Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Baba Ganoush with Sweet Meyer Lemon twist - a healthy Dip

This is no ordinary Baba Ganoush
The juice of sweet Meyer lemon is brilliant in this traditional Baba Ganoush!
Have you resolved to make healthier snack choices this holiday season? 

This easy Mediterranean vegan dip provides lots of fiber, nutrients, and taste.
It's actually a show stopper!

Roasted eggplant, cooked chick peas, juice from Meyer lemon, fresh lime juice and Mediterranean spices blend into a wonderful dip that can be eaten with gluten free  baked chips, gluten free crackers, or WW simple to make 1 point gluten free bagel rolls. ( no yeast - simply mix and bake) 

I'm making this for New Years's Day with my WW gluten free bagel rolls!

Slice open the roasted eggplant

Scoop out the roasted eggplant

Information about Meyer lemons 

Sweet , less acidic and more fragrant than regular lemons.

According to Wikipedia

"Citrus × meyeri, the Meyer lemon, is a hybrid citrus fruit native to China. It is a cross between a citron and a mandarin/pomelo hybrid distinct from the common or bitter oranges. Mature trees are around 6 to 10 ft tall with dark green shiny leaves. Flowers are white with a purple base and fragrant. Wikipedia

An article in the Los Angeles times called 100 Things To Do with a Meyer Lemon shared that Meyer lemons are 

"A cross between a lemon and a sweet orange, imported to the U.S. from China exactly 100 years ago by the man whose name they bear, the Meyer lemon is a furiously addictive fruit"

Most Meyer lemons are now grown in California, many in people's backyards- and the fruit is seasonal
Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z 
Prep: 15 minutes + cook time
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 1 large bowl of dip 


1 cup ( or more) of roasted eggplant pulp
2 tablespoons of tahini
1/2 teaspoon cumin 
juice of 1/2 lime 
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon 
Himalayan pink salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees-
Place a whole ( washed) eggplant on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for about 1/2 hour until soft. Remove from oven, slice eggplant down the middle, discard excess seeds and juice, and reserve the roasted eggplant and set aside.

Using a food processor and the metal blade, add the cooked chickpeas, tahini, cooled eggplant, cumin, lime juice, Meyer lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend in the food processor until smooth.

Remove from food processor and place in a bowl or flat plate. Spread the surface somewhat flat and garnish with a little more cumin and 2 tablespoons of whole cooked chickpeas.

Shared on Weekend Cooking where anyone is welcome to share a food related post. 

My notes: 

  • You can use canned chick peas

Saturday, December 22, 2018

How and Why To Cook Dry Beans in the Instant Pot

One of the benefits of owning an Instant Pot is the ease and health benefits of cooking your own  dry beans as opposed to the downside of using canned beans which I will explain.

There are basically two easy steps- 

  • Soak dry beans overnight- 
  • Pressure cook for 20 minutes- (see step by step instructions at end of post)

Dry beans such as chick peas, black beans, pinto beans, etc. usually take hours to cook on the stove top . I used to make them in the slow cooker but again it was time consuming and the beans often came out mushy.

The Instant Pot seems to be the easiest and best way to make perfect beans from dry beans. You can then use the beans the same way you would canned beans.

Why do I cook my own beans as opposed to opening a can of beans?  I have a few reasons. 

1. Canned beans are very high in salt - which is not good for anyone. For example, a 1 cup of black beans from a can have up to 1000 mg of salt - that's too much-

2. Almost all cans have BPA or similar chemicals in the can lining which seeps into the beans. 

3. Most cans are made of aluminum- a metal that can accumulate in the brain and has been suspect in Alzheimers since Alzheimer's patients often test for high levels of aluminum .

4. Economical- A bag is dry beans are very economical. A bag can cost 1.29 and make 5 times as many beans as a $1.29 can of beans. 

5. Although cans are convenient - making your own is so much healthier and less toxic-


1. Soak 2 cups of dry beans overnight or for at least 8 hours. The soaking process makes the beans easier to digest. Discard water. 

2. Place soaked beans, 4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt ( garlic is you like) in the IP. 

3. Close lid and secure that the steamer valve is closed.  

4. Pressure cook for 20 minutes and allow steam to self release for 15 minutes. 

Enjoy your beans!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Low Carb Tomato "Cauliflower Rice" Soup

Roasted tomatoes, sweet carrots, and hot pepper to taste, makes a delightful soup that is sure to warm you up on a damp chilly day.

Healthy and Easy

This delicious rich orange soup is easy to make and provides an excellent variety of health building nutrients, antioxidants and vital fiber! For the record it's vegan, parve, nut free, soy free and gluten free as well- perfectly allergy friendly!

For this recipe I roasted a pint of organic cherry tomatoes and 4 medium to large organic carrots. Roasting enhances the flavors and brings out the vegetable's natural sweetness. I then added my roasted vegetables and a container of organic vegetable broth to my blender and blended until completely smooth. 

At this point I switched into shortcut mode and added a half jar of Aldi's organic salsa ( I love the flavor of this salsa) which comes in a jar and has three varieties: mild, medium and hot! Your choice!

My final step is to add a cup of frozen cauliflower rice to the pot, bring to a boil to cook the cauliflower rice and serve-

It has the consistency, appearance and even taste of a tomato rice soup without the carbs!

And cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable which research is indicating is a powerful anti cancer vegetable.

The quality of the vegetables, the taste of your salsa, the depth of your vegetable broth will all make a difference in taste of the soup- I have noted my preferences -

Author: udee Algazi - Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Serves: 6 cups

4 medium to large organic carrots, cleaned and sliced into a medium slice
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in halves
3 cloves of garlic , chopped into 4 pieces per clove
Olive oil spray
1 32 ounce container of vegetable broth ( Tabatchnicks, Publix brand organic, or Walmart brand organic)
1 cup of organic frozen cauliflower rice

Preheat oven to 375  degrees
Lay carrots on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil spray. Place in oven for about 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. After 5 minutes, carefully and with a mitt remove tray and dd sliced tomatoes and garlic. Spray again with olive oil spray and cracked pepper and salt. Place back in the oven for about another 15 minutes.  When done, remove from the oven, place in a pot with the vegetable broth. Blend with an immersion blender. Add frozen cauliflower rice and bring to a boil. Serves 6 cups.

Shared on Souper Sunday where anyone can share a soup, sammie, or salad recipe.

Shared on Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads where anyone can share a food related post, 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Shirataki Noodles- no calories and tastes great

If you haven't tried Shirataki noodles, run don't walk to your nearest supermarket for a package of these delicious no or low calorie noodles! 

They are found in the refrigerator case next to the tofu. That is because some of these packages are made from tofu and some are made from white yams! 

Since I try to keep my consumption of tofu to a minimum, I usually opt for the noodles made from white yams. It is made by a company called House Foods, is gluten free, non GMO, and has a kosher certification. The best part is that it tastes more like pasta than zucchini pasta, doesn't need cooking ( just heating), and has zero calories!! Most supermarkets carry it ! 

I made a simple delicious side dish made with sauteed onions, garlic, and baby portobella mushrooms.

When you open the package, drain it, put it in a bowl and soak it in water for a minute. Then drain and wash and drain again. Now it's ready to use and toss in the skillet for heating.

I just added it to my saute to heat the noodles and enjoyed a really DELICIOUS low calorie noodle dish!

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, cut in half moons
6 baby portobella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 
1 package of Shirataki noodles 
Olive oil Spray or 1/4 cup vegetable broth for sauteing. 
Salt, pepper, and 21 Salute ( salt free seasoning from Trader Joes) 
Optional: a shake or two of turmeric powder at the end of cooking 

Add vegetable broth or olive oil spray to a wide skillet. Add onions and garlic and saute for 3 minutes stirring. Add mushrooms and continue to saute for another 2 minutes. Add well drained Sharataki noodles and stir well. Cook one more minute until everything is well heated.  Season with salt, pepper and 21 Salute. Enjoy

My notes: 
1. If you are on Weight Watchers- this is ZERO POINTS 
2. It is also vegan 
3. Can be made oil free
4. Of course it's gluten free
5. In response to Mae's question- How can they have no calories if they are made from sweet potato.
It seems that white yams are a Japanese Mountain yam that is a tuber that contains no carbohydrates and mostly fiber. It has no calories!

Shared on Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

New York City Candy Sculptures and Hot Chocolate

The 22 degree temperatures didn't stop me from strolling around Manhattan the day before Thanksgiving. The change in temperature encouraged a lot of coffee and hot chocolate drinking by both the locals and the tourists. It noticed organic coffee shops springing up throughout Manhattan.

My 40 minute  walk began at Penn Station and then  towards Bryant Park on 42nd Street and eventually towards Central Park. Along the way to my destination, I passed all the newly decorated store fronts for the holidays!

Macy's Window

The windows of Macy's, Cartier, Saks 5th Ave, and lots of other NYC stores were very exciting and musical. ! In addition, I stumbled upon a delightful sculpture display in the Garment Center.

The  exhibit at the New York City's Garment Center's Art On The Plazas is called Candy Nations and features 20 sculptures by Laurence Jenkell, a well known French artist. 

The colorful national sculptures are each 9 feet tall and weigh 1450 pounds. Each sculpture looks like a piece of candy wrapped in the colors of the country it represents. 

On a warmer day, visitors would be sitting at the tables having coffee or lunch
The artist wants to share “an optimistic message of unity beneath external differences”

The exhibit is at Broadway between 36th and 39th streets. It is free and will be available until Dec 9-2018.

Next I enjoyed a little shopping in Bryant Park where the Holiday Village is open for Ice Skating, shopping kiosks, and food vendor kiosks that were in full swing.  With the exceptionally cold weather,  hot chocolate seemed to be in demand!

Skaters of all ages were enjoying a variety of types of regular and gourmet hot chocolate available and encouraged at the kiosks near the ice rink. 

Here are some of the kiosks with regular or gourmet hot chocolate
1. Max Brenner 
2. No Chewing Allowed 
3. ‘Wichcraft 42nd Street and 6th Avenue 
4. Crêpe Café 
5. Wafels & Dinges 

Despite the extreme cold, I had a wonderful walk in Manhattan - I was all bundled up but glad to finally reach my son's house to warm up!

Sharing on Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Healthy Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

This Thanksgiving be thankful for your health and prepare a meal that is good for you, light on calories and carbs, and still delicious. Recipes do not have to be dripping in fat or carbs to taste good.

I'm making 5 plant based recipes ( all gluten free of course) that can accompany the turkey or be eaten as the vegan meal.

I realized that almost everything that is traditional for Thanksgiving can easily be prepared vegan and gluten free except the turkey. Most families eat sides of mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and roasted vegetables.

My vegan menu usually includes soup,  cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes or butternut squash, cauliflower mashed potatoes, Vegan blender pumpkin pie, etc. I'm sharing a few recipes: acorn squash with chestnut soup
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Mushroom Chestnut Soup served in an acorn squash 

vegan roasted garlic crowns

Roasted Garlic Crowns for spreading on gluten free crackers or gluten free bread

brussels sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts or Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts

gluten free cranberry sauce

Cranberry Apple Chutney

cider glazed butternut squash

Cider Glazed Butternut Squash

Vegan Thanksgiving

See my post Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes for a complete holiday menu with recipes!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Dazzling Thanksgiving Salad

Dazzle your guests with this beautiful and healthy salad that I made for Thanksgiving with roasted acorn squash.

I recently tasted this fabulous salad at a friends' house. It looked like a side dish, but she called it a salad! Maybe because it served at room temperature which is great for freeing up the host from last minute heating.

It was made with lightly blanched kale, roasted acorn squash, sweet pomegranate seeds, sliced apple, and chopped pistachios! It was absolutely delicious any screamed fall!

I roasted extra squash to use in another recipe

I added some caramelized red onions, fresh red onions, and some dried cranberries!

Acorn squash is a delicately flavored squash that is seasonal for Thanksgiving and easy to roast.
Because the squash I purchased was organic, I didn't peel it and we ate skin and all! If you can't find organic, you will want to peel your squash.

OH!! and don't discard the acorn squash seeds! 

See my post on How To Roast Acorn Squash Seeds!!

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 30 minutes (if you use a fresh pomegranate)
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6

1 medium to large acorn squash, halved, seeds removed, and then sliced in 8-10 wedges
3 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds (  can buy from Whole foods already seeded)
3 tablespoons of chopped pistachio nuts ( I opened 10 nuts and chopped)
1 apple peeled, cored, and sliced
4-5 large ribs of uncooked kale
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
optional: 1 red onion cut into half moons and roasted at 375
Olive oil spray or vegetable broth for sautéing.. your choice

This recipe is not hard but has a few steps!


Acorn Squash:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Place acorn squash slices on a parchment covered cookie sheet
Spray with acorn squash with olive oil spray or brush with vegetable broth
Roast for 30 minutes or until squash is entirely cooked and set aside

Kale: while acorn squash is roasting
Remove the kale leaves from 4 large kale ribs
Place leaves in a bowl ( discard the stems)
Cover with boiling water for 30 seconds
Cover with very cold or ice water
Squeeze, drain well, and set aside

Acorn squash, blanched kale, onion, dried cranberries and sliced apple. Toss and then sprinkle pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachios. Set aside and serve at room temperature

Linking this salad to Souper Sundays Link Up Party where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie.

Shared on Beth Fish Read's Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Acorn Squash Seeds -Easy and Tasty

acorn squash roasted seeds

Do you discard the seeds from the acorn squash? - Don't-

The seeds from any kind of winter squash can be roasted in the oven and are delicious and nutritious.

You may be most familiar with roasting pumpkin seeds, but it's just as easy and tasty to roast and enjoy the seeds from winter squashes like acorn squash, butternut squash, carnival squash, spaghetti squash, buttercup squash, and delicata squash. 

winter squashes

I made roasted acorn squash to use in my Thanksgiving salad.
Seeds can be roasted easily.  It requires 3 easy steps to make 3/4 cup of tasty seeds from 2 acorn squashes. 
Enjoy the seeds instead of pretzels or chips which have practically no nutritional value.

acorn squash with seeds

My husband grew up in the Middle East where roasted seeds were popular and plentiful. When my husband was young, he remembers going to the outdoor movie theater where everyone bought a bag of roasted seeds to enjoy while watching the movie. He said that there were shells all over the place when the movie finished.

Nutritious seeds are A far cry from the sugary candies that I consumed at the movies when I was a child. That may be one of the reasons my husband has so few cavities. 

Seeds can be roasted with a little oil and sea salt or flavored with warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom or savory spices like rosemary and cumin. Any spice combination that you like will work. Personally, we are happy to eat them simply salted. 

Seeds offer substantial nutrients including magnesium, essential fatty acids, protein, calcium, potassium, and fiber. 

If you are discarding the seeds when you open an acorn squash or butternut squash, you are missing out on some substantial nutrition. The pulp and strings is much worse from a pumpkin. The acorn squash in minimal.

seeds and pulp
soak seeds and debris in a bowl of water and use your fingers to separate the pulp. When soaking in water, it comes right off!

pumpkin seeds
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How to roast seeds of winter squashes: 
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
1. Cut squash in half and scoop seeds from squash
2. Rinse seeds in a colander and then place in a bowl full of water. 
3. Using your clean hands, swoosh through the water to  remove strings and pulp that stick to the seeds ( will come off easily in the water)
4. Drain well, pat dry, and place on parchment covered cookie sheet.
5. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with Himalayan salt
6. Roast for 15-20 minutes until seeds brown and start to pop!

Remove from oven and place on a plate! Enjoy-
Some people eat the entire seed; some people only eat the inside of the seed . 

pumpkin seeds
Why not serve the squash and the seeds for Thanksgiving. Seeds make a healthy appetizer or snack that are naturally gluten free, vegan, and soy free. Perfect for all kinds of guests!

seeds from an acorn squash

Shared on Beth Fish Reads where anyone can share a food related post