Product Review: Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Sliders


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Gardein, you’ve done it again! Guys, I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am with Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Sliders. You know every time I see a new Gardein product at one of those places where I … Continue reading

Broad Bean Salad with Fresh Dill and Feta

I have to juggle a lot of things recently. To be precise, since NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has started. During November, writers from around the world sign up for this event and write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. I participated it last year—it was my first time. This year, I’m participating again.

During the time of NaNoWriMo, everything gets to put on hold. I mean everything. Most days, you forget to do a lot. For example, I managed to trim Olly’s face, neck and front legs but totally forgot to do the rest. So, the rest of him is in its shaggy state. He is also getting a bit smelly because I forgot to give him a bath as well. See what I mean?

It’s worse when hunger kicks in, especially while I’m writing something very important. I have to leave my desk and try to come up with something that’ll be fast, filling so that I won’t need to repeat the same cycle within 2 hours and that something still needs to be edible. On top of everything, today I’m following US elections.

In between all of this, I managed to put together this salad though…

Broad Bean Salad Fresh Dill FetaBroad Bean Salad with Fresh Dill and Feta

½ pack (250gr) Heinz broad beans, frozen
100 grams feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
4 spring onions, chopped
½ bunch fresh dill weeds, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

• Place frozen broad beans in a saucepan (small) with enough water to cover them and bring to a boil. Once it starts bubbling, reduce the heat and cook the beans until they are soft.
• Remove from heat and drain. Run cold water through them. When the beans are cool enough to handle, peel the tough skin covering each one of them.
• Place the beans in a salad bowl. Add the feta cheese, spring onions and fresh dill weeds.
• In a separate small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk well and drizzle over the salad.
• Toss together and serve immediately.

Product Review: Gardein Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips


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Gardein Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips is one of my favourite products. It is hearty in a delicate way. I have made beefless strips and broccoli stir-fry to go with it and it turned out very delicious. Just like any Gardein … Continue reading

The History and Spread of Ayurveda


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Ayurveda began as an appendix to the youngest of the Vedas, the Atharva Yeda. Later on, possibly between the 8th and 10th centuries –about 900 years before Christ was born—the most important of all Ayurvedic texts, the Charaka Samhita, appeared. … Continue reading

Ingredient Profile: Cucumber by VegFusion


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Ingredient Profile: Cucumber by VegFusion Cucumber is popular around the world for its fresh, cooling properties. Fresh cucumber is combined with yoghurt in India called raita, mixed with yoghurt and garlic in Turkey and Greece as a dip called Cacık … Continue reading

Çılbır or Turkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing

Turkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing or Çılbır
Traditionally, Çılbır (pronounced “chilber”) is a starter. It is the harmony of simple ingredients like poached eggs, garlic yoghurt, butter, ground sweet paprika and dried mint. My husband thinks the garlic yoghurt in Çılbır takes away the heaviness of egg yolks. For me, it’s an absolute comfort dish –starter of otherwise.

I believe Çılbır dates back to Ottoman palace kitchen. I remember our cook at one of those hotels I used to manage making Çılbır for our hotel guests. It was always a crowd pleaser. My recipe below is based on his recipe. Only with a twist.

ÇılbırTurkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing or Çılbır
Serves 2

4 fresh free-range eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

For Garlic Yoghurt:
1 cup plain yoghurt, preferably Greek style (unsweetened)
1 clove garlic, crushed

For Burnt Butter Dressing:
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
1 teaspoon or maybe a bit more dried mint

• Fill a wide saucepan with water until approximately 5cm deep. Add vinegar and bring to a boil.
• Meanwhile, crush the garlic and mix with yoghurt. If the yoghurt is too thick, thin it down with a little bit of water. Garlic yoghurt needs to be a bit runny to make it easy to spread over eggs.
• Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it starts foaming, add the paprika and dried mint. Swirl it around and remove from the heat.
• Crack eggs individually into a ramekin or a small bowl. You could process two eggs together if you want to. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat down to medium. Water should be just simmering. Slowly, tip the eggs into water. Poach the eggs for 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Divide the eggs between plates.
• Return the burnt butter to the heat and heat it up a little. Top the eggs up with garlic yoghurt first and then drizzle with burnt butter. Serve Çılbır immediately.

Recipe Notes:
• Mop Çılbır up with some Turkish bread.
• Most people back in Turkey has Çılbır with Turkish chilli flakes. So, there’s a thought.

Na’ama’s Fattoush recipe from Jerusalem


This is a fabulous fattoush recipe from a fabulous book: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I own a signed copy of it –signed by both authors. It is a beautiful book with a cloth cover and full of childhood memories around food, tradition, history and the city itself.

My fascination with Jewish food started with Marlena Spieler’s cookbook called Jewish Cooking and later on continued with Yotam Ottolenghi. None of these cookbooks are vegetarian. Nevertheless, they are great source of inspiration for me.

Back to the recipe… I have the original recipe here for you. However, I had to adjust a few things while I was making my own fattoush. For example, I reduced the measurements because it’s just the two of us. And, I used Afghan bread instead of Turkish flatbread or naan. As I always say: my kitchen is my queendom and I rule! 🙂

Na’ama’s Fattoush


200 g Greek yoghurt and 200ml full-fat milk or 400mI of buttermilk (replacing both yoghurt
and milk)
2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan (250g in total)
3 large tomatoes (380g in total), cut into 1.5cm dice
100 g radishes, thinly sliced
1 Lebanese or mini cucumbers (250g in total), peeled and chopped into 1.5cm dice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
15 g mint
25 g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried mint
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp lemon juice
60 ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
¾ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sumac or more according to taste, to garnish

• If using yoghurt and milk, start at least three hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of home-made buttermilk, but less sour.

• Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yoghurt mixture or commercial buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavours to combine.

• Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with some olive oil and garnish generously with sumac.


Food Groups: Water, Part 1

Food Groups: Water
Water is the main constituent of the body: it makes up approximately 50-80% of the body weight, depending on lean body mass. Water is so essential to life as humans can survive only a few days without it.


In the body, water becomes the fluid in which all life processes occur. Functions of water can be summarised as:
• Carries nutrients and waste products throughout the body.
• Maintains the structure of large molecules such as proteins and glycogen.
• Participates in metabolic reactions.
• Serves as the solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose and many other small molecules.
• Acts as a lubricant and cushion around joints and inside the eyes, the spinal cord and in pregnancy, the amniotic sac surrounding the foetus in the womb.
• Aids in the regulation of body temperature.
• Maintains blood volume.

To support vital functions of our bodies, we need to create water balance: balance between water intake and output. Dehydration occurs when water output exceeds water input.

There are three levels of dehydration: mild dehydration, chronic mild dehydration and acute dehydration. The symptoms of mild dehydration include:
• Thirst
• dry skin and membranes
• rapid heartbeat
• low blood pressure
• weakness

The reported health effects of chronic mild dehydration include increased risk of kidney stones, urinary tract cancers, colon cancer, childhood obesity, mitral valve prolapse and diminished physical and mental performance and salivary gland function. In addition to these health effects, mild chronic dehydration and poor fluid intake may have detrimental effects on proper elimination. There are certain processes in the body –such as intestines, kidneys, skin and lungs—require adequate water to function properly.

Acute dehydration manifests even more serious symptoms such as dizziness, spastic muscles, loss of balance, delirium, exhaustion and collapse.

Water Losses
The body must excrete a minimum of about 500 millilitres of water each day as urine. In addition to urine, water is lost from the lungs as vapour and from the skin as sweat and some is also lost in faeces.

How Much Water
According to Australian Guidelines, to be properly hydrated in a temperate climate like ours in Australia, adults require some 2500-3000 millilitres of fluid a day, depending on body size. Every day, solid foods we consume contribute approximately 1000 millilitres (1 litre) of water and 250 millilitres of water is produced by the body’s metabolism. However, the remainder needs to come from free water or other fluids or both.

There are circumstances, however, where there is an increased need for water such as exposure to hot weather or high temperatures, physical activity, exercise, strenuous work, exposure to air-conditioning, exposure to heating more than short periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.

To be continued…

1. Robinson J. 2002 Water, electrolytes and acid-base balance in Essentials in Human Nutrition edited by Mann J. & Truswell A. Oxford University Press. U. S. A. pages 113-128.
2. Baghurst K. 2003 Drink Plenty of Water in Food for Health: Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults. Commonwealth of Australia. pages 95-105.
3. Whitney E. N., Cataldo C. B., Rolfes S. R. 2002 Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition Wadsworth /Thompson Learning U. S. A. pages 387-388.