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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5 More So Simple Salad Dressings

        

                      

Salads are so personal. The addition or subtraction of one single component in a salad can make it or break it for people. For me it’s tomatoes. You stick even a few cherry tomatoes in that salad and I’m out. I could love every other thing in there and be totally addicted to the dressing, but once the juice of the tomatoes touches the other veggies it goes from appealing to completely off limits. 

That’s why, a while back, I gave you all a post all about the dressings. We all pretty much know what we want or are in the mood to throw in our salads, but when it comes to the dressing I think thats where most people get stumped. They either stick to the same old boring dressing they’ve been making for months years, or, even worse, they use, GASP, bottled dressing. Ugh, I know. That stuff is just not right. 

Really though, once you understand the really basic principles of making a good dressing, it’s so easy to whip up your own. If your interested in what those are click here to go the original post. Also, thats where the first 6 salad dressing recipes are. 

So, here I am again, posting another 6 dressings recipe for you to help with your summertime salad habits. All I crave in this heat is something light, crunchy, fresh and flavorful. Which basically means I’m making some sort of salad every single night. Usually it’s a full meal in a salad. It’s packed with veggies, topped with some sort of protein (grilled chicken, deli, steak or even feta cheese or crispy chickpeas) lightly sprinkled with a little crunch in the form of crispy homemade croutons or crou”tot”s, and drizzled with most yummy and satisfying salad dressing. 

I hope these dressings make many, many appearances on all your dinner tables all summer long!

Happy Summer Everyone!

Peas Out, 

Danielle

For the printable Mango Sumac Vinaigrette recipe click here

For the printable Lightened Up Green Goddess Dressing recipe click here

For the printable Pomegranate Vinaigrette recipe click here

For the printable Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette recipe click here

For the printable Spicy Peanut Sesame Dressing recipe click here

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“Pho” Style Soup with Super Thinly Sliced Steak + All Asian Soup Base

Soup is everything. 

Its a meal, it’s a snack, it heals you when you don’t feel good, it can be a fridge cleaner, it can be meaty and hearty, it can be light and refreshing, it can be eaten with a soup for a dignified experience, it can be slurpped up with a huge chopstick full of noodles(my personal fav) and it is, most importantly, always delicious. 

I’ve said this before and I can not stress it enough, that a good soup is something that every single person can make. They are not hard and in my opinion the main contributor from taking a soup from good to great is merely the addition of time. For the most part, you can basically dump anything in a pot, add some seasoning, cover with water and if you let it simmer for long enough it will taste delicious. 

BUT. If you want your soups to go from great to INSANE, it does require a little bit of technical work so that you can layer flavors and build a soup that is so complex in it’s taste but simple in it’s appearance. 

To me, that is what this soup is all about. It is a combination of a chicken soup stock, layered with a mushroom broth and infused with Asian aromatics that gives this soup it’s absolutely addicting flavor. 

Since I make a version of Asian soups basically every week, I’m going to do you all a favor and give you my base recipe. From there you can either follow this exact recipe (which I highly recommend because it was the freakin bomb) or you can use whatever you have in your fridge to make your own incredible Asian soup bowl.

If you don’t have an ingredient I use, just leave it out or swap it for something similar. The only component that I would say you absolutely should include is the mushroom broth. It is very simple to make as it requires only dried mushrooms and water and you can freeze it in one cup containers so that you to can easily make these soups on a weekly basis from your leftover shabbos chicken soup.

I’m going to break this recipe up into 2 parts for those of you who just want the base. Please, please, please use this recipe as a jumping off point to create your own amazing Asian soups!!!!!

Happy slurping everyone!

For the printable Asian Soup base recipe click here

For the printable Asian “Pho” with Philly Sandwich Steak recipe click here

To watch the making of this soup and see how easy it really is click here (don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel while your there…)

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