Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Who’s ready to shake things up? Stuck as we are in the final stretch of winter when things are still gray and gloomy, there’s nothing like contemplating some new culinary frontiers to chase the cold and the darkness away.

If you’re yearning for something fresh, the Ladies Auxiliary of Nitra’s Healthy Ever After may be just what the doctor ordered, with all proceeds benefiting Talmud Torah Beis Yechiel in Mt. Kisco. A full 15 pages of this beautiful book are devoted to outlining the building blocks of a healthier diet, including avoiding chemicals, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, staying properly hydrated and incorporating whole grains, cold pressed oils, flax meal and seaweed into your repertoire. Even baby steps can yield positive results and with 450 recipes ideas and dozens of gorgeous photos, you and your family may just find yourselves loving these nutrient-laden dishes.


There are six challah recipes that ditch regular white flour in favor of whole-wheat, organic white wheat, sprouted wheat or spelt and even kamut flour. Also featured are several different recipes for kishka, gefilte fish, a low carbohydrate and egg free potato kugel, knishes, shlishkes, rugelach, egg kichel and hamantaschen, albeit prepared with a healthier twist. And lest you think that healthy means giving up your desserts, there are over 100 cakes, cookies, crackers, bars, pies, cobblers, pudding and frozen treats here to make sure that every meal ends off on a happy note. Sprinkled throughout are informative snippets pertaining to the various chapters – for example, the juicing section contains a fascinating primer on growing wheatgrass along with a warning that its detoxifying effects can induce nausea that should pass relatively quickly. Far less intimidating are several paragraphs on soups as nourishing comfort food that can be served up 365 days a year.

My favorites: The protein filled tofu strawberry shake, the pineapple, cranberry and cheddar cheese stuffed acorn squash and the side of salmon with lemon dill pesto. Equally enticing are pina colada ice cream, honey glazed pecans, tempura fried chicken and spicy rice noodles topped with crispy tofu chunks. It is also worth noting that a significant number of the recipes are gluten free and, while not all are suitable for your Pesach menu, many of them are, definitely something to think about as we count down the days until spring finally makes an appearance.

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If your childhood was anything like mine, the phrase “waste not want not” was uttered on many an occasion, and was most often applied to food. Taking that concept into the kitchen, Yaffa Fruchter uses those very words as the title of her new cookbook, with 120 recipes that repurpose leftovers into foods that will hopefully have everyone at your table excited. In her introduction, Fruchter describes Waste Not Want Not as more of a cooking course, challenging home chefs to channel their creativity and find ways to use the odds and ends already lurking in their fridges, freezers and pantries and turn them into delicious goodies instead of just chucking in the trash.

Given the subject matter, it seems appropriate for this cookbook to open with a chapter on food safety since giving your family food poisoning by feeding them spoiled ingredients is definitely something to be avoided. Among her suggestions are avoiding anything that looks, smells or tastes off, marking dates on all leftovers, storing things in airtight containers, using extra caution when it comes to anything made with fish, meat or eggs and throwing out any questionable food items. Having gotten that bit of business out of the way, the sky is the limit in Waste Not Want Not, where the vegetables used to flavor your chicken soup are transformed into patties, kugels, veggies loaves and tzimmes, in addition to being used as the base for other soups. Have extra chicken that didn’t get eaten over Shabbos? Try turning it into blintzes, bourekas, shawarma, a fleishig pizza or even chicken sushi. I confess that I think my family would disown me if I tried the recipe for a chummus-like dish made out of pureed, leftover cholent and topped with fried onions, although I can’t see anyone objecting if I followed the recipe for gazpacho made with day old Israeli salad.

I have resurrected leftover challah by slathering it with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and making it into garlic bread on many an occasion and Fruchter also suggests turning it into bread crumbs, croutons or soaking it and squeezing it out for use in hamburgers, chopped liver and stuffing. And should you ever find yourself with too much cake on hand, Waste Not Want Not includes it as an ingredient in baked Alaska, cake pops, rum balls and that simcha favorite, trifle. Fruchter also peppers her book with practical advice, like rotating items in your pantry to use them before they expire, keeping spices in the freezer to maintain freshness and tips on salvaging burned items, doing her best to keep food waste to a bare minimum.

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Turning in a different direction, it is hard to believe how chummus has gone from a Middle-Eastern staple to a product so universally beloved that a 30 second Superbowl ad featured 19 different celebrities from all walks of life talking about their love for the chick pea-based dip. Chummus has definitely made the leap into American kitchens in a big way and The Complete Hummus Cookbook by Catherine Gill contains 100 vegan-friendly recipes that might just have you shaking your head and saying “you can do that with chummus?”

Let me mention right off the bat the The Complete Hummus Cookbook was written for the mainstream market, but I didn’t notice any recipes here that would create conflicts in a kosher kitchen. In addition to offering up quite a few basic recipes as well as variations on chummus that include chia seeds, black beans, avocado and even peanut butter and jelly, Gill takes chummus into previously uncharted waters. There are pumpkin pie cheesecake streusel bars where the traditional eggs are replaced with chummus, a light lasagna recipe that uses chummus in place of cheese and even fettucine alfredo made with, you guessed it, chummus. My particular favorites included the sweet potato toasts, the loaded chummus-topped nachos and the chummus flatbread pizza. I confess that I couldn’t bring myself to try either the s’mores of chocolate chip cookie dough dessert recipes – if any of you end up making them, feel free to drop me a line and let me know how they worked out and if your family is still speaking to you or not.

Heading into Purim, it’s nice to experiment a little and find fun new ways of making some kitchen magic and each of these three books definitely offer an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and get creative. Happy cooking, everyone!


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Layer Cake

By adding a base layer of leftover cake crumbs you can create this delicious dessert.


5-6 cups leftover cake and cookies, processed in a food processor

For glaze:
6 heaping Tbsp. cocoa
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
1 stick margarine, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp liquor (any kind)

9 inch round sponge cake



Transfer processed cake and cookie crumbs to a large bowl.

Combine water, cocoa and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil, mixing it until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.

Immediately add the margarine and vanilla. Mix until the margarine completely dissolves.

Add liquor.

Set aside half of the glaze. Pour the other half over the reserved cake crumbs in the large bowl. Mix well and let cool.


For the assembly:

Cut the sponge cake in half horizontally.

Spread the glaze (that was set aside) between the two layers of the sponge cake, leaving enough of the mixture to smear on top, if desired.

Using the crumb glaze mixture, form a disk by hand, about one inch thick, the same diameter as the sponge cake and place it over one layer of the cake. Slide or carefully place the cake on top of the crumb mixture base.

Spread the remaining glaze on top of the cake. Garnish with sprinkles.


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Sprout And Avocado Medley

Yield: 6 servings

2 avocados, cubed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups sunflower sprouts, cut in half
2 cups sweet pea sprouts, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 Vidalia onion, pearl onion, or yellow onion, chopped (see recipe note)
½ pint grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup pine nuts (optional)



Soak the avocados in the lemon juice for 15 minutes. Drain and discard the juice.

In a large bowl, combine the avocados, sprouts, onion, tomatoes, and oil. Serve with your favorite dressing and sprinkle with pine nuts.

RECIPE NOTE: If sweet onion or pearl onion is not available and you are using the yellow onion, sprinkle the onion with sea salt to eliminate bitterness. Let stand for 1 hour. Rinse and drain.


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Banana Bread

Serves 8–10

The hummus in this banana bread recipe not only acts as an egg replacer, it also adds a little bit of fat and allows the recipe to use less butter than other banana bread recipes usually do. I also find that it lends a really nice flavor to the bread while adding moisture. It is really interesting; you wouldn’t think to include hummus in a banana bread recipe, but it works so well here. I bet your guests won’t believe you, either, once they try this delicious bread. A real conversation starter for sure! (Excerpt from The Complete Hummus Cookbook by Catherine Gill. Published by Hatherleigh Press.)


3 large ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
¼ cup original flavored hummus
⅓ cup vegan milk
⅓ cup vegan butter, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup old fashioned oats or rolled oats
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt



Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients (bananas, hummus, vegan milk, butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract). In another large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt). Mix together both wet and dry ingredients, then pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean and bread loaf is baked through. Allow to cool enough to safely handle and slice bread into slices. Can be served with spreads like butter, vegan cream cheese or jams.

Tip: In banana bread recipes, the riper the bananas, the sweeter and better! You want the outside peel of the banana to be browning, but not spoiling. When bananas ripen, the sugar content increases, so they really help to sweeten up the bread as well as bring out the banana’s flavor in general. You don’t want to rush and make your bread using bananas that haven’t ripened yet because the bread will turn out a little bit dull.


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Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients. She can be contacted at [email protected].