Apples

Rosh Hashanah – It is a wonderful time. It is a new beginning with the deepened love, understanding, resolutions, commitments and sweet familiar feeling of celebration. It is time for new and old – like our traditions.

Traditionally we start the celebration by dipping apples into honey and wishing each other sweet year!AppleGala600

If you are, like me, eat according to the season, then you have not had apples for a while. Last season apples lost their taste and vitamins long time ago. Lately our tastes for fresh produce were mostly attracted to strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches and similar summer seasonal fruits.

And now I am excited for a new crop of this year apples – the first ones so tender, juicy with wonderful aroma. So many different kinds – all taste so amazing like never before!

New crop just in time for old and wise tradition to have apples for Rosh Hashanah!

Organic apples are so delicious and packed with vitamins.  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an old saying that most of us are familiar with, but what makes this fruit so special? What health benefits are associated with eating apples?

As one of the most cultivated and consumed fruits in the world, apples are continuously being praised as a “miracle food”.  Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants and dietary fiber. Apples deserve to be called “nutritional powerhouses”. They contain many important nutrients: Vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, iron, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

Apples could be enjoyed in so many different recipes: just raw (with or without honey), baked, in salads, applesauce, as stuffing and many more.

Here are couple simple healthy recipes:

Baked apple slices, with raisins, almonds, and dried cherries in pomegranate juice and honeyReadyTo Bake Apples

Ingredients:

  • 4 organic golden delicious or granny smith apples
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • ½ cup dry cherries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 Tbsp organic raw honey

Cooking Instructions:

Cut apples to 8 slices each and place in the baking sheet (see picture above), evenly spread raisins, almonds and dry cherries. Mix pomegranate juice and honey and pour over apples. Bake for 30 minutes in 350 F without cover.

Enjoy for dessert or mid-day snack!

baked Apples

Blanched collard salad with gala apples, peanuts, sesame seeds and parsley

CollardAppleSalad_300Ingredients:

  • 2 leaves organic collard greens and stems
  • 1 quarter raw organic gala apple
  • 1/4 cup minced organic parsley
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/8 cup toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:

Freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with a few drops of brown rice vinegar, a few drops of soy sauce and a tea-spoon of peanut oil

Cooking Instructions:

Wash and check collard. Cut the stems off. Put stems in a pot with boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the hot water and let cool off. Put collard leaves one by one in the boiling water for 30 seconds.

Slice blanched collard stems, collard leaves, apples, parsley and mix together. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts and sesame seeds. Add dressing.

Happy Rosh Hashanah! Sweet and healthy New 5776 Year !

What about Mushrooms?

mushroomsBeansLeek500x300

I was introduced to mushrooms in my early childhood. We used to hop on a bus in the wee hours to go mushroom picking in the forest. It was one of fun activities during late summer – early fall. It was so exciting to walk through the early morning forest in the rubber boots with a basket and search for edible mushrooms under the trees. In the middle of the day our baskets were almost full with colorful mushrooms. We all got together to sit down, rest, admire each other’s crop, drink hot tea from thermos and eat our tasty sandwiches lovingly prepared on the previous night. That’s as far as my interest for mushrooms went.

The next less exciting but necessary step was to clean, sort the mushrooms and prepare them for different cooking styles: some were good for conservation – pickled mushrooms in a jar – delicious appetiser during winter gatherings; some were good to dry and use in soups throughout the year; some were good to cook for that day dinner – Russian favorites – fried chanterelle mushrooms with onions, sour cream and potatoes! 🙂

I didn’t care about any of it 🙂

When I started my journey studying foods and their medicinal properties, I rediscovered mushrooms and developed taste for them overtime. Now mushrooms take a well-deserved place in my regular cuisine.

Mushrooms …

What are they? They aren’t vegetables no legumes. These, not so obviously defined plants, are very humble and modest. But as we know G-d often design humble to possess amazing qualities. And mushrooms are no exception. shiitake550x300

One of the medicinal mushroom leaders is Shiitake. Shiitake mushrooms high in many enzymes and vitamins that are not usually found in plants. Shiitake is effective in treating a long list of ailments including high cholesterol, gallstones, hyperacidity, stomach ulcers, diabetes, vitamin deficiency, anemia, and even the common cold. Shiitake are able to rapidly lower serum cholesterol. Studies with humans have shown that only three ounces of shiitake (5-6 mushrooms) a day can lower cholesterol by twelve percent in a week. There is increasing evidence that the health-promoting compounds found in medicinal and edible fungi, including shiitake, stimulate the immune system. Shiitake stimulate the defense system, spurring the immune fighters that attack cancer cells, bacteria, and viruses.

As a food source, Shiitake contains all eight of the essential amino acids in a better ratio than meat, milk, eggs, or soy beans. Not to mention they contain an excellent combination of vitamins and mineral including A, B, B12, C, and D. In addition, Shiitake produces a fat-absorbing compound which is perfect for those wanting to lose weight. It’s no wonder why the shiitake is also known as the “miracle mushroom”. Dried shiitake mushrooms have even stronger medicinal properties than fresh. And they are delicious when cooked!

Shiitake mushrooms are great in soups and various vegetable dishes. Here is the recipe of a basic miso soup where along with other ingredients it offers you healing powerhouse dish. Heal, lose weight and Enjoy!

enoki-mushrooms

The Enoki mushrooms could be found in Whole Foods Market or other health food stores and Asian markets. Enokitake mushrooms have tumour fighting compounds. They suppress further cancer growth and spread.

Enokitake has antioxidants that rid the body of free radicals hence boosting the immune system. The Enoki mushroom impacted greatly in test treatments of lymphoma and prostate cancer. The Enokitake mushroom also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. They help to balance the immune system and to keep the liver healthy.

The Enoki is able to fight against diseases of degenerative sicknesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. It also has anti-inflammatory substances that help lower the risk of heart diseases.

Enoki mushrooms has to be cooked in at least 100 degrees of heat for 20 consecutive minutes.

BunashimejiMushroomsBunaShimeji Mushrooms – another medicinal kind and also very tasty. I usually buy them in Whole Foods Market and make various recipes. They are delicious in soups and go well with other vegetables.

Shimeji have tumors fighting properties. Shimeji mushrooms can also help diabetes, asthma and certain allergies by enhancing the immune system and boosting its healing capabilities.

Shimeji mushrooms have meaty taste. Their texture is firm. These mushrooms are used in preparation of soups and stir fried dishes. These mushrooms are also ideal for casseroles. It is important to cook these mushrooms before serving them. Raw shimeji mushrooms have a bitter taste. Cooked shimeji mushrooms are flavourful. It is best to use Shimeji mushrooms in combination with other vegetables because they are rich in Umami compounds. Umami compounds are known for enhancing the flavour of food.

My recent creation – Balanced delicious dish with BunaShimeji and oyster mushrooms, black soy beans, leek, and quinoa – Enjoy!

Bunashimeji Oyster Leek Beans Quinoa

 

Summer Daily Menu

Many people asked me about a menu for a day.

I put together a sample menu for summer. I selected cooking styles as well as grains, beans and vegetables that mostly suited to nourish your organs during hot summer days. The menu consists of lightly cooked, easily digested foods which will help your body to balance normal temperature, not get overheated while providing plenty of nutrients.

BREAKFAST

quinoa sauteed veggies

strawberries

pumpkin seeds

LUNCH – EASY to take to work

Tabouleh saladhummusPeach

SNACK 

In case you feel hungry and want to eat something small between lunch and dinner – 1/2 cup of almonds or walnuts is a healthy option

DINNER

beet soup

Tofu barley green beanswatermelon

Enjoy!


Health Tip** For some people summer is associated with barbecue in the middle of a hot day. Eating grilled meat is very stringent for the heart and other organs. Liver gets overheated. People might experience excessive sweating and have hard time being outside to enjoy the sunny day. Refrain from barbecued meat could make a surprising pleasant shift to being able withstand 85+F much more comfortable and easy.

Healthy Life Lessons from Maimonides to our Days

Rambam

Our generation is facing one of the serious health issues – obesity. In response to public demand many diets were introduced in the recent years. Some of them come and go quietly without creating too much damage; some of them unfortunately did not go so unnoticed. We have rights to ask the question who is behind promoting those diets and how many years of scientific studies did they undergo?

When a new diet shows up, people jump to it without realizing we are playing with our
own health. It is not yet another book, or an article – it is our health that is at risk.

Some people who follow kosher dietary laws would eat anything as long as the package has a trusted rabbinical certification. It is assumed to be good. G-d will take care of theside7 rest. Is it true?

We do not seem to think that the Torah requires us to control our eating to preserve our health. It is quite opposite. There are laws in the code of Jewish laws (Halacha) about eating. I will have another post to cover this amazing topic.

Maimonides – one of the greatest Jewish philosopher and the outstanding doctor who lived 800 years ago wrote a tremendous amount of material concerning health. Maimonides’ teachings have withstood hundreds of years and are as solid and truthful as they have ever been. Many recent nutritionists outside of Jewish world came to the same conclusions after decades of proven studies on the matter. Every science and medical discovery till nowadays just provides confirmation of Torah’s ultimate truth and wisdom. It encourages the fact that this manual for living is given to us with love and care.

In his writings, Maimonides gave very clear instructions regarding what, when and how much people should eat in order to lead a healthy life. One of his well-known quotes is: “No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.”

His attitude to medicine is based on three main fundamentals — nutrition, physical exercise and balanced mental state. If you practice physical activity but neglect your nutrition, or eat healthy but do not exercise, or suffer from depression, then eventually your health will suffer. Maimonides has talks on the benefits of sun exposure, vegetarianism and a good night sleep.

Maimonides teaches Don’t eat three hours before bedtime; wait one hour after rising to eat; don’t drink milk; avoid meat (if you must eat animal flesh, choose chicken); eat small fish, such as the sardine, instead of big fish, like the tuna; don’t drink as you eat, (Too much fluid dilutes the enzymes, which makes digestion harder) and, the most obvious one, don’t overeat.”

Maimonides says that most of the health and sickness of the body ruled by how one digests his food. One who does it in the proper way will be a healthy person, but one who does not do it right will be a weak person and can bring himself to danger.

The beginning of the digestion process takes place in the mouth, as the teeth grind the food and mix it with saliva. Therefore, one should not swallow any food without chewing it first. The stomach’s job is much easier if one were to chew his food properly before swallowing it. Since chewing is so important, one should refrain from talking (including talking on the phone). Aside from the danger of choking, this also prevents proper chewing. Reading also distracts one from chewing. One should not place food on his fork while he is chewing, as he will swallow his food faster if he sees food ready on his fork to be eaten.

One should be in a happy mood and not full of anger, fear and worry while eating.


Even a snack requires you to sit down, chew well and give it your full attention.

Healthy Snack


Mother’s Day calls for a Dessert

MothersDayBouquet2015My daughter sent me this beautiful bouquet of flowers. Her love and thoughtfulness shines through the choice of unique, colorful, and every time different but always gorgeous bouquet. It touches my heart every time with realization and appreciation of our deep connection. She attached a card that speaks volume to me – loving and caring message enveloped in the refined sence of humor. I can’t help sharing it here:

Happy Mother’s Day to my greatest teacher, my best friend and my cheapest therapist! I love you! #CoolestMom #BestMom #MyMomCooksGreatFood #HealthyMom #MomIsOnInstagram #mom #MomGivesAdvise #MothersDay #Flowers #Colorful #Spring #MomAppreciation #Mommy #Mama #FunMom #WiseMom #SmartMom #MacrobioticMom #ILoveYou #Love #ChefMom

I was not into cooking, moreover into healthy cooking. 😦 at the time when my daughter attended the high school. She learned how to cook and she loves cooking since then. She used to find complicated recipes, provided me with the list of ingredients to buy (many of which I had not heard before). 🙂 and another cooking masterpiece emerged! I was amazed at her creativity. Sometimes she would call me at work to find out at what time I was coming home because she was cooking dinner. It had to be perfectly done and warm by my arrival. In addition, she was designing beautiful menus and we played roles. She was an owner of a boutique restaurant and I was a lucky guest. I got to enjoy colorful menu, delicious food, gorgeous presentation, excellent service and a great company.

Ever since then, when it comes to having a meal, she does not just start eating; she makes a beautiful arrangement on her plate and when it is decorated to mouth-watering appetizing state – it is ready to be eaten.

I believe the passion for the food decoration is passed on with genes. It runs in the family – my mom always spent time on elaborated decoration of every dish when we had guests over. Not a single dish would be served at the table unless it is fully decorated regardless of the fact that guests are already gathered and hungry 🙂

All these good memories are connected with the food I cook today. My cooking is an act of love. It is important to give love to the food while making it. The taste is totaly depends on the state of your heart while preparing food. When you cooking with passion it guarantees the delicious result (not experience or good recipe description). I am inspired to dedicate time to arrangement and decoration of my dishes. This dessert is my grateful gift to my teachers: my mom and my daughter who continue inspire me today.

Happy Mother’s Day to You and Your Mother !!!!DessertAgarStrawberryRaspberryKiwi600