Category Archives: Books, Movies, & Music

Cookbook review (giveaway closed): The Healthy Jewish Kitchen

The giveaway winner is . . . comment #2, which is Layla! Congratulations!


I recently received a copy of Paula Shoyer’s new cookbook The Healthy Jewish Kitchen for review. So (as you may have guessed) I’m not Jewish and I don’t eat Kosher–but I was intrigued anyway. I like eating healthy, and I’ll cook anything that’s delicious-looking. And roasted carrots, which she features on the cover, speak to me. Bright green mush also speaks to me. And no, I’m not being sarcastic. Like, I want to be eating it right now. And maybe dip a French fry in it.

If they speak to you too, guess what? You have the chance to get a free copy! *imagine a really cute animal doing a really cute dance at this moment* *thank you*

I just love doing giveaways–it gives me the warm fuzzies. To enter to receive a free copy of this cookbook, just comment below on this post by Tuesday January 30th, 9am Central. Any comment! Like, “I imagined a Preying Mantis doing an adorable Fox trot.” Or “I loathe sharks” (so do I!! We should be best friends).

Anyway. Leafing through the cookbook, I loved the variety of recipes, with everything from Paula’s take on Pho to Fish Tacos (YUM) to Tuna Poke (yes, I love fish, the rawer the better) to Sourdough Challah bread (with a cool explanation on why sourdough is way healthier). I love the focus on health, which is present but not taken to the extreme either. (There’s a way, apparently, to reduce the calories in your rice by 10% which I find slightly mind-blowing.) I love that Paula marks which recipes are Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, etc.–and that there are so many recipes that fit those qualifications. I also think her substitutions to make a recipe Kosher (like switching out the ham in her Split Pea Soup recipe for pink beans) are smart and appealing to those of us who don’t do the whole Kosher thing. (I’d still like to try it with pink beans!)

Overall, the photography is lovely and homey-looking. I seriously can’t get over the Fish Tacos. I mean, look at ’em, people.

Photography by Bill Milne; Copyright owned by Sterling Publishing under a work-for-hire contract;

It was also wonderful to get a bit more educated on what it means to eat Kosher.

If I had one complaint, I’d say it was related to the Pho recipe. The recipe is called “Vietnamese Pho.” But then, in her explanation, Paula says she basically took her chicken soup recipe and added “Asian ingredients” for an “Asian-flavored broth.” One of those ingredients is dark miso. Well, miso is a Japanese ingredient. Don’t get me wrong–I have no problem with taking a recipe, upending it, and putting in whatever the heck ingredients you want–but maybe you shouldn’t call it “Vietnamese Pho” if nothing about it is Vietnamese. Maybe call it Miso Chicken Soup? Or Pho’s Distant but Delicious Second Cousin? Or something like that?

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little cray-cray about this Pho thing.

Yes. Getting off my soap box and moving on.

I’ll counteract the negative with a positive–Paula has a super playful take on Spaghetti and Meatballs that I just found delightful. She does spaghetti squash instead of pasta and little balls of red quinoa rather than meatballs. I don’t know why that tickled me so much. But now I really want to try it. And I’m imagining, from a Kosher perspective, that allows you to put cheese on it.

So! When I have the time, I like to make something from a cookbook before reviewing it. Because that’s the most important part–are the recipes delicious? And you can’t know til you taste them.

I decided to make the Moroccan Lentil Soup. Here it is in its beginning stages:

And . . . *whaddabam, whaddabam, whaddbimbambop* . . .

It was super yummy, guys. Simple (and vegetarian), hearty and lovely. We had it for dinner with sliced pieces of buttered Turano bread (our absolute FAVORITE bread) and an awesome Spanish soft goat cheese.

And I get the share the recipe with you! Woohoo! (my note: I added bouillon cubes and lots of extra salt)


Moroccan Lentil Soup

Parve, Gluten-free, Vegan Serves 10

PREP TIME: Lentils soak 6 hours to overnight; 8 minutes • COOK TIME: 55 minutes • ADVANCE PREP: May be made 3 days in advance or frozen • EQUIPMENT: Measuring cups and spoons, cutting board, knife, vegetable peeler, garlic press, large bowl, colander, large saucepan or soup pot, immersion blender

1 pound (450g) dried lentils, soaked in water to cover for 6 hours or overnight, and then drained

¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped into ¼- to ½-inch (6- to 12-mm) pieces

1 large or 2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, quartered the long way and sliced (see Tip, page 25)

2 stalks celery, cut into ¼- to ½-inch (6- to 12-mm) pieces

2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼- to ½-inch (6- to 12-mm) pieces

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper, divided

8 cups (2L) water

  • In a large bowl, cover the lentils with water and cover for 6 hours or overnight. Drain the lentils and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the thyme, cumin, turmeric, salt, and pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the drained lentils and 8 cups (2L) of water to the soup pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Let the mixture cool for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup for 10 seconds, so that just about one third of the soup is thickened. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Click here for the printer-friendly version: Moroccan Lentil Soup


Thanks Paula for a great cookbook!

If you want to add this cookbook to your collection, here’s a link to the book on Amazon:

The next recipe I want to try from her cookbook are those fish tacos. Just look at that picture again and tell me you don’t want to make them yourself. I dare you. Unless you don’t like fish, in which case, I NEVER KNEW YOU.

Okay, that was a little extreme. Life’s too short to let a piece of fish divide us. Oh, and you might not eat fish because you’re vegetarian or vegan which I TOTALLY RESPECT. In conclusion, ignore everything that I ever said and let love reigneth supreme.

But I will add that because the publishers were nice, they also shared the fish taco recipe. Here it is in case you want to join me:

Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Rice

Good luck and see you on the other side of the giveaway!

Cookbook review: 100% Real

I received a free copy of Sam Talbot’s new cookbook 100% Real to review and will now proceed to gush about it.

First, it’s beautiful. The pictures . . . the pictures. I mean, all it takes is a picture of a runny egg and a slice of avocado and I’m In. All In.

Sam Talbot, who was apparently on the show Top Chef, is a type-1 diabetic, but unless he’d said something about it I never would have known that he cooked with that in mind. Yes, the recipes are healthy, but they’re also sumptuous. He has a nice variety of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes, but also cooks with bacon (score!) and makes cookies.

Photographer: Greg DuPree Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey Prop Styist: Kay Clark

Vegan Cookies, mind you!

Vegan Chocolate Chip and Salted Chili Cookies.

He’s definitely very enthusiastic about staying away from processed foods, eating healthy and using all kinds of alternative ingredients–sometimes to the level of things I’ve never heard of, like hemp milk. And almond cheese. Which, um–does that exist? Do almonds have udders? But, if you’re into the cheese that comes from the milk that comes from the udder of an animal, well, it shouldn’t be too hard to use regular cheese instead.

Me and regular cheese . . . we got an understanding. And the understanding is deep. And the understanding is beautiful. And the understanding is that I eat all of it. Especially when its name is Cambozola.

Enough about cheese.

Instead, let’s all spend a moment looking at this trip-tip steak thingy that’s calling to me.

I’ve made two recipes from 100% Real over the holidays–the sandwich pictured on the front (who could resist that glorious photograph), and the most amazing bowl ever.

Lemme tell you about this bowl. It starts with a base of cauliflower rice. My mother-in-law tells me cauliflower rice is the new rage. I’d never heard of it before. Maybe because I’m a mother of three young children and way out of touch with the rage. I’m more in touch with Frozen (yes, it’s still Frozen), Duplo vehicles and the notorious “Get me” game which involves my two oldest running up and down the length of the house and leaping into my arms at speeds upwards of 30 mph. Repeatedly. This usually begins 0.3 seconds after I walk in the door from work.

So far, no one has been injured.

This is not expected to last.

And I love it–the kids, the squeeling, the risk of bodily injury. It just keeps me very out of the loop. If there’s buzz around town about this or that, I can pretty much be guaranteed to miss it, entirely.

Anyway! Cauliflower Rice. It’s magical. Sam then tops it with roasted brussel sprouts and carrots, a shredded rotisserie chicken tossed with a MAGICAL DRESSING (yes, it’s necessary to capitalize that, and you won’t understand until you make it) and cashews.

Guys, this is the kind of recipe that during the work week I might look at, think too many steps and longingly set aside. But it turns out it’s totally doable and not as complex as you may think. I might need to capitalize that too–TOTALLY DOABLE. There, that’s better. And the payoff is worth every second spent on it.

Photographer: Greg DuPree Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey Prop Styist: Kay Clark

So. If you’re into healthy eating, if you like to eat vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free, if you’re diabetic, if you’re not diabetic but just like yummy food, if you hate food but like looking at pictures of food, well–this is an awesome cookbook that you should check out.

On the other hand, if reading the words “Almond Cheese” in an ingredient list makes you irrationally angry, then this probably isn’t the cookbook for you.

And that about sums it up.

And hey! I got permission to post the magical recipe below. Yay!

If you feel the uncontrollable urge to purchase this book for yourself, here’s a link to it on Amazon. If not, grab it at your library.

Enjoy the Chicken Bowl!

Easy Cauliflower Rice with Roasted Vegetables and Chicken 

Hands-on: 20 minutes Total: 55 minutes Serves 4


1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved lengthwise

1 (8-ounce) package peeled baby carrots with tops, halved lengthwise

1 small red onion, halved, cut into 3/4-inch wedges

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 rotisserie chicken

2 tablespoons finely chopped jarred preserved lemon

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon coconut sugar

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

1 head cauliflower (about  2 pounds), cut into florets

1/4 cup chopped, roasted unsalted cashews

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss together the Brussels sprouts, carrots, onion, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper in a bowl. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until the vegetables are tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
  2. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken. Remove the meat, and shred to equal about 2 cups. Whisk together the preserved lemon, shallot, vinegar, coconut sugar, curry powder, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small bowl. Toss the shredded chicken with 3 tablespoons of the dressing.
  3. Pulse the florets in a food processor until the cauliflower is finely chopped and resembles uncooked rice or couscous. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high; add the cauliflower and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once or twice, until just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Divide the cauliflower evenly among 4 bowls; top with the caramelized vegetables and chicken, and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Sprinkle with the cashews.

TIP: You can use cauliflower rice as an easy side that goes with anything you normally would serve with regular rice. One head of cauliflower gives you about 4 cups of “rice.”

Excerpted from 100% Real by Sam Talbot. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Easy Cauliflower Rice with Roasted Vegetables and Chicken