Skip to content

Baba Ghanoush- A Story of Love

November 29, 2017

Hummus gets so much attention and glory. Restaurants feature hummus mixed with every vegetable under the sun, ranging from sun dried tomatoes to red peppers. School children now eat this dip with pitas as a lunch addition without a thought. Nutritionists recommend hummus as a healthy snack. But there is one cousin to hummus that is just as delicious, but barely gets any love, and that is Baba ghanoush. This is ironic because this dip was born from the love of a daughter towards her father. 

Can you feel that love?

 

babagan

 

In Arabic baba ghanoush means “pampered papa.”  According to old Arabic folklore originating in Syria, there was a caring daughter who mashed all of the food she cooked for her elderly toothless father, or baba, as he was unable to chew. One of the vegetables she mashed was eggplant, with the addition of olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini. This was the precursor to the popular baba ghanoush today. But you don’t have to be toothless to fall in love with this dip. 😉  Baba ghanoush is at once silky in texture and smoky in flavor, versatile with fancy accompaniments from seeded crackers to fresh baguette slices. However, traditional Arabs from the Levant eat baba ghanoush for breakfast with pita bread and a variety of pickles and vegetables. This dip was standard fare in all of my family picnics, not prone to spoiling in the summer heat like mayonnaise based dips. But I really love dressing baba ghanoush up for the holidays like Christmas, because the red from the pomegranate seeds and parsley traditionally added look so festive. I switched up the pomegranates for chopped bell pepper in the picture below for similar effect.  It’s fun to pair this dip with crackers, baguette slices, or in this case, brioche toasts:

 

File Nov 29, 12 19 08 PM

 

Want to learn how to make this easy recipe? Just click on the video link below:

 

 

Ingredients:

1   large or 2 small eggplants  

   Juice of 1 lemon, to taste  

1   clove minced garlic  

1/4 cup tahini

Salt to taste

2   tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  

 Liquid smoke, optional  

½ cup  Fresh chopped parsley  

 Pita bread, for serving  

 

Directions in the video above. 😉

Advertisements

5 Phrases in Arabic that Will Deter Annoying People…

November 16, 2017

The first question I am often asked as someone that speaks Arabic is “Can you teach me some swear words?”  For whatever reason, people would rather spew clouds of vitriol in every language of the rainbow than whisper sweet nothings. I get it though, I have been known to swear like a sailor particularly behind the wheel, when those angry words come out as effortlessly as a tulip on a spring day.  Whether you love swear words or hate them, they are a way to feel powerful in a sometimes powerless situation, and a great way to vent when no one is listening outside your thick car windows 🙂 However, I grew up in a loud yet conservative family. Meaning my parents always sounded like they were yelling even if they weren’t even fighting, it’s just an Arab thing.  But at the same time my mom would faint if she heard me swearing in public. I could just hear her in her slight accent,”Blanche, you don’t want people to think you have a sewer mouth, do you?!” Then there is my late grandfather and best friend, God rest his soul, who always told me “Blanche, show your class and not your ass.”  So, since I am in this quandary, I thought I would release a video on how to express your anger in Arabic without cuss words, which is very easy to do. You see Arabic has thousands of expressions for even the most insignificant things in our lives–the language and analogies are so rich and ancient. Feel free to use these 5 phrases when people piss you off. They don’t even have to know what the hell you are talking about, they will just know to back off 😀   Now if you really need to know some swear words,  or want more Arabic lessons in general, hit “like” on this blog or leave a comment, I just might think about it lol.

 

“Baba Ghanoush” Tart

November 7, 2017

Thanksgiving is just brimming with so many sweet pies and tarts. Pumpkin, apple, pecan,  and rhubarb pies have all dominated our Thanksgiving dessert table for many years. However, as more and more family members have been diagnosed  with diabetes or weight issues, I thought why not make a rich, satisfying tart without all of that sugar? My baba ghanoush tart was born when I had all of the ingredients for this smoky eggplant dip, and a sack of almond flour I wanted to experiment with.

 

File Nov 06, 12 28 55 PM

 

I made a gluten free crust that held together well the almond flour,  some zesty paremesan cheese and a dash of thyme for that savory flavor. The filling is basically a deconstruction of baba ghanoush dip: roasted eggplant and tomato, caramelized onions, and tahini for a rich and creamy texture. You can really go crazy with the toppings. I use walnuts and goat cheese, but you can use pretty much any nuts or cheese you wish. Pine nuts and gruyere work well too!  This tart is as beautiful to look at, as it is delicious it is to eat.

 

File Nov 06, 12 28 40 PM

 

 

For the instructions on how to make this tart, click on the video below. You can get started by getting the ingredients in the list below as well. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Ingredients for the pastry shell (fits a 9 inch tart pan)

1/2 teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme

2 cups of almond flour

½  cup of Parmesan cheese (grated)

1/.4  cup (or so) of water

2 tbs olive oil

Ingredients for the filling

2 tomatoes, sliced

2 small  eggplant, cut into 1 inch slices

1/2 cup of goat cheese

3 tbs olive oil, plus more for brushing vegetables

2 onions, thinly sliced  

1/4 cup of pine nuts (toasted)

¼ cup tahini

Salt to taste

 

100 Calorie Fudgy Paleo Brownies!

October 24, 2017

 

Hello friends…do you know what? I am done with black bean brownies. And beet brownies, and spinach brownies, and all the other funky hippy variations of brownies. Because when I get the hankering for something fudgy and chocolatey, I want the real deal, and I don’t want to have to pick kale out of my teeth after a dessert. Enter my 116 calorie paleo fudge brownies, (ok so that is 16 calories more than 100 but who really cares?). I kept experimenting in my kitchen until I got the right flavor and consistency, and these are not only my favorite “clean” brownies, my kids love them too!

brownie2

 

A lowcarb blend of organic vegan chocolate protein powder, coconut flour, and cocoa powder replace traditional white flour. This ensures a healthy dose of protein and fiber with no sugars. Then I add nut butter for richness and good fats. A dose of pureed pumpkin makes these brownies moist and fudgy with a hefty dose of vitamin A. In fact I recommend pumpkin in all baked goods, as a great replacement for oil or butter. Finally a little bit of maple syrup and sugar free syrup add the perfect amount of sweetness. While this recipe does require an egg, vegans can use a “flax egg” which is 1 tbs flaxseed meal plus 2.5 tbs of water. So, while everyone is munching on GMO Halloween candy this year, I will be feasting on my feel good brownies, with a few chocolate chips thrown in. 😉  Want the recipe, click on the video below, and check out the amazing macros of these brownies as well!

Nutrition Facts
Servings 8.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 116
Total Fat 6 g 10 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 7 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Total Carbohydrate 12 g 4 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 14 %
Sugars 4 g
Protein 6 g 11 %
Vitamin A 54 %
Iron 10 %

 

Grocery List:

1 egg

2 tbs maple syrup

¼ c Sugar free syrup (I like Joseph’s brand)

¾ cup canned pureed pumpkin

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)

2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I use Orgain)

2 tsp coconut flour

(Directions in Video)

11 Signs That you Grew Up in Middle Eastern Home….

October 18, 2017

Part of my mission with this Feast in the Middle East project is to increase cultural understanding. There were certainly some unique cultural experiences that I had in my upbringing as a first generation Arab American that some people might find a little kooky.  Conversely, if you grew up in a Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian, Armenian, Greek, or even Italian household, some of these experiences might resonate with you, and make you think “Oooh I am not the only one!”  So, I hope if you had these experiences as well growing up you will feel validated!  If my video below sounds completely foreign to you, hopefully you have gained a deeper understanding of Middle Eastern culture. If you have experiences to add to this list, please leave them in the comments below! I will be uploading a new healthy dessert recipe next week, but in the meantime, hope you enjoy this video:

 

 

 

Middle Eastern Lentil Lettuce Cups with Butternut Squash & Tahini Dipping Sauce

October 10, 2017

There is a fun element in vegan cooking that you just don’t get with meat based dishes. You get to tap into the fruits and vegetables of the season, and think of using them in creative and fanciful ways to appeal to the whole family. You can even get children engaged in vegan cooking by starting at the farmer’s market. In the fall the market is brimming with crimson pomegranates and apples, golden with butternut squash, persimmons and clementines, and violet with fresh eggplant. Once you pick your selected vegetables together, you can then engage them with a fun dish that features their vegetable of choice–like my Lentil Lettuce cups with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms.

 

File Oct 10, 3 51 07 PM

 

This dish is so hearty and earthy you won’t miss the meat. The addition of mushrooms adds a meaty component and extra protein as well–yes mushrooms have protein too! I love incorporating lentils in vegan cooking because they everything you need in a perfect food: protein, fiber, iron, and tons of flavor when mixed with the right spices and vegetables. The butternut squash and onion add beautiful color and a caramelized sweetness. Wrapping this warm fall harvest in lettuce wraps makes the whole eating experience fun and interactive for all ages. It also slows down eating, forcing one to eat mindfully and savor every bite.

 

File Oct 10, 3 50 27 PM

 

Want the easy recipe? Click on the video below and cook with me–and if you want more vegan recipes, please let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Grocery List

Lentils (I love the precooked kind at Trader Joes)

Onion

Garlic

Butternut Squash

Mushroms

Olive oil

Cumin

Turmeric

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter lettuce

Tahini

Maple Syrup

Lemon Juice

Liquid Aminos

IS YOUR OLIVE OIL FAKE? 5 ways to find out!

October 4, 2017

Just as Whole Foods claims everything in their store is GMO free when in reality that is far from the truth,  many olive oil producers claim their oil is pure and extra virgin, when their oil is not even close. Even though the label may say “Cold pressed, organic, extra virgin olive oil, made in Italy,” the reality is you can’t find that criteria in an olive oil for $4.99 a bottle (unless the bottle is super tiny). The truth is many producers take rotten olives, or worse, soybean or canola oil and add chlorophyll or beta carotene to make the oil green—or they deodorize the oil  to erase any bad smells or flavors. There are olive oil “mafias” that try to control the many aspects of oil production in Italy and beyond, because it is a very lucrative product.

 

how-to-tell-olive-oil-fake-fb

Even our own FDA cannot monitor whether the oil you buy in the United States is truly organic or not.  And to add to the confusion, the average American palate cannot recognize the true flavor of olive oil, as their tastes have been eroded by the glut of mediocre olive oils. Olive oil commercials do more damage when they tell consumers to  value a “mild smoothness” of flavor versus the robust, rich, fruity and peppery taste of good quality oil. There is indeed quite a bit of corruption in the olive oil industry, but that should never stop one for seeking the real deal, as the health benefits are astounding.  Really amazing olive oil is very difficult and expensive to produce, but have hope–it’s out there! There are ethical growers and producers that take their olive oil very seriously like an art form– from Italy, Spain, Palestine, and yes, California. I have listed some of my favorites below, based on research and taste tests. But if you want to really know the 5 tips on how to choose the best olive oil (and make sure it isn’t fake) check out my latest 5 minute video:

 

EXCELLENT OLIVE OILS (that pass the test for ethical standards and great flavor):

California Olive Ranch  (CALIFORNIA) 

Corto EVOO 500ml (CALIFORNIA)

Organic Fair Trade Nabali Extra Virgin Olive Oil (500 ml) (PALESTINE)

Crudo Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2016 (500 ml) (ITALY)

Valdueza Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 500ml (SPAIN)

 

%d bloggers like this: