5 Easy and Elegant Weeknight Pasta Dinners


January 14th 2015

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We all have those nights when we crave pasta, or at least a satisfying and quick meal.  Tuesdays are my 5-minute dinner days, I just can’t bring myself to stay in the kitchen for very long.  I’m not sure why, but we all have those days and a great solution is a pasta dinner.  Everything in moderation, including carbs, is my motto so why not treat yourself to an easy meal without compromising nutrition by way of pasta.



Beef Sukiyaki with Noodles: This is a 30-minute meal at its finest.  Drenched in flavor, but not calories, the beef and spices and perfectly supported by a bed of noodles.


Non Dairy Creamy Pasta: A grown-up version of one of my favorite dishes as a child.  My aunt used to make hers with peas and crunchy bits of leftover steak, delicious–but this version is much more sophisticated and chock full of root veggies.


Pasta Salad with Chicken

Bow-Tie Pasta Salad with Chicken:  Take last night’s pasta and repurpose it for today’s lunch or dinner.  A quick pesto and some grilled chicken keep this salad light and flavorful.


Pecorino Baked Penne

Penne, Broccoli and Pecorino Bake:  This would make for a great weeknight dinner if you’re entertaining.  After you boil the pasta, just put the rest of the ingredients into a ramekin and voila an elegant pasta dinner.


Creamy Ziti:  A famous Geller Family recipe, Jamie shares her favorite and fast recipe for ziti.  It’s so simple, but so incredibly delicious.


Check out more pasta recipes here!



Vodka, Not Just for Drinking


January 14th 2015

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The world of alcohol is celebrating. As you wander through the shelves of bottles, you discover colorful surprises and types of drinks, mainly the kind you have never heard of before. Because people are trying to avoid artificial colorings, we are exposed to bright, colorful bottles and tons of flavor infusions.

Vodka in particular shakes up memories and old tastes for me and my family’s old Polish kitchen. Always with vodka and pickled or baked red cabbage, depending on my father’s mood.

If he bought a can of sauerkraut, it would take a day or two for us to finish it all, but if he would cook cabbage, by the end of lunch all the contents of the pot would disappear as if it had never existed.

A new vodka bottle is enough to remind me of home, but after I cooked the cabbage with vodka and tasted it, not only was it delicious, it transformed the atmosphere to that of an old Polish village where people ate herring and cabbage with shots of vodka on the side.

If you love vodka as an addition to a drink, add some cold seltzer or fruit juice. I took it somewhere else.

Try my recipe for Vodka Braised Cabbage

Translated by Elle Somogyi


Spotlight On Gluten Free Around The World ...


January 13th 2015

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We met Aviva two years ago when she came out with her first cookbook, The No Potato Passover Cookbook, read about it here.  We know Aviva likes to travel and her cookbooks combine her passion for food and travel with foods and pictures from around the world.  This time, Aviva takes us from London to Thailand and France, Israel, Ireland, Ecuador, Vietnam, Indian and more.  Showing us photos of her travels and sharing unique recipes that are Gluten Free Around the World.  Now you can take a trip around the world from your own kitchen with inspiration from Aviva’s travels, starting with a taste right here.

Aviva spent 3 months all over Southeast Asia which includes Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, Singapore and South Korea.  One month in North and Western India and Kashmir and a few weeks in Ecuador. In choosing the recipes for this cookbook, Aviva assures me that she only included recipes easily translated for home cooks in the U.S.  She compiled the cookbook choosing a variety of recipes from each region in which she traveled.  Of course, she says, “there was a bias on my part, I chose mainly recipes that were my favorite”.  She also included classic recipes even if not her own.

I asked Aviva if she learned the recipes she shared from locals or did she create them herself based on what she saw.  Aviva said, ” A lot of both. I took cooking classes in Dharmsala, India; Bali, Indionesia; and in Pushkar, India with locals, the rest was a lot of research, curiosity and observation. For kosher reasons I waited to get back to my kitchen to recreate recipes and did not do most of the tasting abroad. That is definitely a challenge for me when i travel but at this point in the game, challenge is my middle name and I thrive on that.”

Here are two of Aviva’s favorite travel stories:

On one of the many trips in the car in Bali, Indionesia I, as usual, try to make small talk with whoever is driving. In broken english my driver asked if I play any musical instruments and I told him that I took some drum lessons and could play a bit. He excitedly asked if I would go with him to his sisters house for a few hours and in his nephews garage band, I obviously accepted so we took a small detour back to his village where I met his whole extended family and rocked out to Guns and Roses for three or so hours.

My other favorite story also took place in Bali, Indionesia.

Spending three months away from home is difficult in some ways and one day I really missed painting and went out in search of a studio. Across the street from my hotel there happened to be an outdoor art gallery. I liked a lot of the art work and asked the owner if he knew of somewhere I could paint. He told me that his brother is the artist and if I liked he would pick me up on his motor bike and take me to his family home about 30 minutes away and I could paint with him there. Again, I accepted and we spent the day collaborating on an oil painting that I love! my friend and I met his family and invited them back to our hotel the next day to celebrate his daughters bday.

Gluten Free Crepes 

Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Bowl)

Lemon Meringue Tart (Gluten Free)

Now that you got a taste of the book, we know you want more, go to Amazon to buy it and enter here for your chance to WIN a copy!! Leave us a comment below and get more chances to enter with Rafflecopter.

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The Evolution of Jack’s Gourmet Kosher...


January 12th 2015

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In many ways, Jack Silberstein is like many young chefs living Brooklyn’s hip neighborhoods.  With his small beard, fashionable dress sense, and love of obscure meats, as well as his top-notch education at the Culinary Institute of America, Silberstein could be any trendy Brooklyn chef.  But there is one main thing that sets Silberstein apart: he doesn’t work in a restaurant kitchen.  At one point, Silberstein and his business partner, Dr. Alan Broner, were planning a kosher restaurant serving gourmet kosher cured meats, such as chorizo and Italian sausage that Silberstein had been developing.  But they soon realized that the items they had created could be so much more than just a deli.

Jack’s Gourmet hit the first grocery store shelves in 2010.  Starting with five varieties of sausage, plus corned beef and pastrami, Silberstein and Broner relied on word of mouth to get their products noticed.  At Kosherfest, Jack’s Gourmet handed out thousands of samples; besides for being the most talked-about company there, they also walked away with an award for Best New Product and interest from dozens of grocery store buyers.

Three years later, Jack’s Gourmet products can be found at over 300 grocery stores, including Costco, Shoprite and Kroger. The line has expanded to include frozen sausage patties, and a beef bacon called Facon, which is now the company’s most popular product. Chef Jose Edgardo Soto, the chef at Basil Wine and Pizza Bar, calls Facon “as close as you can get” to the real deal.

In the fickle and challenging food industry, the success of Jack’s Gourmet is nothing short of astonishing. “People see the product for what it is,” Silberstein explains. “It is a high-quality product delivered as promised. The sausages are made of chuck, the same beef you would buy to cook at home. It is simply ground with quality herbs and spices—no by-products, no fillers, no gluten and no MSG.”

“The whole food industry has changed tremendously over the past few years,” says Chanie Apfelbaum of the blog Busy in Brooklyn. Today’s sophisticated kosher shopper is willing to pay more for high-quality and unique items. Apfelbaum’s favorite new kosher products are Jack’s Gourmet frozen sausage patties. No matter how you cook them, she says, “the superior quality and taste will come through in your dish.”

And it isn’t just kashrut-observant foodies seeking out Jack’s Gourmet. Silberstein receives emails from Muslims thrilled to find pork-free sausages, people with celiac disease happy that the products contain no gluten, and plenty of people who just love the taste. But, he says, “one of our core groups has always been baalei teshuvah.” Sil-berstein jokes that rabbis have told him he is doing G-d’s work. “One Chabad House rabbi told me about a woman who wanted to start keeping kosher but couldn’t bring herself to give up bacon.” One day, the woman tried Facon, and, needless to say, she’s been keeping kosher ever since.

So, what’s all the hype over sausages? What is the difference between a Hot Dog and Sausage?

Many people wonder about the difference between a sausage and a hot dog. Technically, a sausage is any mixture of ground meat with fat and spices. Sausages are usually stuffed into casings, giving them that familiar link shape, but can also be shaped into patties. The hot dog is actually one type of sausage, most notable for its smooth texture and simple flavor profile. To make a hot dog, the meat (often scrap meat, which is why hot dogs are inexpensive) is emulsified, often with soy added as a filler. To get the same crowd-pleasing flavor and texture as a hot dog without the scrap meat and fillers, look for bratwurst, a mild German sausage, or kielbasa, a garlicky Polish variety.

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Chanukah 2013

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/RECIPE/ Turkey Meatballs


January 11th 2015

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This week I left the world of chocolate and sweets and went for a meaty recipe. I chose to make the Turkey Meatballs, mainly because the ingredient list was short (most of the items where already living in my pantry) and they sounded quick. This recipe sure didn’t disappoint!

The recipe was so simply – chop – mix – form – cook – serve. Easy peasy! I wouldn’t change a thing in the recipe for my personal taste buds, but there are those in my family who are not big fans of onions, in any form. So I made half of the batch without onions and the other half with them. Both turned out great!

I served these yummies up over some Basmati Rice – it was great! I also had an alternative idea, if you need a quick lunch or even a to-go idea. Take a pita and treat the meatball like a kebab. Insert the meatball into the Pita with rice add some salad if you’d like. Both ways tasted great and were not difficult at all. This was a quick and easy meat recipe and is worth repeating!


Your Guide To A Healthy 5 Day Detox


January 9th 2015

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For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been thankful, celebrated Holy miracles and marked the end of the secular calendar. We gathered with family, friends and coworkers around the table, sharing love, good conversation, and delicious food and drink; but who are we fooling? We also shared the imminent need to unbuckle our belts at the end of the meals and the urge to take a long, comatose nap.

Comes January, we’re tired, bloated, sluggish, and feeling off. Isn’t it then the perfect time to press the reset button, support our body and get its vitality back?

Helping our organs detoxify means removing burdening substances, while providing the right compounds –such as fiber, water, enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants and other nutrients–that our liver, kidneys, colon and skin need to do their cleansing jobs smoothly and to get rid of what we don’t need.

Try it out for five days, and see how you feel. Who knows, you might even want to keep it going for longer!

Here’s how it works:

For five days, avoid:

  • gluten (wheat, spelt, rye, barley. Use “tamari” soy sauce when using this condiment to avoid the presence of wheat)
  • dairy
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • refined sugar
  • artificial sweeteners
  • over-processed food (don’t eat anything that has ingredients you can’t picture in your head as food)

For five days, do:

  • Make sure you drink 8 cups of water (preferably between meals).
  • Eat lots of vegetables of as many colors as you can: try filling up your plate 75% full with steamed, raw, and/or roasted veggies or soups. The remaining 25% of your plate should have good quality protein and a bit of good fats. Try to eat a brassica vegetable (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, arugula, radishes, kohlrabi, cabbage, etc) and raw garlic every day. They are really powerful detoxifiers!
  • Enjoy fresh fruit, especially in the morning (whole fruit is better than fruit juice)
  • Eat good quality protein: eggs*, chicken*, turkey*, beef*, wild fish* (avoid tuna and farmed fish), beans, lentils, organic tofu or tempeh.
  • Consume good quality fats: avocado (fruit and oil), coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Avoid vegetable or grain oils, and nix margarine.
  • Substitute sugar for raw honey, pure maple syrup or coconut sugar (or nectar) and only use them sparingly.
  • Choose whole, gluten free grains and pseudo-grains such as quinoa, forbidden rice or brown rice, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, etc, eating them only in moderation.
  • Try eating as many of these detoxing foods as you can: artichokes, apples, almonds, beets, lemons, green veggies, garlic, sea weeds, brassica vegetables and broccoli sprouts, cilantro, parsley and other fresh herbs, berries, fennel, and spices such as turmeric and cinnamon.

*preferably pastured

Get started with some delicious options:

Each one of the ingredients of this dish provides our body with amazing compounds needed during different stages of detoxing. Rich in phytochemicals, beets are great blood purifiers and overall body cleansers, while pineapple contains bromelain, a cleansing enzyme that improves digestion. Besides supplying fiber, fennel is a great source vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that plays a key role in detox. With a long list of nutrients, phytochemicals and soluble fiber, apples are great detoxifiers. Arugula, and the rest of the brassica family contain high amounts of glucosinolates, which are converted in the body into two types of compounds that stimulate the liver’s detoxification pathways. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, which is key to flushing mercury out of our body, and protecting our cells from damage. Kombucha is a fermented tea rich in probiotics, antioxidants and enzymes. It can be made at home or purchased at health food stores. Raw apple cider vinegar has many compounds, among them enzymes and prebiotics, and is alkalizing (yes, despite it’s acidic pH). This is a very flexible recipe, so feel free to add more veggies to it if you feel like it, and although I give you specific plating interactions, feel free to plate it as you like!

Lemongrass, garlic, lemons, ginger, turmeric, cilantro, cinnamon, are all phytochemical and digestive powerhouses. They’ve been coveted for centuries for their antioxidant, antiiflammatory, disease fighting and cleansing medicinal properties. And the best part is, that they aren’t only healthful, but delicious, as they lend their fragrance, pungency, flavor, color and deliciousness to this comforting, but sophisticated chicken dish. The slow cooker allows the flavors to develop beautifully, and gives you a break from the kitchen, but if you are shorter on time, place everything in a Dutch oven and cook covered in a 375 F oven for about 45 min to 1 hour. I usually double up the recipe and freeze one for the following week.

Find some other detox friendly recipes in JOK in the following links (just make sure that if any of them call for soy sauce, use tamari–a wheat free version:


Cooking With Joy: Moroccan Roasted Chicken


January 8th 2015

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As I have mentioned before Hubs is more into savory things vs. sweet. Putting cinnamon on chicken would have scared us a few months ago, but not anymore! Having already cooked many recipes from the cookbook, we are used to the different spice combinations.

A tip I have picked up (totally not rocket science, just took me a little to catch on) is to have all the ingredients out to cut down on prep time. I have known forever that this makes the most sense, but when you have limited counter space and are trying to keep the kids out of trouble while you are cooking, some things fall to the wayside. I have found that when I am organized in the kitchen, it just makes for a calmer cooking experience.

As I turned back around from the sink after washing the potatoes, our two year old had a mouth full of apricots and raisins. It was just too cute for me to get annoyed- “I only took one” said the little shmush face.

The chicken smelled heavenly while cooking. The combo of the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, honey, garlic and onions was so good. The one thing that I would say didn’t turn out great was some of the dried fruit burnt a little. The chicken though turned out very moist and delicious.

One thing that makes this recipe even better is it’s really a one pot meal with the little red potatoes making an instant side dish. Having another easy chicken recipe is always a plus and one that comes with a built in side dish is icing on the cake!

Moroccan Roasted Chicken page 176
DRESS IT DOWN Slow Cooker Moroccan-Style Chicken

Note: This blog series, Cooking With Joy, is meant to be a companion to the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller cookbook.  Most of the full recipes are only available in the cookbook.


7 Immune Boosting Recipes


January 7th 2015

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Depending on where you live, you may have already had your first snow of the season.  I just moved to Brooklyn and yesterday experienced my first city snow, well more like slush, for the first time in years.  Between the dropping temperature and the increasingly packed subways, a cold almost seems inevitable but this winter I’m going to try and keep my immune system strong by watching what I eat.  By boosting my diet full of necessary vitamins I hope I can avoid those dreaded sniffles.  What are your tricks to staying healthy in the winter?



Israeli Salad of Oranges and Black Olives

Now that it is citrus season in Florida, take advantage of oranges and grapefruit bursting with freshness and all of the cold-preventing vitamin C.  Orange and black olive are a perfect balancing act and provide for an elegant, and low calorie salad option.

Grapefruit Salad with Candied Pecans and Avocado

The vitamin C in grapefruit, minerals in the dark leafy greens and healthy fat in avocado all make this salad a immune booster.  The honey glazed pecans makes this dish simply irresistible, this salad would be great for lunch at the office or topped with grilled chicken as a quick and healthy weeknight meal.



Cinnamon Blueberry Buckwheat Chia Muffins

A great on the go breakfast or snack, these muffins are good for the whole family.  The mix of whole wheat and buckwheat flour are a healthy source of fiber, while chia seeds and the blueberries pack a one two punch of calcium and antioxidants.  Frozen blueberries are a great choice here, since they are usually frozen at the height of freshness and are bursting antioxidants.

Whole Wheat-Blueberry Scones

Blueberries are packed with antioxidants to keep you healthy.  Even though it’s a scone, it has some redeeming benefits for those of us who enjoy our carbs in the morning.  The whole wheat flour gives you necessary fiber and the butter provides healthy fat to keep all systems running.



Sea Bass With Soba Noodles and Sake-Soy Sauce

Fish oil is know for it’s cure-all powers, but this sea bass delivers those same benefits with a nicer flavor!  Topped with anti-bacterials such as ginger and garlic, this 30 minute meal will give you strength to finish the week healthy.

Steamed Cod and Sundried Tomato, Olive Tapenade

This combination of garlic, lycopene filled tomatoes and healthy fats from olives make this dish a winner.  It is low in calories and high in flavor and immune boosting power.


Tahini Sesame Kale Chips

These kale chips are a crunchy and healthy treat.  Kale has numerous necessary vitamins, tahini and sesame seeds are rich in iron and olive is packed with heart healthy fats.  No need to compromise your healthy or your 2PM snack.




How To Roast A Whole Head Of Garlic


January 7th 2015

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Properly roasted garlic might be one of the easiest and most delicious kitchen know-hows. Garlic is a healthy addition to any recipe: low in calories, packed with good-for-you antioxidants and spicy and savory flavor. But when roasted, it’s magically transformed into a perfectly sweet yet still subtly savory delicacy. Plus it really could not be easier to master how to make a whole, roasted garlic head.


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Remove most of the garlic’s outer paper

3. Slice off the top 1/4 of the head

4. Generously drizzle with olive oil and top with salt

5. Wrap garlic in tin foil and bake 35-40 minutes or until the garlic is golden brown, soft and sweet

6. To remove garlic from paper peels, simply squeeze each clove

7. Serve over toast, or add to soups or salads

My favorite way to serve roasted garlic is over olive oil brushed toast — you can find the recipe here.


Winter Salad Healthy Comfort Food


January 5th 2015

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Winter for me can be associated with two things: Comfortable food and comfortable clothes.

We’re talking bulky sweaters, big warm blankets and big bowls of mac and cheese or soup. It’s easy to bulk up over the winter months when your tummy is well hidden under layers and all you want is food that warms your body and soul. It’s hard to find vegetables that give you that feeling, especially since many of the veggies available aren’t in season and may be kind of sad looking. Needless to say, a big bowl of veggies isn’t exactly what comes to mind in the winter time, but that’s about to change.

By utilizing the fruits and vegetables in season during the winter months you’re sure to get the biggest of flavors that make you go “MMM good”. This salad takes full advantage of citrus fruits, squash and pears, all of which are at their peak during the winter. The quinoa and nuts give you that satisfying carb and protein factors which keep you full and happy. This salad is full of color, life, and flavor plus its good for you, which makes it perfect for keeping that winter body under wraps without comprising on that winter comfort food satisfaction. This salad can be served with the ingredients warm or room temperature. Either way you serve it, it’s sure to be enjoyed!

Get the full recipe for this Quinoa Winter Salad here.


/RECIPE/ Chocolate Cigars


January 2nd 2015

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Wow. I’ve got to find a better word to describe these amazing treats! You are definitely going to want to grab this recipe over here!  If you are a chocolate lover you would be missing out if you don’t at least try this recipe once…or twice…..or more. :) One person in my family described it as a “brownie wrapped in a sweet cloud” yes, I would consider this a winner.


Its not overly sweet and would make a wonderful accompaniment to a vanilla bean ice cream. These Chocolate Cigars would make a great presentation at a nice dinner. Alone or paired with whipping cream or ice cream. YUM!

When I first read over the recipe I was a little worried about it. It seemed like it was going to be a touchy recipe, one that is easy to mess up. But it’s not, this recipe is so simple & so elegant! Don’t let the fillo/phyllo dough intimidate you – go for it!

And like I’ve mentioned before, my time as JOKTaster has grown my experiences in the kitchen. Making Polenta, adding both beans and noodles to a soup, and now working with Phyllo dough. And am I ever LOVING it! New experiences grow us and show amazing new things and give us great ideas for the old. The Chocolate Cigars would be GREAT for anyone to make, the hardest part is making sure you don’t forget the cream while you wait on it to boil. Someone asked if this could be made without nuts, and I sure would think so. They do add a wonderful crunch but are not necessary for the texture. Have a fantastic time in the kitchen! Make sure you start following me on Instagram, I post pictures up there before they get to the blog. You can get more of my kitchen action immediately while its happening – or pretty close to immediate. :) I even posted a video of how I rolled my Chocolate Cigars – a little different than the recipe originally specified.


One Bread, One Soup, One Dinner


January 2nd 2015

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Soup and bread make for a warm winter meal that can be both simple and nutritious. Soups can easily become a wholesome and filling meal, just by pairing them with some freshly baked bread. The combination of the two is also timeless.

There are so many health-conscious people who have some sort of bread phobia — you know who you are. You’re afraid of the starch content, or perhaps you don’t like carbohydrates in general. You think it will make you fat. But don’t be afraid of bread, especially not bread you make yourself.

Focaccia with Beetroot and Parsnip Olive Soup

As physical as bread is — the way it’s so heavy and it brings you down to earth — there’s also a spiritual component to that. Bread is incredibly filling and, after you finish a meal, you should feel nourished and satisfied.

Lentil Soup With Pita

I shared three very different breads from three parts of the world, each paired with a hearty winter soup in the magazine. I use a combination of legumes and vegetables that thrive during the cold months and are readily and easily available. It’s time to nourish your body and soul with these warm winter meals.

Get my recipe here for Kale Cabbage Soup with Rustic Pumpernickel Bread

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Chanukah 2013

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Another Way Your Family Can Eat Meat


January 1st 2015

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I’m sure that this is how all of our grandparents ate. That Shabbat chicken was probably the only meat for the week – and it was probably shared by the entire family plus guests. The rest of the week, it was that illusion of meat – the chicken-scented broth – that kept everyone happy.

I’m sure you’re aware that meat consumption affects our health, our finances, even the environment. And just maybe you know deep down that you and your family are never going to give meat or dairy up. I get that and respect it.

But you know what? Eating less meat and dairy need not be all or nothing. You don’t need to say good-bye to meat and dairy for the rest of your life to enjoy more plant based foods.

In fact, over the course of a few years, I’ve slowly transitioned my family into a largely (notice I said “largely” and not “totally”) plant-based diet, with minimal fussing.

  The secret to my diet-switching success? I watched + learned from Cambodian women.

  During these years living in developing countries, I noticed that the non-western world views meat differently than we do.  Most of the world doesn’t (and can’t!) have meat as the center of their meal.

They view meat as a flavoring agent.
  Almost a condiment.

  Those Cambodian women use an ounce of meat to flavor the soup stock, so the whole soup is infused with flavor – without all the fat and cost. They shred ½ an ounce of beef over rice or noodles. They drop a bone into the curry base and call it a day.

These simple, strategic preparations give the dish the taste and feel of meat without piles of actual meat.  You can do exactly the same thing in your kitchen.

  • Top your spaghetti with just a sprinkling of ground beef.
  • Shred one chicken breast and divide that between six plates.
  • Drop a quarter-sized piece of beef into your soup broth and then toss it when the soup is done.

Your family will still be eating meat, but just a little bit differently.

Here are some recipes that use meat to add flavor, but are not the center:

Minted Pea Soup With Pastrami

Tuscan Vegetable Soup with Boerewors

Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup