Monday, January 31, 2011

Middle Eastern Seasoned Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes Red Onions and Olives


No surprise we had a bowl of oatmeal Sunday morning for breakfast. This time the oatmeal included: mixed berries, dried apricots, cinnamon, powdered ginger, walnuts, and freshly ground flaxseed. I added the apricots for color and chew. Dan’s oatmeal was the same but had more of everything.


Lunch with my parents was a tricky one list always. I never know what to make that they will like but that I consider healthy enough. Meals with my parents are always a balancing act. Since I couldn’t think of anything today I went back to soup.

I had picked up this package of spelt with dried veggies before Christmas. Today I added leeks, garlic, thinly sliced crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced carrot, thyme, sweet paprika, dill, celery seed and pepper. Surprisingly everyone agreed they prefer spelt to barley. Now I need to figure out where I bought this so I can get more.

To accompany the soup I made a quick marinated salad. This is a super fast salad to put together but it needs time to marinate in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to be absorbed. Here is what I did:

Middle Eastern Seasoned Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Red Onions, and Olives
Serves 4


1 English cucumber sliced very thinly on a mandoline
¼ red onion, sliced thinly on a mandoline
6 olives, very thinly sliced
approximately 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
approximately 1 cup cooked chickpeas, well drained
zatar, to taste (I used two big pinches or about ½ teaspoon)
sumac, to taste (add this if your zatar doesn’t include sumac I used approximately ¼ teaspoon)
red wine vinegar, to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)
stevia, to taste (I used 1 small scoop that comes in the container)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I used about ¼ teaspoon)
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
1 head romaine, shredded


This is a salad I tossed together an hour before dinner. I didn’t plan to post the recipe but since everyone loved I thought I should. Sorry the amounts are approximate. Before I had the blog I never measured anything and I fall back into that habit when I don’t expect to post the details of a recipe. Mea culpa. ;-)

To make this salad combine everything except the romaine and parsley, toss to combine, and refrigerate for an hour. You want the onions to mellow and the cucumber to absorb the flavor. Add the parsley to the veggies just before serving and toss.

To serve, top the romaine with the marinated veg salad.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 125.48
Calories From Fat (16%) - 19.52

Total Fat - 2.36g
Saturated Fat - 0.29g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 71.34mg
Potassium - 728.27mg
Total Carbohydrates - 22.45g
Fiber - 7.68g
Sugar - 5.12g
Protein - 6.61g


I could eat mountains of this but I love salad and anything pickled. If you like pickled food you should give this a try. It has a lot of flavor and doesn’t taste like healthy food to me. Even my father proactively offered up that this salad “hit the spot” and I didn’t add any oil to his. I think that says it all since my father is not a healthy eater by any stretch of the imagination.

Sunday Evening:

We decided to take it easy Sunday night and spent a couple more hours watching season 6 of Criminal Minds. Can you tell it was a TV weekend? While we watched TV the soymilk maker took care of making another batch of non-dairy milk for tomorrow. Now that I have learned that I can pour the hulls off the top of the soybeans the job of making soymilk goes much faster. I also made a quick batch of walnut parmesan to have on hand in the refrigerator.

Since we were “busy” in front of the TV Sunday evening dinner was a very simple affair. I made a pot of quinoa. Like always I made more quinoa than was necessary for dinner leaving leftovers for another meal. For dinner I topped the quinoa with the red sauce and garbanzos from yesterday and heated it in the microwave. Then I topped the dish with fresh chopped spinach and walnut parmesan. The heat from the cooked dish lightly wilted the spinach.

Later in the evening Dan has his usual strawberry banana soft serve which I made with soymilk instead of water. Are you starting to notice how often Dan has this dessert? I think he has it at least 5 times a week. He really has a huge sweet tooth.

12 Super Foods Article:

Since I assume most of you don’t get the daily emails form I wanted to share this article. It contains a lot of interesting information. Nothing earth shattering but reinforcement is always good. If you like the article you may want to sign up for the emails. There is a nutrition or health article at least once a week and usually more often.

New 2010 Dietary Guidelines:

Just like the government to release the 2010 guidelines in 2011. Oh well, better late than never. *rolls eyes*

As expected they reduced the maximum sodium intake to 1,500mg for everyone. I wanted to point this out since most people consume more than that every day. If you eat processed food like veggie burgers, faux meat, commercial bread, canned tomatoes with salt, Asian food, canned soup, bottles sauces or condiments you are probably well over the 1,500mg. I was shocked when I initially started to track our sodium. Even though I made our food from scratch the liquid aminos, miso and tomatoes had us consuming more than 1,500mg of sodium on average.

The guidelines are also encouraging people to eat more whole food (plants) and less sugar, processed food and saturated fat. Woo hoo! *happy dance* It is nice to see things going in the right direction for a change. Maybe in 2015 they can take their recommendations a bit farther. However even a little progress in the right direction is a good thing.

If you want to read the full set of dietary guidelines, all 112 pages they can be found here.

Happy thoughts:

What a good weekend we had. Here are my happy thoughts:

• There is nothing like an entire weekend with my hubby to make me happy. Even when we are just hanging out at home, or at our second home (the restaurant) we always have a great time together.

• I had a very nice evening with everyone at dinner on Saturday. For those of you that are trying to figure out how we got to know people at the restaurant so well it is very simple actually. Since I get a lot of email about that I will write about in a future post, maybe tomorrow assuming it doesn’t slip my mind. ;-)

• I was able to reschedule my dental appointments so that they are back to back tomorrow. Woo hoo? LOL! I need to see both the dentist (to have old fillings removed and replaced) and the hygienist. My appointments were tomorrow and Wednesday but now they are both tomorrow. Assuming everyone can get downtown (they are predicting an ice storm) I am happy to knock those visits out at one time.

• As I type this I am using my little halogen/infrared/convection oven to roast a big winter squash which I cut into 1/8’ths. The new countertop oven is getting a lot more use than I expected it to. I like that is uses less power and cooks quicker. However I love that it doesn’t generate any VOC’s .

• This morning I woke up with a nagging headache. The pain isn’t terrible it is enough to slow me down. I am thankful to have the ability to take it easy when I am feeling less than 100%.

• I am also thankful to have Masi to as part of the family. When he comes to get me in the morning to remind me to turn the electric blanket on in the bed I think it is the cutest thing. Spoiled? Well of course but I wouldn’t have him any other way. ;-)

Signing out:

Time for me to log off the computer otherwise I won't get anything done at home today. Like always I have a backlog of things to do after spending the weekend with my sweetie.

I hope you are having a great start to the week. If you are in one of the cities that are expecting ice this week please be careful. I have two dental appointments tomorrow and hope the weather forecast of ice turns out to be a bust. *fingers crossed*

Talk to you again tomorrow.


  1. Sorry to hear you have more bad weather on the way. We sort of do as well, but more in the way of sever storms then down into the teens. Be safe if you have to get out for the appts tomorrow!

  2. Heather,

    Thanks, I am hoping the weather people are wrong and we don't get the ice storm. That will throw a big monkey wrench into my day if it happens. Snow is one thing but driving is ice is not really an option. Being safe takes priority over anything else.

    I hope your weather doesn't turn icy. Be safe yourself.


  3. The salad does look good - no wonder you were encouraged to share! I am not familiar with zatar and sumac, except poison sumac. Wouldn't you know, your blog comes up a few results down when I looked up zatar.

    Sounds like a great weekend - it's awesome that your parents ate the melty mozzarella. That seems like it's worth trying.

    Hope the snow/ice isn't too bad.

  4. Glad to hear you had such a nice weekend, Ali. OK, I've got the soybeans soaking and am going to follow your recipe for making soymilk with a blender.
    Have a nice evening,

  5. Jessica,

    I will post a recipe for zatar soon but it is mostly thyme and sesame seeds. Sumac is the ground red berry of a bush, not the same as poison sumac. I buy my sumac from our local Asian market or you can get it from Zamori Spice online.


  6. Aimee,

    The soymilk maker only grinds and heats the soymilk. You should be able to use a blender but I would think you need to cook it as well since I am sure the machine heats the milk. I know there is a recipe in my Vitamix cookbook. I will see how long you need to cook it and will let you know. The longer you soak the soy beans the easier they are to hull. I usually let mine soak 24 hours now.


  7. Aimee,

    I checked my Vitamix cookbook for soymilk and it says:

    1) 1 cup dry soybeans, soaked (I would dehull them)
    2) 1 quart fresh water
    3) Combine soybeans and water in your blender and process on high 2 minutes.
    4) bring mixture to a boil in a pot on the stove. Remove from the heat when the foam suddlenly rises.
    5) strain through 4 layers of cheesecloth.
    6) return the soymilk to the stove bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.

    Sounds easy enough. Good luck, please let me know how it works for you. :-)


  8. I know what you mean about bad weather...I'm over it...but I'll drool over your yummy pictures in the meantime :)

  9. Hi Ali

    You mentioned in an earlier post that you used an air quality monitor. I haven't heard of anyone personally owning something like that, but the air quality in my home is something I've been worrying about. Can you tell me more about what the monitor is that you use?


  10. Thanks Ali.
    This will be my project for later today.

  11. random question for you: i know these aren't issues for you, anyway, but as i'm trying to wean ourselves away from commercial milks and other things - trying to now avoid carageenan, etc. - what about gellan gum, xanthan gum, guar gum, all of those...? i've tried researching it myself, but the information seems all over the place.

    i know i wouldn't have to worry about all of these things if we were totally whole foods based...but like i said, i'm trying to do better. i've always sort of secretly judged those who won't stop eating animal products even if they know it's hurting them...well, I can't say I don't know how it feels - I'm doing the same thing! Animal products are simple for me to avoid because i became a vegan for ethical reasons originally. i got so comfortable in my veganism, it's harder to cut out some of these foods that i believed were healthy for me at one time.

  12. Jin,

    I am over the snow and ice too. Let's both hope winter is coming to an end soon. ;-)


  13. Tomato Jam,

    I will include the air quality monitors in a post soon. I don't know why I never wrote about it before. Thanks for the suggestion.

    In the end having the monitors caused me to make changes to our daily life so that air quality isn't much of an issue. I will include that in the post too.


  14. Jenny,

    I don't remember reading any deleterious impact from the items you mentioned. But like you said it wasn't an issue for me so I may have just ignored it. If I see anything on them now I will let you know.

    You aren't alone in having trouble changing your mindset about things you once thought were healthy. I have had the same problem. Initially I believed vegan food was inherently more healthy. Now I know better but it took a lot of research for me to get there. I think all of us find it difficult to change our minds.



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