HEALTHY EATING TIPS by NECHAMA + BAKED OATMEAL MUFFINS + SHAKSHUKA

Hey everyone!

Were doing something new, a little different but very exciting here today!

Instead of my usual post that comes with a description or background of the recipe todays recipe is being accompanied by the expert advice of Nechama Birnbaum.

Whenever I set out to do a shavua bari (healthy week) or chodesh bari (healthy month), I’m usually just looking to restore my family back to being in a balance healthy place. Which is why these weeks, or in this case month, usually follow holidays.

They are times where we go from meal to meal, and the kids go from snack to treat with hopefully a piece of chicken  (most likely fried) stuffed in their mouths to make me feel better. By the time the holiday (or holidays) is over I know we all need a serious dose of nutrients. The trouble I face for so long though, was how on earth do I get my kids to give up on junk and candy and trade it in for cucumbers and tomatoes?

I devised plan. Just like my “Kitchen Destinations” give me chance to explore different cuisines with the kids by exploiting their natural curiosity about the world, so to would I create a web dedicated to health. 

NOT WEIGHT LOSS. JUST HEALTH. 

I printed out tons of information on the body, food digestion, nutrients, metabolisms, and basically anything related to what we as humans can do to keep the bodies Hashem gave us as healthy as possible. Together we sat and looked at charts, youtube videos and illustrations. Once their interest was peaked and they understood the importance of health, I introduced “shavua bari”. 

It was a success.

I did not aim to cut anything out of their lives. They are children and thank g-d they are all heathy. All I wanted them to do was eat a balanced meal for as many of the 3 meals a day as possible, and maybe trade in a snack for a cucumber every once in a while. 

Well, as usual, kids just rock! When they get excited about something there is no stopping them. They ate their fruit and veggies happily know that they were fueling their bodies, and even began tasting new kinds of foods I never thought I’d see them eat!

This year, we challenged ourselves more than ever. Instead of a one week time period, we gave ourselves a month. So far, we are knee deep into week 3 and their have only been two “unhealthy” meals. One was when we went out to dinner with my mother and the other was a birthday dinner for Batya!

It has been challenging at times, because healthy food is just harder. You have to be sure to have constant stock of very perishable items in your house at all times (unlike potato chips which never seem to expire), and there’s much more prep work. But, its worth it!

A week into our month long journey, I got an email from Nechama introducing herself. She is a nutritionist with an unbelievable outlook into healthy eating. Her philosophy is not focused on weight loss but rather on living well, and feeding your body the food it needs to be strong and healthy. When she suggested writing a blog post I jumped on the opportunity to share her wisdom with all of you. 

We decided that her post needed to be a accompanied by a recipe because really, whats nutrition information with out something delicious to whet your appetite? What better way to start this series than with breakfast. And what better breakfast than an something that can be totally customized to your families likes and dislikes, be made in bulk, frozen and be on hand for our busy mornings? Just incase you do have time though (hahaha, even the thought of extra time makes me laugh) I’ve also included a recipe for my shakshuka. 

IMVHO, it is the best shashuka out there. I use only fresh ingredients to create the “sauce” which besides keeping it healthy and clean also keeps it very light. You can eat a good hearty breakfast and continue your day with out feeling tired and sluggish. 

So, here it is. 

Nechama’s article with my recipes. 

Wishing everyone an amazing and healthy day!

____________________________________________

I was so excited to see that Danielle is doing a healthy month on her blog and Instagram. Partially because I can count on Danielle to make sure everything I put on my table comes out delicious, but even more so because as a nutritionist I know first hand how life changing healthy eating is. Danielle created the most delicious baked oatmeal muffin recipe and shakshuka recipe, which gives us the easiest way to have a healthy breakfast. Healthy breakfast means healthy living means happy living, so thank you Danielle. Not exaggerating over here. Countless of studies have been done to prove that kids perform better in school when they eat a good breakfast. They get higher grades, they are in better moods, and they have better memories, attention spans and are more alert. Not to mention they have a lower BMI and eat less junk throughout the day. And you Super Moms; you cannot fly if you are low on fuel. Sometimes it is the simple things that make the most important and beautiful but challenging job of being a mom more manageable. A healthy breakfast is just that.

What exactly should a healthy breakfast consist of? How can you make it fast, easy and manageable?

We create breakfast out of four simple components. Carbs, Protein, Fat and Fruit.  It may sound scary like, no way in the world are you ready to make a whole elaborate breakfast right after you stumble out of bed in the morning. But, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Lets break it down. 

Carbs – carbs should be whole and unprocessed as possible. Processed carbs strip away almost all nutrients and fiber. They make your blood sugar spike up and right back down so you are hungry soon after eating. Whole carbs however, have lots of essential nutrients and fiber which slows the absorption of the sugar, leaving you feeling stable and fuller for longer. 

Brown rice, quinoa, old fashion oats, steel cut oats, wheat berries and starchy vegetables are great examples of whole carbs. Whole grain flours like whole wheat and spelt are great too but not as often as they are more processed. 

Protein – Protein is so important to have in the morning because it reduces a hunger hormone called ghrelin. When you don’t have protein for breakfast your hunger hormone keeps steadily rising and you are bound to eat more by lunch and supper. 

Yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, milk, nuts and even legumes like chickpeas/hummus are great sources of protein for breakfast. 

Fat – Healthy fats are so good for you and they keep you fuller longer. A little olive oil, a few avocado slices, some nuts/nut butter or tahini are great examples of healthy fats to incorporate in your breakfast.

Fruit – According to the Rambam, fruit is fantastic to have in the morning. 

Fruit is high in sugar but wrapped in fiber so the sugar doesn’t spike your blood sugar. Plus fruit is literally loaded with vitamins and antioxidants and everything good for you. God’s candy is simply perfect. 

Berries are a great breakfast choice as they are high in antioxidants but lower in sugar, but really any fruit works! 

Now let’s get all this goodness into your and your kids mouths without stress. Picture a bowl of yogurt topped with healthy granola, sliced apple and crumbled nuts, not too complicated right? You got your protein, carb, fat and fruit right there in one bowl that will literally change your kids day – and your own! You can even put it in a to-go cup and they can take it with them to school. 

Another idea is a granola bar, which can be eaten on the go with an easy protein and a fruit. Grab one of those with a yogurt or some cottage cheese or even hard boiled eggs from the fridge and you have the most amazing balanced breakfast that will keep you full until lunch. 

For those of you who are like me and like something savory in the morning: here is an idea I love. Make a quick omelet and a classic Israeli salad (tomatoes acting as fruit) and drizzle some tahini on top. For your carb, grab one of Danielle’s baked oatmeal muffins or a slice of whole grain bread. I have a client who is super adventurous and mixes a half a cup of brown rice with her Israeli salad in the morning and has two hard-boiled eggs on the side. Avocado toast topped with eggs is also a great idea. 

For winter mornings I suggest hot delicious oatmeal with cut up fruit, and a dollop of natural nut butter (like almond butter or sugar-free peanut butter sold almost everywhere). Drizzle a little maple syrup or coconut sugar on top and your kids will devour it. Plus it is everything in one easy bowl!

Depending on which direction you and your kids want to go with the protein, carb, fat and fruit breakfasts, the most important thing is to make it accessible and delicious. With a little prep time in the beginning of the week, healthy breakfasts can take three minutes to put together. It is worth the effort to help you and your kids thrive! 

First thing first is shopping. Get your fruits and veggies fresh in the beginning of the week and wash them before you put them away so they are even easier to grab and eat immediately. Take your kids to the store so they can choose their favorite fruits and thereby be more likely to eat them. Then stock up on the healthy proteins. Choose the yogurts with the lowest amount of added sugar. If ‘sugar’ is in the first three ingredients it is not the yogurt for you. Sweeten it with a dash of honey or maple syrup if your kids won’t eat it plain. Buy eggs (organic really makes a difference!), boil and store them in the fridge for up to one week. Make a huge batch of granola and of course the amazing oat bars and store it in your freezer for an easy grab and go. Whatever your breakfast plan is, take some time to prep for it and mornings will be that much easier. 

Happy eating, Happy living! 

Nechama Birnbaum is a Certified Nutritionist of Wonderfilled Nutrition who is passionate on helping people achieve a healthy, balanced, wonderful life! You can contact her through phone 0586147795 or through email at wonderfillednutrition@gmail.com.  

FOR THE PRINTABLE BAKED OATMEAL MUFFINS RECIPE CLICK HERE

FOR THE PRINTABLE SHAKSHUKA RECIPE CLICK HERE

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Cajun Salmon Tacos with Persimmon Salsa

Sometimes recipes happen by accident. And sometimes those are the best ones.  Like this one.

For the second day of rosh Hashanah I planned on serving tacos, and filling them with whatever meats I had leftover from the previous meals. Because, really anything you stuff inside a taco tastes good. Amiright?

Well, what I did not plan for was having extra mini tacos shells leftover. So, shabbos day, in addition to my crab cakes I decided to fill my leftover shells with some of my leftover cajun salmon. Perfect right? Wrong. 

Why is that wrong? Because tacos ALWAYS need a salsa. My first days, meat filled tacos, were just fined with a dollop of garlic mayo and some crunchy shredded cabbage because I was able to reheat the sauce from thew meat and that moistened the whole thing. But shabbos day, I could for sure not heat up a sauce so I needed a salsa. 

And thats when it hit me. I had 3 beautiful, orange, fall-esque persimmons sitting in my fridge. I chopped them up, threw it together with a bunch of other salsa-must ingredients and boom. 

The perfect Fall time Salmon Taco. 

I knew was recipe I had to share so I made it again after the holiday, just so I could “photograph” (quotations b/c I only pretend to be a food photographer), and share the recipe with you all. 

For the taco shells I used wonton wrappers that I fry with my handy dandy taco shaper, that you can buy here from amazon. It actually pretty fast to fry them up and they really make the best taco shells. Plus, after they cool you can store in them in an airtight container for up to a week and the will stay fresh! I know, magic! 

I also halved the cajun salmon recipe because really you don’t need a whole side of salmon to fill 40 tacos. Half a side will do just fine. Which, FYI, also makes this recipe super economical! 

You can also totally skip the taco shells and just serve the salsa right on top of the salmon! 

However you do it, make sure you do! It’s the perfect fish appetizer for Succos. 

And the colors, oh the colors. They are so appropriate for the beautiful fall season. Besides being delicious they’ll also look soooo pretty in your Succah’s.

To assemble the tacos place a few pieces of the salmon inside the taco and top with a teaspoon of persimmon salsa.

For the printable Cajun Salmon recipe click here

For the printable Persimmon Salsa recipe click here

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Rosh Hashannah Salatim

For me salads are the best part of any meal. I love those cold, refreshing, crunchy bites in between all the hot food. Making salads on the other hand is the worst!

I force myself to make them on a daily basis because I love them and when I make them on my own I get to put in them exactly what I want. However, I would say that any salad that is not cut up and chopped by me is already halfway there to being my favorite salad. 

In an effort to make sure theres tons of cold crunchy veggies on my Rosh Hashannah table this holiday, I made a bunch of salads today that can stay in the fridge and get better everyday they sit! This way if I’m too tired or busy with kids, I at least know I can pull these out!

I made a carrot salad, a fennel salad, a sweet and sour type of eggplant salad, a garlic confit and a bunch of dips to put on the table at every meal. 

I hope everyones cooking is going well and can’t wait to see what you all made!

Happy Cooking!

For the printable Moroccan-y Carrot Slaw recipe click here

For the printable Fennel and Apple Slaw recipe click here

For the Pickled Eggplant and Onion recipe click here

For the printable Garlic Confit recipe click here

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APPLES AND HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN

     

This chicken dish needs very little explanation. Its description is in the title. 

It’s just the right amount of sweetness, with a touch of tartness, moist and succulent on the inside, crispy on the top and most importantly takes less then five minutes to prepare. 

I even made more of the honey mustard mixture today so that on Friday all I have to do is cut up the onions and apples. The mixture could stay in the fridge for at leas 10 days so why not get ahead?

The only thing I will do differently next time I make this is that I will make double the amount. 

Oh, and maybe add some fennel to the onions and apples on the bottom bc I 💜 fennel. 

But thats it. 

Happy crunch time everyone!

For the printable Apples and Honey Mustard chicken recipe click here

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BOURBON APPLE TURNOVERS

     

Every year I make these and I’m always switching up the “wrapper” that holds the treasure of the most delicious apple filling. I’ve use everything from puff pastry, to phyllo dough to wonton wrappers. And you know what, they’re all awesome. 

This year I discovered frozen pie dough and I am officially hooked. I’m usually more of a “from scratch” person but when it comes to baking, especially marathon holiday baking, I’ll take any shortcut I can get. The pie dough is so easy to use and so yummy that I decided to use it as my “wrapper” for the bourbon apple filling. 

As happy as I am with the results of the pie dough I am still a firm believer that no matter what you put on the outside of the bourbon apple mixture it will still be the best form of apple you eat this entire fall.

Why?

Because. 

BOURBON. 

Which ever wrapper you choose to make it in, all options are freezer friendly. Just fill ’em, seal ’em tight, and freeze ’em. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan, freeze till hard, then transfer to a tourer ware or ziplock bag. 

To cook them, remove them from the freezer and while STILL FROZEN lay them on a baking sheet to defrost. (If you wait till they are defrosted to separate and place them on the baking sheet it will be much harder). Once defrosted egg them, sprinkle some sugar and bake away!

Happy cooking everyone!

For the printable Bourbon Apple Turnovers recipe click here

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BOURBON BRAISED RIBS

   

I love everything about this dish. It’s meaty, really well balanced in flavor, sticky in the best way possible and completely addictive. 

I use this sauce on so many cuts of meat that I really hope you play around with it. If you’re more the pulled beef type, no problem. Just use a brisket instead of ribs, cook it at a little bit of a lower temp for a little longer and, BOOM, the best pulled beef ever! Say your family are corned beef lovers? Prepare your corned beef the usual way and then use this as your sauce! In fact you can even pour it over chicken. It’s that good!

It doesn’t take long to make and these ribs freeze really well so I definitely suggest making a huge batch and freezing it. Then you can go back to the kitchen, cook the million other dishes you need to prepare for all these holidays all while having the piece of mind that you already have at least one killer meat done!

Happy cooking! 

For the printable Bourbon Braised Short Ribs Recipe click here

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Chicken Pot Pie

 

       

What’s  crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, filled with tons of veggies and protein, still kid friendly, freezes well and is beloved by all? 

Well, if the title didn’t give it away, I’m not going to tell you! 

Just kidding. It’s…..

CHICKEN POT PIE

I don’t make it often enough, but every time I do I say the same thing to myself. “Oh, this really is so easy. I’m going to start adding this into my dinner rotations.” But, then the holiday season ends and I vow not to make a single thing we ate during that season for at least month. Due to having children extenuating circumstances, my memory is not what it used to be and by the time my yuntif food hiatus ends, I forget all over again how easy it is to make chicken pot pie. Which is hugely unfortunate. Because really, chicken pot pie rocks!

I wrote you all a very large recipe. Large enough to make 3 very large pie dishes, or 4 medium ones. So that if you too forget how easy it is to make you’ll at least have a stockpile of them in your freezer for a rainy day. Literally a rainy day, because there is nothing better then hot and creamy chicken pot pie when its freezing and pouring outside!

All the freezing instructions are in the recipe, so click the link and get cooking! 

Happy endless cooking month everyone! 

✌🏻💜&🥕,

Danielle

For the printable Chicken Pot Pie Recipe click here

 

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No-churn Chocolate Lovers Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate. 

Did you hear me?

I said, CHOCOLATE.

CHOCOLATE!!!!!!

This dessert is all about the chocolate. Its a super incredible chocolate ice cream base, laced with the most amazing, chewy, chocolatey, chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough, slated condensed milk caramel and fluff. Then, because no matter what yo mamma told you, too much of a good thing is really never enough, all that chocolate goodness gets sandwich between to perfect layers of buttery chocolate brownies. 

I’m assuming that by now you have stopped reading because you just couldn’t take another second of the torture that is not eating this. So, you skipped all this reading and scrolled down to the recipe. If thats the case, good. If not I’m guessing that means you don’t like chocolate (because if you do, you would not need any more convincing). So to all the super boring cool vanilla lovers out there (ahem, eli), don’t worry I got you covered. 

The whole concept of this ice cream, mixing in sweetened condensed milk into whipped heavy cream, is so versatile and easy to use that it can be altered to fit all your dessert needs. It is NOT exclusive to chocolate ice cream. In fact, I have included so many variations to the base and topping of this ice cream in the recipe! Everything from a strawberry cookie dough to peaches n cream, to a pretzel and caramel are all represented.

O.k. lets dress the elephant in the room now. This recipe requires a few steps.

  1. Make Sweetened Condensed Milk
  2. Make Salted Condensed Milk caramel (which, fyi, happens to be way easier than making regular caramel)
  3. Make cookie dough
  4. Make brownies
  5. Make ice cream
  6. Assemble sandwiches 

Like I said, a few steps. But, I am not sorry. Why? Make the dessert and you will find out. 

                          

                           

     Also, if you don’t need cholov Yisroel milk then it is very very easy to find kosher sweetened condensed milk and you can easily skip the first step. And truthfully, as fun as ice scream sandwiches are, I stand by this ice cream so proudly, that I would say, even if you serve the ice cream by itself, with na simple bowl and spoon, it will still be the best dessert you have ever made. 

So, how ever you do it, in what ever form, or flavor I strongly urge you to include this in any dairy menus you have planned. And, if you choose to skip any real food in favor of just having a bowl of this ice cream as your meal, that too, will be completely understood (and maybe even admired!).

For the printable Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk recipe click here

For the printable Salted Condensed Milk Caramel click here

For the printable Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough recipe click here

For the printable Sheet Pan Brownies recipe (600acres.com) click here

For the printable No-churn Chocolate Lovers Ice cream Sandwiches recipe click here

 

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Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwich

Meat. Gooood.

Bread. Gooood.

Pickled Vegetabes. Good.

Creamy Soy Sauce. Good.

Put it all together to make the best sandwich ever. Verrrrrrrry good.

It actually doesn’t seem fair to call this a sandwich. These days, the word sandwich evokes a picture of two pieces of some sort of floppy bread, smeared with PB&J, or cream cheese stuffed into a condensation filled plastic bag, pulled out from the bottom of a knapsack, 20 degrees hotter than it was when I put it in there in the morning.

That is not what’s happening here.

The banh mi is a sandwich at it’s best. It’s basically the little black dress of sandwiches. It consists of 4 very simple components that can be switched up or accessorized in a ton of different ways. No matter what you do to it though, the basic premise is a good French baguette, quickly cooked protein, flavor bomb pickled veg, umami packed mayonnaise and fresh herbs keep this sandwich down to earth, easy to make, portable, and simple but sophisticated.

The banh mi is what happened as a result of Vietnam being a French occupied colony from the middle of the 19th century until Vietnam’s independence in 1954. Like any good group of people, the Vietnamese took the incredible baguette that the French brought with them, made it their own and stuffed it with a combinations of France’s best delicacies and their own deeply cultural pickled veggies. The Banh Mi, which really just translates to mean “bread of wheat”, became a staple across Vietnam because it could be filled with anything and carried around easily. 

The first banh mi sandwiches were spread with a thin layer of French liver pate, then filled with a thin layer of thinly sliced meat, topped with pickled vegetables (usually carrots and radishes) and fresh Vietnamese coriander leaves. It was the perfect east meets west combo.

Over time, the Bahn mi has transformed to mean any kind of sandwich as long as it’s in a Vietnamese style French baguette, filled with some sort of protien and loaded with pickled veggies and coriander. They sell them on the streets of Vietnam filled with thinly sliced beef, scrambled eggs, crushed pork meatballs, roasted pork belly, tofu for the vegans out there, grilled chicken and even sardines. 

For pretty obvious reasons, I chose to go the route of thinly sliced meat. In my house nobody is vegan, eggs are for breakfast, we keep kosher and if I served my husband and sons a sardine sandwich they would trade me in. 

Liver pate was optional so for those that unwisely chose to skip it I created a soy sauce-mayonnaise to add in some of that creamy umaminess they were missing. 

Traditionally Vietanam style French baguettes actually have a bit of a thinner crust than regular French baguettes but I couldn’t find that so I just went with I had access to. You can, of course make your own baguette, but then this would not be an easy to make sandwich anymore.

                   

Pickled veggies are a staple in my fridge. They come in many forms, flavored differently and grace basically every dish I serve. If you aren’t obsessed with pickled veggies, you will be after you make this sandwich so  double or triple the recipe so that you too will have a well stocked pickled veggie fridge. I also added thinly sliced spicy peppers for some heat and although you can leave it out, I urge you strongly to try the banh mi with it.

However you do it, whether with meat, chicken, tofu, eggs, sardines or really any other protein you can think of just make sure to cross this dish off your list of “I want to make that one day but not today” dishes because you will absolutely fall in love with it at the first bite. And all over again with every other subsequent bite you take. 

For the printable Banh Mi Sandwich Recipe click here

 

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DIPS DIPS DIPS

WHEN I DIP, YOU DIP , WE DIP….

Whether it’s a shabbos or yuntif seudah, a Sunday morning brunch or a regular weeknight dinner, every meal is easily enhanced by serving a ton of dips along side whatever you have prepared. PERIOD. 

 

So, here it is, my ultimate list of amazing dip recipes.

BRING ON THE MATZAH!

I hope you all have a peaceful weekend. 

✌🏻💜&🥕,

Danielle

For the printable homemade Mayonnaise recipe click here

For the printable Tomato Dip recipe click here

For the printable Herb and Chile Garlic confit recipe click here

For the printable Olive Tapenade recipe click here

For the printable Lemon and Jalapeño Gremolota recipe click here

For the printable Roasted Red Pepper Dip click here

For the printable Almond Tehini recipe click here

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