Friday, March 30, 2012

Egyptian Red Lentil Soup- vegan and delicious

If you like split pea soup, you will love this easy red lentil soup which has the consistency of split pea but with a milder taste. This soup can be made faster than split pea, and is also very economical. There is no need to blend it, as it will become this melted consistency while cooking.

bowl of red lentil soup

Red lentils are popular in most Middle Eastern countries. Some say it dates back to Biblical times when Esau made a red lentil soup (porridge) for his father Jacob. 

These lentils are nutritious, packed with fiber and lots of phytonutrients.  We enjoy eating this thick soup over some fragrant Basmati rice and with a large salad.

You can purchase red lentils in most regular supermarkets or in an Indian, Middle Eastern, or Spanish ethnic markets.  Also, the red/orange color becomes a golden yellow while cooking.

Red lentils are low in fat, high in protein, and provide many vitamins and minerals including natural iron, making red lentils a really healthy choice for everyone.

If you are looking for something a little different, try this healthy ethnic favorite which is naturally gluten free and vegan.

This authentic recipe was actually my mother-in-laws recipe that she brought with her when she came to the US from Egypt. 

                           red lentil soup

2 cups red lentils, washed well 
2 large carrots , sliced thin
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
Himalayan salt and cracked pepper to taste
8 cups water
Cover cleaned lentils with 8 cups of water. Add garlic and bring to a boil. Simmer until lentils are soft and carrots are cooked. Add salt, pepper, and cumin  and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add 1/4 cup or more of water if soup is too thick ( soup will thicken up as it sits).

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guest Blogger- Angela Cring -Relax, Heal, Repair

This past December, we vacationed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for two weeks to relax and get away from stress.The hotel that we were staying at offered a free massage and spa hour to their guests.
It sounded like so much fun that my husband, sister in law, brother in law, and myself all signed up.

It was there that I met Angela Cring.
Angela is a charismatic and talented individual who delighted us with an hour of stress release ideas and relaxation techniques. When the session ended we all agreed that Angela had  " magical hands and great ideas, and we were all really really relaxed and happy!
I also bought a wonderful aromatherapy detox product from her that I used in the bath that I really loved!

Angelia is my guest blogger today. She is sharing 3 very simple ideas that you can do start to do immediately to help you relax and boost your energy. I like the tips because in just 5 minutes anyone can incorporate these simple ideas into their daily routine and the benefits of daily practice may be huge!

Angela is a professional who is committed to teaching individuals to relax, destress, and make spa ideas part of their daily routine. After a successful career working for non-profit music and arts organizations in Nashville, Tennessee, she decided she wanted a career that would give her more time and flexibility to be with her daughters and not have to choose daycare.

"Beauticontrol has allowed me the opportunity to help women get that much needed relaxation they so desperately need. I love teaching women how to relax and de-stress, to work spa in to their daily hectic schedules, and have a makeup routine that is simple and helps them feel beautiful." She is married and lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fl with her husband and two daughters, Isabella and Lily.

Here's Angela:
If you just take 5 minutes out of your day - an hour out of your week, you can make a huge difference in your mental state and reaction to the stress around you. 

Did you know that 90 % of all diseases are stress related?  

We all have stress, but it all comes down to how you respond to it.

I want to talk about getting healthier mentally by addressing stress naturally. 
Here are some simple tips that you can add into your daily routine that can bring peace of mind and mental sharpness in your day. Instead of instantly checking your phone or rushing to read email first thing when you wake up, take just one moment to set the tone of your day with breath. 

Start your day with 3 deep breaths.
 When we are busy, we take very shallow breaths and don't get enough of that much needed, rich mixture of oxygen that helps your body to relax, to heal, and repair itself. 

athletes,barefoot,candles,exercises,fitness,meditations,people,poses,sports,windows,women,workouts,yoga,candles,inner peace

To relax, heal, and repair:
Breath deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth to the count of 5.
When you take three deep breaths in row,it will also bring down your blood pressure. 

Make relaxation convenient 
 Keep a basket of all of your spa treatments and skincare products in a place that is visible and easily accessible. Most at-home spa treatments contain essential oils that send signals to the brain to relax and lift your mood.If you put them under the counter, they will never get used, pull them out and get them on your body.

If you need a little pick me up from the afternoon doldrums or feel like your brain is not clicking, skip the snack or energy drinks and go natural:
 Give yourself a natural energy boost

Bend over at the waist and reach toward your toes with both arms, stare at the floor and hold for 30 seconds, take 3 deep breaths and slowly come back up. This will increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain and give you that boost you need to get through the day.


If you have any simple techniques that you do daily that help you relax, share them in the comments so we can all benefit!

Angela Cring is an Executive director with Beauticontrol Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with 10 years of experience in the spa and personal image idustry. Beauticontrol Spa is a Mobile SPA business offering fully customized skin care for adults and teens. She brings clinical strength Spa and skincare products to you, for a fraction of what you would pay in a day spa. BeautiControl does not test on animals. Skincare is gluten free and parabin free.  

Post note from Judee: One of the things that really appealed to me about  Anglela's skincare and spa products was that they were both gluten free and paraben free.   I have known for a long time that paraben, which is found in most other lotions, creams, skin care products, make up etc. is not good for you. Angela's products are paraben free.

Why should you avoid paraben?

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Paraben is a preservative that has a chemical makeup similar to estrogen. When it is absorbed into the sytem it can affect you like estrogen affecting your mood, cause bloating, weight gain, cysts, etc. When used daily, paraben may be affecting you because what you put onto your skin is absorbed into your body.
Check your labels of the cosmetics you purchase and avoid paraben if you can.  

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pizza for Passover ( Grain Free)

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This pizza is perfect for Passover ( or anytime) because it is grain free.  It's light and crispy,  low in carbs,  and easy to make. It is delicious any time of the year, but is especially perfect for Passover.
Askenazi Jews ( those from Eastern European backgrounds as opposed to Jews from Middle Eastern backgrounds) do not eat rice or any flour with leavening during Passover. But they can eat  "riced cauliflower" which looks and behaves like rice in most recipes but is a vegetable.

Because this crust is made with raw cauliflower ( don't stop reading)  and then baked, it makes a perfect Passover dish. It's hard to believe because it doesn't taste like cauliflower. My husband loved it and thought it was made with rice . It makes a wonderful light dinner and doesn't leave us bloated or stuffed . I topped mine with sliced fresh tomatoes and herbs, but you could also put tomato sauce, additional cheese, and any toppings you like. If you do make it with tomato sauce, cook your crust first till cristpy; then add sauce and cheese and heat to melt cheese.  Eat it with a simple salad and or a cup of soup.

Break  Raw Cauliflower into Flowerettes

Place in processor with metal blade;Process on /off about 3 times quickly ( don't over do)

Will look like this when done

Mix Riced Cauliflower with eggs and cheese and seasoning.


Press into spring form pan as a crust ( or any pan) tomatoes optional


Bake in a preheated oven at 475 for about 10 minutes or until crispy

Top with cherry tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms , or sauce and any topping of choice.
 1 small head of cauliflower, riced in the processor
 2 eggs, beaten
 1 cup shredded parmesan or any shredded cheese
 Rosemary,basil, salt, cracked pepper, etc.
Mix "riced" cauliflower, eggs, cheese and seasoning.
Press into a spring form pan as a crust;
(should have enough to make two crusts.)
Heat in a preheated oven at 475 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully depends on your oven.

Other Real Food Recipes that can be made at Passover
Mexican Guacamole

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Got a cold? Great Ideas

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Fabulous Find #1
What a great idea! Got a bad cold? Keep germs from spreading.
Keep this handy idea by the bed, in the car, or on your desk at work, if you have a cold.
I found this fabulous tissue and trash idea ( and photo) at  Meck Mom

Photo from Meck Mom

Fabulous Find #2
Need to serve ice cream to a group of kids at a birthday party or any family celebration ? This is a fabulous idea from Real Simple
Click to find out the details.. works great! 
                                          Pinned Image
                                                     Photo property of Real Simple

Fabulous Find #3
How to peel a full head of garlic in 10 seconds. You gotta see this one. I really works and I use it all the time now.This truly a fabulous idea is from ( and photo) from The Kitchn 
                                                                                  Photo property of The Kitchn 
      Photo property of The Grocery Cart Challenge
Fabulous Find #4
Burned Something?
Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge has an
Odor Be Gone Formula ( all natural) that works  great to 
clear out burned odor Gotta read it..

Fabulous Find #5 is quite a time saver and avoids the mess! This fabulous find comes from a helpful decorating site called In my own style

Photo property of In My Own Style

Fabulous Find #6
Leftover coffee. tea, lemonade, etc. ? Make ice cubes! The  next time you make iced coffe or iced tea or lemonade, you have the perfect cubes.
This fabulous find came from a blog called Hither and Thither
visit the blog for other great ideas.
            Photo property of Hither and Tither

Monday, March 12, 2012

Roasted Apples

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Roasted apples and cinnamon

When I decided to make this roasted apple dessert recipe,  I had a large bowl of apples sitting on my kitchen table starring me in the face. Because we were getting ready to go away for a week, I decided that I needed to use up the apples somehow.         Bowl of Apples

While looking at my Secret Recipe Club assignment for March, The Bitchin' Kitchin' authored by of Hoboken, New Jersey (  Ellie, I live nearby in Bucks County, Pa.), I was immediately attracted to her apple recipe to solve my problem.

I really enjoyed looking through Ellie's blog . I found lots of wonderful recipes that use real food and fresh vegetables. I liked her relaxed writing style, excellent photos, and easy to follow step by step tutorials. It's a blog worth visiting. I know I'll be regular.

Roasted apples might be a simple recipe, but it was an absolutely delicious choice.  As Ellie said on her blog, " It's like apple pie without the crust" . Another plus  was the  fragrance of apples, cinnamon and allspice that permeated the entire house for the better part of the afternoon. It smelled so good. What kid wouldn't like this?

This is Ellie's recipe .

 I substituted palm sugar for the brown sugar, left out the salt and didn't peel the apples ( they were organic).

I was pleased with the results and my husband was thrilled. He polished off a bowl before I finished this post.

  • 4 organic apples of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon organic cornstarch ( avoid Genetically modified corn) 
  • pinch ground allspice  
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Core and slice the apples. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Then mix with the palm sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, allspice . Dot with butter cubes and bake for 15-25 minutes depending on how you like your apples. I did 25 minutes . Serve warm or cold.

                                 sliced red apples



Secret Recipe Club'

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

5 Minute Healthy Chocolate Pudding ( No Cook)


                                              Photo from Leslie at Real Food Freaks

Photo from Real Food Freaks

You will love this healthy easy chocolate pudding that can be made in just 5 minutes! After Leslie from Real Food Freaks appeared as guest post a few weeks ago, my readers tried her recipe and loved it.  It's made with an avocado as the creamy delicious base:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Avocados and Why You Should Eat Them + recipe


This is one of the best and healthiest chocolate puddings I have ever eaten. Yet, it is dairy free, gluten free, and vegan.

Can you believe that this creamy and healthy chocolate pudding is made with avocados?

It tastes like the real thing , but it is so much healthier.

This recipe and nutritional information about avocados is a guest post being shared by Leslie of the blog Real Food Freaks.

Real Food Freaks. is a blog that I have enjoyed for a long time. Co-authored by Leslie and Jen, their blog provides excellent information about the benefits of real food as well as some great recipes.

 I especially love Leslie's gluten free Coconut Crepes and Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies ( grain free)  .

          Avocados ; Why You Should Eat Them
Guest Post by Leslie of Real Food Freaks (


I, personally, don’t need a reason to eat avocados... because they are delicious... and I love them.  However, I’ve met several people who have a fear of this amazing food.  The reasons for “said fear” vary:   some people are afraid of anything green, some people don’t know what to do with them, and some people are afraid of the fat that avocados contain.  I say... FEAR NOT!

Avocados are a nutrient dense food in and of themselves.  Did you know that they are a fruit?  They are... weird, I know... but they are.  Avocados top all fruit in folate, potassium, Vitamin E and magnesium.  Plus, they are full of monounsaturated fat (this is a good thing... your body need this).  Let me explain just a bit about each of these things:

  • Folate-  Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

  • Potassium-  Regulates blood pressure, helps prevent heart disease and stroke.  Important for cellular function within the body.

  • Magnesium-  Essential for enzyme activity, nerve transmission,  healthy bones and cardiovascular system.  Helps prevent migrains and type 2 diabetes.

  • Vitamin E-  Fat-soluble vitamin necessary for circulation, tissue repair and healing.  This powerful antioxidant plays a vital role in deactivating free radicals

  • Monounsaturated Fat (Oleic Acid)-  Improves the body’s ability to absorb fat-                soluble nutrients like alpha & beta carotene and lutein from other foods.

If you’re new to buying avocados, let me tell you what to look for.  A ripe avocado will “give” slightly when pressed.  Do not buy any avocados that are soft and avoid any with cracks or blemishes.  It is very hard to find ripe avocados in the store; they are usually rock hard... so buy them in advance of when you plan to use them. 

I generally keep avocados on hand at all times, especially this time of the year because they are much cheaper.  I love to eat a couple of slices with my eggs in the morning, diced in a salad, diced on top of chili or a burger, as guacamole, or in chocolate pudding.  Yup, you read that correctly... I said chocolate pudding!!!!!

If you’ve got 5 minutes, a blender, and a couple of ripe avocados... then do I have a treat for you!  You’re welcome.

        Best Creamy Chocolate Pudding
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tsp. real vanilla extract
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¾ cup milk (coconut, almond, raw dairy... your preference)

1.  Slice avocado in half, remove the pit, scoop out the fruit, and throw it in the blender with the other ingredients.
2.  Blend until smooth.  You may need to stop a couple of times and scrape down the sides.  Add a bit more milk if necessary.

  • Variation Suggestions: 
  • add ½  - 1 tsp. (depending on your  preference) of cinnamon, cayenne, or peanut butter.  
  • You could also substitute half of the vanilla extract with almond extract
  •  Mashed banana in place of some of the maple syrup


Leslie, Thank you for this informative guest post. Who couldn't use a little nutritional boost, especially with a food that tastes so good. Can't wait to try the pudding for dessert tonight!

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Monday, March 5, 2012

"Riced Cauliflower" Mushroom Risotto ( Grain Free)

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This creamy (grain/ rice free) cauliflower mushroom risotto is an unusual, but  fabulous recipe.

  Below,  what looks like rice,  is actually not rice at all; it is 'riced ' cauliflower. Yes, it's actually the healthy low fat and low carb cruciferous vegetable that serves as the replacement for rice in this creamy risotto dish.

 Cauliflower is a terrific base for making all kinds of  grain free/ low carb dishes including mock pizza crust, ( click for my recipe) mock mashed potatoes, and mock rice dishes as in this risotto. You can be as creative as you like.

When I found this risotto recipe, I knew it was something I would want to try.

However, I was hesitant becasue I had seen recipes that called for "riced" cauliflower before, and they had really scared me off.

I was intimidated by how the cauliflower turned into perfect little morsels of rice. I thought you had to be a professional "ricer" ..But after making it , I can tell you first hand that is  not so!! 

It is fast and easy to make. All you do is cut your cauliflower into flowerettes, place in the food processor with the metal blade and process 3 or 4 times very quickly ( on /off)  until the cauliflower resembles rice.

It's that easy. So, there's no reason not to try this recipe ( even if you are not a cauliflower fan because it doesn't end up tasting like cauliflower)

Break cauliflower into flowerettes

Place into food processor with the metal blade

Process very quickly 3 or 4 times until cauliflower resembles rice ( don't over do it)
 Before I decided on this particular recipe, I explored quite a few other recipes. Some were made from fresh raw cauliflower ( then later cooked) while others were made from frozen cauliflower that was also cooked later. Some of the recipes were low calorie, which would work great for anyone on weight watchers. Other recipes were low carb and called for  butter and cream., which would work great for any low carb type diet.

Which way did I choose to make this recipe?

I decided to try starting with raw cauliflower since the cauliflower seems to be abundant right now and relatively reasonable ;  I also made the low carb higher fat version, and I was very happy with the results. I also experimented and include vegan substitutions.

Personally, I'm following the Suzanne Summers Diet  right now which is based on food combining. I eat fruit and carbs in the morning ( like berries or an orange - wait 20 minutes and then have oatmeal) . After my one carb meal, I wait 3 hours before I eat  low carb meals the rest of the day, which is mostly vegetables, fats, and protein. She has some funny rules, like no carrots and beets, but I'm only on it for a short time.  I like it because it gives me flexibility and an opportunity to include butter in my diet , which I absolutely adore. It find it also helps cut down cravings.

1 small head of cauliflower, riced
1 package of white sliced mushrooms
2 Tablespoons butter ( or use olive oil)
2 pieces of fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup light cream (vegan alternative or use coconut milk)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese ( vegan alternative or  use 1/4 cup nutritional yeast for a cheeselike flavor)

On a very low flame in a dutch oven type pot, saute the garlic and mushrooms in the butter until the mushrooms are lightly cooked. Add 3-4 cups of riced cauliflower and cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Add cream or coconut milk and continue to stir and cook for another 5 minutes  minutes. Shut off flame and cover pot for about 5 minutes ( No longer). Remove from flame and mix in Parmesan cheese and serve. 

Light and Creamy Grain Free Mushroom Risotto
 What's your preference? Low calorie or low carb? Why?

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