope has always been popular for it's many choices of ice creams. When I was a little girl, my father used to take us to New Hope just to get some ice cream on a hot summer day. I remember how it melted so quickly and would drip down my arms. I learned to lick the cones on all sides and eat
quickly.




Fireworks on the 1st Friday

We intended to stay for the fireworks, but we had done a lot of walking and we  started to 
get tired out by 9:00 PM We just didn't feel like hanging around another half hour.




The first Friday around 9:15-  9:30 PM there are fireworks! You can stand on the bridge to 
watch or stand on the banks of either side of the river. The fireworks last about 10 minutes. 

We had such a wonderful evening. 

If you are in the Bucks County area- New Hope is a great place to visit. It is about 40 minutes from Princeton, New Jersey and about 50 minutes from Philadelphia, Pa.

By getting there early around 5:30 , we found metered parking on the street for just $1 /hr. 

We had a great meal, a beautiful walk across the bridge over the river, fun browsing the touristy shops, and some darn good ice cream.

Have you ever been to New Hope? Where do you go? 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sprouted Lentil Salad


beautiful salad with lentil sprouts instead of lettuce

Are you tired of washing and drying and cutting lettuce for your salads?  
Are you trying to boost your nutrients without adding carbs, calories, or sugar? 

beautiful colorful summer vegetables i



Sprouts offer a powerhouse of nutrients and are easy to make. 

I used Lentil Sprouts for this Salad

I sprouted my lentils 2 days in advance

 Lentil sprouts which are crunchy, juicy, pleasing to eat,
and will blend well with just about any kind of salad veggies .

 How do they taste? They are mild, delicious, and satisfying.

In a previous post I showed you  how to make lentils sprouts easily in a jar on your kitchen counter or of course you can buy fresh sprouts in the refrigerator section of most supermarkets. 

I am now sharing  another delicious and highly nutritious way to use those delicious sprouts. 

Substitute Sprouted Lentils for Lettuce

  • Using sprouts to replace lettuce gives you greater variety in your salads 
  • a break from having to wash , dry and cut  the lettuce. 
  • Sprouts are made fresh so you get optimum nutrient value
  • Sprouts are very easy to make 
  • Making your own sprouts is a fun project for kids

This salad is so tasty, I would make this for company without hesitation. It is also naturally gluten free, making it a great salad to bring to a BBQ or other summer gathering.



Making your own sprouts is so easy that once you start sprouting lentils, you will wonder why you never did it before. 

Sprouts Provide Significant Vitamin C
Did you know that years back sailors on long voyages often depended on getting their vitamin C  from spouts!


When I made this salad, I simply added the vegetables to the salad that I already had in the house:

sliced red peppers, cucumbers, and carrots


Persian cucumber, yellow cherry tomatoes, radish, red onion, and fresh chopped dill and mixed them together with my crunchy lentil sprouts that I had made 2 days prior.


delicious summer vegetables mixed into a sprouted lentil salad

Below is my recipe for this colorful healthy lentil sprout salad that is one of my favorite salads. It offers a nice diversion from the typical lettuce salad but is still crunchy, light, and tasty.

summer sprouted lentil salad

In case you missed how to sprout: How to sprout lentils

Why Sprouts Are a Superfood?

Lentil sprouts are extremely easy to make, healthy, rich in enzymes, vitamins, and minerals and can be used in a multitude of recipes. Sprouts are a living growing plant and only living food can provide us with enzymes needed for proper digestion.

You could sprout almost any bean or seed, but I like lentil sprouts.

Author:Judee Algazi
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: none
Serves: 4 regular or 2 hearty eaters

Ingredients: 
2 cup of lentil sprouts
1 cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 cut up sliced large red and or yellow pepper 
1/2 cup of diced red onion ( or more if you LOVE it like we do) 
1/4 cup of green scallions, sliced
2 radishes, diced
1/4 cup of chopped dill
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Directions: 
Assemble all of the ingredients ( lentils, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, radishes, scallions) in a large bowl . Toss and serve with or without the dressing. 

Dressing:
I like to eat my salad plain, but you can try yours with Italian dressing or a light dressing of olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  

Shared on Hearth and Soul Blog Party

Peeling Vegetables: 
I used to struggle, but I found that it's all in the right tool. I found a simple inexpensive peeler that slips the skin off  easily and fast taking out the struggle. I recommend
OXO Good Grips Y Peeler It's the best one I found. 

Sharing on Souper Sunday 
  and Full Plate Thursday  and Hearth and Soul 

sprouted lentil salad for extra nutrients



SouperSundays

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Three Awesome Appetizers for Summer - Gluten Free

It's summertime and the entertaining is easy when you make these simple
 but elegant summer appetizers.


a beautiful caprese salad for a crowd

The summer season is the most popular time of the year for entertaining, especially outdoors! 
When you are not in the mood for a BBQ, you need some festive easy recipes to dazzle your guests. 

a plate of summer tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese

Caprese salad ( or the vegan version below) makes a beautiful presentation and a satisfying appetizer. 


layers of summer tomato, mozzarella cheese, and fresh bail


Ingredients:

 With fresh mozzarella cheese, summer tomatoes, fresh basil, red onion, cucumber, Calamata olives, and marinated artichokes, this platter is sure to please your guests. 

Having a wine and cheese party for a few neighbors on the deck? This Caprese salad or the vegan Caprese salad below will be perfect. 

Directions: 

Simply cut and layer the tomato and mozzarella cheese on the perimeter of the platter and then fill in the center of the platter with chopped cucumber, red onion, marinated artichokes and freshly chopped basil. Drizzle lightly with Italian Dressing or a little olive oil and balsamic and salt and pepper if desired. 



On a hot day serve some ice water or cold seltzer with sprigs of 
fresh mint, orange slices and lime slices

Ice cold water with sprigs of mint and orange slices


Another outdoor favorite is this refreshing frozen watermelon frosty which can 
be made with or without alcohol. 

Frozen Watermelon Frosties

The next time you buy a large watermelon, freeze what you don't use . 
Simply cut the leftover watermelon ( cut off the rind)  into bite size chunks, place in a zip lock baggy and freeze overnight.  Use the frozen watermelon chunks to make delicious and cooling fruit frosties 


round watermelons



a refreshing watermelon frosty made from frozen watermelon
Watermelon Frosty Recipe



Avocado Caprese Salad ( vegan) 

Everyone seems to love Caprese salads, but what if you are vegan ?
Here is a vegan caprese salad using avocado, tomato,  cucumber, fresh basil , and some little capers that will be a hit at any party. 



an appetizer of summer tomato , avocado slices, and fresh basil layered on a large plate



Avocado halves ready to make guacamole


Also makes a beautiful presentation that your guests will love looking at and enjoy eating. 
Choose to make one of the salads or make both of them.. 


avocado appetizer with tomato, cucumber and capers


What is your favorite summer appetizer for parties? 

This link is shared on 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Weight Loss Soup- Just 1 WW Point



low calorie soup with fresh herbs

Trying to lose weight ? This satisfying 1 smart point soup is my new favorite "Go-To" soup for three reasons

1. It tastes absolutely delicious
2. It takes 3-4 minutes to make
3. It is only 1 Smart point on Weight Watchers and is filling.

I started Weight Watchers ( again) last week, so I'm being more conscious of quantity, calories, and carbs. ( I had gained some weight during April and May when it was cold, rainy, and dreary)
Digital scale for weighing yourself 



I was looking to see what I could make that  was only 1 Weight Watcher smart point- and this is it!

This amazing soup fills me up. has fiber, vitamins, and minerals and is a totally satisfying comfort soup ! Of course it is naturally gluten free which is just the way I like my recipes. 

It is my version of Chinese egg drop soup. ( I've included a vegan version too)


How did I Create This Simple Low Calorie Soup? 

Well, it was early evening and I had only one Smart point left that I was legally ( according to my Weight Watchers plan) allowed to eat- I was going to cook up some riced cauliflower as a snack, but I wanted more- so I decided to have some broth- throw in the cauliflower and then beat in an egg -this recipe which sort of just came together.

The broth is no points, the cauliflower is no points,  the 1/2 egg is one point, and the fresh green chopped herbs have no points. It tastes so rich and delicious.

riced cauliflower
This riced cauliflower is from Trader Joe's 
My Friend Laura Loved This Soup Too!

I was enjoying this soup so much, I wanted my good friend Laura to taste it. When I told her about it, she didn't seem overly excited. So I cooked her up a bowl when she visited. With the first few tastes, Laura exclaimed,  "This soup tastes much better than the sum of it's parts." She LOVED it and I think you will too!



low calorie soup with turmeric , cauliflower and broth

This soup is so good that you don't have to be trying to lose weight to enjoy it. However, if you are a Weight Watcher or just want a delicious low calorie, low carb soup - then make this because you will love it ( unless you don't like cauliflower)


How to Make this Easy 4 Minute Soup

Ingredients: 

2 cups flavorful broth ( I use Tabatchnick's Vegetable broth)
Tabatchnick Garden Fresh Vegetable Broth, 
1 cup frozen riced cauliflower
1/2 beaten egg ( or a teaspoon of potato starch which raises the point value )
Toppings: chopped scallion, parsley, dill, or cilantro
optional: sometimes I put a pinch of turmeric for color

Directions: 

You need to start with your favorite delicious tasting vegetable broth, add 1 cup of frozen riced cauliflower ( I use Trader Joe's frozen organic riced cauliflower),  bring it to a boil.  Remove the pot from the fire and immediately beat in a half of a beaten egg.  Top with some freshly chopped parsley, cilantro, or dill. Add cracked pepper if needed.

cream colored low calorie soup with herbs


Voila- you have a cauliflower rice and egg drop soup!!  If you substitute the potato starch, I am not sure what the smart point value will be !!

Is there no end to what you can make with that low carb nutrient healthy cauliflower?

Vegan Version

Wait - if you are vegan, you can omit the beaten egg and add in a teaspoon of potato starch instead-. It will be a little different , but still delicious and vegan. Both versions are gluten free.

Pin this recipe so you can find it when you are having cravings and don't want to overindulge.. after a bowl of this soup, you will feel full and satisfied. 

Of course you could it eat as a starter for a meal, It doesn't just have to be for a snack. 
But it gives you a lot of buck for your bite- cauliflower is full of health protecting antioxidants and the egg has protein.. 

Top It With Some Fresh Green Herbs

Optional: Take advantage of the amazing health benefits of freshly topped herbs. Add chopped scallions, freshly chopped parsley, cilantro, or fresh dill to your bowl just before eating.

chopping board with diced herbs

What knife do I use for chopping? 

I have a variety of knives,  but I like to chop herbs, vegetables, and fruit with a Japanese style knife.
It's a large knife, but it is easy to control and does a great job. The right knife makes your job easier.
This type of knife is available on Amazon if you want to look at them-
Mercer Culinary Genesis 7-Inch Forged Nakiri Vegatable Knife

Blog Hops :


egg drop soup


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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Vegan and Gluten Free CSA Recipes

This is my second CSA produce week of this farm season. I'm sharing gluten free and vegan recipes that you can make from your CSA produce this week. With the warmer weather upon us, the farm produce is flourishing. 



 I am a half share member which means I pick up or pick produce every other week. I found that every week was too much for just the two of us, especially in the spring when the haul is mostly salad and greens. ( what is a CSA

What did I get this week?  
  • Four different types of lettuces
  • 2 different varieties of kale 
  • Turnips
  • Kohlrabi 
  • Strawberries ( pick your own) 
  • Snow peas ( pick your own)
  • Fresh young dill 
  • Fresh cilantro 

 I also picked additional herbs from the herb garden



  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Sorrel
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Chamomile 
  • Basil 
  • Catnip

Anchor Run Farm is located in Wrightstown, Pa in Bucks County
There are CSA farms in most states all across the USA

Belonging to a CSA gives us the opportunity to eat organic, local, freshly picked produce. 

I love visiting the farm and being in such a serene beautiful stretch of nature with interesting birds, butterflies, wildlife and flowers. 




The produce is sometimes very different from produce that I find in the supermarket or produce that I would not know to choose in the market. It encourages me to try a greater variety of vegetables and brings some interesting recipes to our table. 

How did I use my produce this week? 

All recipes are gluten free and vegan which also means they are dairy free and Parve.  

Kohlrabi- this vegetable can be a substitute in soup for potato and is lower in carbs. 

The peel can be tough to remove on kohlrabi, so you need a really good peeler. I have an inexpensive peeler that works better than any I've ever had. It makes my life easier and I recommend it . You can see it on Amazon. OXO Good Grips Y Peeler 


I use this 
OXO Good Grips Y Peeler and the peels slide off quickly and with ease. It's the best one I found. 



Last spring I made a delicious and easy kohlrabi and red lentil soup - prior to that I had never tasted kohlrabi. This year I'm making a grated kohlrabi salad. 

Turnips 

How to cook turnips so they taste good (and recipes) 


Kale: 

I don't think I have to tell you how healthy kale is for the body. This super green cleanses toxins, restores, and rejuvenates. It's a powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. 
I like to find a way to eat a healthy greens like kale at least 4 times a week if not daily. 

There are many ways and reasons to eat your kale: 

Snow peas- 

The snow peas were sweet and crunchy. 
We snacked on them raw with a delicious dip. I also cut them up into our salad

These are some of the health giving dips we eat with raw veggies

Dill 
I added fresh dill to my crock pot soup broth which yielded 4 generous quarts of homemade soup broth. 



Cilantro-
Cilantro is an herb that you either like or you don't like. There is actually a genetic reason that some people have a very strong aversion to the flavorful herb. If you have that gene, cilantro will taste like soap to you. Personally, I love it and can't get enough of it. 




Here is a variety of ethnic recipes where I use cilantro:

Strawberries
We ate many of our strawberries as soon as we picked them when they were fresh off the vine, sweet, and juicy. The rest I brought home and prepped them for freezing which all I did was wash, dry, cut in half, freeze in a freezer baggy. 



We will use the frozen strawberries for vegan strawberry ice cream. 
This post was featured on shared on Hearth and Soul blog party  this week

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click from my blog and then make a purchase, I will receive a ver4y small compensation which helps me defray the cost of running a blog. 

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