Healthy & Kosher

 

Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes

 

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One of my favorite things about the Jewish tradition is all of the foods we eat to celebrate each holiday. Having food allergies, however, has made those traditional foods complicated–I’ve been gluten-free for almost three years, and until very recently I had been dairy-free for over ten years.

My food allergies have actually been a blessing in disguise because they forced me to think outside the box, looking across a variety of cultures to discover new and delicious flavors. My Shabbat and holiday tables are frequented by reimagined traditional Jewish foods: Gluten Free Kugels and Cholent to name a few.


 

Health Risks of Barbecue Grilling

 

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Now that the weather is warming up we’re all excited to get out there and have some fun in the sun.  For me, it’s not summer without barbecue!  There is nothing I love more than fresh, hot off the grill meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and even garlic bread and focaccia.  In many ways, grilling can be a healthy way to cook your food, maybe even the healthiest since you typically don’t use added fat or oil, but there are some health risks you should be aware of before you light up.

The grilling process can generate chemicals that can be potentially hazardous to your health.  The main culprit is charring.  The flavorful, crispy black crust that forms on grilled food causes the chemical composition of the food to change.  Cooking meat at a high temperatures on a grill (even broiling or frying) can cause the amino acids, sugars and creatine to convert to Heterocyclic Amines (HCSAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) when fat drips onto hot coals, creating smoke that can be absorbed by the food.  These compounds have been associated with increased risk of some cancers.


 

Jamie Geller’s Lightened Remakes

 

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Jamie shares her recipe for a Low Fat Lemon Cheesecake along with other lightened up recipes for this issue of the magazine.  Here are some more classics remade into lighter versions by Jamie Geller.

Light Pasta Alfredo


 

Ants on a Log For Grown-Ups

 

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I’ve never really thought much about celery and I’m guessing most people feel the same way.  I don’t love it and I don’t hate it.  It’s just celery.  It’s one of those vegetables you keep around to add flavor to soups and stews as part of the mis en place.  I used to buy a bag and it would last six months as I took out the few pieces I need here and there.  I never really liked to snack on it, unless you slather it in peanut butter and call it Ants on a Log, but that’s for kids, isn’t it?

Nutritionally, celery has a healthy supply of vitamins, is low in calories and high in fiber.  Last year, I was at one of Levana’s cooking demos where she made a salad with thinly sliced celery.  It opened my eyes to using celery in ways I had never done before.  I started to stock fresh celery again and add it to many salads, always thinly sliced. I introduced my kids to Ants on a Log one day, but instead of raisins we used dark chocolate chips, they loved it!


 

Wheat a Minute! Why Choose Whole Wheat Pasta?

 

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For years, dietitians have been encouraging a diet filled with whole grains.  After all, whole grains may lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity.  I know it’s easier said than done. French bread and focaccia are so delicious and nearly impossible to find whole wheat.  What’s a foodie to do? Although a diet rich in wheat flour is probably best, it’s just not realistic for most of us.  It’s important to choose your battles and when it comes to pasta, it’s a fight worth having.

Vegetable Mac and Cheese and Greens with Pesto Vinaigrette


 

The Whole Wheat Pasta Taste Test

 

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“My family has no problem eating brown rice versus white, but when it comes to whole grain pasta, their palates aren’t exactly tickled” says Victoria Dwek.  Victoria made her family’s favorite pasta dishes, substituting different whole grain pastas each time to find a favorite.  Did her picky eaters find the fare appealing?

Here they are from most liked to least.


 

What is the Paleo diet?

 

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I seem to be hearing a lot lately about the “The Paleolithic Diet” and since it is popping up everywhere I thought you might want to know what it’s all about.  This diet is sometimes called the caveman diet, stone age diet, or hunter-gatherer diet.  It is a modern diet plan based on the presumed prehistoric diet including plants, animals and lack of grains in the era not long after the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  The Paleo diet was first popularized in the mid-1970s and has had a recent comeback with a slew of new books published over the past couple of years.

The basic premise is to emulate the way our ancient ancestors ate back when there was no such thing as obesity, cancer, cardiovascular or autoimmune diseases.  The diet includes meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, fruits, roots, tubers and nuts and excludes grains, legumes and dairy.  However there are a few different approaches ranging from very low carbohydrate to a more moderate and balanced approach.  Experts argue on the efficacy and safety of this diet.


 

Health Benefits of the Israeli Diet

 

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Only a few days until Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) and it got me thinking about those amazing Israeli breakfasts of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, cheeses and yogurts and fresh squeezed juices, one of the highlights of any trip to Israel.  America can learn a thing or two from our Israeli friends.   Traditional Israeli cuisine falls within the Mediteranean diet that is well known for its many heart healthy benefits.

Tri-Colored Hummus


 

Six Easy Ways to Get More Fiber Every Day

 

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Fiber is only found in plant based foods.  Beans, grains, vegetables and fruits.  It passes through the body with very little change and so it provides few calories and maintains the health of the digestive tract.

Fiber has been found to lower the risk of cancer, help control blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.  Fiber helps to keep you full without adding more calories and so it helps with weight control


 

What Are Heirloom Beans?

 

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I’ve heard of heirloom tomatoes, but heirloom beans? As someone who tries not to eat too much meat and a family that jumps for beans, I was so excited to learn about heirloom beans.

An heirloom is something that has been passed down for generations through family members.  Some people have jewelry and some people have seeds.  An heirloom plant is a varietal that has not been used in the modern large scale farm production, but rather passed down through family or farm from an earlier period in time.  Steve Sando, founder of Rancho Gordo, defines them as pure seeds, that when planted will produce the same kind of bean every time.   I remember buying a special heirloom variety of popcorn at a local farmers market a few years ago, they said the seeds were passed down in their family for years and it happened to be the best popcorn I have ever had.


 

Health Benefits of Beans and 5 Bean Recipes

 

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Beans, Beans, good for your heart…  You know the rest.   Whatever you think of beans, they are good for your heart.  Dried beans are a great source of protein and have been used as a food staple for thousands of years.  They are cheap and extremely shelf stable.  They are low in fat and sugar, they contain B vitamins and iron as well as flavonoids (like those found in wine) and lots and lots of fiber.  Studies show that beans help reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.

Dirty Rice and Beans


 

Good Eating on EarthDay

 

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Every year Earth Day falls on April 22nd. It is easy for me to remember because it happens to be my brother’s birthday.   Happy Birthday Day to Tal and Happy Earth Day to All.  This year, Earth Day falls on a Sunday and that means we have time to sleep late and celebrate.  Check your local papers and you will find tons of great earth-friendly activities.  When it’s time to go home, pick up some food at the local farmer’s market so you can cook up an environmentally friendly meal.

Earth Day was started in 1970 by Gaylor Nelson, a US senator from Wisconsin, to raise awareness of the environmental issues our world is facing.  The first Earth Day was celebrated by more than 20 million people and now over 500 million people in 175 countries participate in some way. Many important laws were passed after the 1970 Earth Day, including the Clean Air Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA).  In 1990, environmental leaders used Earth Day to boost recycling efforts. In 2000, the focus was on global warming and clean energy.  We’ve come a long way in the last 40 years,but there is still a lot more tikkun olam needed.


 

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?

 

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After a Jewish holiday filled with food, I always come away feeling like I need some sort of cleanse.  I need to rescue my body from all the meat and challah or this week, all the matzo!  But what do people mean when they say they are on a cleanse?

It turns out they can mean quite a few different things.  The most common type of cleanse is a colon cleanse.  This can be done at home with over the counter pills that will require you to be near a bathroom at all times.  A cleanse can also include a trip to medical professional to do things I don’t think I can get myself to write out in a respectable food website, but let’s just say will irrigate your body.  Both hope to rid your body of harmful toxins.


 

Are Potatoes Healthy?

 

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As we march into a week filled with starchy spuds, I thought I would share some of the hidden health benefits of potatoes.  Potatoes have gotten a bad rap over the years as people have moved towards lower carb diets and sworn off the white fluffy stuff.  The truth is potatoes are a vegetable and they provide nutrients that our body needs.  Potatoes are a good source of B vitamins like Folate as well as Vitamin C and Potassium.  If you eat the skin it is also a good source of fiber.   One medium potato has 150 calories, a lot more than a cup of broccoli, but it is filling and satisfying as part of a full meal.

The problem with potatoes is really about their preparation.  The biggest culprits are French fries and potato chips, both of which are usually deep fried.  When fried their peels are usually removed and they absorb so much oil they basically become fat sponges.  Even when baked they are often a magnet for fat laden toppings, like butter and sour cream.  If you can change the way you eat potatoes they can and should be part of a healthy diet.


 

A Very Vegetarian Passover

 

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It’s not easy being green.  Vegetarians on Passover have it pretty rough, especially Ashkenazim who can’t eat beans or tofu.   I can’t even imagine menu planning for vegans who don’t eat eggs!  I’m not sure how they make it through eight days.  I have quite a few vegetarian friends, including my sister in law who will be with me for a couple of meals.  Passover tends to be a very meaty holiday, but there are some great Passover vegetarian and vegan friendly dish ideas that even carnivores will enjoy.

Roasted Vegetables