5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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Tips & Tricks from a Foodie turned Food Editor!

Shifra Klein, Editor-in-Chief, for Joy of Kosher Magazine

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of attending Shifra Klein’s presentation for my Chabad Women’s Circle. Shifra is the Editor-in-Chief for Joy of Kosher magazine.

shifra klein

She started out as a foodie, then created Bitayavon magazine with her husband, before joining forces with cookbook author Jamie Geller’s Joy of Kosher magazine. We received Joy of Kosher’s Purim issue and it is gorgeous! There are endless recipes for every foodie interest and persuasion. It just so happens that this particular issue has a whole vegan section! Every page is full of useful information.

They’re currently running a special promotion. See below for more information.

Shifra made a number of delicious dishes, including chocolate mousse, mushroom and sweet potato balsamic salad (in this month’s issue) and a green bean salad with mango and pine nuts.

Top 10 Cooking Tips and Tricks

While she cooked, she provided cooking tips and tricks she’s learned over the last few years as she transitioned from Foodie to Food Editor.


joy of kosher

10. When choosing a non-dairy milk to use in a recipe, keep in mind the following: Almond milk and rice milk are the most watery. Soy milk is the thickest. Coconut milk falls in between, but can sometimes impart a coconut flavor, so don’t use it if you don’t want it. Shifra made a kale quiche (perhaps I will try with tofu?) and recommended the thicker soy milk for it.

9. To get the most juice from a lemon, first roll it on your counter for a minute to soften the lemon. Then, contrary to popular practice, cut it in half lengthwise before squeezing out the juice.

8. To keep your green beans bright green: Boil them for just a few minutes until they are still firm and green. Then plunge them into an ice water bath (that’s the chef’s term for a bowl full of very cold water).

7. When you plan to use herbs (such as basil) in a sauce, blanch them quickly, perhaps for 30 seconds, and then plunge them into an ice water bath.

6. You don’t want to serve green beans warm because they will turn dull and brownish if you warm them in the oven or on a warming tray. Serve the green beans at room temperature if cold is inappropriate for your dish.

5. Press your tofu before using it. This will get the water out, firm it up and improve the texture. To do this: Drain the water and take the tofu out of its container. Place a towel or several paper towels under and over the tofu. Place something with weight, like a plate or can, on top of the towel(s). Leave the tofu like this for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the towels and pour off any additional water.

4. For fresh, clean mushroom caps, simply peel the tops. Start at the edge and pull up. Keep moving around the top until you’ve removed all of the skin.

3. To make a recipe vegan, replace honey with agave nectar.

2. To make a non-dairy (vegan, parve) chocolate mousse, simply mix a bag of chocolate chips (pareve, vegan) and 1 cup of hot water. You will want to use a standing mixer so your arm doesn’t go numb. That’s because it takes about 15 minutes, but keep mixing, and you’ll have a fluffy chocolate mousse with no added sugar, oil or eggs.

1. Buy two subscriptions and receive Jamie Geller’s new cookbook free!



My first blog for The Nosher, My Jewish Learning

My first blog for The Nosher, My Jewish Learning

See below for my first blog for My Jewish Learning’s The Nosher Blog.

Maple Squash Pudding

When I first tasted the delicious, and later ubiquitous, butternut squash kugel, I thought I was eating something healthy. However, there is a reason it tasted like cake: It was cake.

My Shabbat host readily admitted that that kugel was full of flour, sugar and oil. That was many years ago. Since then, some version of a squash kugel (whether made from sweet potatoes, butternut squash or pumpkin), has graced most Shabbat tables at which I have had the pleasure of eating, including my own. I never could bring myself to make the classic cake-like recipe.

Instead, for years I used a Hungry Girl recipe that called for egg beaters and artificial sweetener. As I no longer eat animal products or artificial sweeteners, I had to come up with my own healthy alternative.

maple squash kugel 2

I don’t think you’ll find an easier recipe that can be made so quickly and for a crowd…

maple squash kugel









Click here for the full article and recipe.

Healthy Comfort Food and 5 Easy Weeknight Meals!

Healthy Comfort Food and 5 Easy Weeknight Meals!

Are you planning an Academy Awards party? Complete with popcorn, chicken wings, nachos? I’m actually not quite sure what people usually make for these things since I’ve never eaten much of this type of food. I guess there are benefits to having a somewhat sensitive stomach. When I would try to eat the cafeteria food in high school (Pizza and fries were my only daily vegetarian option. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything else they served.) I would feel sick to my stomach for the rest of the day. I just wasn’t born for that much fat and grease.

However, I do love a good pizza, especially one that doesn’t leave me feeling fat, bloated and lethargic. Last night I think I made a pizza you’d be proud to serve to your party guests. Complete with yummy comfort food satisfaction, sans the fat. (See below for recipes for the pizza and accompanying kale chips). Roasted red pepper, blended into the pizza sauce adds a sophisticated sweet and smoky flavor.


If I’ve learned anything over the last few years of studying nutrition, it’s that fat is responsible for most of our unnecessary calories – and therefore – extra weight. Yes, there are good fats and they are important. Contrary to popular belief, olive oil isn’t the pinnacle of good fat. It might be better than corn or peanut oil, but it’s not doing you any favors. Just like people are so focused on protein they think chicken and fish are healthy, just because the body needs some fat to function, it doesn’t mean it needs oil. If you need to have fat, make it count and consume nuts and seeds that also provide you with vitamins and minerals.  You can get fat with nutrients or fat without nutrients. E.g., oil vs. avocadoes, nuts and seeds.

2014-02-27 12.55.11 Along the same lines, you can ingest protein in the form of chicken and fish, along with a bonus of cholesterol, fat, antibiotics, hormones, arsenic and other bleaching and germ-killing agents. Or, you can ingest protein in the form of beans and lentils, with the bonus of natural fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron and folate.  For me, there’s not really a contest. However, I seem to be in the minority, which is why I’m writing the Healthy Family, Healthy You book and sending you healthy recipes, resources and information through this blog.

In fact, if you are a current subscriber to my blog, you’ll be receiving 5 Easy Weeknight Meals by email, in the next week or so. If you are not a current subscriber, I invite you to fill out the little box on the front of the website, or the form on my Facebook page. If you still haven’t subscribed by next week, when I send them out, I’ll send you a little reminder on Facebook and email. :) Remember, I love my official peeps and you can be one of them by subscribing to the blog.

Thank you in advance and enjoy these recipes in the meantime!

Kale Chips


1 bunch kale, olive oil in spray can, sea salt. Optional: Nutritional yeast, garlic powder.


Preheat oven to 425. Rinse kale well and dry thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with olive oil. Place kale (the pieces should not touch one another, so that they will roast, not steam) on parchment paper. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt or Himalayan pink salt over the kale. Add garlic powder or other spices if desired. Nutritional yeast will provide a bit of a cheesy taste. Roast at 425 for 15-20 minutes. You can turn them over halfway through cooking if you are so inclined.



1 1b pizza dough (I used a boule of dough from Breadsmith. They sell whole wheat and white flour dough in bags, as does Trader Joe’s.)

2 roasted red peppers (from a jar is fine)

1 (15 oz) can pizza sauce (I used Don Pepino)

1 (8 oz) container of fresh mushrooms

1 (2.25 oz) can chopped black olives


Preheat oven to 425 or 450. Roll out dough in a round on parchment paper (on a round pizza pan) sprayed with non-stick spray.

Let dough rest for a few minutes. Place the roasted red peppers and pizza sauce in a deep mixing bowl (to prevent staining your clothes) and use an immersion blender to blend the peppers into the sauce. You’ll have enough sauce for two pizzas. Take half the sauce and spread it over the pizza dough, leaving some dough without sauce at the edges. Place the mushrooms on top of the sauce and then the olives on top of the mushrooms.

Cook at 425 or 450 for 25 to 35 minutes. Because of the large amount of vegetables on top of the pizza, it will take longer than a regular pizza to cook.

Party/Meal options: Accompany with kale chips and a baby lettuce salad with balsamic vinaigrette.