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My Television Appearance on Check Please!

September 23, 2017

Hello fellow foodie friends! I am excited to announce that I am on the most recent episode of the restaurant review show called “Check Please” on PBS!  With technology moving at a lightening pace, it warms my heart that this program has lasted through the test of time. This show focuses on the culinary arts of extraordinary people in our community here in the San Francisco Bay Area. What’s great though is you can also watch the episode anywhere in the world, as I will provide the link below.  But to catch it on your television screen, the below are the remaining show times (including tonight):

Saturday, September 23, 2017 – 7:00pm (KQED 9)
Sunday, September 24, 2017 – 1:00pm (KQED 9)
Monday, September 25, 2017 – 7:30pm (KQED
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 – 1:00pm (KQED Plus)

 

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So for those that haven’t seen this show before, “Check Please” is a roundtable of 3 restaurant reviewers, led by the lovely show host, Leslie Sobrocco. Each guest gets to pick their favorite restaurant, and has to try the restaurant picks of the other two guests. Of course I had to pick a Middle Eastern restaurant that I felt reflected authentic food my grandmother would make, called Waterfront Pizza. You can check out the full episode below:

 

 

So which restaurant do you think you would want to try the most? Leave your comments below! 😉

 

 

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Pomegranate Series Part II: Molasses Glazed Chicken

September 13, 2017

In PART I  of my pomegranate molasses series, I shared with you my recipe for a quick and easy vegan bulgur pilaf with pomegranate molasses dressing. While that can be a main dish for most vegans, I know the carnivores be asking me: “Where the protein at?”  Thankfully the protein is just as quick and easy to prepare as the grains–Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Chicken is life:

 

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This glaze almost has a teriyaki flavor, without all of the excess sugar plus a heavy dose of anti-oxidants from the pomegranate! This is one of my favorite go-to meals on a weekday night, as well as a great dish for entertaining. The chicken is fork tender, sweet and a little tart, with a new ingredient in culinary circles: black garlic. Black garlic is garlic that has been fermented, retaining all of the sweetness and ditching all the pungency. The texture is so silky, rich and decadent you can spread it on toasted bread and crackers with a drizzle of olive oil. The flavor is a cross between truffle mushrooms, caramel, and dates.

black garlic

 

Just a reminder that if you don’t have a middle eastern market in your neighborhood, one of my favorite online stores for ingredients is Sadaf. Sadaf carries excellent quality black garlic, bulgur wheat, pomegranate molasses, sultanas, and a host of other fresh spices, fried fruits and grains.  I did not receive any monetary compensation from them, but they did extend a coupon code to all of my subscribers! So, to get 10% off, use the promo code BLANCHE at SADAF.COM   Are you ready to make the recipe? Click on the video below and let me know what you think in the comments below!

 

 

 

Grocery List:

1 pound boneless dark meat chicken

Pomegranate molasses

Honey

Garlic or Black Garlic

Olive oil

Avocado Oil

Pink salt…pepper

Parsley

 

 

NEW THREE PART SERIES-On Pomegranate Molasses!

August 30, 2017

PART ONE: Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Pomegranates, Herbs, Sultanas and Pistachios! 

When people ask me where I get ideas for recipes, I always respond the ingredients inspire the recipes!  A collection of  fresh herbs like mint gathered from the garden, a bag of ripe pomegranates from the farmer’s market, some grains I have left in my pantry, or an exotic condiment like pomegranate molasses all feed my recipe creations. As a matter of fact it was this combination of ingredients that inspired me to make my Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with pomegranates, herbs, sultanas and pistachios!

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This pilaf is like a bowl of jewels, made colorful with sparkling pomegranate seeds, parsley, mint, pistachios and sultanas, or golden raisins. The flavors and textures are at once chewy, crunchy, nutty, sweet, and savory.  I serve this dish in the summer as part of a barbecue (as the salad can be eaten at room temperature and is not perishable) or as part of a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast.  Pomegranate seeds are available now all year round in places Trader Joes, and I always keep a supply of pistachios and pine nuts in my freezer ready to go. But the best part of the salad is the dressing, which is so simple and robust because of the pomegranate molasses, which is at once sweet, rich, and tart. That is why I will feature a 3 part series on this very ingredient, to show you how you can incorporate this anti-oxidant rich sweetener into your side dishes, main courses, and desserts!  For the recipe on this insanely delicious bulgur pilaf,  click on the video below:

 

And I realize there are many of you that might not have pomegranate molasses in your neighborhood, so you can cook down pomegranate juice in a saucepan on low heat until it turns syrupy. Or, if you want the real deal, I have partnered with one of my favorite companies called Sadaf, so you can get 10% off your purchase by using my name BLANCHE in the promo code!  You can just visit: http://www.sadaf.com/

I really hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do, and leave your comments below!

Ingredient List:

Fresh Mint

Fresh parsley

Pomegranate seeds

Chicken or vegetable broth

Sultanas (or any other dried fruit you like)

Shelled, roasted, and salted pistachios

Bulgur #3 (largest variety)

Pomegranate molasses

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

 

 

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High Protein Banana Souffle Pancakes!

August 16, 2017

I can’t tell you how long I gave up pancakes. When I was in my 20s, I could metabolize anything with no ill effects, but once I entered my 30s I realized I could not eat a bunch of refined carbs in one sitting.  Take for instance, pancakes. If I indulged in a stack of pancakes for Sunday brunch, I would end up feeling dizzy and light headed from the sugar rush. And worse yet, after two hours I would feel ravenous all over again! So I said, to hell with pancakes for many years…until I discovered how to make low sugar high protein pancakes my way. Now I have them several times a week! These pancakes help me retain my muscle mass, so I eat them after a weight lifting session. I also eat these as a dessert at the end of the day when craving something sweet. As an intermittent faster, I don’t give up breakfast, I just have breakfast later in the day, anytime between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. These pancakes keep me full well until dinner at 6 or 7 pm. 

 

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The magic in these pancakes lies in the protein powder. In the video I used a high quality vanilla whey protein powder by Antler Farms Whey Protein but you can use any kind of protein powder you wish. Just make sure the powder is organic without artificial colors or sweeteners.  I like the Antler Farms brand because there are only 4 ingredients I recognize, and the product is from New Zealand, where the standards for meats and whey protein are high. New Zealand is the world leader in animal welfare, the 1st out of 50 countries in animal protection. Oh, and of course, these pancakes are gluten free because there is no flour! 

For the recipe tutorial, click on the video below, and let me know what you think! If you want more healthy recipes like this just drop me a comment.

 

 

Ingredients:

1 banana

1 egg (or a flax egg for vegans) 

1 scoop  Antler Farms Vanilla Whey Protein Powder

1 tsp coconut oil 

2 tbs whole milk ricotta cheese (or any non dairy soft cheese)

½ tsp baking powder

Toppings: berries, nut butter, sugar free syrup

Garlicky Herb Roasted Artichokes

August 1, 2017

Sometimes,  the time spent cooking with loved ones is just as gratifying as eating the final dish. I don’t think there has ever been a time when my “baby” brother hasn’t made me bust a gut laughing so hard, so it’s no wonder this artichoke video turned out to be a bit um….unconventional for a cooking tutorial.

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Artichokes are such fun finger food for family parties, family gatherings, and picnics. But where who the heck discovered this odd looking vegetable? Many scholars believe artichokes originated in the Middle East, which doesn’t surprise me as there are numerous Arab dishes paying homage to this vegetable. Artichokes are high in fiber and low in fat and carbohydrates, yet meaty, flavorful, and satisfying.  In the following recipe you can use baby artichokes too, but I like to use the large globe varieties and quarter them.  These artichokes make a great appetizer as they are beautiful to look at and fun to share with a group of people as an appetizer.

For the cooking tutorial, click on the video below:

 

 

ROASTED GARLICKY HERB ARTICHOKES

4 whole artichokes

¼ cup lemon juice

3 tbs olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbs  Chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, oregano, thyme, mint or combo of all three

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

First trim the stems of the artichokes to less than 2 inches in length. Slice off the tips of the artichokes with a sharp knife, then slice each artichoke in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the inner “choke” or white fibrous hairs and inner purple leaves.

Toss artichokes in a bowl with the oil, lemon juice garlic, and herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Place on a baking sheet, and wrap the chokes individually with aluminum foil and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes When done, arrange on a plate and serve with either hummus or tzatziki dip.

 

Breaking the Fast with a Pina Colada Smoothie!

July 12, 2017

Because of the incredible feedback I got after I posted my last Intermittent Fasting (IF) on Youtube, I decided to do a 3 part series on this lifestyle. In my last blog I talked about the benefits of IF, and in Part II today I want to talk about the importance of breaking the fast wisely. If you fast for 14 hours or longer, the body is primed for some real nutrition. A mistake some people make is to binge on anything in sight, but it’s important to be gentle to the body after a fast. I usually like to drink a superfood drink containing wheatgrass and spirulina spiked with some lemon juice after a long fast. This combination helps further regulate insulin, and floods the cells with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. I use superfood powders because they provide more condensed nutrition than a bucket of vegetables (which I eat daily anyway in the form of a salad) The powders also save me time and are cost effective. One particular brand I like is called  Organic Greens by Antler Farms.  This particular powder has 4 powerhouse ingredients that are all organic: Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Spirulina, and Chlorella.  One scoop of this stuff is equivalent to 6 wheatgrass shots!  I either drink this right before my first meal, or I drink it between meals, as it gives me energy and even suppresses my appetite. After taking this stuff for about two weeks I noticed I had more energy,  needed less sleep, my skin glowed,  mental clarity improved, and I didn’t need my 10 minute catnaps anymore.  I totally understand that some people might need something more substantial  than a green drink, so in comes my luscious Pina Colada Smoothie. This power shake has plenty of good fats to keep you full, along with fiber from fruits and veggies, and a refreshing creamy flavor perfect for summer!  I love adding any toppings I have on hand, because I love to eat my smoothies rather than drink them–it keeps me satisfied that way. For the recipe, click on the video below:

 

So tell me, are you interested in giving this lifestyle a try? I am so in love the benefits of IF there is no going back now. I haven’t eaten breakfast before noon in 2 months, and I love it that way!

Pina colada smoothie shopping list:

Antler Farms Organic Greens

Cashew Butter or Macadamia Nut Butter   (or any nut or seed butter you like)

Banana

Avocado

Pineapple- good for gut health and eyes! Fights inflammation

Coconut Cream– tropical summer flavor

Spinach -easiest to digest, not as bitter as kale great source of iron and potassium, folate 

Toppings: Toasted Coconut or Macadamia Nuts

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How Intermittent Fasting Changed My Life- On Fasting and Feasting

July 11, 2017

 

While this blog is on Middle Eastern food, I am also a fitness trainer, and am very passionate about health and fitness. Many people in the middle east live long healthy lives because they regularly fast. How many times have you heard “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” or “You have to eat every 3 hours or else your metabolism slows down” or “Don’t eat after 8 PM or else you will pile on weight” or “Never work out without eating something first” What if I told you that every single statement here is wrong? I learned that myself while I tried intermittent fasting for two months. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle where you fast between the last meal you eat and the first meal that you eat the next day. So if you fast after 6 p.m, then don’t eat a single thing until 10:00 am the next morning, that is considered a 16 hour fast. Some people fast 16 hours, some fast 20 hours, some for 24 or more hours. And guess what? That is the most effective way to burn fat stores, because the body is pumping human growth hormone (the fat burning hormone) instead of insulin (the fat storing hormone). So long as you are eating, you are pumping out insulin, so that the body uses the food you just ate for energy. The only way to allow the body to use your fat stores is to fast. Once you are fasted for at least 12 hours, the body will start to burn fat for energy. If you exercise while fasted you even burn that much more fat! So you see, losing weight does not involve spending money, but saving money on food, diet supplements etc! I have lost 7 pounds in 2 months after 8 years with no progress after having my second child. Intermittent fasting works! Intrigued? Check out my latest video on the subject:

 

Interested in trying it our or have any questions? Leave them in the comments below. In my next blog I will talk about the strategic way I break my fast for optimal nutrition!

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