Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad

summer salad with hearts of palm

This is one of my favorite salads. The blend of hearts of palm with diced tomato and avocado tastes amazing.

Hearts of palm is an unusual, yet very healthy, vegetable that is readily available in jars in most supermarkets. It comes from the core of the palm tree and usually imported from Costa Rica.

According to Dr. Axe on his webstie, hearts of palm are high in fiber, protein, and nutrients. In fact he called it a good meat substitute for Vegans. I just know that it tastes wonderful and is low calorie, low glycemic index, and low carb- love it!!

I bought a double pack of jars at Costco; BJ's also carries hearts of palm 

Healthy, gluten free, vegan, nut free- who could ask for more? This is one of those recipes that is great to remember for when you are having company and want to accommodate  a variety of eating needs.
Elegance without sacrificing taste or health!

In addition, it's a great substitute for a tossed salad when you just don't feel like washing, drying, and cutting up lettuce.

Lemon keeps the avocado from turning brown
With a simple lemon and olive oil dressing, the avocado didn't turn brown, and I was able to make the salad a few hours in advance and keep in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve it.

I remember the first time I tasted this salad . It was a warm Miami evening and I was invited to a friend's house for a family outdoor dinner . The sun had already set and our ambitious host had tables in her yard to accommodate twenty guests composed of adults of all ages, children, and their pets.

A variety of entrees and salads took their places at the table, conversation and remarks ensued ,and then the food was passed around. Everything on the dinner menu was delicious, but I thought this salad was exceptional-
Of course I asked for the recipe and knew I would be duplicating it at home.
Since my friend's recipe wasn't precise, I have estimated the amounts.

Prep Time: 10  minutes
Cook Time: None
Serves: 4 sides


2 large tomatoes, diced large
6 hearts of palm stalks, cut into bite size pieces
2 avocados, peeled, seed removed and diced
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
optional: 1/4 cup of diced cilantro
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
optional: add some chopped scallions


Combine all ingredients . Add olive oil and lemon juice and mix well.

Linking to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post. 

This post is also linked to Souper Sunday where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie recipe. Check out this week's recipes.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes Side Dish

Looking for a light side that makes a lovely presentation? Asparagus are always a hit!
Asparagus are a delicacy that are now in season, and there are so many wonderful ways to enjoy them. This colorful roasted asparagus and cherry tomato side dish was a star at a recent luncheon I hosted for a few neighbors. It seems everyone appreciates lower calorie and lighter healthier options! Of course vegetables are naturally gluten free.

Asparagus have surprising nutritional benefits. 
1. Asparagus contains a wealth of antioxidants. Antioxidants  are known to fight free radicals in the body which contribute to aging and inflammation,
2. Asparagus contain a substance called glutathione ( which is also found in Brussels sprouts, kale and avocados) . Glutathione helps the body detox and fight inflammation and free radicals.
3. Asparagus contain asparagine which is an amino acid that has a natural diuretic effect which can help remove bloat and flush out salts in the body.
4. Asparagus provide a good amount of fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin C and folate- all necessary for good health.

 I love my asparagus roasted 
 Asparagus roast up quickly, taste wonderful, and are just as good at room temperature as they are   coming from a piping  oven. Asparagus roast in just 10-12 minutes ( depends how thick the   asparagus)  at 425 degrees.  I simply toss them in olive oil and a little Himalayan salt, lay them on a parchment covered cookie sheet, and place them in the pre- heated oven !

 April and May Are the Season for Asparagus
 I try to take advantage of eating asparagus during their short season. I have a variety of recipes worth trying..Asparagus are key players in my roasted vegetable tray idea,  and I also enjoy creamy asparagus soup which can be whipped up in 10 minutes since asparagus cook up so quickly. Asparagus tips can also be tossed into pasta like in my lemon/garlic mushroom and asparagus pasta  recipe. Click here to see how to select asparagus.

Vegetables are an important component of a gluten free diet and every diet. More and more research is pointing out the benefits of a plant based diet in the fight against diseases.

Although I an a vegetarian and I do eat eggs and dairy, in light of all the research I am trying to cut back and focus as much as I can on my plant based recipes ( vegan recipes) .

Example of a delicious and filling plant based dinner: 

1. Lentil soup ( made in 16 minutes in the Instant Pot)
2. Hearts of Palm, avocado, and chick pea salad
3. Layered  Portobello mushroom with sauteed spinach
4. Roasted asparagus and roasted cherry tomatoes

The entire meal is vegan ( plant based) , hearty, healthy, delicious and filling.

Roasted Asparagus and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Serves : 4 

1 pound of fresh asparagus, washed and snapped ( see my notes below)
1/2 pint container of cherry tomatoes ( washed and cut in half)
1/4 cup of olive oil or olive oil spray
Himalayan salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Toss asparagus in olive oil or spray with olive oil. Toss Cherry tomatoes or spray with olive oil spray. Place asparagus on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place cherry or grape tomato halves on another parchment lined cookie sheet. Place booth cookie sheets in the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, and then arrange on a serving plate.

My Notes

1. Asparagus have woody ends which can be snapped off easily.
Rinse well and then simply break off the ends that are the woody end. The woody end may appear white. The asparagus usually snap at just the right place. There is no need to even use a knife.

2.  Personally, I like my veggies plain, but if you would like a dressing- try my 

Dressings to dress your vegetables or salads

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

French Lentil Soup Instant Pot

How much do you love your Instant Pot? 
French Lentil Soup can be made in 16 minutes cooking time in my Instant Pot, and it is so good I ate it for breakfast this morning !  

This naturally creamy soup has a rich flavor and lots of healthy ingredients. It's naturally gluten free, high fiber, plant based ( vegan) soup.

Why I try to eat plant based
You know I am always dieting. Despite relatively healthy menus , I still tend to be about 10-15 pounds overweight. The other day I met a beautiful woman named Monica who mentioned that she used to weigh 300 pounds.

She said that she had tried many diets, bypass surgery, and exercise but nothing seemed to work permanently for her until she decided to go on a plant based diet. 

Of course I was intrigued and had to know how she did it.  She said that she ate no meat, chicken, eggs or dairy. She did eat fish very very occasionally. And she assured me that she ate carbs- like potatoes, bread, rice etc. 

She also wrote out a list of books for me that were the ones that inspired and in some cases frightened her to change to a plant based diet.

Two of the books Monica suggested: 

The Cheese Trap The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthyby Neil Bernard, MD

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
How Not To Die by Michael Greger, MD

I have also read many books that suggest a plant based diet. Personally, I am a vegetarian but eat many plant based recipes. Today I am sharing a vegan and gluten free delicious French Lentil Soup Recipe. 

I used a handful of Haricot style green beans that I bought at Costco 

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog ( www.realfoodblogger)
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Serves : 8-10 bowls

1 and 1/2 cups of green french lentils , washed and cleaned
1/2 large tomato diced
1/2 red onion diced
4 cloves garlic diced
8 haricot green beans, sliced 
8 cups of good tasting vegetable broth ( I used Whole Foods 365 organic vegetable broth)
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Saute veggies in the instant pot for 4 minutes , turn off the saute feature and then turn to cook 16 minutes - allow to slow release for 5 minutes and then release manually according to directions on your Instant Pot

Another Lentil Instant Pot Soup
If you prefer a lentil vegetable soup in the Instant Pot , try my other easy recipe with lots of chopped veggies.

No Instant Pot? 
Try my easy lentil leek and potato soup that cooks on the stove top!!

My Notes: 
1. 16 minutes cooking time does not take into consideration the heat up time and the release time.
2. I find soup nourishing, delicious, and comforting. Soup is a big part of our diet. 

Linking to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post. 

This post is also linked to Souper Sunday where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie recipe. Check out this week's recipes.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Moroccan Cumin Chickpeas

I live in a very diverse area in a high rise with neighbors of all nationalities. Last night my friend Suzanne, who is originally from Morocco, invited a group of us for dinner to taste some of her authentic family recipes. Moroccan Cumin Chickpeas was one of her recipes which happens to be vegan and gluten free.

Being a vegetarian, I have certainly eaten my share of chickpeas ( garbanzo beans) , but her recipe really intrigued me. They had a brown golden hue and the fragrant aroma of cumin. I was excited to dig into the slightly saucy beans, and I wasn't disappointed. They were exotic in taste, smooth and buttery in texture, and very delicious. ( of course you gotta like cumin and we do!)

The chickpea recipe makes a nice side dish for any meal or a wonderful addition to a Middle Eastern Mezza ( appetizer salads)

To say that Suzanne is an outstanding cook is an understatement.

Can Make it in a Regular Pot or an Instant Pot

Although Suzanne made her chickpeas in a regular pot, I decided to make mine in my Instant Pot which saves hours of time with quality results. ( I'll give the recipe both ways)

Other Moroccan Recipes
I have published Moroccan recipes in the past. Savory and lemony Moroccan carrots is a favorite. If you like things hot, Moroccan Harissa soup ( with Harissa recipe) is outstanding and easy,
I'm glad to add Moroccan Cumin Chickpeas to my list of Moroccan recipes that meat gluten free standards.


1 bag of dry chick peas ( like Goya Brand) , washed and soaked overnight
1 level teaspoon of turmeric
1 level teaspoon of cumin
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt 
2 cups of water

Directions for Instant Pot: ( 35 minutes) 
Pour 2 Tablespoons of olive oil into the Instant Pot. Add the garlic and saute in the Instant Pot for 1 minutes. Turn off saute mode and switch to manual or pressure cook. Add washed and soaked uncooked chickpeas, turmeric, cumin, salt and water. Cook in Instant pot on high pressure for 35 minutes. Allow it to steam release on it's own.

Directions for Regular Pot:
Place 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a 5 quart pot. Add garlic and saute for one minute. Add dry soaked overnight chickpeas and stir in the oil in garlic. Add turmeric, cumin, and salt and 5  cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for one and half hours until chick peas are soft. Add additional boiling water if needed or boiling vegetable broth. 

My Notes: 
1. This recipe is extremely economical to make
2. This recipe makes a tasty side dish for any meal or with a salad it's lunch
3. The Instant Pot make it so fast and easy
4. No need to use cans that have aluminum and bpa
5. Very high in fiber and other nutrients
6. Great recipe when health matters 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Banana Split Breakfast

This is such a clever idea. Do you love banana splits? Now you can have one for breakfast or lunch. 

However instead of the ice cream, substitute a scoop of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt . 

You can still use a banana and add any fruit and or that nuts you like to make a healthy delicious breakfast treat. 

Kids of All Ages Love to Make and Eat Banana Split Breakfasts 

Kids especially love to make and eat this breakfast recipe that can be drizzled with honey or maple syrup. 

It is perfect for those who are gluten free since no grains are used!

There is no limit to your imagination of what you can add to your banana split.  You make it your way, so every banana split breakfast is different and geared to your personal taste.  

List of Choices: 

1. ground flax
2. all fruit jelly or jam
3. honey
4. maple syrup
5. walnuts
6. pecans
7. berries
8. pineapple
9. banana
10. coconut
11. cocoa nibs
12. raw sunflower seeds ( unsalted)

Banana Split Breakfasts not only look inviting, they taste amazing. In fact after I ate mine I decided it makes a fabulous dessert!! Maybe in a parfait glass layered - yum

Great Passover Breakfast when you can't eat grain- 

During Passover we abstain from leavened products with includes breads, cereals, and some grains. Breakfast is frequently a challange- so this week I've come up with 4 ideas:

1. 2-3 ingredient banana pancakes ( gluten free and kosher for Passover)

2. Low Carb Cream Cheese Pancakes ( GF and K for Passover)

3. Matzo Brei ( using GF Matzo )

4. This yummy banana split breakfast-

You can make them as healthy as you like- fruit, nuts, and yogurt offer some powerful nutrition! Add ground flax seeds for some extra fiber!

Linking to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Matzo Brie Recipe ( Gluten Free)

matzah brie recipe at www.realfoodblogger.com

As far back as I can remember into my childhood, we always ate "Matzo Brie" or "Matzah Brie" for breakfast during the week of Passover. This simple egg and matzah recipe transforms into a final product that is delicious, crispy, buttery and wonderful. It's the best!! ( the word matzo is spelled also matzah)

During Passover it is customary/mandatory to give up leavened products which includes bread ( and bread type products). This ritual commemorates the Biblical Israelite's exodus from Egypt when they  had to depart in haste and therefore their bread did not have time to rise. During Passover we eat a flat unleavened bread ( Matzo/matzah) in place of regular bread for the 8 days of the holiday!

Matzah is actually quite tasty when combined with other ingredients. My favorite ways to eat matzah is to make matzah/matzo balls, matzah, cream cheese, tomato and salt, and matzah/matzo brie ( rhymes with fry).

gluten free matzo

Gluten Free Matzo/ Matzah ( it is spelled both ways)
20 years ago when I was diagnosed with celiac, I gave up gluten. Aside from giving up bread, I had to abstain from eating matzah! Not being able to eat matzah made my menu very limited on Passover. 20 years later- voila- we have gluten free matzo- NOW almost every store sells it.. of course it is expensive ( like $6 a box )but I only buy one box each Passover.

Now I can enjoy GF matzah brie,  GF matzo balls, and GF matzo/matzah and cream cheese again using gluten free matzah/matzo-

What do you eat for breakfast during Passover? Do you have memories of Matzo Brie?

my mother's basic recipe for matzo or matzah brie is quick and easy to make

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1 


2 large eggs, beaten
1 square of matzo ( matzah)
2 tablespoons milk or almond milk ( this can be left out) 
butter for frying
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: If you like it sweet sprinkle a cinnamon and sugar mixture on top ( we don't like it sweet)


Place beaten eggs and milk in a bowl.  Remove 1 square of matzah from the box. Run the matzo under warm water for about 30 seconds or soak for 30 seconds in a bowl of warmish water. Break matzah into large bite size pieces and add into the bowl of beaten eggs and milk. Grease a skillet with salted butter or olive oil spray ( butter will give it a great taste) and prepare the matzah brie like you would scrambled eggs. Using a fork, break apart and cook until not runny. 
If you like things sweet- sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. ( we eat it savory)

matzo in eggs at www.realfoodblogger.com

gluten free matzo and matzo brie recipe for Passover

My Notes:
1. My mom's recipe serves one portion . The ratio per serving  is 2 eggs to 1 square of matzo.
You can double or triple the recipe for more people.
2. I like to keep my carbs down,  soI I usually use a half gluten free matzo square instead of an entire square.
3, Some people like to spread with jam-