Monday, November 21, 2016

Soothe Your Tummy and Your Mood

Cardamom and Anise tea is a great way to soothe your tummy 
and music is a great way to soothe your mood. Today, I'm sharing both!

I know I usually have an easy real food healthy gluten free vegetarian/vegan recipe for you to help nourish your body, save you time in the kitchen, and direct your thoughts to healthier eating,  but today I deviated just a little - 

Today I am sharing a cup of quick and easy 
homemade cup of Ayurvedic Tea ( See recipe at bottom of post)  
and some soothing music I found on a Youtube Video.

I was just browsing around Youtube and found this video: 

After hearing and watching this music performance on Youtube- I wanted to share it because it is so uplifting and relaxing at the same time!!
It's music to soothe your soul.. so beautiful

So grab a cup of herbal tea ( see my favorite recipe below)  or coffee- relax- and listen!!

Two Choices to Listen to Right Now on Youtube: 

Want upbeat, invigorating, and fun- Listen to the first Youtube- Let It Go!

Want something slower and more classical? Listen to the 2nd one- classical music

Let it Go from Frozen!! Upbeat and Inspiring


 This group is called "The Piano Guys"

                                              The Piano Guys have about 20 Video on Youtube , 

                                                They also have a beautiful Christmas Album!

Did you decide to listen to the music? What did you think?
 Have you heard them before?

The Tea

Anise is great for better digestion-
drink a cup after meals!

My favorite home brewed herbal tea recipe- 
For a step by step tutorial: 

My friend Vicki introduced me to this simple but delicious herbal tea.
 It's made from two ingredients: Anise seeds and cardamom pods
Vicki serves it with a little raw honey- You can make the tea 7 minutes
I posted the recipe years ago, so here is the link if you missed it- 

You can purchase cardamom pods ( organic) online; Cardamom pods

                                                               Anise Seed Tin

Are you an herbal tea drinker? Do you make your own, buy teabags? Which one is your favorite??

Just so you know: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click on a link and then buy something from Amazon, I will be compensated a very tiny amount but at no additional cost to you. I appreciate the support as it helps me defray the costs of running a blog. 

My Best Thanksgiving sides ( GF)

I was recently served this delicious vegetarian ( and of course gluten free) casserole at my friend Melissa's house that knocked my socks off! As soon as I saw it, it screamed Thanksgiving. As soon as I tasted it, I was in love and knew it would be part of my vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving Dinner plan.

Not only was the presentation sensational, but all 8 adults at the dinner party raved about it. Thanksgiving was on my mind because I had been trying to plan my menu.

Maybe it was the scattered toasted sunflower seeds neatly arranged across the top, the creamy texture of the spinach and rice on the inside, or the brown crusty edges stuck to the four corners. Regardless, I know I couldn't help myself from taking a second helping and eventually asking for the recipe!

I was delighted to see how easy it was to make, and I couldn't wait to share it with you on my blog.

Melissa is an amazing cook and a thoughtful gracious host. To accommodate my vegetarian and gluten free eating needs, she made a variety of delicious naturally vegetarian/gluten free sides that perfectly enhanced her main chicken entree ( that everyone else ate)  .

 I'm sharing the eggplant and red pepper "ratatouille that Melissa Made-" It was the absolutely the best I have ever tasted- even my mother in law who used to live in France and has been making ratatouille for most of her adult life commented about how much she enjoyed it! ( recipe link below)

There was more- a quinoa and mushroom dish that could easily serve as a healthy vegan and gluten free Thanksgiving stuffing ( recipe link below) 

And a delicious delicious thick vegan split pea soup that I only caught the leftovers for a photo!

In addition,  my Thanksgiving menu will include my vegan and my silky gluten free blender pumpkin pie, simple chocolate covered strawberries, and some easy cranberry apple chutney.
There are links to all the recipes below.

My grandkids made these!

I call it my dream feast because I'll actually be celebrating Thanksgiving at my son and daughter in law's home,  and I will only be bringing the pumpkin pie and another vegan/gluten free dessert- probably my eggnog baked donuts .

My Thanksgiving Vegetarian/ Gluten Free Menu 
click for the recipe

 Ratatouille  ** amazing recipe

Gluten Free and vegan Pumpkin Pie 

Cranberry Apple Chutney or 

Quick Homemade Cranberry Sauce

The Casserole: Spinach, rice, and toasted sunflower seed casserole ** see recipe below

Spinach, rice, and toasted sunflower seed casserole Recipe

2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 Tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing
2 eggs ( or egg replacer) 
1/2 cup of coconut milk or cream
2  cups of diced onions
2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
a shake of cayenne powder to taste
salt and cracked pepper 
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds to use on top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Spray a large skillet with olive oil or use the 1 T oil. Sautee the onions for 3-4 minutes, add the garlic and chopped spinach and continue to sautee until spinach is wilted. 
Remove from heat and mix with the cooked rice. 
In another large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add the non dairy milk and the seasoning. Add the rice and vegetable mixture and mix well. 
Pour into a greased rectangular casserole dish and bake 35-40 minutes uncovered. Top with the sunflower seeds.

This recipe will be shared on Beth Fish Reads- Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post ( appears on Saturday)  and my daily lists of blog carnivals
Wishing everyone a wonderful healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

My Notes: 

1. The Ratatouille- Melissa's Ratatouille was taken from a recipe on Tori Avey's blog. I provided a link for this not to be missed recipe which is actually is Tori's mother in law's Sephardic recipe- Great tutorial- which is very very similar to my Sephardic mother in law's recipe.

2. The casserole
Melissa modified this recipe from the Internet. 
The recipe was originally made popular from a recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook, but has been published and modified by many bloggers. 
 Melissa says she has seen many substitutions for the spinach- including: broccoli slaw mix, collard greens, kale, etc. I posted the version that Melissa made.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Spinach Pecan Casserole - a low carb side

Still looking for a healthy Thanksgiving side dish?
You might be interested in this low calorie- low carbohydrate delicious, easy to make, casserole for as part of your feast!  It's made from "cauliflower rice", spinach, and pecans!

I think we all are a little concerned about packing on extra pounds during the holidays. With this recipe, you can indulge and enjoy all the flavor without carbs.

It's quick and easy to make too, and it can be made in advance and just warmed up before eating.

It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways one can use cauliflower- It certainly is the great impostor. In the past I've made cauliflower rice pizza crusts, cauliflower rice bread sticks, and cauliflower rice snow patties. This recipe is no different- the cauliflower rice gives the impression that it is actually rice!!

How did it come out? Fabulous!! Same delicious flavor without the carbs- 

This is a must for Thanksgiving- I also make a similar casserole using brown rice 

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Sautee Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Serves: 8 sides


4 cups of cooked cauliflower rice ( see instructions below)
I used 2 bags of Trader Joe's frozen organic cauliflower 
1 and half cups of onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic ( or 2 frozen garlic cubes )
3 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
2 eggs, beaten ( or egg replacer for vegans) 
1 cup of almond or coconut milk 
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup of pecans or sunflower seeds 
optional: if you are not dairy free and don't mind the calories, you could add 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese


Spray a large skillet with olive oil spray. Turn heat on high and add the frozen or fresh cauliflower rice. Cook until the cauliflower is softened ( about 6 minutes) stirring frequently. When done set aside in a medium size bowl. Add the sesame seeds to the cooked cauliflower and mix.

Spray the skillet with vegetable oil and sautee the onions for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped spinach and sautee until spinach is wilted. 

In a small bowl mix the eggs and the almond milk. Add in the seasoning. Mix the liquid mixture into the cauliflower rice. 

Spray a rectangular pan with olive oil and spoon in the mixture. Press pecans or sunflower seeds on top and bake for 35 minutes until edges become crispy.

Cauliflower Rice in the Skillet

Chopped onion, garlic, and spinach ( you can also use white onion)

All ingredients mixed together in a bowl before baking in the casserole pan
Casserole with a slice missing
My notes: 

1 I used a smaller Pyrex for my photo because I made a smaller portion.
 You should use a larger less deep rectangular Pyrex baking pan to accommodate this recipe.

2. You could substitute cooked brown rice for the cauliflower rice- just saying

3. Use sunflower seeds if you do not have pecans


Monday, November 14, 2016

Hungarian Mushroom Soup from The Old Country

hungarian mushroom soup

What is it about Hungarian mushroom soup that everyone loves? 
Recipes from the old country are flavorful and delicious. 
They call for real food ingredients that are both healthy and tasty. 

My mother's good friend Bernice used to make a her family's recipe when I was a teenager and always shared some with us. It brings back wonderful memories of warming up with a hot bowl of this flavorful soup on a cold and damp autumn evening.

Since it's been raining and cool for the past five days, I've been digging up all of my soup recipes. 

It's a simple easy to make recipe with a hearty mushroom flavor. 
It's allergy friendly too for those who are gluten free, dairy free, egg free-  

chopped portebello mushrooms

Judee Algazi@ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Serves: 6 bowls


2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced in half moons

5 cups of sliced mushrooms ( white or baby portobello) 
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine
1/4 cup of dill, chopped fine
2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced in large pieces 
4 cups of vegetable broth 
4 cups of water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of paprika


Sautee onions in a large skillet in olive oil spray +  1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat.  Cook slowly stirring until onions are soft. Add mushrooms and continue to sautee for another 5 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Stir well and add sauteed vegetables to a large soup pot. Add the remainder of ingredients ( celery, parsley, dill, water, vegetable broth, potato, lemon, salt, pepper, paprika) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 1 hour covered. 

Garnish with additional chopped dill and sour cream if desired before serving.

Mushroom soup

My Notes: 

1. If you want to cut down on the carbs, you can substitute kohlrabi or turnips for the potatoes. 

2. I find that soup is easy to make, feeds a group, and is easy on the pocketbook.
    Of course, I am a soup LOVER...

3. I eat soup at least 3-4 times/week- Once I make a big pot, I either freeze some or we continue to eat it throughout the week. How about you? 

How often do you eat soup?

This post is linked to vegan fridays ,  Souper Sunday , and my list of Blog Carnivals

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Walking Through The Fancy Animal Carnival In NYC

I went to visit my kids in NYC last week and on my walk from the train to their place I passed through the famous Garment District- It was raining, but I managed to get a few photos of some of the new sculptures in the " Fancy Animal Carnival " by Taiwanese artist Hung Yi.

I don't usually share my outings, but with so many visiting NYC over the holidays, I thought these might be of interest.

Garment District Free Art Show through April 2016

The Carnival, which starts around 41st street and ends on 37th street, features eleven large to life whimsical statues each symbolic of bringing luck! 

The statues are extremely colorful and big!! It made more 40 minute walk to their place very enjoyable

Bryant Park- over 100 fun holiday kiosks

I loved this.. In addition, there were many little kiosk type shops that opened up just for the holidays in Bryant Park on West 40th between 5th and 6th Ave- It was so much fun going around the wintery type wonderland with all the little shops all lit up for Christmas! 

Just because I mentioned these things, I'm including a link with other like holiday markets in NYC!!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Another Falafel Cracker Recipe with Za'atar ( GF)

I know I made falafel crackers last week, but this is a totally different recipe.
It's lighter and crispier than the previous recipe, so you might want to give these a try.

 I had never made crackers before last week, but they are really fast, easy, and fun to make. A batch of these 50 crackers from start to finish took me under 30 minutes ( I didn't count the 15 minutes of chill time). In addition, they are gluten free, dairy free, egg free and delicious.

We love falafel and it's interesting spices,  so naturally I knew we would love these tasty falafel flavored crisps.

What makes them taste like falafel? The chick pea flour, the sesame seeds, the cumin, the turmeric, the coriander and the spice blend called za'atar.

What is za'atar or zahtar?
Za'atar is a prepared spice blend that is used in many Middle Eastern countries.Although the recipes might vary, Za'atar may be made of any of the following spices: ground thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, hyssop and toasted sesame seeds. It depends on which Middle Eastern country it comes from.

It is a very tasty and popular spice preparation. We use za'atar in omelets, on (GF) bread, sprinkled on humus, crackers, yogurt , and gluten free pizza to name a few.

Another common way they use Za'atar in the Middle Eastern countries is to prepare a flat dish of olive oil, mix it with Za'atar, and use it for a dip for pita bread- very similar to how the Italians use other spices in olive oil and dip their bread in it.

Spices Have Great Health Benefits

Spices have been important sources of nutrients throughout history. The Spices in Za'atar are an excellent source of flavonoids, antioxidants, and have antiseptic properties. Its recipe goes way back. In fact, in the 12th century in Egypt, the famous Jewish Spanish philosopher Maimonides prescribed Za'atar to his patients with respiratory ailments.

Where do you find za'atar?

Of course you can find za'atar in any Middle Eastern grocery store or you can make your own, purchase Za'atar online , or find it many supermarkets in the ethnic isle ( sometimes in the Kosher section since they use it in Israel too) .

This is one of the Za'atar Seasoning  that I buy online. It is from Israel ( Kosher and Parve) and is made with hyssop which is an herb mentioned in the bible.

This is another Za'atar that I buy online which is a Lebanese recipe. It contains oregano and sumac as the main spices  Sahadi Lebanese Style Zaatar - 7 ounce

Being Middle Eastern by marriage, the falafel cracker idea really intrigues me. But I want my crackers topped with Za'atar.

Judee Algazi
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Chill Time: 15 minutes
Makes:  50 delicious crisps
Adapted from : Mission Food .
Materials Needed: rolling pin, parchment paper, cookie sheets, waxed paper, pizza cutter

My adapted recipe: 

Dry Ingredients: 

1 cup garbanzo ( chick pea)  bean flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon ground almond meal flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda ( I use aluminum free)
1 1/2  teaspoons of cumin
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

Wet Ingredients: 
5 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of honey mixed with 1/3 cup of water

Topping: Top with Freshly Cracked Himalayan salt. sesame seeds, and or Zatar ( make sure your Za'atar is gluten free- some brands may add wheat)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Making the dough: 
Using a food processor with the sharp blade, process the dry ingredients. With the food processor running add the olive oil quickly and then stop and process with bursts till crumbs form. With the processor running add the honey and water mixture- stop immediately and burst if necessary to form a ball. Divide dough into 2 balls and refrigerate for at a minimum of 15 minutes .

Rolling the dough:
Take out one ball of dough to work with at a time, leaving the other in the refrigerator.
Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the parchment paper and lay it on the counter.
Place one ball of dough on the parchment paper. Place a large piece of waxed paper over the dough and using your rolling pin, roll out to 1/8 thickness. Using a pizza cutter, cut into small squares or strips. Remove the parchment paper, place it back on the cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes till the crisps look crispy!

Repeat with the other ball of dough.

Cover the dough with a piece of waxed paper to roll it out . This tip works great.
Nothing will stick to the rolling pin and the waxed paper will peel right off.
falafel crackers ready to be baked
Work on your piece of parchment paper and then just transfer to the cookie sheet when ready to bake
I cut some of the dough in strips 
When I sprinkled the sesame seeds on the uncooked crackers, I pressed then in slightly to hold

I bought these cute camels on our vacation to Tunisia 8 years ago-
They go great with my Middle Eastern theme

Whatever shape you decide to cut them, enjoy!!

I was inspired by a recipe that I saw on a blog called Mission Food . It was a review from Ivy Manning's cookbook Crackers and Dips Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks

Note: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click on a link from my blog, I may receive a very small compensation if you purchase,  but it will not affect your cost. I appreciate the support to help defray the cost of running the blog.

This post is linked to vegan fridays and my list of Blog Carnivals

It Please leave a comment so I know you stopped by. Scroll down to the end of the post and click on comments.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Apple Slices Won't Turn Brown with This Tip


How many times have you sliced apples, doused them in lemon juice but they still turn brown an hour later?
  That used to happen to me, but no more. Not since I discovered a simple tip that keeps my apple (or pear) slices looking just the way they looked when I initially sliced them, even 4-6 hours hours earlier!

This method is so easy and simple, you probably won't believe it!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Falafel Crackers Anyone?

falafel crackers for gluten free entertaining

This is an interesting gluten free snack idea and entertaining idea !  Can you imagine crackers that taste like falafel! For those of you who have tasted falafel before, you know you are in for a treat.
For those who have never had falafel, you will have to trust me on this one. I assure you that the recipe is truly flavorful and is reminiscent of falafel.

I found this recipe on a blog called May I Have That Recipe- a delightful blog created by two sisters who post vegetarian, vegan, and kosher recipes. This recipe happens to be gluten free as well - as many of their recipes are; many of their other recipes can be easily adapted to be gluten free.

falafel crackers for gluten free entertainingThe Flour

There are different types of gluten free flours that you can use to make gluten free snacks.
This recipe calls for Garbanzo bean flour ( chick pea flour) which can be found online or in most health food stores or health food isles in the supermarkets.
I like this Garbanzo bean flour : Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour - 16 oz.

It a high protein, but it is a heavy flour. However, it makes a good supplement for some interesting gluten free recipes. Usually, you could substitute regular GF flour in a recipe, but in this case it is the garbanzo flour that gives the recipe some of the falafel taste. ( Falafel is often made from chick peas),

The Spices
The remainder of taste similarities come from the seasoning- falafel often contains coriander, cumin, and other typical Middle Eastern spices- so do these crackers.

This recipe makes truly a hearty dense cracker that goes great with Greek yogurt, humus, or just about any dip. This was my first time making crackers and I was surprised at how easy it was.

If you would like the recipe, you can find on their blog at May I Have That Recipe.

This post is linked to vegan fridays and my list of Blog Carnivals

Monday, October 31, 2016

Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Cumin Soup

Do you want to eat more cruciferous vegetables and add low calorie soups to your diet? So do I-

This low calorie and delicious easy to make soup will fill you up while helping you lose weight!

The first time I made this soup, it was a cold Halloween night. I wanted to make a fast and easy seasonal soup to keep us warm before venturing out with the kids on the damp windy night.

For some reason, despite it being 75 degrees the day before, we experienced another cold Halloween. It was only 44 chilly degrees for the little ones to do their trick or treating.

It's always been my custom to make soup for dinner on Halloween.
I feel a big bowl of piping hot soup hits the spot before venturing out in the cold.

My soup this year, was created from vegetables that I received from my organic CSA:
Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, onion and fresh dill for the garnish. I blended in some white beans to give the soup some heartiness and at the same time make it creamy.

My good friend and fabulous cook , Laura, who co-authored Food No Matter What!  was visiting while I was making this soup. At her suggestion, I seasoned the soup with lots of cracked pepper, a little turmeric, and cumin. ( lots of nutrition and antioxidants there)

Freshly cracked black pepper and aromatic ground cumin really bring out the flavor of this otherwise bland soup, making it taste slightly spicy. As Laura reminded me, black pepper optimizes the absorption of the nutrients from the turmeric- so always use black pepper when using turmeric. 

My intention was to make a low calorie soup. ( I'm trying to lose weight again)
So I decided to sautee my onions in vegetable broth instead of oil and cooked the vegetables in a water right in the soup. If you are not concerned about the calories, sautee your onions in some tasty olive oil.

Cabbage and cauliflower are fall vegetables that create a mild flavorful soup full of antioxidants. Adding salt, cracked black pepper, turmeric, ginger and cumin really perks up the soup, making it robust without adding extra calories. 

Low in calories; high in nutrients
I'm estimating that a bowl of this creamy vegan and naturally gluten free soup is about 100 calories , very low in fat,  provides a good amount of fiber, some protein, and a significant amount of nutrients and antioxidants.  It's perfect for my weight loss and my health concerns!

I love making naturally gluten free recipes from healthy real food.
I had a bowl again today for lunch and really enjoyed it! I hope you like it too-

Author: Judee Algazi

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Blend time: 2 minutes
Serves: 6-8


4 cups Chinese Cabbage, chopped ( any kind of cabbage will work)
4 cups fresh cauliflower, broken into small flowerettes
1 large organic onion, sliced in half moons
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tsp of ground ginger
10 cups of water ( or enough to just cover the vegetables)
5 cups flavorful vegetable broth + 1/4 cup for sautéing
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 cup and half of white beans, drained
Himalayan Salt to taste
Optional: Garnish with chopped dill, or chopped parsley


In a large soup pot, sautee the onion slices in 1/4 of vegetable broth until translucent. Add the cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, water and ground ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer cook until the cauliflower is tender. Add the cracked pepper, turmeric and cumin and beans. Using an immersion blender, blend until creamy.

** I prefer to add my beans and blend my beans into my soup just before eating it so I can measure how many beans I am eating calorie-wise. I take 2 cups of the soup and place it in a small soup bowl. I then add 1/4 cup of the white beans and blend. The beans are the most fattening ( yet healthy) part  of the soup-I want to make sure I only eat 1/4 cup-

** I love fresh dill and received lots of it at my CSA. I smothered the soup with it.

I adore dill - so I loaded it as a garnish

Linked on : My Blog Carnival List and Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen and Vegan Fridays