Levana Kirschenbaum, restaurateur, master chef, cooking teacher and author, has just published the ultimate cookbook, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure and Simple. This is her magnum opus, a book that takes kosher cooking to a whole new level; with everything we ever needed to know about preparing healthy cuisine from soup to nuts.
Written clearly and concisely with Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD, a nationally recognized nutritionist, Levana’s new book guides you to eat your way to health with recipes that help you achieve a healthy weight, boost your energy level and keep you looking and feeling youthful.
In the spirit of full disclosure I must confess that in addition to being a good friend, Levana is also my culinary savior. In the midst of writing her new book she learned that I was diagnosed with a serious medical condition and graciously interrupted her busy schedule to turn my kitchen into a classroom, teaching me to cook delicious meals that were free of those dietary culprits– sugar, salt and fats.
How? By substituting healthy alternatives and incorporating often ignored natural ingredients like root vegetables into my culinary repertoire. Or as Levana describes them, “all those ugly, grimy, bulbous, monolithic roots–rutabaga, celery root, and turnips…what need do they have of looking pretty? They contain endless reserves of inner beauty and flavor and produce dishes much superior to the prosaic and humble sum of their parts.”
Peppered throughout the easy to follow and beautifully photographed recipes are “Lisa’s Tips.” Drawing on her vast expertise as a nutritionist, Miss Young weighs in on the medicinal and nutritional benefits of various ingredients including the common parsnip, rich in vitamins B and C and dark chocolate, a surprising source of antioxidants and polyphenols.
Levana traces her devotion to whole foods to her mother whose mantra, “The cure is in the pot,” fueled her philosophy of cooking as a means to healing. The operative word here is delicious as Levana proves that healthy never means boring or bland with recipes that the entire family will enjoy. Along with numerous sample menus including Asian, Latin, and Vegan dinners and a Dairy-free dessert party, she has included a valuable index of both gluten-free and Pesach recipes.
Here is one of our family’s favorites. Although I have been cooking chicken soup for over 40 years, it has been displaced by Levana’s Moroccan pea soup, the new Jewish penicillin. We all love it– from our granddaughter to her grandfather and everyone in between.
*Moroccan Pea Soup
2 large onions quartered
8 ribs celery, peeled and cut in large chunks
3 large carrots, cut in large chunks
1 pound bag green or yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 large bunch flat parsley, stems and leaves
1 bunch cilantro, stems cut off
½ cup olive oil
3 quarts (12 cups) water
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Put all but last ingredient to boil in a wide heavy pot. Reduce the heat to medium and cook covered for about an hour or a little longer until the peas are very tender. Add pepper to taste. Cream with an immersion blender. Adjust the texture and seasonings. Makes a dozen ample servings.