I recently published a cookbook, Nutrilicious, and have been asked what prompted me to write this book. As I point out in the book, I suffered for 25 years with dislocated disks and joint inflammations. After I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the respectable medical label offered some relief that I was ‘normal’. I was prescribed a lovely assortment of multi-coloured muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory pills and pain-killers, but my spine did not like them. And meanwhile I was spending years in my chiropractor’s waiting room to have my spine adjusted.
I slowly came to the realization that there has to be a better way to achieve health. The medical route did not seem to be working for me and I did not want to depend on it and have it control my life. I wanted total, whole and natural health, and I researched the topic to gain a better and broader understanding. As a matter of fact, as I mentioned in one of my stories, “Shangri-La: Our Yearly Getaway”, I observing first hand very sick people who had not been helped by the medical profession but gained their health back (whether slowly or quickly) after a period of detoxification and a commitment to a vegetarian or vegan diet, leaving their conventional diet behind.
I veered more and more towards a holistic, vegetarian, whole-foods diet, where healing can occur on a more natural level. What we eat can become our first line of defense. Food is a conductor of energy, and the kind of food we ingest not only influences our physical state of health, but is also a factor in how balanced and integrated as human beings we can become in order to enable us to maximize our individual potential.
I wanted to share what I had learned on the road to a more pain-free existence. Since pain is always and only a symptom we need to treat the causes of our pains and not the effects. I also wanted to de-mystify the term “health food”, giving the readers a tool whereby they can become informed and intelligent on the subject and where the ultimate ideal of self-healing can occur, though always with the gracious assistance of God. The book’s carefully selected, eclectic bibliography can serve as a reliable guide for anyone willing and ready to learn more about the connection between nutrition and natural whole health.
To quote an old aphorism: “We are what we eat”, and to quote one of my own sayings: “Every Torah Jew has an obligation to preserve his or her life and not to jeopardize it with fork and knife, bit by bit and bite by bite”. By the same token, there is no one answer or solution as to how to build better life and longevity for any one person, since there are many individual, physical, psychological, circumstantial and social dimensions inherent in each case. But the one thing that will always help is to pray to the Master Nutritionist, who created His natural eating plan thousands of years ago without having to be sponsored by any one of the giant food conglomerates, advocating their processed foods, which are not life-supporting.
3 to 4 servings
This mineral-rich and health-promoting salad marches to the ‘beets’ of a different drummer.
- 2 medium beets, peeled and steamed or broiled
- 1/8 cup diced purple onions
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or brown rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar
- Sea salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoon Nayomaise*
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Into a medium bowl, coarsely shred the beets and add the onions, vinegar, salt, pepper, Nayomaise and parsley, and toss well. Adjust seasoning and serve at room temperature.
- ¾ cup Nasoya Nayonaise
- 2 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar, or to taste
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
HELPFUL HINT: Cook extra beets and grate or finely dice into green salads, adding colour, texture, flavour and nutrition.
HEALTHFUL HINT: Please do not discard the full-of-nutrition stems! I chop them into ¼-inch pieces, steam them for about 8-10 minutes, and add them to green salads.
This is an elegant, delightfully refreshing and light dessert, especially after a “heavy” Shabbat (Sabbath) or Yomtov (holiday) meal. “YOU MUST TRY IT!” If pressed for time, or if no fresh pineapple is on hand, canned unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained, can be used.
- 1 package frozen, unsweetened, organic strawberries
- 1 medium, ripe pineapple, peeled
- 2 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ¼ to 1/3 cup Nutty-Edith Crunch*
- Defrost the frozen strawberries.
- Slice pineapple into 1-inch rings, remove the hard core center and cut each ring into 1-inch pieces
- Process pineapple pieces in a food processor, using the knife blade with a pulsing action, until the pineapple forms a thick mousse, and reserve
- Process the strawberries with the maple syrup until coarsely puréed
- For each serving, fill a dessert bowl (plain, fancy or use crystal stemware) ¼ of of the way up with pineapple mousse
- Top with a layer of strawberry sauce and repeat both layers
- Garnish with Nutty-Edith Crunch
HELPFUL HINT: This mousse can be prepared a day ahead.
Nutty Edith Crunch
- Roast ¼ cup raw organic almonds and ¼ cup raw organic hazelnuts together in a 275 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until they give off a nutty fragrance, and reserve
- Roast ¼ cup raw organic cashews and ¼ cup raw organic walnuts together for about 10-12 minutes
- In a food processor or nut mill, with an on-off pulsing motion, process the almonds and hazelnuts together until they are partly ground and partly chopped, and transfer to a large bowl
- Process cashews and walnuts together as above
- Add to the bowl and mix all ingredients together
Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Spicy Red Lentil-Yam Soup
6 to 7 servings
This light soup, with its gorgeous golden colour, is a nutri-yummy meal-starter any time of the year. It is also a most pleasant way to add to your (and your family’s) vitamin A and protein account.
- 3-inch piece wakame
- 8 cups water
- 2 medium yams, peeled and cut into 1 – inch cubes
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup coarsely chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 large bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander or to taste
- 3 Tablespoons organic soy sauce
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
- Finely chopped dill or curly parsley, for garnish
- Soak the wakame in a bit of warm water for eight minutes
- Cut into ¼-inch pieces
- In a large pot, place the eight cups water, yams, lentils, onions, garlic, bay leaves, ginger, and wakame
- Cover, bring to a boil, and cook on medium heat for 40-50 minutes
- Cool slightly, remove the bay leaves, and purée with a hand-held electric mixer, or in a blender or food processor
- Pour the soup back into the pot, add the cumin, coriander, soy sauce and vinegar, adjust seasoning, and simmer for another eight minutes
- Garnish with dill or parsley and serve.
HELPFUL HINTS: For party-time or special occasions, serve hot in mugs or in elegant china cups. In summer serve chilled.
Short-Shrift Risotto-Styel Risotto
4 to 5 servings
Whenever the word “style” appears behind a food, we know that it’s not the real thing.
Risotto is the kind of dish that supposedly lends itself to fun-in-the-kitchen-with-your-guests; where they all hang out in your large, state-of-the-art Smart-kitchen. While some of the guests take endless turns adding stock to and stirring the risotto, others prepare the garlic roasted croutons for the salad. The artistic ones among them decide which colour scheme to use for the edible flowers. Well, I have news for you; this is not my idea of fun with my guests. I like my kitchen and I like my guests, but never the twain shall meet. If I don’t have time to prepare dinner for them, I don’t invite them. Also, my kitchen is rather smallish; you can’t even swing a big head of lettuce in it. My short-shrift risotto needs only one short-order cook, and I have developed a basic recipe – good any time – provided you have the required ingredients prepared and on hand (see the cookbook for COOKING IN STAGES AND OTHER TIMELESS TIME-SAVERS, page…). I call it ‘risotto’ because I like the name, and I hope the Culinary Police won’t come ‘round and revoke my license!
- 2 cups VEGETABLE STOCK, or water
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried crushed garlic flakes
- A few pinches ground cumin
- Organic soy sauce to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley or – if you are fresh-obsessed like me – 1 Tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil.
- Add the brown rice, salt, onion powder, garlic flakes, cumin, soy sauce and parsley, stir well, cover and simmer for five minutes, or until heated through.
- Adjust seasoning and serve.
HELPFUL HINT: If you don’t have Vegetable Stock on hand, substitute with a mixture of water, soy sauce and seasoning to taste.
- You may add any cooked vegetables (especially green ones) or leftover ones to this basic recipe at step 2.
- If you add tofu cubes to this dish, or serve it with a bean side salad, you have added to your daily protein account and have earned, perhaps not air miles but, sugar-free brownie points.
Yields about 2 cups; serves 6 – 8 as an appetizer.
All types of mushrooms beckon us today at the stores, from simple white button mushrooms to more exotic and strange-looking creatures. Their distinctive, strong flavours enhance many a dish.
This pâté makes a delectable appetizer, using 1/4 to 1/3 cup pâté for each portion, served on a lettuce leaf and colourfully decorated, or as a tasty snack on crackers, rice cakes or bread.
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
- 1 lb. coarsely-sliced mushrooms
- 2/3 cup raw organic walnuts
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté the onions and mushrooms until onions become translucent (about eight minutes).
- In a food processor, chop the walnuts, add the mushrooms and onions, salt and pepper, and process until well blended.
- Transfer to a bowl, adjust seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.
HEALTHFUL HINT: For the weight watchers, the yo-yo dieters and the health-conscious, place a dollop of this mouth-watering pâté on a medium, firm lettuce leaf, roll up and snack to your heart’s content.
FOR PESACH: Substitute Pesach oil for the extra-virgin olive oil.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.