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Tunisian-Style Tuna Nicoise Salad

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Early followers of my blog will remember my South Beach Diet days, and if you’ve been following for the last few years, my Whole30 phase. Yes, I’ve been dieting my entire life, I can write a book on it (oh wait, I did!).

Since I had my last baby, over two years ago, it’s been about food freedom for me – and for a few reasons. Firstly, I decided I didn’t want to live my life on a diet anymore, and I wanted to be able to enjoy food and be OK with it. I did put on some weight, which is what will happen if you’re in my industry and you just let yourself go – but I accepted it and decided that I would learn to love my body at any size.

From a recipe testing perspective, because I was working on my cookbook, I didn’t want my palate to be off, which is what will happen if you’re on a diet that restricts sugars or carbs. After a few rounds of Whole30, everything tasted cloyingly sweet to me and if you’re developing recipes for a cookbook, that can be a problem. I remember testing this recipe during my Whole30 (tasting it and spitting it out!) and when I made it several months later for a Shavuot cooking class, I found that it really needed more sweetener (recipe has been adjusted!). If you’re testing recipes for a living, you need to appeal to the average palette, so a diet can really throw things off. That’s another reason I decided to let myself go and not be restrictive.

I started following a lot of body-positive Instagram accounts and really tried to work on being comfortable in my larger size, but if I’m being honest, I just didn’t feel like myself. I was self conscious, uncomfortable behind the camera, and going shopping left me feeling totally depressed. Physically, I felt tired, lacked energy and just wasn’t motivated to make a change.

This year, on my 38th birthday, I looked in the mirror and decided it was time to make a change. Either accept and love myself at any size, or change that size to one that would make me more comfortable in my skin. I was done with the yo yo eating, and I just wanted to gain back control. For me personally, I don’t do well with intuitive eating or mindfulness, I need a strict regimen otherwise I don’t keep to it. So the day after Chanukah, I took the diet plunge and went keto. No excuses, no back and forth on which diet to choose, just jumping right in without thinking, and it’s the best thing I could have done. I shared it on Instagram so that I would hold myself accountable, and I’ve been going strong for two weeks (although it already feels like months!). It’s amazing how long a day can feel when you’re watching everything you put in your mouth!!

It scary to put yourself out there today. Someone recently told me that we live in the “offended” generation and it’s so true. It’s like we’re all tiptoeing around each other because we might say the wrong thing. Well to all the diet-shamers out there who aren’t OK with people going on a diet, here’s what I believe and I’m sticking to it: I reserve the right to feel comfortable in my own skin, and it’s no one elses right to tell me if I should lose weight, or if I should accept my body the way it is. It is MY body and it is MY right to make that choice. Yes, I’ve gone keto – because I want to feel healthy again and be healthy again and I want to be able to like what I see in the mirror, and there’s no shame in that.  This, to me, is true food freedom. The freedom to make your own choices about the foods you eat, and weighing those choices in a conscious way.

I’m so excited to share this delicious recipe that I came up with last week for my keto-approved lunch. I went a little overboard with the tomatoes, but I’ll get there!

Related Recipes:

harissa roasted chicken
harissa whipped feta with za’atar eggplant chips
cauliflower nachos with harissa cheddar sauce
Greek salad with feta croutons

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Portobello Tuna Melts

Monday, May 8th, 2017


Bedtime. Every mom knows hows loaded that word can be. Especially when I’ve got five kids under ten to tuck in at night. Why won’t kids just go to bed? Aren’t they tired?

It was 10:00 last night and the house was quiet. I sat on the couch and took a deep breath. Finally, some peace. I could put my feet up and relax. So I did what any mommy blogger would do…I went live on Instagram. 2 minutes in, and only 30 minutes after finally falling asleep, my baby wakes up. Because I’m a mom. And that’s just how life works. So I struggle though this “show” of sorts, taking 1 minute commercial breaks to calm my kid and get her latched without showing 6000 people more than they came for. That’s mommy blogger life right there.

Did I mention my husband was away since Friday and I’ve been holding down the fort through the longest Shabbos on planet earth all on my own? Yes. Life with kids and a CEO husband is hard. So when said husband encouraged me to go on a health and wellness retreat last week, I frantically packed my bags before he could change his mind and ran out the door (OK that’s not true, I argued with him about the what, when, where for each kid and the logistics of leaving a 9 month old who’s nursing around the clock and a 9 year old who’s out of school for weeks because her teachers are on a strike that seems like it will never end. And then I sorted and arranged three days worth of clothes for each kid, prepared a menu for the week, filled the house with all the essentials, restocked prescriptions for everyone who needed and bought enough bottles and pacifiers and sippy cups to last us for months. Then I broke down and cried about leaving my kids. And then I picked myself up and walked out the door).

I went live last night to discuss this wellness retreat because I got so many messages while I was away asking me about it. But Instagram Live is just that – live – and there is so much going on, so many comments and questions happening while my baby is kvetching and I just don’t know if I got the whole picture across. So I decided to write about it. That’s the good thing about having a blog.

The health and wellness retreat was put together by Beth Warren, a local Brooklyn nutritionist and author of “Living a Real Life with Real Food” with a focus on eating healthy, exercise and practicing self-care. Just what I needed. There were about 15 of us in total and we carpooled to our destination in Lenox, MA, also known as The Berkshires. We arrived at Brook Farm Inn, a Victorian home in a historic town with lush trees and quaint shops. We carried our luggage to our rooms (no elevator in this vintage Inn!) and gathered for lunch of a make-your-own-salad bar. Then we went off for a tour of Ventfort Hall – a historic mansion that was built by Sarah Morgan, daughter of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. Next up was a circuit training workout at Lenox Fit, a snack of crudites with homemade hummus, and finally, a much-needed 15-minute massage back at the inn. Still in our exercise gear, we stretched and centered ourselves with a yoga class and then showered for dinner in pajamas (my fave!). Dinner was a light and healthy baked salmon with black rice, green beans and vegetable soup. We finished off the day with a talk on self-care and a quick demo on stuffed dates for an after-dinner snack. Lights out!

The next day, we woke up early, donned our exercise gear and headed to Kripalu, a yoga school and center for health, just a few minutes away from the Inn. The place was huge, with 4 floors and lush grounds in a beautiful mountain setting. Kripalu is a serious yoga retreat with ongoing classes, hiking trails, a spa and more. With our daily passes, we were free to explore the programs of our choice (I chose a deep-tissue massage ‘cuz G-d knows I’m no yogi!) and then meet up mid-day for lunch and a hike. Salads of black bean burgers were prepped for us , so we lunched on the patio with breathtaking views and then geared up for a hike around the property. After we headed back, we had a bit more time at Kripalu, but I went to explore Tanglewood, a popular Berkshires attraction, with some of the ladies. Tanglewood is a summer hot-spot with music festivals and shopping, so we walked around the mostly-empty town, exploring some of the fun shops around. After making a few purchases (we’re ladies after all!), we headed back to the Inn for a post-hike yoga class and dinner of chicken breast, roasted vegetables and sweet potato fries. Beth gave us an inspiring nutrition talk during dinner and we finished off the long day with a healthy baking class and an essential oil workshop. Lights out!

Wednesday morning we wrapped up with another yoga class and a breakfast parfait bar filled with oatmeal, chia seed pudding, yogurt, fruit and toppings. We packed up some leftovers for lunch and we were off. Two jam-packed days behind us, and lots of fuel to get back to the daily grind of mommyhood.

I, for one, needed that fuel. I spent the early morning hours whispering into the phone as my son back home was having an asthma attack. I was helpless and worried and felt so. far. away. I had my mom go to the house to take care of the kids while my husband rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. It was every mother’s worst nightmare, being away during such an emergency, but my husband reassured me over and over that everything was ok, and skyped me from the hospital so I could see for myself. My three-year-old spent the next two days in the pediatric ICU and I was so thankful that I had taken that break so I could be there for him, my family, and myself, fully and healthy.

Going away was hard (I had to pump every four hours on the road!) but it’s something I didn’t even know I needed. Taking a break from the daily grind allows you to regroup, center yourself and feed your soul. It reminded me that being a mom doesn’t just mean taking care of others, it means taking care of myself – and that neglecting that need doesn’t make me a martyr, it makes me resentful and unhappy. I needed that wake-up call because every day is a nonstop marathon of giving and feeding and caring for others and it’s hard. G-d is it hard. And every night as I go to bed, I pray that tomorrow will be easier – but it’s not. Because being a mom is a full time job that will never end. Going away inspired me to learn to take time for myself – to nourish my body with healthy food and exercise and nourish my soul with a good book and a relaxing massage. I’m making an effort to do something for me, and it’s ok.

The retreat really gave me the kickstart I needed to start eating healthy again. It’s been a while. I’ve put on a whopping 20 lbs. since I had my baby, 9 months ago (I always put on weight when I nurse!) and it’s finally time to lose it the healthy way – with diet and exercise. I whipped up these delicious low-carb portobello tuna melts last week, and I’m super excited to share the recipe with you! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be about deprivation, especially when you get creative and think outside the box.

This one is for all the Mom’s out there. I salute you.


This post was sponsored by Natural & Kosher Cheese. Follow them on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, or via their Blog

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spicy tuna melt twice baked potatoes
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Israeli Style Tuna Salad

Monday, March 31st, 2014

When I was growing up, my brother would often buy Israeli-Style tuna from the prepared salad section in the supermarket. He’d come home with his little black bag of tuna and fresh bread, and I’d look at him oddly while he ate the weird concoction of tomato-smothered tuna for lunch. Tuna was suppposed to be mixed with mayo and squeezed between a slice of fresh tomato and lettuce on some freshly baked bread. It wasn’t a salad, unless you added some fresh cucumbers and dill, and it surely wasn’t a dip, right? Wrong.

One day, I was digging through the fridge looking for something to eat when I spotted some leftover  Israeli style tuna. I had no patience to prepare something from scratch so I decided to give it a try. One spoon and the rest is history – I was an Israeli tuna salad convert! I had always wanted to try making my own, but I wasn’t quite sure what they put into it. When Sabra sent me over a bunch of samples of their Kosher for Passover line, including caponata, matbucha and turkish salad, I decided to test it out with their already delicious dips. I knew I hit the nail on the head when one taste transported me back into my mom’s kitchen, sneaking some of my brother’s tuna dip.

This recipe makes the perfect Passover lunch when served alongside some crispy matza. Head on over to Joy of Kosher for the recipe!

But wait, there’s more! Not only did Sabra develop an amazing selection of Kosher for Passover dips that taste just as good (or better!) than the chometz variety – they’re also sharing the love with an amazing contest! All you have to do to win a $200 gift card is show and tell Sabra what you’re eating and who you’re eating it with. Take pictures of your food or family and friends at meal time and post on Facebook, Twitter or Instragram with the hashtag #ShareSabra for a chance to win.

This post was sponsored by Sabra.

Related Recipes:

tuna salad with a twist
baked portobello shakshuka with Sabra matbucha
Kosher for Passover egg salad dip (mock chopped liver)

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Tuna Pasta Salad

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

I love to make this salad for lunch when I have leftover pasta in the fridge. It’s a definite upgrade from a tired tuna sandwich! It also makes a great one-dish lite dinner. Experiment with pasta shapes – kids love them! If you have different types of leftover pasta, you can even do a fun mix. Any shaped pasta works well. Try wheels, shells, bowties, rotini, or cavatappi (like I used here).

In this recipe, I use a mixture of corn, red peppers, onions and hearts of palm. Feel free to play around with different veggies, or use whatever you have available in the fridge. Peas, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, pickles, radishes, scallions and fresh dill are all good additions.

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Tuna Salad with a Twist

Sunday, June 19th, 2011


I’m definitely a tuna person. Cream cheese? not so much. Lox, not a chance! So tuna is bound to show up on my lunch menu quite often. I like my tuna 2 ways: albacore, and in water. I like to mix up my recipes so it doesn’t get too boring.

To prepare tuna, I start with an empty sink and a pair of gloves! I drain the can of water and empty the tuna into a bowl. Then, using my hands (remember, I’m wearing gloves), I break the tuna apart, so that I end up with perfect flakes that are not too ground, nor too chunky.

Classic tuna with mayo always works, but adding additional ingredients turns it into a salad for a complete meal when served with crackers, rice cakes, or cucumber slices. Sometimes I add a bit of harrisa and lemon for a quick and easy spicy tuna. Other times I’ll mix it into some pasta for a heartier dish, or into salad nicoise – an all time favorite. In this recipe, I use a surprise ingredient which really ups the ante from traditional tuna salad, to something out of this world! What is it? Golden raisins! It may sound weird at first, but I urge you to give it a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

To make these fun cucumber rolls, just slice english cucumbers or zucchini lengthwise, very thin (preferably using a mandoline, but it can be done by hand or with a peeler). Put a spoonful of tuna salad about an inch away from either end. Roll the end over the tuna, and continue to roll up. Fasten with a toothpick. NOTE: If you slice the cucumbers paper thin, you won’t need a toothpick, they will stay closed on their own.

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