Jun 112012
KYV Eggplants, Heirloom Tomatos, Peppers and Cucumbers
Oxidative Stress is becoming a big buzzword nowadays – but what exactly is it?  Oxidative stress is the imbalance of our bodies oxidizing at a greater rate than its ability to detoxify. Something we’re all familiar with is the oxidation of an apple or avocado when we cut it – that is why the flesh turns brown when it comes in contact with the air.

What worsens the oxidative stress in our bodies is the presence of free radicals, according to Dr Weil, author of Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being (Knopf, 2005), they are “electronically unstable atoms or molecules capable of stripping electrons from any other molecules they meet in an effort to achieve stability. In their wake they create even more unstable molecules that then attack their neighbors in domino-like chain reactions.

By the time a free radical chain fizzles out, it may have ripped through vital componentsof cells like a tornado, causing extensive damage, similar to that caused by ionizing radiation.

What we eat, our lack of exercise, radiation and pollution all contribute to the presence of these free radicals. Studies show that this stress, in turn leads to a host of diseases such as Alzheimer’s to Lou Gherigs – the disease my grandfather had.
My grandfather was a testament to the power of REAL FOOD. Typically someone with ALS will live around five years. My grandmother, following a macrobiotic diet, kept him alive into his mid seventies-he was diagnosed in his 50s.
So what do we do about this? Eat antioxidants!

Antioxidants combat oxidative stress by neutralizing these free radicals and helping the body repair the damage.

A food that we all know contains lots of antioxidants is berries, top on the list at Mayo Clinic, along with sweet potatoes, oats, cinnamon and walnuts.

What has even more antioxidants than berries and the whole reason I’ve been doing more research?

Mila.  As I have been getting more and more questions and interest surrounding this food I have spent a significant amount of time doing the research on its benefits and how to incorporate it, deliciously, into our diets.
Try some for yourself! Click here.

In this month’s issue of Cooking Light there were several eggplant recipes that caught my eye as I had gotten two with my farm share. I love anything with tahini and beans so this sounded like the perfect recipe.  Instead of egg I used Mila to create the binding and add Omega 3s to a vegan dish.

Even though the ingredient list is long, I was not disappointed.  I loved the bean flavorful bean mixture inside the eggplant and the warm, nutty sauce on top.  The relish added a cool finish to the dish. Mixing raw and cooked ingredients creates lots of interesting textures. I definitely rate this one highly-next time I may even use the stuffing in another vegetable since it’s so versatile!

Vegan Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant withTahini Sauce and Tomato Relish

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


Tahini sauce:
3 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced

2 eggplants (about 12 ounces or 340 grams each)
Cooking spray
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh gluten free breadcrumbs (or regular)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 Tbsp Mila + 6 Tbsp water (in place of two large eggs – feel free to use if you have those on hand or have a seed allergy and are not eating vegan).
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans (chickpeas can also be used)


1 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/2 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


1. To prepare sauce, combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 475°.

3. To prepare eggplant, slice the eggplants in half lengthwise; score cut sides with a crosshatch pattern. Place the eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 475° for 7 minutes or until slightly tender and browned. Remove from oven; carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a 3/4-inch shell. Reserve pulp for another use. Season cut sides with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

4. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, onion, and remaining ingredients (through pinto beans or
chickpeas) in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon 1/2 cup pinto (or chickpea) mixture into each eggplant shell. Bake at 475° for 25 minutes or until eggplant halves are tender and pinto mixture is lightly browned.

5. To prepare relish, combine the tomato and remaining ingredients in a bowl; stir to combine.

6. Place 1 eggplant half on each of 4 plates. Top each half with 1/4 cup relish and 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 341.6
Total Fat 12.6 g
Saturated Fat 1.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 5.8 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 712.8 mg
Potassium 1,070.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 47.4 g
Dietary Fiber 16.8 g
Sugars 1.6 g
Protein 14.0 g
Vitamin A 16.3 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 19.8 %
Vitamin C 38.8 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 5.3 %
Calcium 13.3 %
Copper 29.6 %
Folate 61.9 %
Iron 28.5 %
Magnesium 28.4 %
Manganese 53.3 %
Niacin 11.3 %
Pantothenic Acid 9.2 %
Phosphorus 33.9 %
Riboflavin 13.4 %
Selenium 12.3 %
Thiamin 30.2 %
Zinc 14.0 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Feb 222012
There is a group of girls that are my lunch friends.  The same group gets together about every other week and we typically choose sushi or, our favorite Mediterranean restaurant, Mandaloun.
This is one of those hidden gems that is tucked away in a non-descript strip mall.  No one would ever know it was there other by word of mouth. 
Lucky for them I have a pretty big mouth.
The owner’s name is Pierre and he is originally from Lebanon.  His family has a history of catering and hospitality that dates back to the 30s when their first restaurant was opened in the mountains of South Lebanon.

It’s no wonder that anyone I bring there is delighted. My two favorite items to order are an authentic, insanely and deliciously tangy, fresh fattoush salad and a salad bar-complete with naturally vegan options-lentil soup, steaming soft pita, creamy hummus, babaghanouj and beans, salads and a hot bar.
This was another plus to this restaurant. When I cut out meat and dairy, I could still come and get exactly the same thing I would normally get.
Such as this balila. They only make it a few days a week and it was so amazing I asked him what was in it. This is my (much quicker) interpretation.
Lebanese Chickpea Balila
Inspired by Mandaloun Mediterranean and this recipe
Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup organic, sodium free vegetable broth

4 tablespoons lemon juice (about one lemon)
¼ cup parsley, chopped

¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)


1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic and cumin about two minutes, stirring constantly. 

2. Add chickpeas and salt, cook 3 to 4 minutes.  Smoosh about 1/3 of the chickpeas with a fork.

3. Add broth and lemon, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 7 to 10 minutes or until thickened.  Top with parsley and pine nuts

Sep 122011
I do believe I have discovered the dressing secret of my favorite salad at Mandaloun Mediterranean.  It is tart, tangy, sweet perfection and I think I figured it out by accident.  On a whim, while at the St Augustine Farmers Market I decided I would make a version of the fattoush salad with the organic kale I had just bought.  I got all the fresh herbs I would need, twice-baked my own pita chips for superb crunch, ruby red tomatoes, red onion instead of radish and Forks Over Knives 3-2-1 dressing recipe of 3 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp mustard and 1 Tbsp sweetener of choice (now my favorite oil-free dressing). 
How did I discover the secret of the dressing you ask? (Especially when theirs is laden with so much oil, as restaurants are known to do, and I have failed at my fattoush attempts in the past.)
I decided to try a reduction with the 3-2-1 dressing and when I tasted it, I knew I had hit gold.
It is almost an exact match, but oil free; tart, tangy, sweet and rich.  Oh baby it is SOOO good.  I was dipping kale leaves in and munching like they were potato chips.
Here is what I did.
Crunchy Kale Fattoush
Salad inspired by Mandaloun Mediterranean and dressing inspired by Forks Over Knives 3-2-1 dressing pp.118
Serves 4-5
1 bunch curly kale, washed and de-stemmed**
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh oregano
1/2 red onion
2 large tomatoes, seeded
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or about 1 1/5 cups cooked
1 cup pita chips, (bake your own from fresh pita*** or use Stacy’s Pita Chips)
6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
1. Heat the vinegar, mustard and syrup in a small pan to just boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until reduced by half and has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Meanwhile, chop kale and set in a large bowl. De-stem and chop mint, parsley and oregano finely and set aside (do not mix in with kale yet).  Chop onion and tomato and set with herbs.
3. Once balsamic mixture has cooled, pour over kale and massage in until it begins to wilt a bit; about 30 seconds.  Add herbs, onion, tomato and chickpeas; season with salt and pepper, toss salad to mix.  Top with pita chips.
**Romaine can be used in place of the spinach; do not massage dressing in first.  Add all ingredients together except pita chips and toss to mix.  Add pita chips and serve.
***To bake your own pita chips, preheat oven to 250F, cut edges from pita and separate sides.  Spray with cooking spray and lay rounds directly on oven racks, start checking at 10 minutes as different areas of the oven may brown faster, remove from oven, break up, season, place on tray and re-bake 3 minutes or until super crunchy.  Keep a close eye so they don’t burn.
Nutrition Information
5 Salads (Including 4 oz Stacy Pita Chips)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 281.4
Total Fat 5.7 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 483.6 mg
Potassium 618.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 50.5 g
Dietary Fiber 8.1 g
Sugars 6.4 g
Protein 9.7 g
Vitamin A 446.6 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 30.4 %
Vitamin C 140.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 7.6 %
Calcium 15.6 %
Copper 20.8 %
Folate 19.5 %
Iron 21.3 %
Magnesium 14.1 %
Manganese 67.4 %
Niacin 6.0 %
Pantothenic Acid     4.3 %
Phosphorus     12.4 %
Riboflavin 9.4 %
Selenium 5.3 %
Thiamin 9.2 %
Zinc 9.7 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Jan 172011
After the fun (and stress) of the wedding I was so glad to have the day off to relax. 
And what a perfectly productive yet relaxing day this has been.  I started out in the morning with 1 hour of yoga then a bit of laundry.  I did a bit on my blog and watched some TV.  I made my daughter some gluten free biscuits with some left over sweet potatoes from a cookout we had (might have her help me with some banana ones later), ate lunch and watched Eat Pray Love, took a bath, cleaned out the fridge, put some left over BBQ chicken into the freezer and now here I am.
And oh yes… 
I have an announcement.
FCC has a facebook page so if you are on facebook please “like” me!
Now for the recipe.
Don’t throw those carrot tops away! 

 I have another use for them…..

The carrots I got with my CSA had these gorgeous green tops on them and I thought about making some kind of salad with them.  Our friend Scott asked, “what do they taste like?”  I tasted them again and they reminded me a bit of parsley but a bit milder and with a hint of carrot.  Immediately I thought this would be a perfect sub for parsley in tabbouleh!  (Especially for those who aren’t a huge fan of parsley, like my friend Ashlee). 

As far as nutrition information I didn’t find much out there other than from the Carrot Museum who states that the tops are full of protein, minerals and vitamins and lots of potassium which can make it bitter.  I urge you to at least taste yours because I did not find this to be true for my carrot tops.  If yours are bitter you might try blanching them in boiling water for a minute or two and then placing them directly into an ice bath to see if that takes the bitterness away.

Along with the carrot tops I decided to add a bit of shredded carrot in as well to bring out more of the carrot flavor.  It added a wonderful bit of sweetness to the tabbouleh.

I served this tabbouleh along side Eating Well’s Rice, Carrot, Mushroom and Pecan Burgers.  The meaty mushrooms, sweet carrots and crunchy pecans were a perfect compliment to my carrot top tabbouleh.

Tip:  You will want to use your food processor for both of these recipes.  It will make quick work of all the chopping.

Carrot Top Tabbouleh


2 cups chopped carrot tops
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 3/4 cups cooked bulgur wheat (I used chicken broth in the preparation as the cooking liquid)
2 large carrots, shredded
1 cup chopped slicing cucumber
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped green onion
Handful fresh mint, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, to taste


1. Mix the carrot tops through mint in a large bowl; whisk the lemon and olive oil in a smaller bowl and pour over carrot top mixture evenly.  Season with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic powder.  Toss mixture gently, taste and add additional seasoning, if needed.

Jun 112010

Last Tuesday was my second Bite Club event at Mandaloun Mediterranean.  I have been to this restaurant before and it’s one of my favorites.  I was so excited to go back and try a few items I have never tried!

I arrived just at 5:45 and people were getting drinks at the bar.  The walls are painted with mountainous scenery, there are white columns and rich wood high tops that make for a charming and inviting atmosphere.

We were offered quite an extensive taste of the entire menu!

My friend Justine attended again.

Our foodie friends Kim and David also attended.

Justine brought her mom Madeline as her guest.

And finally, I also brought another foodie friend, Courtney!

To start, the owner came out and gave us background on the restaraunt and what we would be tasting.

And then the food began to come out.
Fresh pita with an oregano herb dipping oil. 

Mezze Sampler
First up was the Hummus: A puree of chickpeas mixed with sesame cream and lemon juice.
Theirs is so smooth and creamy and has a little dip in the middle with extra virgin olive oil.

Baba Ganoush: Puree of grilled eggplant mixed with sesame cream and lemon juice.
This was the first time I actually liked Baba Ganoush.  Normally it has this weird almost bitter aftertaste but this one was also very creamy and I loved the texture.  I even went back in for seconds!

Tabbouleh: Finely chopped parsley, tomato, onion, touch of white pepper, crushed wheat, olive oil and lemon dressing.
There were ooohs and aaahhs when this came out.  It was so fresh it had to have been made right then.

Fattoush: Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radish, onion, mint, lemon pepper, crispy pita bread with olive oil, lemon and pomegranate dressing.
I think the Fattoush was the star of the show.  The pomegranate dressing is tangy with that bite of vinegar that tickles the back of your throat.  Is has sort of the sweet/tart cranberry-esque flavor.  There are a ton of fresh aromatic herbs on top and then when you bite into the crispy pita you will swear you died and went to heaven.  This is my most favorite dish there.  I’ve tried to recreate it but there’s just no substitution for theirs.

Sambousek – Meat Pie: Deep fried Lebanese pastry stuffed with minced beef and pine nuts.
I, personally, am not a huge fan of fried foods but the outside was crispy and flavorful and the inside was tender, meaty and crumbly.  If you like meat and fried foods I would go with this as an appetizer.

Sambousek Jebneh – Cheese Pie: Deep fried Lebanese pastry stuffed with feta cheese and mint.
When I bit into this one I was pleasantly surprised.  I had forgotten there was fresh mint inside!  I loved the combo of the aromatic mint and gooey salty feta.

Fatayer - Spinach Pie: Pastry stuffed with spinach, onion and pine nuts.
Out of the three pies this was my favorite as it was mainly veggie and it was baked!  The onions added a sweetness and the pine nuts a delicious crunch.  I would definitely order these again.
Main Course
Mini Kebabs: Chicken and Beef Kebabs served over rice.
The star of the main course, for me, was actually the rice! I did enjoy the grilled chicken, however the beef was a bit on the dry side.  We all discussed the rice trying to guess all the flavors, I thought I tasted a cinnamon, David said tumeric, saffron and cumin.  I believe everyone went back in for more on the rice.

I tried two wines.  One was a Lebanese red, Le Prieure, Ksara, and one was a inexpensive Domestic Red, Five Rivers Cabernet.  I took a photo of the Cab as it was excellent and so inexpensive.
I must say I’m terrible at describing wine so Courtney….if you read this you must tell us what you thought!
And finally…the desserts.  Both of them made me close my eyes and slowly savor.  I ate each and every bite.
Baklava: Traditional Lebanese Pastry filled with nuts, pistachios and almonds.
This small round tube was so light and crispy with sweet/salty nuts crushed nuts.

Nammoura: Sweet coconut baked with semolina.
I loved the texture of the semolina and coconut. (Which is weird as I typically hear people say they like the flavor of coconut but not the texture.) Semolina is a form of wheat, I have also heard it called groats.  It was baked into the bar form you see below with coconut and saturated with a thick sweet liquid.  Each bite had texture and sweetness with the consistency of a thin honey.  

Mandaloun on Urbanspoon

May 282010
I am so ready for the long weekend!  End of month is always the busiest time for me at work so I’m running on fumes as far as energy goes.  On top of that, for some reason I haven’t been sleeping well.  Hopefully that passes soon.

Last night I enjoyed a much needed pedicure after work and when I pulled in the driveway I eyed the fresh herbs in my garden.  They were begging for me to pick a few.

The past few days I have been thinking about this cafe across from the old building I worked in called the Lunch Table Cafe.  It is run by a Greek man and his parents who make the most amazing pita/tuna/hummus/feta sandwiches.  Man that is a good sandwich.  Alas, I know the calorie content has to be through the roof so last night I decided to recreate it with a few fresh, light twists (and my fresh herbs).
First I omitted the mayonnaise and replaced it with a high protein nonfat Greek yogurt.  Then I broke down the hummus into components and added the main elements.  Chickpeas, tahini, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, some Greek seasoning, fresh herbs.  I didn’t add any lemon but I felt the dill gave it that bit of kick I was looking for. 
Mediterranean Tuna Flatbread Sandwich
Serves 5
** 5 WW pts
5 wheat flat breads, I used Flat Out 100 calorie
1 14 oz can of quartered artichokes, drained
1 6.4 oz pouch of chunk light tuna in water, I used Star-Kist
1 15.5 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 Campari or plum tomatoes seeded and chopped
2 ribs of celery, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
Handful fresh herbs, chopped
Lots of fresh ground pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
1 6 oz container of non fat Greek Yogurt
1 tsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp Tahini
1/4 tsp Greek seasoning
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1. Toss the salad ingredients together gently; artichokes through salt and pepper.
2. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad mixture.
4. Top each of the flatbreads evenly with 1/5 of the salad mixture.
Oct 112009

I had a bunch of left over couscous from an Indian recipe I recently made along with some left over veggies and rotisserie chicken. After thinking about what to do with all the left over couscous I decided to make a Mediterranean salad. It turned out really well!

Printable Recipe

1 3/4 cup Cooked Whole Wheat Couscous
1 Lemon, juiced
1 English Cucumber, chopped
1/2 pint Grape Tomatoes, cut in half
1/3 cup crumbled Feta
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 Red Onion, diced finely
1/4 cup Green Onion, chopped
1 cup diced Rotisserie Chicken
6 Calamata Olives, diced
3 Tbsp Fresh Mint, diced finely
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Mix it all together and enjoy!

Oct 092009

Mediterranean Quiche Cups
Printable Recipe
Serves 6


1 cup Liquid Egg Whites
10 oz Chopped Frozen Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1 Tomato, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
3pcs Sun-Dried Tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Basil, minced
1/2 Red Onion, chopped
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 cup Roasted Red Peppers, chopped
1 oz Pine Nuts
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 cup Canned Artichoke Hearts, without oil, chopped
1 Shallot, chopped


1. Microwave the spinach for 2 1/2 minutes on high. Drain the excess liquid.

2. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and spray the cups with cooking spray.

3. Saute the onion, pepper, shallot and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes over medium high heat.

4. Combine everything in a bowl and mix well then divide mixture evenly among the muffin cups.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.