Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Trip to Jerusalem

It's spring.  Can you imagine?  We've had sunshine for 3 days straight and I'm still not used to it, I just keep staring out the window in shock and awe.  Yesterday I worked outside for a bit, though I'll be the first to admit there was less working and more staring at the light playing off the tulips.

I've spent the winter months writing furiously on our elimination detox, developing recipes and making sure every statement we make about food allergies and intolerance is well-researched and supported by facts.  Our testers just started with the first week of the menu and what do I keep hearing?

"This is good."

People are shocked that a diet that eliminates all the major allergens, most grains, and many meats tastes like anything at all, let alone delicious (yes, it tastes like delicious).  This, my friends, is why this project is taking so long.  When Julie and I embarked on creating the ultimate elimination diet guidebook and meal plan, the very first thing I said was, "The food has to be real food, and it has to be delicious."  There will be smoothies and cleansing options (and they will be equally amazing), but if smoothies aren't your schtick, you don't need to drink them.

So, outside of elimination recipes, what have I been cooking?  Ben and I have been loving on the recipes from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  I know this cookbook is old news; it's circulated through the national consciousness and people have moved on, but I can't.  Not quite yet.  Vegetables flavored with za'atar, sumac and harissa speak to me on a visceral level.

In my practice, I tell patients that I don't care how they eat their vegetables, as long as they eat them and low, here is a cookbook that gives me plethora of vegetable choices in lip-smacking combinations.  Their roasted butternut squash and tahini recipe has been a revelation, though I'll admit that more often than not I make this recipe with unpeeled sweet potatoes because it's easier.

Here are a few of the recipes I've made (and remembered to photograph before gobbling up!):

Pureed beets with coconut cream and za'atar

I use these recipes as a guide, a map toward unknown flavors and a hint of places I've never been.  Of course, they must be modified to suit your particular brand of dietary intolerance.  Most of the veggie and meat dishes are naturally gluten-free, but they're definitely not dairy-free.  There's yogurt everywhere, and in our house the best we can tolerate is a little butter, so I've been making substitutions.  In the pureed beets with yogurt and za'atar, I used coconut cream mixed with lemon juice and honey instead of date syrup (not that I haven't tried to find date syrup, it just doesn't exist where I live).  It was lovely, served with pita for the gluten-eaters and crackers for the rest of us.  

Tuna steaks in chraimeh sauce

A few weeks ago we hosted a small birthday dinner for a friend and true to form, decided to prepare a number of dishes for the very first time the day of the party.  One was tuna steaks in chraimeh sauce.  Mr. Ottolenghi's recipe calls for salmon steaks, but we had tuna in the freezer.  The sauce was delectable and I followed the recipe exactly (rare, I know).  There was paprika and caraway, cumin and cayenne, cinnamon, chiles and tomato paste.  Ben declared that he'd like to eat this sauce on everything, and the entire table scraped pita bread across the bottom of the pan until it was gone.

Hummus with golden raisins, toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley and olive oil

Do you make hummus?  I do, every week it seems.  I have my recipe memorized and can throw it together in about 5 minutes, so I was a little suspicious of a new hummus recipe.  I shouldn't have been, because everything we'd tried thus far was amazing.  Jerusalem's recipe calls for a lot of tahini and to drizzle the olive oil over the hummus at the end.  Through many, many batches, we've reduced the tahini a bit and add olive oil to the beans while processing so we can easily consume hummus on the go.  However, now that's we've experienced decorated hummus, I'm not sure we can go back.  Dried fruit perfectly complements the savory complexity of the tahini, lemon, garlic and garbanzos, and we've even taken to sprinkling bits of sumac and za'atar over our plates.

Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad

Roasted vegetables, slightly cooled, with nuts, pomegranate and spices: I have a new way of cooking vegetables!  I'm not the biggest fan of green salads unless it's high summer (yes I know, what kind of nutritionist am I?) but a cooked vegetable salad... that I can embrace with my whole heart.  When I made this I was missing a key ingredient: hazelnuts.  Do you ever make a great grocery list thinking you have certain ingredients in the cupboard and then come home only to discover you were utterly mistaken?  This happens to me constantly, and necessity breeds invention.  Pistachios are sort of Middle Eastern, right...?  At any rate, that's what I used, and the salad was fabulous.

Stuffed eggplant with lamb (or beef) and pine nuts

In the grey days of March we prepared stuffed eggplant twice and both times it was utterly amazing.  The flavors were both grounding and complex and the cinnamon added just a hint of fun.  I don't eat lamb, so we used ground beef, and though I have nothing to compare it to, I'm sure it was just as good as the lamb would be.

Baby spinach salad with dates and almonds

Just two paragraphs back I said I don't care for green salads, yet I'm now showing you one.

Oh, the hypocrisy!

But this salad is different.  It has sautéed pita (or GF bread) and warm almonds thrown on top.  It has marinated dates and chili and sumac.  This salad has weight to it.  In fact, I've taken to making it with a poached egg on top for suppers, and I think you should too.

Are you sold yet?  Ready to run out and buy Jerusalem?  Good!  Meanwhile, I'm taking what I've learned and playing.  Last week we had grilled chicken legs rubbed with ras el hanout and garlic salt.

I wonder what I'll cook this week?


  1. I am so wanting to get this book! I have too many friends rave over it!
    Crazy question - where do you get your spices? I have a friend in the area who is looking to get her mitts on some za'atar - I'm sure that there is a good spice shop in your neck of the woods!

    1. I've actually found most of the spiced needed in Jerusalem at Central Market in Shoreline (though they are perpetually out of fennel seed). I also love Market Spice near Pike's Place. At least three different kinds of za'atar and they ship!

  2. These recipes made me crazy, i just love them. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Experimenting with food is a wonderful thing. I use to cook and innovate new recipes in order to keep my family healthy and satisfied. I would definitely try this awesome recipe of yours. It seems perfect and not time consuming. What else I need if it works well, and everybody in my family likes it.

  4. Don’t make food for, but make something which you and your family likes. The healthy living and perfect body require appropriate food. So bundle of thanks for sharing such outstanding post here on this blog. I wish I could have some more interesting and innovative recipes on the same blog.

  5. Raw food with semi cooked stuff is more like a healthy way of preparing a regular meal. It is the only thing which really helps me keep myself healthy. Personally speaking I don’t cook too much and when I cook I never burn my food. As it can ruin the essential vitamins and minerals.

  6. Lovely photos, dear girl! I'm sure everything you made was wonderful. You're a fabulous cook. Can't wait to see the cookbook when y'all are finished!

  7. You can enjoy your flight by having different and delicious cuisines and visit different destinations in Africa this time.

    Cheap Flights to Accra

  8. I have never tried these recipes before but by just looking at the pictures they seem to tell that the dishes do have extraordinary tastes.It's like travelling around the globe with just your taste buds. I always love to try different cuisine and this is a must try. Autumn, you have a very informative and innovative post. Looking forward to more inventive posts. Kudos!

  9. All of these look wonderful. Do you have any recipes please?

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. agree, there is very delicious dishes!

  12. Hello!
    My name is Colleen Kokx. I am a senior dietetics student at Michigan State University. For the past 6 months I have been writing a blog centered around providing nutrition information that is easy enough for everyone to understand. I was hoping gain more traffic to my site. I have been reading yours and thought that you maybe could take a look at it and give me any ideas/input? I hope my blog is as successful as yours is one day!
    Thank you for your time!
    -Colleen Kokx

  13. Upon looking at your food photos, my mouth watered. That hummus reminded me of halawa, which is a sweet dessert from middle eastern countries. On top of that, shawarma, which also contains hummus.

  14. 3 Studies SHOW How Coconut Oil Kills Belly Fat.

    The meaning of this is that you actually burn fat by consuming Coconut Fat (including coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 studies from big medicinal journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world around!