Rosh Hashanah No-Knead Challah

Most of us have plenty of cooking and baking to do for Rosh Hashanah, so an easy-to-do Challah recipe is much appreciated.

Mix the dough with a spoon, form it into a loose ball with your hands, let it rise and then braid it.  Relatively high in eggs, sugar and oil (healthy olive oil!), this recipe produces a sweet, cake-like challah especially appropriate for the chagim. If you prefer honey to sugar, cut back on the amount of water in the recipe.

1 package (2 ½ teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup warm water
2 eggs
½ cup warm water
⅓ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
⅓ cup mild-flavored extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
Handful of raisins (optional)

Mix the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl to soften the yeast. After a few minutes, add the eggs, remaining ½ cup of water, sugar, salt and olive oil. Mix well, and start adding the flour, one cup at a time. When all of the flour is mixed in, add the raisins and mix with your hands to form a loose ball of dough.

Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until double in size.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and shape into equal parts to braid or twist. Make one large challah, two smaller ones or lots of rolls. This dough tends to spread rather than rise in the oven, so I like to bake it in a pan with sides. That way there’s less spreading space and there’s no where else for the dough to go than up!

Bake at 325 F (165 C) for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your challot.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy and quiet New Year.
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Frozen Fruit Treats for Shavuot

Beer Sheva finally has a farmer’s market.
We’ve always had a shuk – the traditional produce market overflowing with vegetables and fruits of the season. But the farmer’s market features local produce, gourmet baked goods and chocolate, artisanal cheese, beer and wine, ice cream, nuts and (of course!) pickles.
At one of the tables I found juicy, fresh-picked tangerines long after the official citrus season was over. A “mom and pop” bakery had a tasty assortment of biscotti-type cookies made with whole grains, nuts and seeds. The chocolate bars, though expensive, were hard to pass up.
My biggest motivation for returning to the market every Friday morning is the strawberries. Locally grown in hanging planters, using bio-insects in place of pesticides, these are some of the tastiest berries I’ve eaten. And they’re still growing several months after nearly all other Israeli-grown strawberries are gone from the market.
After enjoying strawberries in our morning granola, in fruit salads and just plain as dessert or a snack, I decided to try Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. I adapted a recipe that called for whole-milk yogurt, and substituted “Greek-style” 3% fat yogurt instead. Deliciously refreshing, with the wonderfully bright taste of fresh strawberries!
Meanwhile, apricots are now in season. There seems to be an abundant crop this year, and they’re big, juicy and delicious. Knowing that their season is very short, Apricot Sorbet is next on my agenda.
Both of these frozen desserts would be a light and refreshing way to finish 
your holiday meal on Shavuot.
Chag Sameach and B’teavon!
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
1 pound (500 gm) fresh strawberries
½ cup sugar
1 cup plain Greek-style low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Wash the strawberries and slice them. Place them in a bowl with the sugar and mix well. Cover and let sit at room temperature for an hour, stirring occasionally.
Put the strawberries, their liquid, the yogurt and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. (Some pieces are fine.)
Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour and then freeze in an ice cream maker.
Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)
Apricot Sorbet
2 pounds (1 kilo) fresh ripe apricots
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 drops pure almond extract or 2 teaspoons Amaretto liqueur
Pit the apricots and cut each into 4-6 pieces, depending on their size. Cook the apricots and the water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in the sugar and let cool to room temperature.
Puree the mixture in a food processor and add the extract or liqueur. Chill the mixture until it’s very cold and freeze it in an ice cream machine.
Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)
* Frozen desserts, especially the lower-fat ones, tend to become quite solid when they’re stored in the freezer. Let them sit out for a short time before serving, and for best flavor, don’t store them for more than a week or two.
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Hidden Benefits

Can you actually eat more, eat healthier and still lose weight? Does it sound too good to be true?

It’s not a “miracle” diet or a weight-loss pill.

It’s a matter of eating more vegetables and fruits. I often suggest starting a meal with a vegetable salad or soup. Research shows that this simple step curbs your appetite, so you end up eating fewer calories over all.

Earlier this year, a small but intriguing study found another way that vegetables can be used to reduce your total caloric intake.

Researchers added vegetable purees to main course casseroles and desserts. The purees added additional bulk to the food, while reducing the total amount of calories per serving.

Participants who ate the “manipulated” food ate 200 to 350 fewer calories per meal than those who ate the same food minus the vegetable puree. Their daily vegetable consumption also increased significantly. None of the research subjects were told about the added vegetables. They didn’t notice a significant difference in taste or satiation when they were finished eating.

Should you cut calories by adding pureed zucchini and cauliflower to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe? It’s not a bad idea. It may even help get finicky youngsters (and adults!) to eat vegetables that they might otherwise spurn. (On the other hand, you’ll want to introduce whole “real” vegetables to your children so they’ll develop a liking for them at an early age.)

I suggest serving as many whole vegetables as possible, and adding vegetable purees when you think it might be helpful to your family’s diet. If you’re trying to lose weight, adding purees to casseroles, soups and desserts is certainly a good strategy.

It’s easiest to add vegetable purees that will either appear “hidden” or will enhance your favorite foods. Spicy dishes like chili and hearty pasta casseroles take well to added vegetable purees. Tomato puree adds a rosy touch to macaroni and cheese (see my recipe), while cauliflower puree blends in with the color of the cheese sauce. Pureed squash, pumpkin, applesauce, bananas, carrots, zucchini and pineapple all work well in baked goods, especially cakes, quick breads and muffins using cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and other hearty spices.

Here’s a delicious cupcake recipe chock full of vegetables and fruit:

Carrot Cupcakes (Parve)

1 can (8 oz/227 gm) juice-packed crushed pineapple*
1 cup grated carrots
½ cup pitted prunes
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 whole egg
1 egg white
½ cup sugar
¼ cup canola or light olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325F/165C. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Drain the pineapple in a strainer and reserve ¼ cup of the juice. Heat this reserved juice until it’s hot.

Using a food processor, grate the carrots and measure 1 cup. Remove them from the processor and set aside. Put the prunes and the hot pineapple juice in the processor and process until smooth.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the egg, egg white, sugar and oil. Whisk in the prune puree. Add the dry ingredients and then the pineapple and carrots.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 20-30 minutes, until they spring back when lightly pressed. Let them sit in the pan for a few minutes, then cool completely on a cooling rack.

Makes 12

* I’ve never found crushed pineapple in Israel. (Even though Dole brand is sold here, they seem to just bring over slices and tidbits.) I use whatever is available, drain it and puree it in the food processor after I’ve grated the carrots.

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Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach!

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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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