Monday, March 28, 2011

Borscht! Do Beets Encourage Longevity?

Love beets? ? Both sets of my Russian grandparents thrived on Borscht ( beet soup), and my paternal grandmother lived to the ripe old age of one hundred and seven! Until her death, she was feisty, dignified, happy ,and with it.. Longevity was prevalent with my Russian ancestors and so was borscht ( is there a connection??)
                                                     This is a picture of my relatives ( 1947) .

My paternal grandmother made homemade winter borscht with beets, potatoes, cabbage, bones, and meat. It was served hot and was a hearty healthy meal for the cold nights in Russia.

However, when she came to America, she started making  a vegetarian variety of borscht which she served ice cold and topped with a generous scoop of creamy sour cream. When my paternal grandmother put the borscht and sour cream in the blender, it turned a beautiful hue of hot pink. It was a cooling meal on many a hot , humid, New Jersey night.

Personally, I never really developed a taste for borscht until I was an adult.
I do love beets and will occasionally make some summer borscht topped with creamy Greek yogurt.
I don't use the commercially produced jars of borscht because they contain lots of added sugar and the broth is really thin and sweet- almost like a drink.
My homemade borscht can be delightfully tangy because I add a little apple cider vinegar.

Are beets healthy? You bet, Beets are help cleanse the system and are full of vitamins and minerals. Rich in iron too.

The vegetarian gluten free borscht recipe boasts not only beets but other healthy root vegetables as well. I like to use organic vegetables, which I think enrich the taste and reduce the pesticides.

Think you can't eat the recommended five vegetables a day? Think again and think borscht.
Simple Russian Beetroot Soup (Borscht) serves four

I decided to make it in the crock pot.

1 large onion, sliced ( Yes, I used a red onion ; it was all I had)
Olive oil spray
3 large beets, peeled and quartered 
3 small carrots, chopped
8 cups of water
2 large cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons lemon


Turn the crock pot on high and spray with olive oil spray. Add chopped onion, carrots, and garlic and allow to saute for about 10 minutes, stirring as needed. Add beats and water and lemon . Cook on high for 3 and half hours. Blend in the blender with Greek Yogurt . Chill and eat...

Cook in the crock pot on high  for 3 and 1/2 hours or in a pot for 2 hours

Blend with or without Greek Yogurt

My grandparents drank their borscht from a glass..

borscht with Greek yogurt or sour cream

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jelly Muffins

Peanut butter and jelly muffins are the perfect answer to a healthy snack!
These palatable peanut butter and strawberry jelly muffins are gluten free, delicious, quick and easy to make, full of protein and healthy real food nutrition.

  • You can eat them for breakfast or as a in between meal healthy snack. 
  • They are perfect for kids and pack well in lunch boxes. 
  • I think they are a healthier choice than a protein bar.  
  • Since you can mix them by hand, they are quick and easy to make.
  •  They also freeze well and can be popped out of the freezer as needed.

For those on special diets, you can substitute ingredients to make these muffins dairy free,
 oil free, egg free, or sugar free. I also prefer substituting almond butter for the peanut butter.  I sometimes use coconut yogurt instead of Greek yogurt and coconut milk instead of dairy milk,
and use applesauce instead of olive oil. The muffins are versatile and lend themselves well to any and all substitutions.

1-1/2 cups coconut flour (or any gluten free flour mix)
1/4 cup raw honey (or any sweetener of your choice)
1/4  cup organic palm sugar (or any sugar of your choice)
1 ripe banana, mashed
 2  tsp. baking powder
 3/4 cup plain coconut yogurt (or Greek Yogurt)
 1/4 cup of any kind of milk ( coconut milk, almond milk, or cow's milk)
 2/3 cup peanut butter ( or I used almond butter)
 1/4 cup olive oil, coconut oil,  or 1/4 applesauce ( if you don't want the fat)
 1 egg
 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
Strawberry fruit only jam

Mix the coconut flour, sugar, and baking powder together in a bowl.  Beat together the yogurt , milk, almond butter, agave syrup, vegetable oil, mashed banana, egg and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients .Grease a muffin tin or use muffin papers ; fill each cup 3/4 full. Add a teaspoon of jelly to the top. Preheat oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 16 muffins. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing.

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Food is my passion. I am gluten intolerant, busy. and strive for a healthy balanced lifestyle. It has taken me many years to develop and discover easy healthy recipes that meet gluten free, vegetarian and real food standards. On my blog I share my journey, my struggles, my discoveries, and my new recipes. I hope you find ideas, resources, and recipes that will be helpful to you. Come Back soon.- Judee 

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Wisdom From Little Children About Love

Tomorrow is my 39th wedding anniversairy. I started to think about love and came across this really cute list of comments  from a group of little children when asked, "what is love? " If you are looking for something to uplift your spirit, read the advice from a group of 4-8 year olds. Their answers were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.

                                          CHILDREN'S PERSPECTIVE ON LOVE

_____________________'What is Love?'


'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'

Billy - age 4
'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.'
Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.'
Chrissy - age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.'
Terri - age 4
'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,'
Nikka - age 6

(we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)
'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.'
Noelle - age 7
'Love is like an old woman and an old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.'
Tommy - age 6
'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.  That is love
He was the only one doing that.  I wasn't scared anymore.' Cindy - age 8

'My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'
Clare - age 6

Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.'
Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.'
Lauren - age 4
'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (What an image)
Karen - age 7

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'
Jessica - age 8
And the final one:The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.
Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,
'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crock Pot Falafel

   It smells like falafel , tastes like falafel, and is crispy like falafel ... It must be falafel- 
but this falafel is made in the crock pot!

What a great idea! Who would have ever thought you could make falafel in a slow cooker?? Well, I'm for anything that I can make in the slow cooker or crock pot. It makes my life easier, is a fast clean up, and frees up my time. 

I love falafel, but I don't like to fry or eat fried foods. This is a perfect solution !

Ok, mine don't exactly look like falafel. But when you pull the balls apart, it really does look and taste exactly like falafel . You will never know the difference ( and you might actually like it more)

This recipe is really delicious. Obviously it wasn't my idea. 
I found this recipe where I find many of my crock pot recipes on 
a fabulous blog called a Year of Slow Cooking.

I used her basic recipe but added some of our own preferences: grated carrot, sesame seeds, fresh herbs instead of dried herbs, and omitted some spices.

My results came out kind of like a pull apart pie because I made 2 layers in the crock pot it started to mold together; However, the balls pulled apart well once cooked and tasted great!

The following recipe is my version of the original recipe that I made from Stephanie's recipe at:  Year of Slow Cooking. 

Judee Algazi
Prep: 20  minutes
Slow Cooker Cook Time: 3 hours
Adapted from: Year of Slow Cooking.


3 cups of cooked chickpeas, drained or 1 large can chick peas, drained
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 small carrot shredded
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons ground cumin
a  shake of garlic powder, salt , pepper to taste
Juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup of gluten free breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons of olive oil.


Place all ingredients except olive oil and GF bread crumbs into a food processor. Pulse and process until mixture is smooth. Pour into a bowl,  add GF breadcrumbs, and mix well by hand. Make into golf ball sized falafel balls. Spray each ball with olive oil spray.  Add 2-3  T of olive oil in the slow cooker. Place falafel balls in the slow cooker. Turn on high for about 3 hours until crispy. ( Trust me it works).

I couldn't help peeking at the balls every half hour. I took a picture after about 1 hour  I noticed the crock pot became somewhat scorched on the side  from the oil. I let them continue to cook for the full 3 hours.When I first removed the falafel  from the crock pot, I have to admit that the falafel balls looked funny because they looked like a pie. But they smelled amazing.

After just one bite, my husband said, " Wow," " this is really good; make this again" . 
What else is there to say?

Eat with a gluten free wrap or on a plate. ( If you are not gluten free enjoy with pita bread)
Top with humus, Greek yogurt, Tsaziki, etc.

Step by Step Pictures

Mix drained chick peas, onion, parley, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder in the food processor. When done mix in breadcrumbs by hand.

Form into golf sized balls

                         Looked like a pie, but pulled apart into little falafel balls! Yum ..

I love to hear your comments..  Be sure to leave one ..
            You can view all of my recipe posts here: Recipes

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  • Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Figs, Strawberries and Goat Cheese Appetizer

    We have been playing poker with two other couples for many years.
    We play every other month and rotate houses.  It is a friendly group ( we don't play for money), and it is all about the food and socializing. The cards are just an excuse to get together.

    We serve appetizers and snack food before and during the game- dessert when we finish playing .
    When the guests arrive, the first thing they do is head directly for the refreshment table. It is kind of like a tradition, and it is actually funny. We stand around, eat, have a glass of wine, and chat for about 45- minutes to an hour before we start to play cards. ( of course everyone has just had dinner before they came).

    As I said, its all about the food .
    Each host/hostess tries to use his/ her imagination to think of some intriguing  appetisers or snacks.
    I made it easy for myself- I purchased basic foods and simply assembled!

                                                                             Fresh Figs and Feta
    Moist Black Mission figs and creamy goat cheese is a simple idea, but is really delicious. 
    I lined up the black mission figs alongside the cheese log. We stuffed the figs with goat cheese ( of course I added more of the wonderful figs as we devoured them) The sweet taste of the figs really blended well with the tangy goat cheese. Or how about some walnuts to stuff the figs!

     I also had two little dishes on the side. One was filled with pitted Calamata olives ( traditionally Mediterranean)  and in the other little dish I had a sweet and sour cranberry apple chutney

    The olives, the figs, and the cranberry chutney  each provided an interesting taste  with the goat cheese. I also used some fresh strawberries for garnish.Not shown: gluten free crackers.

    I also had a platter of cilantro and jalapeno humus , roasted eggplant garlic dip, sweet peppers and flax seed chips ( Trader Joe's)

    I try to keep the appetizers low in carbs so I choose peppers, humus, and eggplant dip. Everything on this plate is from Trader Joes'. ( love that place!!)  They have a wide selection of gluten free or gluten friendly foods. These adorable peppers are sweet, not hot! And I do mean sweet. We used them as dippers for the spicy eggplant garlic dip and the cilantro humus dip. Did you notice how I put the humus in a bell pepper? I just cut off the top, cleaned out the seeds, and filled it with cilantro humus... yum and pretty. The chips are flax seeds and soy and according to my guests , " you just can't eat one. "

     In addition, I had some little snacks.
     This trio is composed of dark chocolate covered almonds,  peanut brittle and  mini Hershey bars- all gluten free. ( you gotta have chocolate)

    There were six of us and by the end of the evening,  EVERY morsel on those plates were gone!  Gone...!

    For dessert, I made a traditional Northern Italian dessert ( Panna Cotta) that I topped with fresh strawberries soaked in Amaretto liquor. I am not going to show you the dessert because  the Pann Cotta is going to be one of my next blog posts with step by step pictures.

    Some additional desserts:
    sugar free, gluten free, egg free, and milk free - moist and tender oatmeal raisin cookies

    coconut flour , gluten free- banana muffins or banana loaf

    Gluten Free Pumpkin choc chips torte

    My favorite; 3 minute cake in a mug- gluten free of course and easy
    A quick gluten free, egg free, milk free, nut free cake made in a mug AND it is GOOD!
    (If you are not gluten free, you can make it with regular flour and still enjoy)

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    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Red and Orange Holiday Coleslaw

    This coleslaw is so beautiful and healthy. It is made from red/purple cabbage and orange carrots. For the greatest health benefits, we are told to eat a rainbow of colors in our fruits and vegetables every day. Every  color provides  different health benefits. The red, purple, and blue colors are especially powerful antioxidants.  I love to serve this beautiful salad for the holidays . It's so easy to make, light and healthy, and balances some of the richer heavier food. 

    I try to include some raw foods at every meal. Raw food is the only food that provides fresh enzymes to help maintain a good digestive system. One of my favorite raw side dishes is this easy colorful coleslaw. ( I use the processor for quick and easy preparation) and make a fresh lemon vinaigrette style dressing

    The color combination is spectacular, and the organic carrots give it a sweet flavor. Red cabbage contains more nutrients than green, and is one of the antioxidant super foods that is toted to be help protect against degenerative diseases. In addition, it is packed with vitamins and minerals. Combined with carrots, this vegetable slaw offers a powerful healthy raw salad that is a delicious addition to any meal. I make a big bowl and we eat it a few nights in a row. Sometimes, I use red and green cabbage or just the red.

     This eye appealing dish is easy to make. Simply use the grater in your food processor and alternate chunks of red cabbage and organic carrots. ( or use a hand grater)  Pour into a large bowl,  add a lemon and olive oil dressing if desired. ( I happen to like it plain and undressed too)

    1/2 large head of  red cabbage, cut into processor sized chunks
    6 large organic carrots

    Using the grating blade of a food processor, process red cabbage chunks
    Add organic carrots
    Pour into a large bowl and mix.

    Dressing ( optional)
    1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1/ 2 cup olive oil
    Parley, salt,  and pepper to taste

    Pour over the cabbage slaw if desired and toss well,  or eat it plain without dressing. Either way, it is delicious.

    Step by Step Pictures
    Assemble, wash,  and cut cabbage and carrots

    Grate carrots and cabbage in the food processor

    Pour into a large bowl and toss

    Here's another colorful, yet healthy holiday party idea!

                                                    Add lemon, olive oil, and parsley dressing if desired

    I used some white cabbage also.

    So glad you stopped by- so leave me a comment- Did you like this post? I wanna know!

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