Cooking with Joy: Healthy Pasta and Vegetables


August 28th 2014

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This week’s dishes are Greek Pasta Salad and Zucchini and Red Peppers. I was trying to figure out how to lend the zucchini side dish to make it a meal. More on that soon, but up first – Greek pasta salad.

Greek Pasta Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing page 135
DRESS IT UP: Fancy and Fresh Greek Pasta Salad 

Hubs loves olives, I love feta cheese and the kids love noodles- so this was a very family friendly dinner.
I knew the kids wouldn’t be so into the pasta dressed, so I made them a deconstructed pasta salad with the plain pasta and the cut up veggies on the side- and offered them the dressing as a dipping sauce.

Our 2 year old loved it and our 5 year old didn’t- I kind of knew that would happen.

I don’t usually like raw red onion or oregano, so I sliced it super thin and barely tasted the oregano since there were so many other great flavors to make everything taste great.  I used mini farfalle pasta since I had it in the pantry- I figured as long as the pasta had nooks and crannies to soak up the creamy dressing it would do just fine, and fine it did.

Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Saute page 121
DRESS IT DOWN Zucchini Coins

For the zucchini and red peppers I was inspired by Jamie’s suggestion of making it a meal by topping the veggies with shaved parmesan. I took it one step further and boiled up some whole wheat angel hair pasta. This pasta/veggie dish topped with shaved parmesan cheese was so filling, so healthy and so delicious!

These simple light pasta dishes are a perfect quick dinner. Or if you are feeling a little more eager, can be a great side to roasted salmon. Maybe next time when I have time to be eager


5 Healthy High Holiday Main Courses


August 27th 2014

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I refuse to admit that the summer is quickly coming to a close, but instead I’m focusing on the upcoming simcha of the month of Tishrei to distract me from my end of summer blues.  While in Israel my waistline benefitted from the hills of Tzfat and the generally low-cal mediterranean diet.  I hope to continue this healthy trend back here in the states, and I have a strong feeling I’m not the only one looking for healthy, satisfying and holiday-worthy main courses.  See just five of our many holiday recipes below, and check out more ideas here and here.



Roasted Apple Brisket

Roasted Apple Brisket: The apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah represent our wishes to a sweet and lucrative new year.  Continue this wishful theme with the savory, yet free of heavy sauce, Roasted Apple Brisket.



Honey-Sesame Glazed Chicken

Honey-Sesame Glazed Chicken: This delicious chicken is simply spiced with white wine, garlic and honey, yet rich in flavor.  It will look spectacular on your yom tov table!



Salmon Roulade: A good friend of mine simply can’t stomach most animal products and for health reasons has to steer clear of them, even on shabbos and yontiff.  For her it is a special treat to have fish and really makes the holiday meal special, the Salmon Roulade is perfect choice because of its striking appearance and is cooked with almost no fat!



Stuffed Turkey Breast: A really lovely option if you’re having a small crowd over for a yom tov meal.  The ingredients and preparation are simple, I only emphasize small crowd because each turkey breast must stuffed individually which can be time consuming if you have many other courses to prepare.  If you have any quick tricks for preparing a dish like this, please leave a comment and let me know!



Chickpea Tagine: There’s an idea that one should honor the holiday by serving both fish and meat.  For a variety of dietary reasons or personal preferences not everyone chooses to serve both meat and fish by both lunch and dinner.  The Chickpea Tagine is an elegant and holiday appropriate vegetarian main course option.  Try serving it in festive colorful dishes to compliment the colorful stew.


What are your favorite yom tov dishes?  How do you eat healthy during the holidays?  Please share below!



A Kosher Adventure In a Lavender Distillery


August 27th 2014

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It was a hot day, the first hot day of our trip, in fact. We had been gifted with cool spring weather up until that point, unusual for July in France. I stared out into the lavender fields, watching the gently swaying purple stalks. The floating specks above the fields snapped me out of my momentary trance. Busy lavender bees pollinating fields reminded me of my own to-do list.

I walked back inside the lavender distillery where our guests were sitting down to lunch. It was a lovely meal, perfect for a high-end and kosher vacation. Kosher Culinary Adventures was serving grilled artichokes with aioli, fig tapenade, deli sandwiches, and more during a live private lavender distilling. Talk about getting to experience a hands on kosher France.

Once our group had departed from the distillery for their next activity, Avicam handed me a lavender bouquet to bring back to our team who was preparing dinner back at the hotel. I took one deep inhale before placing it down — I needed both hands to pack the car.

As Avicam and I bustled around the distillery collecting plates and folding tablecloths, an elderly gentleman was busy sweeping all the lavender on the floor from the distilling. I heard the dropping of a plate, and Avicam rushed to find a broom.

As both men stood sweeping, a heavily accented voice from the corner asked, “You have served in the IDF?”.

“Yes.” Avicam replied.

“And in what unit were you?”

I kept busy folding and packing, not wanting to disturb their conversation.

“I served in the armoured corps,” Avicam replied proudly.

“Eh,” the gentleman replied, clearly unimpressed.

The sudden silence let me know Avicam had stopped what he was doing. I glanced over, giving him a surprised look.

The stranger’s response could have been that of two 18 year old boys arguing which unit was more impressive — Tzanchanim or Nachal. How strange to meet an old Israeli man in a lavender distillery in a quiet small village in the South of France. Why would he wait so long to reveal himself? I looked him over, confused.

“You’ve been to Israel?” I asked.

“Sure,” he calmly replied.

I was waiting for more information, but he just kept sweeping. If he had not spoken, I would have never noticed him. Once he spoke, however, his presence took up the entire room. Avicam and I stood silently, waiting for more.

“I spent some time in the Golan,” he began slowly.

“Did you serve?” I asked, wanting to know if he was Israeli.

“No, I photographed,” he said, as he finally stopped sweeping.

I didn’t want to move, waiting as I was to hear his story, afraid he might resume his silent sweeping.

“I was a war photographer in Israel 1967 and 1973,” he said casually, like he was telling us about what he’d just eaten for lunch.

He folded his arms and rested them on top of his broom. His skin was dark, and his hands looked rough. He spoke slowly with deliberate words.

After a conversation about war and peace and everything in between, we asked him what he was doing working in a lavender distillery.

“War smells bad. It is not a pretty thing, and death? Death smells very bad. Lavender smells good. I’ve smelled too much war and the lavender fixes that smell for me. Yes. I would choose lavender over the smell of death.”

He stared off, and his eyes sparkled brightly. I wanted to grab my camera and photograph him, but didn’t want to risk breaking the moment. He looked like a man in his 70′s, and embodied both a stoic and warm presence perfectly.

When we were packed up and ready to leave, he walked us out and I didn’t quite want to say goodbye. He was quite magnetic. I kept wondering if I should ask him for photography tips but it seemed that so much more was being communicated in his silence. With the warmest of smiles, he pinched my cheek and handed me a second bouquet of lavender.

When I arrived home I researched him. He was the youngest photographer to cover the Vietnam War at the age of 17. In the strangest most delightful way possible, I’m glad I didn’t ask him a thing. It reminded me of the amazing depths human beings contain within them, and of the unlimited possibilities you have for discovering wonderfully unique things when travelling. Talk about a kosher adventure.

By Nechama Jacobson from Kosher Culinary Adventures.

For recipes using Lavender in your cooking click here.


Get Passionate About Passion Fruit Wine


August 26th 2014

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The first time we tried Morad Passion Fruit Wine, was a couple of years ago at our friend’s Sophie ‘s house. She had a small get to together with some friends and she cooked her Moroccan specialties, something everyone looks forward to eating at her house: meat and vegetable cigars, home made matbouja, chicken and olives, sweet and savory couscous, carrots salad, lamb tagine, mini meatballs with cumin and peas… We are so lucky we get to enjoy her delicious recipes often!

And as if the food was not enough, she also had a great selection of kosher wines. Everyone was talking about the passion fruit wine, so of course we had to try. It was just awesome. A really fruity but not too sweet wine with a great tropical taste.

When we were approached by JoyofKosher to develop some recipes using Morad wines, we immediately chose the passion fruit (honestly, because we couldn’t wait to taste it again!).

We immediately thought of a sangria. Because, really, is there a better summer drink than a fruity sangria?? Perfect for summer! We gave it a little twist by adding stone fruit, that pairs beautifully with the floral passion fruit taste.

Since we wanted the kids to be able to enjoy the wine as well, we made a mango passion fruit wine coulis (where the wine is reduced so the alcohol has evaporated) and used it as a filling for dark chocolate bonbons. Our kids devoured them as we were making them!

Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we did.

Get the full recipes here:

Passion Fruit Bonbons

Passion Fruit Sangria

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How To Store Wine At The Perfect Temperature


August 25th 2014

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“White should be chilled and red served at room temperature” – sounds simple, right?

Like anything to do with food and wine, it’s never that simple. The rule to drink what you enjoy still holds true, and in this case, drink it however you most enjoy it is perfectly acceptable as well. Having said that, I would not encourage sparkling wine at cellar temperature (about 55° – not cold enough), nor do I think red wine should be served off the wine rack you keep on your kitchen counter (too hot). I know, I know… there is already so much to know about wine, how can I expect you to serve it at a specific temperature as well?

Ok, i’ll make a confession… I too used to store my wine in a little wine rack in the kitchen. I mean, where else would you store wine…the bed- room? of course not. And I too have consumed red wines that were probably at a temperature of 80° or more. That Zinfandel at the BBQ last summer was definitely left out in the sun a bit too long, and come to think of it, it seemed a little alcoholic, right?

So, just as you are not always going to have access to the best wine glasses, you probably aren’t going to always be able to serve wine at the optimal temperature. But for those of you who want to try your wine at what some might say is a more optimal temperature I’ll give you five quick rules for 5 different styles of wine (two red and three white/rose’).

1 Robust Red Wine. This is the wine that we pull off our wine rack and serve at room temperature, right? Well, this “room temperature” rule seems to have come from the old country when it meant 60-65°, not the 70-75° of today’s centrally heated/cooled homes. Feel free to pop that Cab into the fridge for 15 minutes or so before opening. You may find you like it better. And as it warms up with the actual temperature of the room you will see the difference and can decide which way you prefer it.

2 Light Red Wine. This might be a Pinot noir or a Chianti. These lighter-bodied wines often have a more pronounced acidity to them and the lighter style makes them much more thirst quenching than their more robust brethren. Feel free to pop it into the fridge for half an hour and see if the alcohol is a bit less harsh and it seems more refreshing.

3 Full Bodied/Oak Aged White Wine. These wines should be chilled in a refrigerator and can be served straight from the fridge (at about 45°), but some of their aromas might be hidden. There are also those who believe these wines should be served closer to the 60-65° temperature.

4 Light Bodied, crisp/dry white/Rose’ wines. These wines should also be served well-chilled as that allows them to be at their most refreshing. But keep in mind that what you gain in crisp, refreshing acidity you may lose in aromas. If you feel the wine should be more aromatic feel free to let it warm up a bit – something you can do by holding the bowl of your glass and allowing the warmth of your hands (hopefully about 98.6°) to warm the wine up. As it warms up it should become more aromatic.

5 Sparkling and Dessert wines. I tend to like these wines most when they are very cold. Rich dessert wines can taste cloying or overly heavy when they become warm, but served ice cold they should have a nice balancing acidity and are refreshing and lighter. sparkling wines (such as cham- pagne) should also be served ice cold as this prevents bub- bles both from exploding out of the bottle when you open it, and from becoming too aggressive in your mouth as you sip, and the acidity helps it stay refreshing as well.

I hope this helps more than confuses you as you enjoy wines with your meals. Remember, wine should enhance your experience and make you feel good, not overwhelm you or make you feel intimidated. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions about serving temperature or any other wine-related issue.

By Gary Landsman

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

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How To Spend The Rest Of Summer (For Israelis)


August 22nd 2014

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We are down to the home stretch before school starts here in Israel.  Most of the children fly the coop on September 1. Here are some activities to do if you have run out of ideas how to keep everyone happy.

Prepare for school:

(1) If you haven’t done so, now is the time to get school books and supplies. The school supplies sales this week are not heavily advertised- no Kravitz coupon this week, no ad for Idan 2000 or HaPirat HaAdom for example. Bank HaPoalim customers get cash back at Kfar Shaashuim- check out the deals on their web site. The Haredi yeshivas are all on vacation so the stores in those neighborhoods should be quieter during the day. Home Center is having a sale on school supplies as well as student desks and chairs- you can see the ad here. For tips on what and where to get school supplies, check out my post from last year.

Prepare for the Year:

(2) The תשע”ה – 5765 – school vacation schedule is online.  Go to your local crafts or office supply store to get a pad of big block paper and make a master family calendar.  Along with the school schedule, mark who is in charge of dinner each night, have them fill in their meal choice and start doing the shopping now.  I am a big believer of assigning children responsibility for dinner- it reduces the amount of “Icksa” complaints and encourages responsibility.  Let each child prepare according to their age level- from cutting up vegetables to grilling burgers- make it fun and simple with some basic rules (marshmallows cannot be a main course, each meal must have a vegetable) and you are on your way.

Start cooking:

(3) It is never too early to cook for the holidays.  Here is a list of TNT foods from a previous post that you and your kids can make together and freeze for the holidays:

  1. Cookies- you can freeze dough or baked cookies.  Make a batch of sugar cookies and let the kids “paint” them with a mixture of powdered sugar, food coloring, water, and vanilla extract.
  2. Cakes- there are lots of simple cake recipes- buy smaller “English cake” trays and have each kids make their own.  Don’t forget trifles for those not-so-perfect cakes!
  3. Challah- kids love rolling and shaping challah- why not have rolls instead of large challahs?  I know we always end up with lots of challah slices and nothing to do with them them.  Having lots of smaller challahs gives you enough for each bracha without a lot of waste.
  4. Chicken- you know the prices go up before the holidays, so get what you can now and freeze it.  Put the raw chicken in a marinade and then freeze it- it will make the chicken softer and more flavorful.  Or you can purchase Of Oz chicken which comes in thick vacuum packages which are great for freezing.
  5. Meatballs- spice them up and freeze them as individuals on a tray, then package them in bags, or cook them before freezing them.  This is not a job for the kids, though.
  6. Potato kugel- if you don’t have a “freezerable” recipe, there is one on my blog.
  7. Soup- it is never a bad time to make chicken soup.
  8. Meat boreka- brown ground beef, add spices/sauce, put it on a sheet of puff pastry dough and roll it up.  I cook this before I freeze it.  It is best sliced cold, before it goes on the plata.

***This year it is especially important to buy chicken early if you purchase fresh chicken.  The Muslim holiday, Eid ul Adha coincides with Yom Kippur and Sukkot this year.  Since Muslims are the primary, if not the only workers in Israeli slaughterhouses, the slaughterhouses will be closed for ten days and therefore not be able to provide fresh poultry.  It is a time to be especially aware not to purchase poultry from less than exemplary stores so that you won’t inadvertently purchase poultry that was defrosted and sold as fresh or is past its use by date.***   

(4) Clear out that smartphone and make a digital album at Albombom.  Right now they are offering 45% off each album until 31 Aug 2014.  They also have great deals on personalized calendars.  Lupa is also having a sale on photo calendars- buy one, get two free.


(5) If you are a former New Yorker, you remember Shakespeare in the Park. In Jerusalem you can have the same experience without waiting for tickets.  Theater in the Rough is performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream next week for free and in English. For more information, click here.


(6)  Once school starts, the parade of birthday parties will start as well.  Stock up with presents at Toys ‘R Us.  Use your Leumi card to purchase 300 shekels worth of merchandise and pay only 200 shekels!  You must pay with your Leumi card and there are no double sales.  For more details click here.  Expires 31 Aug 2014.

(7) The Chutzot HaYotzer festival started this week and ends the 23rd of August.  Discount tickets can be found at the Leumi card web site for 61 shekels each instead of 65 shekels.  Other discounts are available for Jerusalem residents, students, Bank Yahav customers and more- go to the festival’s web site for more information (Hebrew) (English).

חוצות היוצר 2014


(8) The holidays will be upon us before you know it and chances are you will be invited out for a meal or two.  Instead of the standard bottle of wine or flowers, go to a paint-it-yourself ceramic studio such as Kad V’Chomer in Jerusalem,  Keyad HaDimyon in Modiin, Rebecca in Moshav Yitzron or  Studio Nomi in Herzliya and create a unique gift for your hosts.

Post your ideas and suggestions as well!



Cocktails Of The Carribbean


August 21st 2014

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Generalizing about “Caribbean cuisine” is difficult once you recognize that the region is actually a mass of islands, most of which have been owned and occupied by various european countries. Over the years, these invaders have added their own flavors, spices and vegetation to the native landscape:

Rum, the undisputed regional spirit of choice, is distilled from the sugarcane that Christopher Columbus brought over to the new World. The spanish were also responsible for introducing the coconut and pineapple to the West Indies. When you look at things this way, the most famous island drink, The Pina Colada, really owes its origins to spain!

Coffee, an economic mainstay for many of the Caribbean islands, literally came over on a boat from France in the 1700’s. Captain Gabriel mathieu de Clieu , the maritime captain of martinique, is alleged to have stolen a seedling from France’s Jardins des Plantes. Once safely back at home, Clieu fervently tended to his coffee crop and began to share seeds with other countries in the area including Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Guadeloupe.

The Portuguese, dutch, danish, British and swedes all brought their own influences with them, including oranges, limes, and mangoes—key elements in Island fare and fauna, and critical accents in bringing Island drinks to life.  Even the African slaves the europeans brought with them contributed to the mix of flavors. Plantains, bananas and many of the well-known spices in Caribbean food and drink are of African origin.

Of course, the one beverage created uniquely to satisfy the Caribbean climate, is beer. While almost all Caribbean brews share a cool, smooth and easy drinkability, each island infuses its blend with a unique flavor profile. Taste them all before deciding which best pleases your palate.

The drinks below are all inspired by the mix and match of these various influences. Once you get a feel for the region and its native crops, you can mix up your own masterpieces!

Pina Banana
You can’t serve up Caribbean drinks without paying homage to the infamous PinaColada. But you don’t have to stick with the same-old-drink, either. Try this updated, fruit-forward smoothie that’s equally delicious with or without the “punch”!

Coffee Cotini
Whether you think of this next cock- tail as a morning “eye-opener” or a cool and creamy after-dinner drink, with or without the alcohol you are in for a treat!

The Merengue Mary 
Stir, sip and savor this creative Caribbean twist on the original Bloody Mary. (If you prefer, omit the rum and you will still have a drink worth dancing for!)

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

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Cooking with Joy: Creamy Tomato Penne


August 21st 2014

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Part of the excitement of going out to eat is ordering food that you can’t make yourself.

We like going out to eat; we just hate spending money on things that I can make at home — like pasta! Until now, though, I’d never made a creamy pasta dish. That’s why Penne ala Vodka is one of my favorite things to order when I’m at a restaurant.

Well, I no longer have that excuse! This dish hit all the yummy notes, with just the right balance of creaminess and acidity. It’s an incredibly flavorful and satisfying dish, one that I liked better then an average restaurant Penne ala Vodka.

I made it a meal by serving this tomato penne with a big salad. It was like a special restaurant dish in the comfort of our own home. I will definitely be making this again!


Creamy Tomato Penne page 130
Creamy Tomato Basil Nests


10 End of Summer Recipes


August 20th 2014

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August has traditionally been a vacation month for my family.  My parents, along with many New Yorkers, use August as a time to escape the pavement and retreat to the beach.  August is also the time when many retailers begin to advertise for the back to school shopping season.  Even though there is still plenty of sweet summer left, in the back of our minds we are already looking ahead to September.  There are still a few weeks left though! And in that spirit, here are ten summer recipes to enjoy before the air gets cooler and we say so long to the sweet fruits of summer.



Craving something warm, yet refreshing for those crisp August evenings?  The Sea Bass Nicoise with Saffron Tomato Jus hits the mark.  If you have a few extra tomatoes lying around use them to make the saffron tomato jus that will compliment the freshness of the sea bass.  It’s the simple pleasures that really define summer for me.  A juicy, perfectly ripe tomato begs to be shone off in an equally appetizing salad.  The Heirloom Tomato Salad with Crispy Salmon Skin & Seaweed Dressing would also make a great first course at your shabbos meal.



Nothing beats corn on the cob when it’s eaten at the peak of sweetness. On Long Island, that happen to be right about now, in mid-August.  When it’s just family or close friends we cook up double batches of corn and pretend that not to see the circus of flying corn kernels that are involved in this spectacle.  For more formal occasions, or to make a few stalks go a lot farther, try the Light Summer Corn Salsa or the Ceviche Tacos with Black Bean and Corn Salsa.



Keep the grill sizzling hot this summer with two south of the border inspired burger recipes.  Swap ground beef for turkey or go meat-free with black beans, either way both the Mexican Turkey Burgers and the Black Bean Burgers with Avocado-Lime Mayonnaise turn up the heat on the classic patty.



Fish is one of those ingredients that works well with simplicity and summer is a season when I like to keep the cooking simple and really let the in-season produce shine.  The Lemon and White Wine Broiled Sole could not be any simpler, while the Lettuce Wrapped John Dory is a flexible recipe that works well with most medium-sized white fishes.


The berries of early summer and stone fruit July are just delicious in late summer cobblers and crisps.  While the height of ripeness has passed, the fruits are just perfect in baked goods such as the Berry Cobbler Crisp and the Southern Peach Streusel Bars.


What are some of your favorite summer recipes?  Share below!



How To Avoid Lunchtime Letdown


August 20th 2014

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I think School lunches are the most difficult meals to prepare. Day in, day out, painstakingly making delicious, healthy and exciting lunch boxes to avoid, G-d Forbid, ‘Lunchtime Letdown’!

Of course, there’s always the mom who remembers to send a ‘you’re special’ note wrapped around a muffin and the mom that includes a chocolate bar everyday! And then, then there’s me! The the mother who stood making bagels, that could dislocate a jaw, it was so packed with meat, pickles and love, who learned only too late that her children were selling these bagels at school to buy ‘sloppy Joes’ at the tuckshop.

But, then of course there was my mother who insisted we use one of those mini cooler bags for our school lunches; “Durban was hot and things went off quickly”! We were scarred for life by our school mates comments. “Class going on a picnic and you doing the catering Sharon?” or “brought you travelling fridge again!” These weren’t like todays funky little insulated bags that fit snugly into your school bag, they were more like the size of a carry on piece of luggage!! Needless to say to this day my mother believes somebody caught onto her idea, made them smaller and made millions.

So let’s go back to what they used to swap their beautiful bagels for and how to to turn Sloppy Joe’s into several lunch ideas or quick hot meals for when they get home from school starving.

If you make a large pot of ground beef mixed with deliciously flavoured tomato sauce it can be sloppy joes for dinner or lunch one day, spagetti Bolognese the next, cottage pie the next, minced meat pies the next and tacos or wraps the next. If they become a little minced out, freeze the meat in little ziploc bags and all you have to do is warm them up.

You can also order some minute steaks and give them steak sandwiches the first day, stir fry the next, beef Schnitzel or toasted steak the next. Chicken breast can be sent grilled or turned into schnitzel or chicken fried in a fat free pan and served in a roll or over a salad or in a stir fry.

When you think about the varieties of breads available for sandwiches your kids will never be bored.  Whether it’s traditional white, brown or rye bread, rolls, bagels, wraps, bagels or pita, each day can be more exciting then the next.

Here are some quick easy ideas to avoid lunchtime letdown with sandwiches:

  • Thinly sliced cold cuts of meat with pickles, mustard and all that jazz!
  • Sliced rare roast with horseradish sauce and mustard
  • Biltong bagel/roll (my favourite)
  • For those who are watching their carbs, wrap the cold meat around a pickled cucumber, a few sticks of celery or carrots.
  • Chicken Mayonnaise, with chopped pickled cucumber.
  • Thin Chicken schnitzel with a layer of mixed mayonnaise and hot sauce.
  • Cream cheese and salmon bagel
  • Chopped boiled egg mixed with a little mayonnaise and fried onion.
  • Grated firm cheese and tomato
  • Tuna mayonnaise
  • Roasted vegetables and avocado dip with humus
  • Chocolate spread or savoury sandwich spread
  • Of course, there’s always the compulsory peanut butter and jelly sandwich which my children had to have daily – almost like a security blanket! Whether it came home or not it always had to be there!
Here are a few of my favorite back to school recipes you can pack for your kids this year or yourselves :)

Back To School Muffins

Pupil’s Pasta Salad

Playground Crunchies Cereal Bars


3 Healthy New Breakfast Ideas


August 19th 2014

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My clients are always asking for breakfast items that they and their kids can both enjoy. Sugary cereals and breakfast bars aren’t the ideal way to start the day, which is where these recipes come into play. Some of them you can make in advance, and others are better fresh, for the days when you have a little more time. Serve them with a nice fruit smoothie, and you’re all set for the morning!  With  a little planning, you can make delicious, unique, and healthy breakfasts that both you and your kids will crave.

100% Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones

There is nothing better than the smell of butter baking in the oven and for me it’s all about using real wholesome ingredients! These scones are hearty, filling, and bursting with juicy fresh blueberries. Eat them at home or grab one to go while running to catch the school bus!

Nectarine-Coconut Pancakes

 In the summertime, I frequent to the Farmer’s Market. My favorite ingredients are the tomatoes in a rainbow of colors, and ripe nectarines that I can smell from miles away. This week I decided to utilize my Farmer’s Market produce in these summery pancakes. Not only do they look beautiful, but they add a nice, unexpected texture. Coconut pairs beautifully with nectarines which is why I fused the two together to create my favorite new breakfast treat. Enjoy!


Roasted Grape Breakfast Farro

 This dish is one of my all-time favorites! Farro is an incredibly healthy whole grain; high in minerals and chock full of fiber that will keep you and your kids full all morning long. Usually seen in savory dishes, I’ve turned this nutty grain into a creamy and sweet porridge. Feel free to add in any roasted fruit you’ve got on hand.


Creamy Baked Ziti Video


August 18th 2014

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Get the full recipe for my Creamy Baked Ziti here.


Back To School Beans


August 18th 2014

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Some people get the back to school blues.  You know, the feelings of worry and nervousness before the first day.  The stress of getting back into or starting a new morning routine to get everyone off to school and work on time.  I like to beat the blues with beans.

Beans are one of the best sources of vegan protein.  They are also a carbohydrate that is packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body and mind will benefit from.  Beans are satisfying and take longer to digest so they keep you full longer.  This way you won’t be distracted by hunger pains too early in the day.

The real trick to combatting the blues is being prepared and beans are an easy addition to any brown bag lunch.  My kids love plain canned chickpeas or black beans so I always keep cans in the pantry, just in case.   You can mix black beans with some leftover rice and send it in a thermos for an easy lunch idea.  Throw some beans and cheese in wrap.  Or mash up some beans and send it as a dip.  If you are up for a little more prep time then I have a new bean to share that comes to us from Greece.

Gigantes are a large Greek bean you can find in some specialty markets or online, dried.  They are almost double the size of lima beans and taste very different in my opinion.  They are a little pricier than regular beans, but when you think about it is a meal substitute for meat it is still affordable.  They are prepared very simply with tomatoes, garlic and onions.    Gigantes are perfect for school or work lunches because they are really good hot or cold. They are super filling on their own or can be served in a salad, with some bread or with some cheese.  They don’t spoil and everyone loves them.

Along with getting your kids to bed earlier for the whole week leading put to the first day of school, planning for breakfasts and lunches ahead of time and talking to your kids about their fears and nerves try this new recipes for Greek Baked Beans, Gigantes.


Brown Bag Lunch Ideas


August 18th 2014

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A while back I went looking for brown bags in Israel, not for lunches for a project that I can’t even recall now, and guess what?  I’m still looking.  So if anyone knows where I can find some just say so in the comments.  Maybe by then I’ll remember why I needed them.

But in terms of interesting “brown bag” lunch ideas for our linkup this month we always have dribs and drabs of leftovers in small little cute Snapwear containers in our fridge.  Not enough to feed the whole family for dinner (again) but just enough for one or two lucky customers.

Cream cheese on whole wheat bread is a lunch fave with the kiddies but I am always looking for ways to squeeze more veggies into their diets.  Mommas out there, I know you hear me.  I sometimes add sliced cukes (tomatoes just make the sandwich too soggy for school) but now I like adding leftover grilled veg from last night’s supper.  If you wrap it all up in a tortilla it makes it fun for the kids and feels slightly more gourmet than your standard sandwich cut on the diagonal (I do this when I’m feelin’ fancy).  Try a flavored herbed cream cheese or mix in your own herbs.  Whipped cream cheese makes making your own flavored cream cheese easy.  Check out this video for 3 creative flavored cream cheeses you can make at home including Orange Infused Cream Cheese, Tartar “Sauce” Cream Cheese, and Sundried Tomato and Herb Cream Cheese.

I almost always have washed and checked chopped parsley and scallions and fresh basil leaves in my fridge – all excellent mix-ins to perk up your cream cheese and wrap.  In addition to adding flavor bright green herbs are super healthful and I’ve taken to adding parsley and basil to all my salads.  You can add Creamy Coleslaw to the wrap or send it along in a small little cute Snapwear container (can you tell I love these little guys?!) for a fun “brown bag” lunch for the kids or anyone in your house eating on the road.

Get the full recipe for my Grilled Vegetable Wraps with Creamy Coleslaw here.



How To Buy Fruits and Vegetables In The Right...


August 15th 2014

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Every time I ask my kids what they want me to bring home from the supermarket, the answer is always the same- strawberries. My foreign (non-Israeli)-born kids are still ensconced in that high-speed microchip mentality; all you have to do is want it and it can appear in seconds. They haven’t learned that fruits and vegetables are produced only in certain times of the year, and that it is expensive enough to purchase them in season, much less have them imported from far away and pay even more out of season. They count the days until the start of strawberry season and I purchase several packages every week until the last morsel is gone from the store.

Of course, if you are a frugal shopper you don’t buy them the instant they appear in the supermarket- they are at their most expensive. You wait until the season is more established- then the price drops.

To help you (and my kids) understand what produce can be found in the market each month, I found some great charts from Agrexco that are too big to reprint here but you can get a copy from their web site. They have five versions that apply to Israel:  FRUITCITRUSVEGETABLES,FRESH HERBS, AND GENERAL and you can find Seasonality Charts for the USA Here. Post them in your kitchen and then nobody can complain because you didn’t bring home mango in March or strawberries in September.

I thought it would be very interesting to discuss the differences and/or similarities between the agricultural seasons in the Tanach and today but the information I found was either not from appropriate sources or required a PhD to understand. In the meantime, I found a great chart for planting all types of seeds in Israel- what season, how deep, how far apart, and so on. We haven’t got the garden we used to have in chutz l’aretz, but my husband is slowly expanding our agricultural repertoire. Ours is strictly a leftover garden-we have pineapple from planting the tops, passiflora from leftover seeds, potatoes that sat too long and more.

One of my fellow Israeli bloggers, Bishul Bezol, wrote up a great post about eating according to season. You can read about it  here in Hebrew if you like but she has graciously allowed me to translate it to English. If your Hebrew is strong, I highly recommend her blog. She has great recipes for frugal shoppers with beautiful pictures.

Here is a loose translation of her post- any mistakes are mine, any jokes are hers :)

It is easy to say “buy fruits and vegetables in season”; it isn’t so easy to do. Stores don’t come with a sign that says, “here are the cheap in-season produce”- just the opposite. Plus, just because it is in season, doesn’t mean it is cheap. Produce with a short season or is imported will be more expensive than the alternative. For example fresh pineapple, even when in season, will still be more expensive. When should you buy produce? The same as if you buy clothing- the end of the season will be the cheapest, but you can also buy in the middle of the season. Like clothing, if you see the sign that says “New Collection”- just translate it to “These are the products you pay more for.”

Where do you buy your produce? If for example you go to the local grocer with perfect looking pyramids of produce who peels your lichi fruit and seeds your pomegranate for you, you will pay more, no matter what the season.

So how do you shop? Firstly, LOOK AT THE PRICES. Try to figure out how much those three pitaya will actually cost. Don’t pick recipes unless you know what the prices are in the market. Be flexible. If you have your heart set on a cherry pie and you find that they cost 35 shekels a kilo, change your fruit or change your recipe. As previous stated, don’t buy the “first fruits”- they are the most expensive and since the producers are in competition to be the first in the stores, the taste is not always ideal.