Roasted Beets Without Foil

Roasted Beets Without Tin Foil

Prior to starting this blog, one of my favorite time savers was cooking in aluminum foil pans or lining a pan with tin foil for an easy clean up.  

Since starting this blog, I have been introduced to cooking with glass. Now I line the pan with parchment paper instead of foil. 

I am happy to say, the clean-up is not too difficult, and I have the pleasure of feeling like I am cooking more healthfully.

 
In general, I always like to have food available in all food groups, for a well-rounded diet. 

For the vegetables, I usually steam the or bake them. However, roasted vegetables, while more time consuming, are the tastiest. The other advantage is that I can put them in the oven and attend to other tasks while they cook.

Beets are one of our staple vegetables. They are hardy and colorful. As the are so dense, I usually boil them. They also tend to take a long time to cook, even with a pressure cooker. More than once, using a pressure cooker has resulted in many scorched beets and burnt pots.

Together with carrots, beets were one of the first vegetables that Yaffa learned to eat. I am not sure if it is because they are sweet, but other than zucchini, Yaffa does not care for green vegetables. I have to sneak them into things.

So, I wanted to try roasting beets instead of boiling them. I thought that it would be more flavorful, and, no peeling is required. A potential time saver!

Raizel is my budding gourmet. When she went to visit my mother, she informed me that, “Nana roasts beets in the oven with tin foil.” 

However, I wanted to find a way to roast beets without tin foil.

I am happy to say, I think that I have developed an easy method for roasting beets without tin foil.

Ingredients:

Beets, scrubbed and washed well and cut into quarters, depending on the size.  

The beets can be peeled, but, part of the appeal of roasting beets is that they don’t need to be peeled.

Spray oil

Salt

Optional: other herbs such a pepper, cumin, garlic, as desired

Instructions:

Use a roasting pan with a lid. Line the pan with lightly spray oiled parchment paper inside. 

Place beets in pan and spray oil the beets. Lightly sprinkle salt and other spices on top.

Roast the beets in a 425*F oven, covered, for approximately 1 to 11/2 hours, or until soft. Next, continue roasting without the lid, until they reach the desired roasting.

Covering the beets in the beginning , cooks the beets more evenly, without burning the outside, and having the inside still hard. Essentially, the beets are steamed in the oven and then finished off with roasting.

Here are the pictures:
 
  

Everyone is eating more beets now that I am making them this way. 

“Try it, you might like it!”

Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

For the Sheva Brachot, I made 2 soups. 

 This soup was a hit! 

Below are the basic amounts, but, this recipe is very flexible. 

I made enough to serve 28 people, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly.

Ingredients:

2 butternut squashes, peeled and roasted in 425* oven

2 onion, sliced

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut

Alternative: my sister adds cooked chickpeas instead of sweet potatoes.

4 carrots, peeled and roasted

Optional: 2 parsnips or parsley roots, peeled and roasted. I used a small amount 

Optional:1 bay leaf

Salt, pepper, fresh garlic

Optional: my mother makes this soup with ginger and cumin.

Water to cover

Optional: chopped fresh cilantro or parsley to garnish

Instructions:

Roast squash, carrots, and parsnips in 425* oven.

Sauté onions in the pot until caramelized. Add roasted vegetables, sweet potatoes, and spices.  

My sister says that sautéing the onions is what gives it a great flavor. 

Add water and then bring to a boil, cover and simmer until done.  

Adjust seasoning to taste.

Puree with an immersion blender and adjust liquid to personal taste. 

I recommend not cooking with too much water and then adjusting the thickness of the soup after it is cooked. It is important to not make it too thick or too thin. 

My mother said that it is important to maintain the colour of the soup, so she does not recommend using white potatoes.

This can be made in a regular soup pot, a crock pot or a pressure cooker.

In a crockpot, cook on high or low until done. This is not my preferred method, as it makes the soup too dark.

In the pressure cooker: cook 3-5 minutes to pressure, quick release method, depending on how small you cut the sweet potatoes.

Adding fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro give it a beautiful fresh flavor and a dash of color.

Here are the pictures:

 

   
  
  

I guess I was a little time challenged, so I didn’t take pictures of the whole process.

As you can see, this is a very flexible recipe and easily adapted to individual preferences. Since I did not know the people who were coming, I opted for simple and basic. Some people can back for seconds, so this was a culinary success!

Enjoy!

Chickpeas and Spinach Masala

I am learning so much from having this blog. I feel very grateful for the exposure to other cultures that this platform provides.

One of my friends, Tamar, requested a recipe with spinach. This recipe is a blend of 2 recipes, one from Gloria at plateitupblog.wordpress.com. Gloria’s recipe is for potatoes and spinach. Here is the link to her blog:

https://plateitupblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/aloo-palak-potato-spinach-medley/

My second source of inspiration is from Parul Singhal, from her recipe Aloo Mutar Masala, posted earlier.

Here is a link to the original post on her blog:

https://gharkepakwan.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/aloo-matar-masala/

Essentially, I used the same method and seasoning from Aloo Mutar, substituting spinach and chickpeas for peas and potatoes. I am hoping that this will be still relatively authentic.

I made some adaptions, to accommodate more readily available local ingredients.

Chickpeas and Spinach Masala

Ingredients

1 lbs. chickpeas

1 onion, chopped

1 can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1 teaspoon cumin, turmeric,

1 tablespoon coriander, salt

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

red pepper flakes to taste

16 oz. bag of frozen spinach

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

chopped fresh cilantro

Water to cover, or water to beans in 3:1 ratio if using pressure cooker.

Instructions

Today, I had chickpeas already prepared. These instructions would also work if using canned chickpeas.

Step 1: Sauté onion, fresh ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, until fragrant. Add chickpeas, tomatoes and water. Simmer to blend flavors.

Step 2: Add spinach, garlic, and garam masala and adjust seasoning and heat through.

Step 3: Before serving, add chopped cilantro.

Stove top: Sauté onion, fresh ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, until fragrant. Add chickpeas, tomatoes and water. Bring to boil and let simmer until done. Add spinach, garlic and garam masala and adjust seasoning.

 

Pressure Cooker: Sauté onion, fresh ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, until fragrant. Add chickpeas, tomatoes and water and cook for 40 minutes to pressure and then release the pressure quickly by running cold water over the lid when done. 

Add spinach, garlic and garam masala and adjust seasoning.

Crockpot:  Sauté onion, fresh ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, until fragrant. Add chickpeas, tomatoes and water and place in crockpot. Cook on low until beans are cooked.  Cook with enough water to cover the beans. 

Add frozen spinach, crushed fresh garlic and garam masala and adjust seasoning.

Before serving, add chopped cilantro.

Here are the pictures:

   
 
  
   
  

My husband said, “Wow! This is awesome! Throw that on a bed of rice, and we have delicious!” So, I consider that to be a vote of confidence.

I suspect that fresh spinach would bump this up to an even higher level of culinary excellence, but, I am time challenged, and I have my limits.

Even more incredible, I never could have done this prior to blogging. This has opened me up to a whole new world! Amazing!

Thank you Gloria and Parul! I hope that I did your recipes justice!

 

Creating A Food Plan: Serving Sizes & Food Exchanges

Creating A Food Plan: Servings Sizes and Food Exchanges

Please note: This is not to be considered medical advice. I am merely passing on information that I have accumulated over the years. Everyone is unique and has their own personal experience. For any questions or concerns, I recommend consulting your health care provider.

Over the years, nutrition has been an area of interest. I spend a lot of time helping others professionally and personally eat a healthy diet and maintain a proper body weight.

When Yaffa was a baby until age 8, she was failure to thrive and on a feeding tube. We spend a lot of time calculating every calorie, in our effort to help her grow and thrive.

Now that Raizel is a teenager, she is eating better. But, for the longest time, we struggled to achieve healthy growth and development with her too.

My husband is one of the fortunate few for whom maintaining a healthy body weight is not a struggle. But, health maintenance is a priority.

After my pregnancies, it was a struggle to find a food plan that worked for me. Pregnancy was certainly not good for my waistline!

As I was preparing to write this post, I think I inadvertently “bit off more than I could chew,” if you will pardon the pun. I have come to understand just how confusing it is to create an easy and healthy food plan. There is so much conflicting and confusing information!

The original exchange plan, developed for diabetics, and used by many weight loss programs is the easiest and healthiest food plan method to use. It is based on individual food categories, which include Grain/Starch, Protein, Fruit, Vegetables, Milk, Fat and Other Carbohydrates (includes sweets and alcohol). Within each category, one may substitute or exchange one portion of food for another.

Using this method, one can create an individualized food plan to accommodate one’s specific needs and lifestyle. Menu planning is flexible, easy and still nutritious.

Simple is best!

Principles For Healthy Eating 

I have integrated the concept of food exchanges with my own personal views of health and well-being.

As I listed above in my picture, I believe that healthy eating includes:

・Balancing intake in all food groups

・Little or no refined sugars or flours

・Using whole grains

・No artificial flavors, sweeteners,

・No dyes, additives or preservatives

・No hydrogenated oils/fats

・Limiting animal protein to <6 oz./day

In my experience, white flour and sugar affect the mood and feelings of well-being in people who are sensitive. I call this being “carbohydrate sensitive.” For “carbohydrate sensitive” people, refined flour, sugar and even fruit can trigger mood swings. Therefore, in my food exchange lists, I have calculated serving sizes based on whether or not someone is carbohydrate sensitive or not.  For ease, I suggest sticking to either one or the other and to be consistent.

I am a slightly carbohydrate sensitive person. I personally avoid refined sugar and flour. For this reason, I also prefer to eat vegetables over fruit. I believe that this has made a world of difference for me. I attribute part of my ability to cope with the stress of having special needs children to my diet.

Other people find it difficult to digest fat. For this reason, I believe in eating healthy, preferably unsaturated fats. We do not eat  products with partially-hydrogenated fats/oils.

My daughter used to be on the Feingold Diet. From this, we learned to eliminate dyes, additives, preservatives and artificial flavors including artificial sweeteners from our diet. In people who are sensitive, artificial flavors, dyes and preservative function as what I call “neurotoxins.”  I loved the Feingold Diet. I found that it did wonders for my daughter!

Finally, I believe in limiting animal protein– eggs, fish, poultry and meat to no more than 6 oz. per day. Other protein sources should be plant-based or dairy.

Personally, I am allergic to dairy, and I use milk from other sources.

I think that I want a little over board, but, I made the pictures to help clarify what the choices are within each food category.

 

Dairy Servings

 

 

Dairy
• 1-3 servings/day (optional)

• Are you carb sensitive?

• If yes, then 1 serving is:

– 8 oz milk

– 6 oz yogurt

If NOT carb sensitive, 1 serving is:

– 8 oz milk/ 6 oz. yogurt

– 4 oz. cottage cheese,

– 2 oz. hard cheese.

 

 

Protein subtle

Protein

• 6-13 or more servings /day

• Limit animal protein to 3-6 oz./day

• Are you carb sensitive?

• IF NOT THEN: 1 oz. fish, chicken , cottage cheese, meat, 1 egg, 1.5 oz. tofu/cooked beans, ½ oz. nuts, ½ oz. hard cheese

• IF YES THEN 1 serving is 1 oz. chicken, fish or meat, 1 egg, 2 oz. cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, ¼ cup or 2 oz. cooked beans, 1 oz. regular tofu or 2 oz. soft/silken tofu, 1 Tbs. peanut butter, 1 oz. nuts & hard cheese = 2 oz. protein

• Super Carb Sensitive? Count legumes as a carbohydrate

• In this diet, red meat is eaten no more than 1/week; chicken, fish & eggs are eaten 2-3 times per week. Therefore,1-2 meals /day must be vegan or plant-based.

 

Grain Servings Suble

Grains

• 1-8 servings/day

• 1 serving is 1 oz. raw cereal or grain

• Are you carb sensitive?

• Not carb sensitive then 1 serving is 1 slice bread, ½ cooked pasta, potatoes, rice, 1 oz. dry cereal, 4 oz. cooked potatoes, yams; 3 oz. cooked grains

• Carb sensitive: ½ cup cooked corn, peas, winter squash and other starchy vegetables

• Super carb sensitive? ½ cup (4 oz.) beans as a starch, rather than a protein.

• Recommend whole grains and limited refined flours. And recommend whole grain cereal, bread and pasta.

Vegetable Servings Subtle outline

 

Vegetables

• 4-8 servings/day

• 1 serving is: 1 cup (4 oz. weighed) raw vegetables or ½ cup (3 oz. weighed) cook vegetables.

• Are you carb sensitive?

• IF NOT then include starchy vegetables, i.e., corn, peas, and winter squash as vegetable servings.

• If yes, then consume only low-starch vegetables as vegetable servings.

• If carb sensitive, then count peas, corn and winter squash as a starch/grain serving.

• Eat a variety of colors and types; include dark, leafy green vegetables daily.

Fruit Servings Subtle

Fruit

• 1-5 Servings/day

• 1 serving is 6 oz. (1 cup) of cut-up fresh fruit.

• ¾ cups or 6 oz. frozen, unsweetened fruit (after thawing)

• 2 oz. dried fruit (use sparingly)

• 1 moderate piece of fruit

• ½ cup canned fruit packed in its own juices

• Are you carb sensitive? Avoid cherries, grapes, pineapple, bananas & dried fruit

• Can substitute 1 fruit for 2 vegetable servings.

• Eat a variety of colors and types.

Fat Servings Subltle

Fat

• 2 – 3 servings/day

• 1 serving is 1 Tablespoon or .5 oz and equals 15-21 grams of fat

• Other sources of fat: 2 oz. avocado, 2 Tbs. cream cheese, 2 Tbs. shredded coconut, 1 Tbs. mayonnaise

• Use unsaturated fat or oil. Avoid saturated fats like margarine and butter.

Other food groups subtle

Other food groups

Alcohol (optional)

• 1 serving/day for women

• 2 servings/day for men

​​This is optional and considered a grain or sugar.

Sugar (optional)

• 0-5 servings per week

• 1 Tbs. sugar, jelly, jam, ½ cup sorbet and ices, 1 cup lemonade

• Use sparingly

Putting It All Together: I have more data and information on daily food requirements and creating your own food plan, but, I believe in not overwhelming people with too much information. So, I will post more on this later.

Thank you all for reading this! I know that it was a lot of information.

References: There are more, but this is a beginning

eat-well-bien-manger-eng

print_eatwell_bienmang-eng

view_eatwell_vue_bienmang-eng

USDAFoodPatternsSummaryTable

revisedfoodsmart

FGPPamphlet

ld90772_dailymealplanguide

calreqtips

intake

adhd_bklt

Food_Choices_and_Serving_Sizes_AMD

FoodLists

FoodMood

foodmoode2

healthyportions

 

Please note: This is not to be considered medical advice. I am merely passing on information that I have accumulated over the years. Everyone is unique and has their own personal experience. For any questions or concerns, I recommend consulting your health care provider.

 

 

Braised cabbage with caraway

  

  

By accident, this post was published last night. 

I try not to post too often, and this was in the queue for posting. 

However, there are so “accidents” in this world. So, I took it as a sign to share this recipe on the blog.

I was inspired by some of the recent posts by others on cooking cabbage. 

Sometimes it happens that we run low on food, but still haven’t gone shopping yet. 

So, I always like to have a cabbage and carrots stowed away as a backup for situations like this. They are less perishable than other vegetables and taste better than frozen.

Ingredients 

1 cabbage, sliced

2 onions, sliced

Optional: 2 grated carrots 

1 can diced tomatoes 

1/2 – 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Salt, pepper to taste

Optional: crushed fresh garlic or garlic powder 

Instructions 

Sauté onions until slightly golden. Add cabbage, tomatoes and spices.

Cover and cook over a low heat. Check to make sure there is enough, but not too much water. Stir to prevent burning. Adjust seasonings.

Here are some pictures:

Slice cabbage:

   

Grate carrots. I have a small but VERY shape grater for small amounts.

 

 Sauté onions:

 

Add other ingredients:

  

Viola! Final product:
  

The rest of the family does not like cabbage that much. But, this was enthusiastically approved of. My husband said, “this is pretty good!”

Enjoy!

Eggplant Caviar 

This past Shabbat, we had a potluck lunch with the women I learn with every week during the summer. We all made various dishes and it was a really wonderful meal. I will miss learning over the winter with everyone!

I made salads and side dishes.  Among my contributions was this recipe for Eggplant Caviar.  I think that another name for this is Romanian Eggplant.  My Aunt Esther (A”H) used to make this all the time.  Her family was from Romania, and I think this may be common from that region.

Ingredients 

2 eggplants, whole

1/4 cup minced onion

1/4 cup minced peppers (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lemon juiced (about 1/4 cup)

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

Roast the eggplants whole in a 425*F oven until soft. Slice some holes in the eggplant to release steam, otherwise it might explode in the oven. (This has happened to me and cleaning the oven is not pleasant.)

When the eggplants are cooked, cool and let drain.  Scoop out the inside of the eggplant. Add the onions, peppers, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend together.

I don’t make this often, and I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder.

By Sunday, there was hardly any left!  This was all that was left to take a picture of:

Everyone loved it!

Chicken Soup 

I hesitate to post a recipe for chicken soup, as it seems so axiomatic. Who ever heard of a traditional Jewish cook who doesn’t make chicken soup?  

Throughout Jewish literature, chicken soup is extolled for its medicinal effects and often referred to as “Jewish penicillin.” However, I consider chicken soup to be a work of art. All cooks have their own particular techniques. I have made it various ways, but, this is my current method.

Ingredients:

1 chicken, skinned

1 onion

1 potato

1 sweet potato

2 stalks of celery

4 carrots

2 parsnips or parsley roots

1 bay leaf

Salt, pepper, fresh garlic, and paprika if desired to taste

Water to cover

Optional: celery root, zucchini, fresh parsley, dill

Instructions:

Place the chicken, with hopefully the skin off in a food sock or if unavailable, a cheese cloth. Place the vegetables in another food sock and the potatoes in a third food sock.

Add water and then bring to a boil and simmer until done.  

This can be made in a regular soup pot, a crock pot or a pressure cooker.

In a crockpot, cook on high or low until done. This is not my preferred method, as it makes the soup too dark.

Recently, I have begun making it in the pressure cooker at 7 minutes to pressure.

When done, I adjust the seasoning, and pull out the various food socks. This way, does not require straining and is clear.

I arrange all the cooked vegetables, potatoes and chicken in separate bowls, and serve according to everyone’s individual preferences.

In the past, I used to also cut up new vegetables and then add them to the broth and serve.

In general, there is very little flavor left from the first round of soup vegetables, so not everyone likes to eat them.

I make chicken salad with the leftover chicken, assuming the chicken is also not too overcooked.

I also serve it with rice, thin noodles or of course matzah balls.

Adding fresh herbs like parsley or dill give it a beautiful fresh flavor.

I made it for the holiday, so there are less pictures than usual. But, done is better than undone!

  

Tricolored Vegetables aka Cooked Salad

Whenever I cook for a crowd or I need a fast, easy and yet elegant vegetable dish, I often make this.

4 zucchini 

4 carrots 

4 parsnips 

Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and cumin 

The amount of vegetables is very flexible. I try to have 2/3 zucchini and 1/3 carrots and parsnips.

  
Grate the vegetables in a food processor. Sauté in a pan using spray oil. Add spices to taste. Be careful not to over cook.

I love the colors!

First step

  

Final product:

  

Ratatouille 

Ratatouille 

  

This is one of my signature dishes that I make all the time. Always a hit!

Ingredients 

1 eggplant 

1 onion, chopped 

16 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 pepper, I prefer yellow or orange, chopped 

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, including juice

Salt, pepper, oregano, basil, mix Italian spices. I use about 1/2 teaspoon of each but adjust as preferred.

Instructions 

Cut eggplant into cubes and roast in 425*F oven. I spray oil a pan and the eggplant and salt lightly to get out any bitterness.

Spray oil pressure cooker and lightly sauté onions. Add the rest of the ingredients. Add the whole can of tomatoes including juice. Seal and bring to pressure for 2 minutes and when done use quick release method by running cold water over lid to release the pressure. Adjust seasonings.

This can also be made in a crock pot but I find that the pressure cooker is much better. The tomatoes don’t oxidize this way.

Final product