Saturday, July 28, 2012

Easy Way to Remove Pits from Cherries

cherries on a plate

Ever wonder if there is an easy way to remove the pit from a cherry?
Truthfully, I've never ever given that question a thought, but my friend Fay has!

Fay is always full of surprises, so no one blinked an eye when she requested a straw to eat her cherries.

pink green and yellow plastic straw lot
I was playing Mah Jong  with a group of friends. The hostess put out a large bowl of succulent red cherries. As the rest of us happily ate our cherries and spit out the pits on our plates, my friend Fay had a unique way of removing her pit before the cherry ever touched her lips.

red cherries on brown ceramic bowl

You have to know Fay-- It was an entertaining afternoon!!

1 bowl of cherries
1 straw

Select a ripe cherry.
Using a firm straw, insert the straw into one end of the end of the cherry . ( the end with the stem
Gently push the straw through the cherry until the pit comes out the other end.

Pictures Step by Step  

Fay selecting her cherry

Fay positioning her straw at the tip of the cherry

                                     Fay pushing the straw through and popping out the pit

Fay holding her de-pitted cherry

It was so easy that we all could not believe how well it works!! This is great if you need to add cherries for baking or to serve to very little toddlers!

Please leave Fay a comment by scrolling down to the very end of the post and clicking on the word ' comments' ( If you are reading this in your email, you will have to click over to the actual blog to leave a comment.)

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Gluten Free Tip:
If you are looking to understand Gluten Intolerance a little better, here is a short you tube video that does a good job of explaining.It's called " Is bread killing you"?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Middle Eastern Lemonade

No matter how you look at it,  this Middle Eastern Lemonade is a winner in this hot weather for so many reasons!

The recipe combines fresh lemon juice, maple syrup , sliced oranges, and orange blossom water,  ( a typical Middle Eastern flavor available in many supermarkets, ethnic markets, or health food stores that does not taste like oranges).

This drink is not only absolutely delicious, but it is also bursting with minerals and antioxidants which can be readily lost by the body in really hot weather.

fresh lemons
This is an old family Recipe

I didn't create the recipe . My  husband's family has been drinking  this refreshing lemon drink with orange blossom water for generations. They lived in a really hot climate.
 They call the orange blossom water by it's Arabic name " Mahzar".

It is not only used in lemonade, but also in baking and cooking. The aroma is so wonderful that just opening the bottle and smelling the amazing fragrance will relax you.
orange blossom water
Last week my husband was doing a significant amount of  yard work.  The temperature was beastly, ( 102 degrees),  and he was sweating profusely. At times like that, your body not only needs fluids, but it needs to replace nutrients.

My husband's work in the yard

Why this lemonade is a Nutritional Power House and perfect for really hot weather!

Maple syrup provides the trace mineral manganese and the mineral zinc which are both very important to maintain a healthy immune system, as opposed to sugar which provides no nutrients and may actually rob your body of nutrients.Although maple syrup is sweeter than sugar, it only has 34 calories in 2 teaspoons.
Use Grade B and look for a raw brand.

Fresh Lemon Juice 
Lemons are high in vitamin C, full of powerful antioxidants, and can provide antibacterial benefits. Since you squeeze fresh lemons for this recipe, there are no nutrients lost in processing. Lemon juice also helps the body detox toxins.

Orange Blossom Water
This Middle Eastern essence contains no calories or nutritional benefits, but can have a very calming effect on the nervous system. Just smelling it is relaxing. Drinking it is calming.

Mint leaves
Believe it or not , fresh mint leaves are high in nutrients. They are rich in  manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C. Mint also provides fiber, folate, iron, vitamin B2, potassium and copper. I have a great herb garden in my yard, and my mint comes back every year.

This drink takes about 2 minutes to make, really cools you off,  adds to your nutrition, and is delicious.

No Comparison To Storebought
As opposed to store bought lemonade that offers very little nutritional value, empty calories, and loads of  sugar that may be too stimulating for kids ( and adults) and rob the body of nutrients.  This recipe for Middle Eastern lemonade seems like a better choice.

Which tastes better? I'll choose this recipe hands down every time.

We like to serve it without sliced oranges and lemons too... 

In this hot weather, we keep a pitcher of this old family favorite in the refrigerator . We fill a glass with ice and cover it with lemonade and then add a few fresh sprigs of mint from the garden.

I hope you try it and enjoy it on a hot summer day!

Author: Judee Algazi@gluten free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: none

Ingredients per 10-12 ounce glass
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 Tablespoons maple syrup or more or less to taste, ( or raw agave syrup)
1/8 teaspoon of orange blossom water ( Mazhar)
water to fill the glass after everything else is added.
2 mint leaves

Fill a 10 ounce glass with ice
Add fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, orange blossom water, and mint leaves.
Stir well and enjoy.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

Having company? Too hot to cook?  Stuffed mushrooms can be a quick appetizer , snack or even part of a meal that look great and are usually a hit at any party.  They require no cooking, so that's a plus in this hot weather.

 I like this uncooked version because when I cook stuffed mushrooms, they sometimes fall apart. In addition, raw mushrooms taste great and will hold together so they can easily be picked up as a finger food at a party. 

I used my spinach basil pesto recipe below but I left out the Parmesan cheese to make it vegan. I was surprised at how delicious it still tasted without the cheese. This recipe is rich in healthy greens and loaded with antioxidants. Since it's eaten without cooking, none of the nutrients are lost.

These mushrooms make a great appetizer that can be easily passed around. They are perfect at a BBQ because they hold up to the heat well. And because they are vegan and gluten free, they are allergy friendly and can be eaten by almost everyone. It's important to keep that in mind when menu planning. 

To prepare: I used a small spoon to just lightly scoop out the inside of the mushrooms so I could fill them .

If you make your pesto in advance, you will only have to fill them the day of the party. In fact, you can fill them a few hours in advance, and they will keep well.

Eat and enjoy without any guilt. They are light and low in calories and carbohydrates. If you are planning on having caloric side dishes, these mushrooms will be a welcome low calorie appetizer. 

Pesto Ingredients:
1 cup fresh  parsley
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh spinach ( I used organic baby spinach)
1 cup of pecans, pine nuts, or walnuts ( I used pecans)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove fresh garlic ( or more to taste)
1/4  cup olive oil ( don't cut back, the oil makes it)
salt to taste

Assemble ingredients
Process nuts and garlic, remove from processor and set aside.
Process, parsley, spinach, basil, then add nuts and garlic mixture, and olive oil.
Process until smooth .
Remove from processor and add a little more olive oil before serving  if its dry.

Wash mushrooms, remove stems, and clean out inside enough to stuff. 

Stuff each mushroom individually and serve.

What kind of appetizers do you like to make in hot weather? 

Gluten Free Tip of the Week 

 gluten-free Italian panko breadcrumbs, made with rice flour, is a new product from Ian's Natural Foods

Monday, July 9, 2012

Homemade Cucumber Dill Dressing

cucumber dill dressing on romaine

I'm keeping cool this summer  by making simple meals that don't require cooking and heating up the kitchen.

Have you ever been to a restaurant that served a wedge of lettuce as the salad?
Although the salad may have been simple, the dressing is usually fabulous. 

My homemade cucumber sour cream (and vegan alternative) dressing is one of those dressings! It's rich and delicious and tastes best with just plain green lettuce. I used  organic romaine lettuce garnished with fresh organic mint (from my herb garden), and a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I then drenched the lettuce in my cucumber dressing and devoured. It looked simple, but tasted divine! Of course the dressing is also gluten free and low carb.

The weather has been so hot (over 100 yesterday).

Assemble Ingredients


 This salad worked as a perfect light lunch.
 I just whizzed the ingredients for the dressing in the blender,  It was refreshing and light yet surprisingly filling! There is nothing like the taste of real homemade dressing without all the chemicals and salt! 

Variation: Sometimes I cut up halves of fresh avocado and add it to the salad.

Dressing Ingredients: 
1/2 Kirby or Persian cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1/4 cup cucumber)
5-7 fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh dill
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 cup of sour cream, Greek Yogurt, or vegan sour cream
( I saw a recipe on a blog called Big Raw and Vegan Living Food that has a recipe for vegan sour cream)
Salt and pepper to taste ( I did not use any)

Whiz all of the ingredients in the blender until smooth .
Serve immediately over romaine lettuce

***If you are looking for a salad with more salad ingredients, try my  Arugula and Cashew Salad , or my  Jicama Rainbow Salad With Mint which have been two of my most popular posts. 

I'm so glad you stopped by. Please take a minute and leave a comment, I read every one and it makes my day. Just scroll down to the very end of the post and look for the word, comment. Click for a box to open to write your comment.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunshine Award

Thank you Chaya! 
This past week I was honored to have been awarded the Sunshine Award from one of my favorite bloggers, Chaya at My Sweet and Savory. Chaya makes lots of healthy recipes,  and if you need ideas for meatless cooking, Chaya hosts a weekly blog carnival called, Mealtess Mondays. On her other blog, Bizzy Bakes, she hosts a Wed Recipe box linky as well. Scroll down to see who I am passing the award onto.

The Sunshine Award  is special because it is an award given to bloggers by other by bloggers. 

The recipients of the Sunshine Award are: "Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogoshere." 

The way the award works is this: 
1) Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. 
2) Answer 10 questions about yourself. 
3) Select 10 of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and let them know they have been awarded the Sunshine Award! 

Don't forget to copy and paste the award on your blog!
Here we go! Ten questions:

1. Favorite color: Hot Pink

2. Favorite animal:  puppies and kittens

3. Favorite number: 22

4. Favorite drink: Fresh Lemonade (non-alcohol), Red Wine (alcohol)

5. Facebook or Twitter: Twitter! I get so much great information . People are tweeting all day long.

6. Good Book or a Good Movie:  Although I'm a reader, I just love a good movie too. 

7. My Passion: Cooking! I love to create healthy tasty recipes to share  with family and friends.

8. Giving or getting presents:  I give lots of presents, but I like getting them too . Who doesn't??

9. Favorite day of the year: My birthday! I always have a great time!

And here are the 10 FABULOUS blogs that I am passing this award along to (please go check them out!):

Penniless Parenting  focuses on frugality.  I have found many great vegetarian and gluten free recipes and lots of amazing frugal ideas. Penny hosts a blog carnival called Heart and Soul Hop every Tuesday

Gluten Free Cat is a gluten free blog where you can find lots of real food recipes . All her recipes are labeled vegan, dairy free, raw or refined sugar free for easy navigating.

 Sweet Healthy Living , is a blog with outstanding vegan and raw recipes that just make your mouth water. Victoria's photos are wonderfully inviting. You have to see her latest dessert!

The Soulicious Life is a delightful blog whose purpose is to focus on nourishing body, soul and the planet. It is a combination of vegetarian recipes, yoga, and ideas to save the planet.  Visit for inspiring ideas!

Food Floozie  is an interesting blog authored by Yenta Mary in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She features reviews of local restaurants, shares interesting recipes, and tells a great story.  I always am entertained at the Food Floozie!

The Tasty Alternative is a blog whose philosophy is 
"to create healing food with a holistic approach to mind-body health and with a meaningful connection to the earth. The blog has lots of allergy friendly recipes and  
healthy lifestyle resources! I find lots of great ideas on this blog.

The Haggis and the Herring is a husband and wife team who draw their recipes from flavors around the world including their English, European, Mediterranean and South- Asian food experiences.  It's a blog worth visiting as there is always an interesting recipe.  

Raw On $10 a Day (or Less)- this blog is always a treat. There are many wonderfully raw food recipes that are kept to under $10. I love to see what she comes up with each week.

Peaceful Plate is a fabulous vegan blog that uses healthy real food.  I met Noelle at Bloggy Boot Camp in Philadelphia this past May, and I was immediately blown away by her photos and recipes.  Check out her blog for her great vegan desserts.

Pin It Please leave a comment so I know you stopped by. Scroll down to the end of the post and click on comments.

Fabulous Finds Week 8

Fabulous find # 2- Eggs for 6-12 at once
 How to Cook eggs for a crowd  comes from a blog called Macheesmo
Each egg is perfectly shaped and all are ready to serve at the same time.
Great for a crowd Check out how long to cook on her blog.

It seems that Macheesmo has removed his post. But I found another blogger  at Savor + Savvy who gives instructions and times- this is great!!

Perfect Eggs

       Eggs cooked
                                 Photos property of Macheesmo

Fabulous find # 3- Hard boiled eggs made in the oven
I'm on a egg roll.. Did you know you can bake hard boiled eggs in the oven . No pot to clean or take up space on the range.
I found this picture and idea on Pinterest from a blog called The Burlap Bag. She has lots of great ideas.

 Burlap Bag

Fabulous find # 4 - You can also steam eggs for easy peeling
I found this fabulous find on a blog called Mama Chocolate How to steam eggs for easy peeling and tender eggs.

Photo from Mama Chocolate

Fabulous find # 5-  Roasted Garlic in the Crock pot

photo from Veggie Converter.
I found this fabulous find on a great vegan blog called Veggie Converter.  Use your crock pot to roast garlic for a wonderful spread.

Fabulous find # 6- Make your microwave Sparkle n 2 minutes
This Fabulous Find is from Practically Functional
Clean your microwave in 2 minutes easily. This is amazing. Literally it takes only minutes to get  that microwave to sparkle.

Before and after cleaning a dirty microwave
Practically Functional

Fabulous Find #1 
Grow Celery from your leftover celery stalks
Unbelievable! Wait!! don't throw your celery core away.
You can grow more celery at home!
I love this because celery is on the dirty dozen list ( meaning it has lots of pesticide) and organic celergy is expensive. Solution:  Buy organic celery  once and keep growing your own.
Find out how from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition

Photo from Whole Life Nutrition

Will be posted on the following blog carnivals: