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Archive for September, 2009

Cabbage

Even though my baby will soon be one year old, I still have not returned to my pre-pregnancy weight. (Not that I know what it was, exactly – I’m going by my pants). So I decided to take a more active approach than “just trying to eat healthy”. I’m going to be eating cabbage soup for the next week.

Just kidding! (Got you there for a moment, though, didn’t I? ūüėÄ )

Actually, my “diet” is ridiculously simple:
1) I’m going to try to eat more vegetables
2) I’m going to walk whenever time and weather permit

To implement (2) I started walking between baby’s daycare and toddler’s daycare when picking them up. My original idea was to walk from home, but I’m starting small, and that turned out good. Walking between baby’s daycare (let’s call it A) and toddler’s daycare (B) is roughly 5 minutes. Going back from B to A with toddler and stroller is a good 15-20 mins as it is all uphill. I get completely out of breath! It is better now than it was at the beginning… but not much.

I do Pilates 1-2 days a week as well (have been for a few years now) but as they themselves say, Pilates alone is not enough as it is not aerobic. Well, after walking uphill for 10 minutes I can definitely testify to that!

To implement (1), I try to add to each meal a salad or cooked vegetables. One of the things I’ve rediscovered is my love for green cabbage salads.

Here are two of my favorite:

Easy cabbage salad

This is also known as “Falafel” cabbage salad as this is the type of salad you can usually find at falafel stands. Easy and refreshing.

Ingredients

half green cabbage, sliced thinly
3 tbsp veg oil
3 tbsp vinegar (any type)

mix all and eat!

The standard version has a lot more oil, but I don’t like mine so oily. You can put more or less vinegar to taste.

My cousin’s cabbage salad

We tasted this when staying Shabbat at my husband’s cousin. She made two types of cabbage salad, but I fell in love with this one.
This is an impressive salad, good for company as well as when you feel like something special yourself.

Ingredients
half green cabbage, sliced thinly
3-4 stalks green onion, sliced thinly
1-2 tsp sugar, to taste (I use 1)
1-2 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1-2 tbsp dried dill
1/3-1/2 cup almond slices
handful almond slices to garnish

Mix everything except the last handful of almond slices. Just before serving, sprinkle almond slices on top.

Bon Apetit!

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The last week was, on the one hand, very difficult. My husband was on reserve duty, so I had to take care of the kids – get them ready in the morning, bring them both to their daycare, work, pick them both up, play with them and put them in bed. In addition, there were all the arrangements for Rosh Hashana – planning, shopping and cooking. We invited both my parents and my husband’s parents for the first evening, and in the tradition of my family, I planned enough food for twice as much people. I very quickly got tired and I certainly wasn’t getting enough sleep.

On the other hand, the last week made me realize very strongly how much I have to be thankful for. I received help unstintingly from my parents (who came to help me with the kids in the afternoon) and my husband’s parents (both in shopping and help with the kids) and my sister-in-law (help with the kids). Even my brother dropped by (from out-of-town) to say hallo and play with the kids a bit. I overdid things a bit on Wednesday with trying to juggle my studies, an important meeting at work,shopping, playing with the kids, and cooking until 1:00 and I understandably felt bad on Thursday. Everyone offered to help¬† – with cooking, with the kids, with the doctor, you name it.

When my husband came back Thursday evening, seeing him feed the baby a bottle with one hand and cuddle the toddler with another – still in his uniform – my cup of happiness was full.

I am truly blessed.

*                **                **                **                *

The Rosh Hashana dinner also went well, with everyone having something they liked and everyone enjoying themselves. I also incorporated one of my resolutions: more vegetables. So in addition to the one cooked vegetable dish I always serve – in this case, green beans and peppers in soy sauce – I added a vegetable kugel of my mother’s and 3 salads: regular, cabbage and beetroot. Of course there was chicken soup, which I also make with a lot of vegetables because I don’t use soup powder. The main dishes were beef in wine and chicken in honey and ginger (which was a great hit). I also had rice and potatoes as side dishes.For dessert, I made a marble cake and an apple tart, and my father-in-law brought fruit.

As you can see, there was certainly enough food!

I stopped using soup powder when my toddler began eating table foods. I am not actually sure why, but we were told not to give the baby MSG until he was at least one year old. On the other hand, soups are highly recommended for babies. So… I tried to do without. I was surprised at how easy it was. The concept is simple: use a lot of vegetables, especially celery, onion and carrots. and most important – let it cook uncovered until it becomes concentrated enough to be tasty. A nice addition is some salt and/or various soup spices. Since I discovered how good it tastes without soup powder, I simply stopped using it altogether. (Even though I still use kneidl from a mix, and various ready foods that include MSG. However, our consumption of MSG has certainly plummeted.)

I also freeze any leftover stock I have and I add it if necessary instead of soup powder.

For onion soup powder it was a little more difficult. The chicken in honey and ginger called for 1 tbsp of onion soup powder. What to do? I browsed the Internet a bit and found the recommendation was onion flakes, garlic powder and salt and pepper. I accordingly went in search of onion flakes and garlic powder. What I discovered is that garlic powder looks and smells like white sand – not in the least appetizing. And the only onion flakes I found cost 20 NIS for an itty bitty box. Of onions.

So instead of that, I minced onion finely in the food processor. I removed everything but a few tablespoons and froze it for later. (I intended to add minced garlic, but I forgot). Then I added all the other ingredients of the sauce, using less honey than recommended because I always find it too sweet. I tasted before pouring over the chicken to make sure that it was sweet enough, I though it was sweet and just spicy enough. I found out that after cooking, the ginger mellows, so next time I’ll put a tad more ginger. However, it turned out great and was undoubtedly the surprise hit of the evening!

Ingredients:

1 chicken, cut into pieces, or other pieces as you like (I used 3 thighs and one white, we don’t eat chicken wings so much and I make soup with them)
2 tbsp mustard (I use Dijon)
3-4 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger (I will use more next time)
8 tbsp soy sauce
water if necessary

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Mix all sauce ingredients together. Taste and fix seasoning if necessary. Arrange chicken pieces in glass dish with high sides. Pour sauce over chicken, adding water if necessary so that all pieces are covered (or almost). Cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 50 minutes, turning the chicken in the sauce every 20 minutes so that the entire piece gets the taste of the sauce/ If you wish, remove the aluminium foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking so that the chicken is browned. (I didn’t do this because I removed the skin from the chicken and I was afraid it would get dry if I baked it without foil). Chicken is ready when you prick with a fork and juices aren’t pink (yellow or clear).

You can halve the liquid sauce ingredients and you will have something more similar to a gravy. Or you can thicken the sauce afterwords with a bit of flour if you like (I didn’t. I like lots of sauce so that the food keeps well on the Shabbat hot plate).

Bon Apetit! And may you all have a sweet and happy year, filled with blessings and nachat.

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I love making granola at home. It tastes better, has much less fat and sugar, and best of all I can put whatever I want. I love dried apple and am not crazy about raisins – so I always have dried apple in my granola. I love sunflower seeds and almonds and walnuts. Though I have a sweet tooth, I don’t like to indulge it all the time. I find that bought granola (and bought food in general) is much too sweet. So I adjust sugar/honey to my tastes.

Sometimes, however, I don’t have the time or patience to begin chopping nuts and dried apples, and mixing, etc. So I started making a granola base.

This is oatmeal mixed with a bit of sugar and veg oil, toasted in the microwave. The great thing about it (other than the fact that it is easy and quick) is its versatility. I can add some chopped nuts and fruit and I have granola (some people toast their nuts when making granola. I don’t as the toasting can ruin the nutritional benefit of the nut if too high, and as I make my granola in the microwave, there isn’t much control of the exact temperature). It can also be sprinkled on fruit or ice cream or pudding to add some healthy crunch. It can be mixed with puffed rice and eaten with yogurt or milk as a breakfast cereal (or alone). The sky is the limit!

Ingredients

1 cup oatmeal, (not instant or quick-cooking. I use Quakers).
1 tbsp (or to taste) brown sugar or honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix everything together in a glass pyrex or other microwave dish (I read that some people make their granola directly on the microwave platter).
Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Mix.
Microwave for another minute. Mix.
Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time until golden and toasted, mixing after every interval.

Note: You don’t really need the oil, you can do without very easily. However, then the granola doesn’t turn brown and it can be hard to tell when it’s ready (you know when it burns? 1 minute before that :)). You can omit the oil completely.

You need to be careful not to burn the oatmeal. However, if some does burn, it’s no big deal – just discard the burnt part (it clumps together and smells burned, even though it doesn’t turn black or anything) and keep the rest.

Store in an airtight jar with a lid. It keeps quite well for a few months without loosing its crunch. I keep old jam and honey jars for this type of thing.

Bon Apetit!

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