Delicious and Nutritious Israeli Tahini Smoothie

tahini shake

If you follow my Instagram, which I post on daily, you know I love smoothies!  My husband and I drink them daily.  Since it’s been a while since I shared a recipe with you I decided this smoothie has to be my next recipe for the blog.  It’s officially amazing and so good for you!

If you are not familiar with tahini it’s sesame paste that is used in several Middle Eastern dishes.  It comes very thick in the jar and can be thinned out with water or lemon juice.  It’s one of the main ingredients in hummus and is amazing as a dressing.  When we were in Israel last fall they were pouring it over their ice cream.  You can find tahini in most large supermarkets, I love the Organic Tahini from Trader Joe’s-it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.

This recipe calls for half a cup of Taster’s Choice coffee in the hazelnut flavor.  In the Middle East Nescafe and instant coffee are very popular.  My husband likes Taster’s Choice and for a change he’s been trying the hazelnut flavor.  I pre-brewed the coffee.  When making a smoothie start with the liquid ingredients first and then add the solid ingredients.  I make my smoothies in a Ninja every morning, but a blender works fine too.

The recipe for this is to simply blend:

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1 c. of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 c. of hazelnut Taster’s Choice coffee

1 tbsn. of tahini

2 bananas

2 packets of Stevia or a tbsn. of honey (agave or maple syrup would work too)

It’s a really great way to wake up in the morning.  You have a caffeine kick from the coffee, potassium from the banana, healthy fats from the tahini, and calcium from the almond milk.  It has a deeper taste than a traditional peanut butter and banana smoothie.  The hazelnut coffee mixes with the sesame flavor beautifully.  I hope you enjoy this recipe.  I’ll be sure to share more recipes soon!

Tip:  To make the smoothie vegan omit the honey.

How to Talk to Your Toddler About Art

This post was truly 15 years in the making.  I have taught children ages 0-18 art since I was practically a teenager.  In my experience, the younger kids are exposed to art and included in discussions about art, the more comfortable they are as they grow up.  Looking at and discussing art can create more visually observant children and expand their vocabulary as they are in a new place having a new experience, therefore, learning new words.  How often do you discuss texture and negative space at home?  Probably never right?  At the art museum they are exposed to these concepts and their minds are broadened.

1. Start with the Elements of Art-texture, shape, color, form, line, space, and value. A 2 year old who is learning colors and shapes can repeat the names of colors and maybe recognize shapes.  “Is that a circle or a square”? ” What color is that star?”  An older child-around 4 or 5 can perceive texture-“How do you think the painting would feel if you could touch it?  Bumpy or smooth?”  That can lead to a conversation about paint application.

 

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2. Discuss the subject matter of the artwork.  Kids might see something familiar such as a puppy (portrait) or an apple (still life).  A young child can understand that a portrait is a picture of a person or animal.  Keep it simple.  A landscape is a picture of a place.  Then have the child point out all the landscapes in the Impressionist wing or the portraits in the photography gallery.

3.  Show the child how to read the placards next to each work of art-even if they can’t read.  Tell them who the artist of the work was/is, where they were born, and the title of the work. From that information alone a 3 or 4 year old can have a lengthy discussion about a work of art. Ask them why they think the artist titled the artwork with that particular title or, for example, tie in the fact that the artist is from Italy to other facts about Italy they already know.

4.  Don’t forget that looking at art can be a character building experience.  Don’t be shy to discuss the emotions behind a work of art.  Discuss how the use of blue in Picasso’s painting is supposed to convey sadness or the strong, swirling lines in Van Gogh’s Starry Night show his loneliness.  This can empower your child to feel more open with discussing their feelings with you and teach children that it’s best to look for a positive outlet to express their emotions.

Art is all around us-it’s in advertising, the clothes we wear, the homes we buy.  Everything around us was created by someone and we choose what messages we are sending to the world in our aesthetic response.  Conversations about art give children a better grasp on the messages they are being sent and will send out in the future.  Don’t be afraid to take littles to a gallery or a museum.  My last tip is to start small with a local gallery or a museum that has kids programming, to keep their interest throughout the experience.

Matboucha Tutorial and Recipe Suggestions

About a month ago I shared with you my Matboucha recipe.  It’s a spicy, cooked salad from Morocco. It’s a staple in my household.  I make it every Friday for our Sabbath meal as my husband is of Moroccan decent.  I am including a video tutorial on how to prepare it as it is a little tricky for beginner chefs and recipe suggestions on how to use this delicious salad will be posted below.

 

 


Recipe Suggestions:

1.  Eat with charred pita and hummus.  It’s delicious either hot or cold.

2.  Incorporate it into a sandwich like grilled cheese or as a burger topping.

3.  Top off a seared salmon filet with a spoonful of Matboucha.
5.  Use it in a quiche. Spoon a generous helping into a store bought pie-crust.  Beat 4 eggs with salt and pepper, pour them into the pie shell.  Add smoked provolone on top and bake for 50 minutes at 350F.

6. Start an omelet with olive oil and Matboucha.  Then add your beaten eggs and cheese once the moisture has evaporated.

7.  Top of rice or quinoa with Matboucha and a chopped hard boiled egg.

Truly the options are limitless!

Easy and Beautiful Gluten-free, Vegan, and Kosher Gift Basket

For the holidays I struggled with the idea of what to get my parents this year. In years past when I was making a salary I could purchase them anything I wanted but this year was different as I’m a stay at home mom.   I figured DIY would be the way to go this year.  My dad just recently switched to a gluten-free diet. In my home we keep kosher and vegetarian. So as my parents were visiting I figured it would be a lovely hostess type presentation to give my dad a gluten- free gift basket that he could snack from while staying with me.

 

I started with this tin basket that I found at Michael’s. I got it for 40% off with my coupon which turned out to be a great deal. Then I went on to find some cute snowflake tin containers that I could put different food items and as well as snowflake treat bags.

I filled the gift tins and treat bags with nuts and a dried fruit. I included a bag of gluten-free pretzels and a bag of gluten-free granola. I found all of these items at Trader Joe’s.  If you go to their customer service they will print you out a list of all of their gluten-free items which is so incredibly helpful.

This turned out to be a really easy and useful gift for my dad. He didn’t have to go searching in my pantry for something to eat. He had plenty to eat while he was at my house despite all of the very different diets that we have in my home. This would make a great gift to anybody who’s visiting or staying with you. Also this would be a great teacher gift as it was fairly inexpensive and only took about 30 minutes to put together!  For shipping: I would recommend wrapping cellophane around it and tying some ribbon on top before putting it into the box so everything will stay pretty well in tact during the shipping. I also would recommend going with a lighter box, maybe even a wooden crate which they have plenty of at Michael’s and with that 40% off coupon it would be very inexpensive. You could also paint the crates different colors and match them with your tins!

Make Ahead Pesto with DoTerra Oregano Essential Oil (Kosher, Vegan, Gluten -Free)

make-ahead-pestoAs you know I love essential oils. I am actually not at all advertising for DoTerra -I don’t have a membership anymore and I’m not selling oils. I do believe in the oils and I use them every day.  I use DoTerra products every day. I believe that they do help overtime to make your family a little bit healthier. I have started cooking more and more with DoTerra oils.  This is an easy pesto that you can make ahead of time and freeze in baby food jars and have on hand when you want to make pastas or pizzas or flat breads or avocado toast. I use a Ninja to process all of the ingredients but this can be done in a food processor or blender. I also will be sharing with you how to do this with a pasta and brussels sprouts which is how I’ve been serving it almost weekly to my husband -he loves it!  This recipe is kosher, vegan, and gluten free!
Ingredients:

1 stalk of brussel sprouts

12 oz. of pasta (I used brown rice and quinoa pasta from Trader Joe’s.)

16 oz. of fresh basil

6 oz. of Olive Oil plus 2tbs. For the brussel sprouts

2 tbs. garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

6 drops of DoTerra Oregano Oil

Directions:

Set the oven to 350°F. Remove the brussels sprouts from the stock using a serrated knife and then cut each of them and have removing the outer petals. Wash all of the brussel sprouts. I did this by placing on my brussel sprouts in a colander and then rinsing them off.  Set out a large pot of water with lots of salt and placed on the stove on high heat.

While you are waiting for the water to boil put all your brussels sprouts on a cookie sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix it up with your hands.  Put the brussels sprouts into the oven for 30 minutes.

By now the pasta water should be boiling add your pasta and cook according to the instructions on the box. While your pasta is cooking put the basil,  6 ounces of olive oil, garlic and oregano oil into the blender or food processor and blend until you see all the ingredients are completely combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste and blend one more time.  I only use 2 ounces of the pesto each time I make my pasta or pizzas so I put them into baby food jars and store them in the freezer.  They store nicely for about six weeks. If you really want to give your pesto a healthy boost you can add one or two more drops of oregano oil once it has defrosted on the countertop. The defrosting usually takes about an hour and a half at room temperature.

Shakshuka Pizza with a Beer Bread Crust

shakshouka pizza.jpg

One thing about cooking is that I like to use an ingredient or leftovers to make something new. Last week I shared with you my recipe for matbucha.  Which you can find here. You will need to make it in order to complete this recipe-as it becomes the sauce for my pizza.

Shakshuka is basically matbucha with basted eggs on top.  It’s a really popular breakfast food in Israel. Every restaurant has their own version and it’s incredibly delicious along with some pita bread or some Israeli salad.  I saw a video last year on how to make this pizza but they just used tomato paste, onion, and some spices. Tomato paste has such a strong flavor and such a richness that I think it would be overwhelming. I believe using the leftover matbucha makes for more complex flavor.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. of flour, plus a little extra for rolling out the dough

1 c. beer

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. salt

6 tbsp. matbucha

2 c. feta cheese crumbles

4 eggs

Directions:  Pre-heat oven to 350 F.  Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with either a standalone mixer or hand mixer on medium for a minute.  Pour in a cup of beer and mix until a dough is formed on medium, scraping the sides down. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and transfer onto a baking sheet.  Spread the matbucha out over the dough and crack four eggs over different areas of the pizza, nesting the eggs throughout. Then sprinkle your feta crumbles all over.  Bake for 25 minutes and enjoy!!!

Matboucha Recipe

matbouchaMatboucha is a warm tomato and bell pepper salad eaten commonly in Israeli and Moroccan cultures.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite foods.  Typically, in a Moroccan home the first course of a meal has several cooked and raw salads which are followed which a chicken/fish/beef course.  My husband’s grandmothers used to make 12 salads for the sabbath meal every week I’ve been told! That’s a lot of vegetables to chop!  I typically do four or five vegetable dishes for the sabbath dinner and this is one of the regulars.

Ingredients:

8 beefsteak tomatoes

1 c. of water

1 red and 1 green bell pepper

2 red chili peppers

6 cloves of garlic

1 onion

1 beef bouillon cube

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tbsn. cumin

Rinse all the tomatoes and cut and X into each one of them on the bottom. Fill a large pot with water and place of tomatoes in.

Boil the tomatoes about 30 minutes -you should see them peeled start to shrivel up on the tomatoes. Then place them into a bowl with ice to cold shock them. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to touch peel off the skinfrom the bottom where the x is.  Add 1 tbsp. of olive oil into a pan.  Dice both of the bell peppers. Dice half of the onion. Place the peppers and onion into a large pan and cover with one couple water. Allow the water to soften the peppers on medium high heat, partially covered.


Peel the six cloves of garlic, dice the tomatoes and place them all into the pan along with the peppers and onion. Fill up a coffee cup halfway boiling hot water toss the bouillon cube, the salt and pepper with the cumin in to the cup. Break up the cube of bouillon with a fork, stir and blend the spices with the hot water and pour over the vegetables.  I use a vegetarian beef bouillon cube but you can use the real thing. Rinse  and add the two chili peppers, whole, with the salad. Allow everything to cook on medium heat partially covered. Use a potatoe masher to mash the vegetables down a little as you go.

Stir about every five minutes making sure nothing is burning on the bottom of the pan and then smooth over the mixture with the large spoon to see if there still liquid in the mixture. You’re looking to see that all the liquid evaporates out enjoy left with this sort of soft melange of vegetables and spices. Once all the liquid has evaporated turn the heat off and enjoy with a side of pita bread or challah bread. It’s delicious to make a sandwich with it with hummus or with hard-boiled eggs. I’ll be teaching you how to use it in a pizza in a future post.

Family Trip to Israel Pt. 2

family-trip-to-israel-pt-2This is a story about baklava, lots of baklava.  During our second week in Israel my husband and I had the opportunity to go on a date.  We NEVER have date nights. So we decided to have a little adventure and find the famous baklava shop in the Wadi Nisnas Market

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I had heard about this place by watching Best Street Food From Around the World on Netflix.  I couldn’t believe they had an episode on Haifa-only Haifa, no Tel Aviv or Jerusalem!  I watched this while I was pregnant with Adam and had the worst sweet tooth-and my husband promised he would take me.  Wadi Nisnas is a nice market, not nearly as impressive as Maheneh Yehuda, but a good size.  It sits on a mountain overlooking the port.  We walked up and down the streets holding hands.  My husband stopped a few people asking them in Hebrew for directions.

When we found the baklava shop we couldn’t believe the variety they had.  Some were cigar shaped, some were squares, some had almonds, some had pistachios-all looked incredible.   The smell of honey perfumed the air as we made our choices, but it was hardly a choice.  We sampled at least two-thirds of the variety the offered.  

My favorite had anise and almonds.  The flavor was delicate and it just melted in my mouth.  I’m going to try a few baklava recipes after the holidays.  It’s in my blood after all-my family is Macedonian.  I will be sharing my recipes on the blog so be sure to check back!

Edible Sensory Sorting Activity

sensoryTwo weeks ago I posted a Nature Sensory Activity I did with my babies.  I knew immediately after putting the muffin tin in front of Adam he would try to eat some of the natural objects I had included, so I thought “Why not do an edible sorting activity?” So here it is.  I chose 3 of his favorite snacks right now that are different sizes, textures, and colors.  I think next time I will aim to include a variety of shapes,  this time I made it a point that  that each food was a circle into the activity.

edible-sorting-activity

When I gave Adam the tray I talked to him about how these are  foods we eat that are all circle shapes.  “We have an orange circle.” We counted how many orange circles we had.  “These are yellow circles that come in sets of two.” We counted how many sets of bananas we had.  I talked with him about colors, shapes, and sizes.  As he started to eat the foods and move them around in the tin I asked him how the food felt in his hand.  Ofcourse, he couldn’t answer, so I taught him words that have to do with types of texture such as “smooth,” “creamy” and “rough.”

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Overall this activity was a hit and one that I plan to do again on a regular basis with him and his older brother.  We were able to categorize objects, count objects, describe their physical characteristics-which would be great to do with a toddler who is developing his speech like Ben.