Monday, November 21, 2016

Stress Buster: Relax Now

Feeling Stressed Out? 

Relax with this incredible piano performance from YouTube (link below). I can't get enough of the music and the performance. You will watch it over and over again. And while I'm listening and watching, I sip a relaxing cup of homemade herbal tea to sooth my tummy and my frazzled nerves. 

I was just browsing around Youtube and found this video: 

After hearing and watching this music performance on Youtube- I wanted to share it because it is so uplifting and relaxing at the same time!!
It's music to soothe your soul.. so beautiful

So grab a cup of herbal tea ( see my favorite recipe below)  or coffee- relax- and listen!!

Two Choices to Listen to Right Now on Youtube: 

Want upbeat, invigorating, and fun- Listen to the first Youtube- Let It Go!

Want something slower and more classical? Listen to the 2nd one- classical music

Let it Go from Frozen!! Upbeat and Inspiring


 This group is called "The Piano Guys"

                   The Piano Guys have about 20 Videos on Youtube 

                       They also have a beautiful Christmas Album!

Play the music!!
What did you think?
 Have you heard them before?

The Tea

Anise is great for better digestion-
drink a cup after meals!

My favorite home brewed herbal tea recipe- 
For a step by step tutorial: 

My friend Vicki introduced me to this simple delicious herbal tea.
 It's made from two ingredients: Anise seeds and cardamom pods
Vicki serves it with a little raw honey- 
You can make it in just 7 minutes
I posted the recipe years ago, so here is the link if you missed it- 

You can purchase cardamom pods ( organic) online;

                                                               Anise Seed Tin

Are you an herbal tea drinker?
 Do you make your own, buy teabags? 
Which one is your favorite??

Shared on Weekend Cooking at The Intrepid Reader and Baker where anyone can share a food related post.

Just so you know: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click on a link and then buy something from Amazon, I will be compensated a very tiny amount but at no additional cost to you. I appreciate the support as it helps me defray the costs of running a blog. 

My Best Thanksgiving sides ( GF)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Spinach Pecan Casserole - a low carb side

Spinach and cauliflower rice casserole
Still looking for a healthy Thanksgiving side dish?
You might be interested in this low calorie- low carbohydrate delicious, easy to make, casserole for as part of your feast!  It's made from "cauliflower rice", spinach, and pecans!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hungarian Mushroom Soup from The Old Country

hungarian mushroom soup

What is it about Hungarian mushroom soup that everyone loves? 
Recipes from the old country are flavorful and delicious. 
They call for real food ingredients that are both healthy and tasty. 

My mother's good friend Bernice used to make a her family's recipe when I was a teenager and always shared some with us. It brings back wonderful memories of warming up with a hot bowl of this flavorful soup on a cold and damp autumn evening.

Since it's been raining and cool for the past five days, I've been digging up all of my soup recipes. 

It's a simple easy to make recipe with a hearty mushroom flavor. 
It's allergy friendly too for those who are gluten free, dairy free, egg free-  

chopped portebello mushrooms

Judee Algazi@ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Serves: 6 bowls


2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced in half moons

5 cups of sliced mushrooms ( white or baby portobello) 
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine
1/4 cup of dill, chopped fine
2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced in large pieces 
4 cups of vegetable broth 
4 cups of water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of paprika


Sautee onions in a large skillet in olive oil spray +  1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat.  Cook slowly stirring until onions are soft. Add mushrooms and continue to sautee for another 5 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Stir well and add sauteed vegetables to a large soup pot. Add the remainder of ingredients ( celery, parsley, dill, water, vegetable broth, potato, lemon, salt, pepper, paprika) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 1 hour covered. 

Garnish with additional chopped dill and sour cream if desired before serving.

Mushroom soup

My Notes: 

1. If you want to cut down on the carbs, you can substitute kohlrabi or turnips for the potatoes. 

2. I find that soup is easy to make, feeds a group, and is easy on the pocketbook.
    Of course, I am a soup LOVER...

3. I eat soup at least 3-4 times/week- Once I make a big pot, I either freeze some or we continue to eat it throughout the week. How about you? 

How often do you eat soup?

This post is linked to vegan fridays ,  Souper Sunday , and my list of Blog Carnivals

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Walking Through The Fancy Animal Carnival In NYC

I went to visit my kids in NYC last week and on my walk from the train to their place I passed through the famous Garment District- It was raining, but I managed to get a few photos of some of the new sculptures in the " Fancy Animal Carnival " by Taiwanese artist Hung Yi.

I don't usually share my outings, but with so many visiting NYC over the holidays, I thought these might be of interest.

Garment District Free Art Show through April 2016

The Carnival, which starts around 41st street and ends on 37th street, features eleven large to life whimsical statues each symbolic of bringing luck! 

The statues are extremely colorful and big!! It made more 40 minute walk to their place very enjoyable

Bryant Park- over 100 fun holiday kiosks

I loved this.. In addition, there were many little kiosk type shops that opened up just for the holidays in Bryant Park on West 40th between 5th and 6th Ave- It was so much fun going around the wintery type wonderland with all the little shops all lit up for Christmas! 

Just because I mentioned these things, I'm including a link with other like holiday markets in NYC!!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Another Falafel Cracker Recipe with Za'atar ( GF)

I know I made falafel crackers last week, but this is a totally different recipe.
It's lighter and crispier than the previous recipe, so you might want to give these a try.

 I had never made crackers before last week, but they are really fast, easy, and fun to make. A batch of these 50 crackers from start to finish took me under 30 minutes ( I didn't count the 15 minutes of chill time). In addition, they are gluten free, dairy free, egg free and delicious.

We love falafel and it's interesting spices,  so naturally I knew we would love these tasty falafel flavored crisps.

What makes them taste like falafel? The chick pea flour, the sesame seeds, the cumin, the turmeric, the coriander and the spice blend called za'atar.

What is za'atar or zahtar?
Za'atar is a prepared spice blend that is used in many Middle Eastern countries.Although the recipes might vary, Za'atar may be made of any of the following spices: ground thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, hyssop and toasted sesame seeds. It depends on which Middle Eastern country it comes from.

It is a very tasty and popular spice preparation. We use za'atar in omelets, on (GF) bread, sprinkled on humus, crackers, yogurt , and gluten free pizza to name a few.

Another common way they use Za'atar in the Middle Eastern countries is to prepare a flat dish of olive oil, mix it with Za'atar, and use it for a dip for pita bread- very similar to how the Italians use other spices in olive oil and dip their bread in it.

Spices Have Great Health Benefits

Spices have been important sources of nutrients throughout history. The Spices in Za'atar are an excellent source of flavonoids, antioxidants, and have antiseptic properties. Its recipe goes way back. In fact, in the 12th century in Egypt, the famous Jewish Spanish philosopher Maimonides prescribed Za'atar to his patients with respiratory ailments.

Where do you find za'atar?

Of course you can find za'atar in any Middle Eastern grocery store or you can make your own, purchase Za'atar online , or find it many supermarkets in the ethnic isle ( sometimes in the Kosher section since they use it in Israel too) .

This is one of the Za'atar Seasoning  that I buy online. It is from Israel ( Kosher and Parve) and is made with hyssop which is an herb mentioned in the bible.

This is another Za'atar that I buy online which is a Lebanese recipe. It contains oregano and sumac as the main spices  Sahadi Lebanese Style Zaatar - 7 ounce

Being Middle Eastern by marriage, the falafel cracker idea really intrigues me. But I want my crackers topped with Za'atar.

Judee Algazi
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Chill Time: 15 minutes
Makes:  50 delicious crisps
Adapted from : Mission Food .
Materials Needed: rolling pin, parchment paper, cookie sheets, waxed paper, pizza cutter

My adapted recipe: 

Dry Ingredients: 

1 cup garbanzo ( chick pea)  bean flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon ground almond meal flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda ( I use aluminum free)
1 1/2  teaspoons of cumin
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

Wet Ingredients: 
5 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of honey mixed with 1/3 cup of water

Topping: Top with Freshly Cracked Himalayan salt. sesame seeds, and or Zatar ( make sure your Za'atar is gluten free- some brands may add wheat)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Making the dough: 
Using a food processor with the sharp blade, process the dry ingredients. With the food processor running add the olive oil quickly and then stop and process with bursts till crumbs form. With the processor running add the honey and water mixture- stop immediately and burst if necessary to form a ball. Divide dough into 2 balls and refrigerate for at a minimum of 15 minutes .

Rolling the dough:
Take out one ball of dough to work with at a time, leaving the other in the refrigerator.
Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the parchment paper and lay it on the counter.
Place one ball of dough on the parchment paper. Place a large piece of waxed paper over the dough and using your rolling pin, roll out to 1/8 thickness. Using a pizza cutter, cut into small squares or strips. Remove the parchment paper, place it back on the cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes till the crisps look crispy!

Repeat with the other ball of dough.

Cover the dough with a piece of waxed paper to roll it out . This tip works great.
Nothing will stick to the rolling pin and the waxed paper will peel right off.
falafel crackers ready to be baked
Work on your piece of parchment paper and then just transfer to the cookie sheet when ready to bake
I cut some of the dough in strips 
When I sprinkled the sesame seeds on the uncooked crackers, I pressed then in slightly to hold

I bought these cute camels on our vacation to Tunisia 8 years ago-
They go great with my Middle Eastern theme

Whatever shape you decide to cut them, enjoy!!

I was inspired by a recipe that I saw on a blog called Mission Food . It was a review from Ivy Manning's cookbook Crackers and Dips Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks

Note: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click on a link from my blog, I may receive a very small compensation if you purchase,  but it will not affect your cost. I appreciate the support to help defray the cost of running the blog.

This post is linked to vegan fridays and my list of Blog Carnivals

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Apple Slices Won't Turn Brown with This Tip


How many times have you sliced apples, doused them in lemon juice yet they still turn brown an hour later?

That used to happen to me, but not any more. Not since I discovered a simple tip that keeps my apple (or pear) slices looking just the way they looked when I initially sliced them, even 4-6 hours hours later!

This method is so easy and simple, you probably won't believe it will work so well!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Falafel Crackers Anyone?

falafel crackers for gluten free entertaining

This is an interesting gluten free snack idea and entertaining idea !  Can you imagine crackers that taste like falafel! For those of you who have tasted falafel before, you know you are in for a treat.
For those who have never had falafel, you will have to trust me on this one. I assure you that the recipe is truly flavorful and is reminiscent of falafel.

I found this recipe on a blog called May I Have That Recipe- a delightful blog created by two sisters who post vegetarian, vegan, and kosher recipes. This recipe happens to be gluten free as well - as many of their recipes are; many of their other recipes can be easily adapted to be gluten free.

falafel crackers for gluten free entertainingThe Flour

There are different types of gluten free flours that you can use to make gluten free snacks.
This recipe calls for Garbanzo bean flour ( chick pea flour) which can be found online or in most health food stores or health food isles in the supermarkets.
I like this Garbanzo bean flour : Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour - 16 oz.

It a high protein, but it is a heavy flour. However, it makes a good supplement for some interesting gluten free recipes. Usually, you could substitute regular GF flour in a recipe, but in this case it is the garbanzo flour that gives the recipe some of the falafel taste. ( Falafel is often made from chick peas),

The Spices
The remainder of taste similarities come from the seasoning- falafel often contains coriander, cumin, and other typical Middle Eastern spices- so do these crackers.

This recipe makes truly a hearty dense cracker that goes great with Greek yogurt, humus, or just about any dip. This was my first time making crackers and I was surprised at how easy it was.

If you would like the recipe, you can find on their blog at May I Have That Recipe.

This post is linked to vegan fridays and my list of Blog Carnivals

Monday, October 31, 2016

Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Cumin Soup

Do you want to eat more cruciferous vegetables and add low calorie soups to your diet? So do I-

This low calorie and delicious easy to make soup will fill you up while helping you lose weight!

The first time I made this soup, it was a cold Halloween night. I wanted to make a fast and easy seasonal soup to keep us warm before venturing out with the kids on the damp windy night.

For some reason, despite it being 75 degrees the day before, we experienced another cold Halloween. It was only 44 chilly degrees for the little ones to do their trick or treating.

It's always been my custom to make soup for dinner on Halloween.
I feel a big bowl of piping hot soup hits the spot before venturing out in the cold.

My soup this year, was created from vegetables that I received from my organic CSA:
Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, onion and fresh dill for the garnish. I blended in some white beans to give the soup some heartiness and at the same time make it creamy.

My good friend and fabulous cook , Laura, who co-authored Food No Matter What!  was visiting while I was making this soup. At her suggestion, I seasoned the soup with lots of cracked pepper, a little turmeric, and cumin. ( lots of nutrition and antioxidants there)

Freshly cracked black pepper and aromatic ground cumin really bring out the flavor of this otherwise bland soup, making it taste slightly spicy. As Laura reminded me, black pepper optimizes the absorption of the nutrients from the turmeric- so always use black pepper when using turmeric. 

My intention was to make a low calorie soup. ( I'm trying to lose weight again)
So I decided to sautee my onions in vegetable broth instead of oil and cooked the vegetables in a water right in the soup. If you are not concerned about the calories, sautee your onions in some tasty olive oil.

Cabbage and cauliflower are fall vegetables that create a mild flavorful soup full of antioxidants. Adding salt, cracked black pepper, turmeric, ginger and cumin really perks up the soup, making it robust without adding extra calories. 

Low in calories; high in nutrients
I'm estimating that a bowl of this creamy vegan and naturally gluten free soup is about 100 calories , very low in fat,  provides a good amount of fiber, some protein, and a significant amount of nutrients and antioxidants.  It's perfect for my weight loss and my health concerns!

I love making naturally gluten free recipes from healthy real food.
I had a bowl again today for lunch and really enjoyed it! I hope you like it too-

Author: Judee Algazi

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Blend time: 2 minutes
Serves: 6-8


4 cups Chinese Cabbage, chopped ( any kind of cabbage will work)
4 cups fresh cauliflower, broken into small flowerettes
1 large organic onion, sliced in half moons
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tsp of ground ginger
10 cups of water ( or enough to just cover the vegetables)
5 cups flavorful vegetable broth + 1/4 cup for sautéing
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 cup and half of white beans, drained
Himalayan Salt to taste
Optional: Garnish with chopped dill, or chopped parsley


In a large soup pot, sautee the onion slices in 1/4 of vegetable broth until translucent. Add the cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, water and ground ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer cook until the cauliflower is tender. Add the cracked pepper, turmeric and cumin and beans. Using an immersion blender, blend until creamy.

** I prefer to add my beans and blend my beans into my soup just before eating it so I can measure how many beans I am eating calorie-wise. I take 2 cups of the soup and place it in a small soup bowl. I then add 1/4 cup of the white beans and blend. The beans are the most fattening ( yet healthy) part  of the soup-I want to make sure I only eat 1/4 cup-

** I love fresh dill and received lots of it at my CSA. I smothered the soup with it.

I adore dill - so I loaded it as a garnish

Linked on : My Blog Carnival List and Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen and Vegan Fridays

Friday, October 28, 2016

Healthy Halloween Snacks using Vegetables & Fruit

Halloween is definitely the season of too much candy and an overload of sugar. 
With the best of intentions, it's difficult to avoid the temptations of Halloween candy. 
There are some things you can do to help bring some balance to the season! 
 If you are having a party at home or at school, why not focus on some Halloween type snacks that are good for you and fun too! The folliowing non candy ideas are gluten free/ grain free and can be made vegan. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Miracle of Green Smoothie

It seems that everyone is drinking green smoothies. But why and why do I call green smoothies a miracle smoothie? There are basically 4 reasons. 

1.  They are fast and easy to make.

2.  They are packed with nutrients, enzymes, and taste great.

3.  They help energize, rejuvenate, and heal

4. They work great for weight loss and detox.

With most people's hectic busy schedules, they can begin to rely on what can be made quickly- that often translates to prepared food that they pick up on the way home for dinner. But not in this case- you can prepare an enzyme rich, alkaline, nutrient dense, antioxidant superfood smoothies in minutes.  They taste great and are filling. You can drink one for a meal or a snack.

If you are looking for a powerful green smoothie that both energizes and stabilizes blood sugar, look no further. This great tasting " miracle" smoothie is the perfect way to start your day. It is made from a variety of greens in an almond milk base.

Do you ever feel stressed, overextended, frazzled, or exhausted?  A nutrient dense power smoothie will not only taste delicious but will also nourish your body with energizing vitamins, minerals, live enzymes and antioxidants that may help supply needed energy and nutrients in this one glass. I call it my miracle smoothie because it's a real pick me up when I'm run down !

We know breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day,  but sometimes I just don't know what to eat or don't have time to cook. This green smoothie can be made in minutes and gives you the start of the day that your body is craving. It can be made quickly and is easy to digest and absorb.

You can include greens, seeds, probiotics etc right into your smoothie! One drink with everything you need. Since you can vary the ingredients- you get to decide what works best for you.

We all want to eat right. I usually start out with good intentions, but I get sidetracked, busy, and stressed. I find myself going in a million directions with a mile long "to do" list. This is where this power shake comes in. 

It satisfies my need for fruit and vegetables. Once I drink my shake it not only nourishes, it also keeps me full. I can run on this shake for 3 hours! So if I have my shake at 9:00, I'm good until 12:00 or if I have it at 7:00 am , I'm good until 11:00. When I say "good"- I mean my blood sugar feels balanced, my energy is up, and I feel clear and focused. 

You could make this shake for breakfast, lunch, or if when you need a pick me up- but I like my energy to start early in the morning an sustain me as the day goes on. Remember a smoothie is made with raw vegetables which provide the greatest benefits!

My Basic Shake: 

Liquid : almond milk + water

Greens: choose from: organic kale, collards, spinach, sprouts, romaine lettuce, parsley, arugula, etc.

Fruit: organic berries, banana, organic peaches, organic apple, etc.

Healthy Fat: 1/4 avocado, 6 soaked almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, 5 walnuts

Spices: choose from: cinnamon, turmeric, ginger,

10 Reasons to Make a Miracle Smoothie

1. Quick and Easy
2. Grab and Go
3. Alkaline
4. Extremely nutrient and enzyme rich
5. Helps detox and elimination
6. Vital vitamins and minerals 
7. Provides good fats
8. Recipe can be varied for taste and nutritional benefits
9. High in fiber  
10. Easy to digest and absorb
11. Alkaline

My Basic Power Smoothie Recipe

  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2 large organic kale leaves
  • 2 organic dandelion leaves
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened coconut milk, 
  • Desired amount of water 
  • 1/2 organic green apple with peel and seeds or 1/2 cup of organic blueberries or a banana
  • 1/4 cup of organic parsley
  • 1/4 organic lemon with juice and peel ( the peel is very rich in vitamins- only use organic) 
  • 1/2 organic cucumber 
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 slice of organic beet ( raw beet is very cleansing- go easy) 
  • Add ins of your choice ( see below) 

Blend everything in the Vtiamix and drink immediately. 
**I vary my greens each week to avoid alkaloid buildup- raw leafy greens contain a mildly toxic substance called alkaloids which help protect the plant from predators- By varying your greens each week , you don't get too much of any little toxins! 

  • Choose from kale, collards, spinach, dandelions greens, romaine lettuce, etc. bok choy, carrot greens, parsley, etc.

Add Ins: 
The beauty of a Miracle Smoothie is that you can add anything you like to it!
1. Probiotics - ( I open the capsule ) 
2. Nuts, seeds
3. Flax oil
4. Blackstrap molasses 
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
6. All kinds of greens 
7. All kinds organic fruit - strawberries, raspberries, mango, banana, pears,  ( use frozen organic fruit for variety) 
8. Soaked and peeled almonds ( why it's important to soak almonds before eating

I call it my miracle smoothie because of the vital nourishment and raw enzymes that I receive when I drink it_ compared to a bowl of cereal, it wins hands down..

Don't stop eating raw at breakfast-
Here's the easiest and quickest way to keep eating healthy greens the rest of the day.  

Tips for the Make Ahead Salads for Lunch and Dinner

Another way to get my greens, enzymes and nutrients 
Planning goes a long way- In addition to starting the day with a miracle shake another time saver is my salad in a jar for a week- one prep and salad for 5-7 days! You make your salads in advance and seal them in a mason jar- so easy and so healthy. I make all kinds of salads and they are convenient and ready for me every day for lunch or dinner- you can even add protein and avocado to your mason jars-  click here see the salad post

With a power smoothie and a ready salad for lunch or dinner, you are on your way to a healthier way of eating!

“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” ~ Alfred E. Newman

Do you make a daily green smoothie? What do you use in your smoothie. Please share your thoughts...

Linking this post to these  weekly blog carnivals

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and am not trying to diagnose or treat disease. The information on this blog is for educational information only. If you have a medical problem please consult your doctor. Do not change your diet without asking your doctor.