Healthy & Kosher

 

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


 

How to Eat Healthy At an All Inclusive Resort

 

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I’ve never experienced it, but I have heard the stories.  All inclusive Passover vacations are a great way to have all the fun without all the stress of Passover.  Sitting by the sun and enjoying yourself, while someone else does all the cooking and cleaning.  Sounds like a dream come true!  But if you take “all you can eat” to an extreme, you might come home with more than a sunburn.  And a sunburn fades a lot quicker than those extra 10 pounds.

You can still enjoy your resort vacation while maintaining a healthy diet, and it’s not as hard as you think.  Here are my tips on resisting the temptation to overeat when you are spending so much money to eat everything you want.


 

The Truth About Tilapia

 

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Passover is approaching and we are getting ready for protein overload.  Without rice, pasta, corn, beans and tofu, meat seems to make an appearance at most every meal.  Since I try and limit our meat consumption all year, on Passover I recommend swimming with the fishes.  It is easy to find kosher for Passover canned tuna and canned salmon and there are so many ways to enjoy those two other than just spread on a matzo.  Use matzo meal instead of bread crumbs in most any salmon cake recipe and you will have a yummy appetizer or main any time.  Fresh salmon is also easy to come by and is very popular.  And then there’s tilapia.

The USDA reports that Americans ate 475 million pounds of tilapia last year, four times the amount a decade ago, making this once obscure African native the most popular farmed fish in the United States.   It is an inexpensive and mild flavored fish that many people love.  Fish is a low-fat, high quality protein.   The American Heart Association’s recommendation to eat fish twice a week is because fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to keep our heart and brain health.  But tilapia may not be the best source.


 

Hydration and The HINT Water Challenge

 

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Liquid calories are hiding in your coffee drinks, your cocktails, your sodas, your fruit smoothies, and even your “hydrating” sports drinks. Yup, it’s true. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are advertised as fluid replacements for athletes. They provide carbohydrates (for energy to fight fatigue) and electrolytes (for hydration and muscle function) that are not found in water.

But here’s the catch. While electrolyte and energy deficits can occur during rigorous events (say a 50 mile run, a 100 mile bike ride, or a four hour triathlon), average workouts (an hour lifting weights, a 45 minute spinning class, or a 30 minute run) will not do the same. In fact, you need to engage in strenuous exercise for at least an hour or longer in order for expensive sports beverages to provide a performance edge that water can’t supply. Also keep in mind that if your goal is weight management
or weight loss, drinking extra carbohydrates (aka extra calories) is counter productive.


 

Vegan Seitan Recipes

 

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Today I am going to share with you everything I know about seitan, what it is, how to make it at home and some recipes that feature seitan.

Seitan is a meat alternative that is made from the protein found in wheat, gluten.  Although it is made from wheat, seitan has little in common with flour or bread.  It actually becomes surprisingly similar to the look and texture of meat when it is cooked.   The texture is chewier than tofu and it is also high in protein which makes it a popular protein source for vegetarians and vegans.


 

The Sushi Diet

 

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It’s no secret that actor Jonah Hill has lost a lot of weight over the past year.

Jonah Hill’s work in “Moneyball” earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, recently spoke with ABC News.  Apparently, the secret to his remarkable weight loss was a diet of mostly sushi.  ”It was just mostly diet,” Hill said. “I wish there was some crazy thing that I did, like a pill or a genie or something, but it wasn’t, unfortunately, I went to see a nutritionist, and he told me what to eat to change my habits and stuff.”


 

Chia Seeds – It’s Not Just For Growing Pets

 

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Wondering why Chia seeds are all the rage?

Chia is part of the mint family and is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.  Chia seeds are smooth, tiny and oval flecked with gray, white, black and brown colors.  Last year I bought it at a local supermarket and it has been sitting in my cabinet all year while I waited to figure out what to do with it.


 

Hummus: Israel’s Hidden Treasure?

 

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Before I moved to Israel five years ago, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was considered to be the “national food” of Israel.  Even though I grew up in the United States, far from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, I remember my mother telling me that falafel was sold on almost every street corner in Israel. She described it as being similar to the hot dog vendors I would see on every corner in New York City, or the soft pretzel vendors you would see on the streets of Philadelphia.

What my mother didn’t tell me was that Israeli falafel was NOTHING without its “partner in crime”, hummus. Even in the fanciest of restaurants or the most unusual events here in Israel, hummus somehow becomes part of the menu.   From hummus served with meat, at the Basarim restaurant in Tiberias; to hummus with mushrooms at Marvad Kasamim (The Magic Carpet) in Jerusalem; to the local hummusiyah (hummus vendor/restaurant), the flavor of hummus is ubiquitous in Israel.