Back to my favorite corner at home, my kitchen! It’s been since I got busy with our move that I haven’t really spent quality time in there. I circulate in the kitchen pretty much most of the day, everyday, having converted it temporarily to an operation room/playroom/dining room while the rest of the house is gradually getting fit for use. Nevertheless, I only recently started using my kitchen to create things that makes my family happy and not only sated. And voila some happiness in a bowl!
It is called Harrak Osba’o (حراق اصبعه) which translates from Arabic to “finger burner” (I promise no finger burning required for the recipe)! It is a Syrian dish that I discovered a couple of years ago when my mother-in-law was entertaining. A fun and really easy vegetarian dish when Mdardara (lentil based Lebanese vegetarian dish) starts becoming meh. It is all about that sour punch that gives it all its juiciness and the secret for that is pomegranate molasses. The recipe combines lentils and pasta seasoned essentially with sautéed onion, garlic and coriander. The combination of a legume (lentil) and a grain product (pasta, preferably whole grain) makes of Harrak Osba’o a rich-in-protein vegan dish. Not to mention that lentils are also rich in fiber, folate and iron. The original recipe includes garnishing the dish with fried pieces of dough or fried pita croutons. I chose to omit this part to keep it as healthy as possible:
Ingredients (4 servings):
- 1 cup of brown lentils
- 1 cup of small shaped pasta
- 1 onion chopped
- 5 garlic cloves mashed
- ½ cup of coriander chopped
- 4 cups of water
- ¼ cup of pomegranate molasses
- 4 spoons of lemon juice
- 1 spoon of vegetable oil
- Salt, to taste
- Place oil, onion, garlic and coriander in a cooking pot and stir-fry
- Add lentils and water, bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes
- Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes
- Add pomegranate molasses and lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes
Sour never tasted so good!
If you want to take a break from Gaudí while in Barcelona but not completely escape the fantasy of his work, why don’t you go to the source of his inspiration… nature! and see what it has to offer: a good place to start is: La Boqueria… at first glance from the Las Ramblas street, La Boqueria seems like yet another produce market, but once I stepped into it, I felt like Alice in Wonderland falling into the rabbit hall and onto an imaginary world where all my culinary fantasies were on creative display, in rich colors and abundance! It’s like a museum of Catalonian culinary tastes had come to life and I was invited… My main challenge though: for the most part, no pictures were allowed (they seem to think they’re a museum too!) but I still managed to get you some!
I was walking by the D&G store and spotted this fruit trolley featuring a certain orangey fruit and I wasn’t quite able to pin down what to call it! Being a nutritionist, I was alarmed and on a mission to solve my dilemma!
I remembered that I’ve always called any tiny-looking orange, labeled “cutie” in the US and “easy-peeler” in Britain, Clementine. Although I knew some of these “tinies” could also be Mandarin or Tangerine, I was never quite confident which is what! After a couple of investigation trips to my local supermarkets, here is what I gathered and hopefully this will help you tie-up your orangey jargon!
Mandarin, Tangerine and Clementine can look pretty similar but each has a unique history & distinctive characteristics
Ultimately though, don’t let those distinctions drive you mad as nutritionally speaking they’re all a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants and rich in soluble fiber, a great cholesterol fighter. After all, despite their unique characteristics, each batch of a given type will taste slightly different as well! So just make sure you get fresh ones and you’re set.
Whether directly from a chimney, a street vendor or even the oven, roasted kastana (arabic & greek for chestnuts) are guaranteed to transport you to cosy land, bringing back fond memories of prior times you gathered around a chimney with family and friends and most importantly they will warm you up!
As I’ve already discussed in a previous post about nuts, chestnuts are also a great source of fiber which lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. Kastana is a great option for an afternoon snack on a cold day and complements an afternoon tea very nicely.
While people often go for the marron glacé version during the holiday season, i’m not a fan from a nutrition perspective as they’re pumped with sugar (but I won’t deny that the marron glacé deserts can be quite delicious, so perhaps limit those unhealthy versions to very special occasions (e.g. over the holidays in a bûche de Noël / Yule log)). If you’re really looking to try a healthy variation from the classic roasted version, remember that chestnuts can be eaten raw – they will have a different texture (crunchier / harder) and the taste will be a bit stronger, but I find they make a great addition to a drink (warm or cold).
Of course, for the ultimate experience, you have to pop on this tune while you enjoy your kastana!
Nuts often get a bad rap for being high in calories but a handful of nuts is a fantastic crunchy and nutritious daily addition to your diet. Not only are they flavorful and filling but in fact, they make an excellent source of vegan protein and are high in fiber and other power nutrients such as phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and Omega-3. It’s currently harvest season for walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and pecan and they are at their peak in taste and nutritious value, so squirrel some away and enrich your meals and snacks!
Here’s what I found in my local market in Chelsea today:
Walnuts’ power: Omega-3 fats ⇒ lower LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides and blood pressure
Hazelnuts’ power: Vitamin E ⇒ antioxidant properties associated with a stronger immunity and healthier skin and eyes
Chestnuts’ power: Fiber ⇒ lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease
Pecans’ power: Antioxidants ⇒ help protect our cells from damages such as cancer
The best way to enjoy nuts is to munch on them raw or to dry-roast them lightly in a pan for 3 to 5 minutes (no burning as it takes away from their nutrition value). Stay away from salted and flavored varieties!
Nuts are also a delightful add-on in so many recipes but here are some basic add-on tips:
- Scrumptiously enjoy them in your breakfast by sprinkling some in your bowl of milk & cereal or cup of granola & yogurt
- Make your salads more filling by adding a handful of nuts
- Complement your steamed rice with some roasted or stir-fried nuts
So many ways to go nuts!
Stopped by a farmers’ market in the small town of Hanalei (Kaua’i island) yesterday and indulged in some exotic organic local produce. The fruits here tasted phenomenal! The main event was my açaí breakfast cup, a blend of nutrients straight from heaven! Açaí is a berry rich in antioxidants and fiber which makes it a heart-healthy and anti-cancer superfood.