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For a healthy take on a traditional favorite this Passover, try this vegetarian matzo ball soup with inflammation-fighting turmeric and fresh dill!
It turns out that matzo ball soup, one of the most traditional and simple dishes at Passover, is not so simple! There are many factors involved in making the perfect matzo ball. First, the weight of the matzo ball. Are you a fan of the fluffy floater, or the dense sinker? Personally, I absolutely love matzo balls and will eat them either way! Another factor to consider is the type of broth, which will have a major effect on flavor. In my home, our broth of choice is vegetarian, and that means adding lots of spices and fresh herbs to give it more taste.
Perfecting the Matzo Ball
Growing up, my family was not particularly religious–my mother came from a Christian household and my father from a Jewish one. Our holidays revolved around family traditions like decorating the christmas tree, dying easter eggs, and yes, making matzo ball soup. Traditions at home always included a delicious holiday meal, as food was always a focus. My mother was an extremely intelligent and successful woman that was a pioneer in the medical field. She also made some very unique (and delicious) matzo balls. Instead of small matzo balls in a soup, my mother would make ostrich egg sized matzo balls with Mrs. Grass’ noodle soup mix.
This spring, I decided to finally make my own matzo ball soup with the same Jewish American Cookbook that my mother used during my childhood. Instead of using matzo ball mix like we did growing up, I decided to make mine from scratch. After some researching, I came across an amazing article online about the basics of matzo ball making by Serious Eats. There is a true technique to making a fluffier matzo ball if you are not a fan of the dense version. This blew my mind! The trick is using either seltzer water or baking soda (or a combination of both). Also, simmering the matzo balls in broth instead of water will add in more flavor. I used these different techniques in my recipe and I was really impressed!
Turn it up with Turmeric!
To spice up the traditional matzo ball recipe, I decided to add in turmeric for a hint of color and additional nutritional benefits. You may recognize turmeric in Indian dishes such as curry, yellow rice, and even tea. There’s a reason it is starting to pop up more and more in our favorite foods. This magical spice may delay the effects of aging and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. More specifically, preliminary studies have shown that it may reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes, and help fight inflammation. Even with ongoing research showing promising results, don’t go overboard with turmeric supplementation. Using the spice in cooking is a healthy way to sneak in the anti-inflammatory benefit. Just as I did with this soup broth, sprinkle it in your favorite stews, rice dishes, and even scrambled eggs. If you are feeling bold, try it in a smoothie!
Over the summer, several brands issued a recall of their ground turmeric, because of concerns over traces of lead. I highly recommend a high quality turmeric that is certified organic and free of contaminants. For more information, visit the FDA’s website for product recalls and food safety alerts.
In this recipe…
The trick to matzo balls is to have the right consistency. To set the mixture, place the blended matzo batter in the fridge for at least a half hour. To save time, I prepped the vegetables for the soup while the matzo batter was cooling in the refrigerator. Once ready, the matzo balls are best when cooked separately from the soup broth. This keeps the matzo balls from absorbing too much of the soup broth and preventing a cloudy, starchy broth. Some recipes call for boiling them in water, but I felt the broth gave a better flavor. This soup can easily be adapted based on your preferences, whether it is using chicken broth instead of vegetable stock, or making denser matzo balls without the baking soda. For those of you celebrating Passover, I wish you a very Happy Passover and a very delicious matzo ball soup!
- 1 cup matzo meal
- For the Matzo Balls:
- 3 whole large eggs plus 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 3-4 tablespoons oil oil or melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, optional
- 10 cups water (or half of liquid using vegetable broth for more flavor, about 4-5 cups)
- Vegetarian soup stock:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
- 10 cups water
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- To make the matzo balls:
- Stir all of the matzo ball ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the mixture.
- Once matzo balls are ready, in a large pot bring 10 cups of water or vegetable broth to a boil.
- Using a cookie scooper or small spoon, scoop out mix and roll with wet hands to make a one-two inch ball. This prevents the mixture from sticking to your hands.
- Slowly place into the boiling water. Once all of the matzo balls are in the pot, reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, covered. The matzo balls should be soft all the way through (use a fork to test).
- Once cooked, turn off the heat.
- For the Soup:
- While the matzo balls simmer, it is time to prepare the soup.
- Heat a 4 quart pot with the olive oil on medium high. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sautee for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Do not brown the vegetables. Add the garlic and turmeric and sautee for 30 seconds to one minute until fragrant.
- Pour in the water and add the salt and bay leaves. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are soft and the broth is flavorful. Adjust the salt and spices to your liking.
- Once the broth is ready turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves.
- Slowly spoon in the matzo balls into the broth using a slotted spoon. Toss in the fresh dill and let the soup cool down for a few minutes before serving.
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Does your kitchen need spring cleaning? Try this simple and versatile recipe for Dukkah!
Move over fairy dust! Dukkah, a delicious Egyptian blend of nuts and spices is pure magic! This versatile topping combines a sweet, savory, and nutty taste all in one. Use it as a crust on on your favorite protein. Or, try it sprinkled on roasted vegetables, eggs, dips, or even popcorn! The options are endless!
Clean out your pantry!
Do you have any nuts or spices hiding in your back shelf just waiting to be eaten? Perfect! Even though Dukkah is most commonly made with hazelnuts and sesame seeds, other nut and seed varieties are also welcome. The most popular spices used are cumin and coriander seeds, which really come to life when toasted! For this recipe, I chose to use the original ingredient, hazelnuts for their amazing taste and nutritional benefits.
Filberts, another name for hazelnuts, are an excellent source of good-for-you unsaturated fats, calcium, and magnesium. Magnesium, in particular, is found mostly in leafy greens, whole grains, and of course, nuts, and many Americans are not getting enough of this magnificent mineral. The daily recommended intake for magnesium ranges from 320mg per day for women and 420mg for men. In just a one ounce serving of hazelnuts, you’ll get 46mg of magnesium!
Why fuss with getting enough? Long term research (such as NHANES, the Nutrition and Health Examination Survey) has supported the idea that magnesium can aid in muscle contraction, building strong bones, and lowering the risk for heart disease, but also has suggested that Americans are not getting enough magnesium.
Here are some other sources high in magnesium:
- leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens
- dark chocolate
- other nuts such as cashews provides 82mg in a one ounce serving
- legumes (peas, chickpeas, lentils, and beans)
This beautiful and exotic spice blend is usually served with olive oil and flatbread, but there are many other ways to use dukkah. Try it as a coating on your favorite meat, fish, or vegetable. Or, in the mood for a savory snack? Top it on popcorn or your favorite dip! This heart healthy recipe is simple and takes only 10 minutes!
- 2/3 cup hazelnuts, unsalted
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- Pinch of sea salt
- In a small or medium cast iron or non-stick skillet, using no oil, heat pan to medium high.
- Add the hazelnuts to the pan and toast them, about 3-5 minutes stirring frequently to prevent burning. Empty into a bowl and set aside.
- Next, toast the seeds and spices in the pan, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of hazelnuts.
- Transfer the bowl of nuts and seeds to a mini food processor or high powered blender. Pulse until coarsely ground.
Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and recent transplant to Boulder, CO. After working as an inpatient dietitian for almost five years in Boston, she is expanding her expertise in the health and wellness industry. Katie is passionate about cooking and food photography, sharing her culinary adventures on her food blog, One Hungry Bunny, and exploring her new Rocky Mountain surroundings. Follow Katie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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Want to get more balance in your diet? This simple 3-step Mediterranean buddha bowl is bursting with colorful vegetables, healthy proteins and fats, and filling whole grains!
The name is catchy, but really what is a buddha bowl? This dish got its name because it is overstuffed with healthy foods, which resembles a “round belly” look. Buddha bowls, also known as Hippie bowls, are simply bowls balanced with healthy grains, protein, fat, and vegetables. These bowls are basically a “melting pot” for your favorite nutritious foods!
In just three steps…
Make your own version at home in three easy steps. Talk about easy!
- Choose your whole grain or starch
The options are endless! For example, you could choose brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes, just to name a few. For this recipe, I chose quinoa (pronounced either as keen-wah or kee-no-ah) for its high fiber and protein content. Don’t let the silly name throw you off, it is easy to make and extremely versatile. Did I forget to say it is also delicious?
2. Add in a lean protein and favorite vegetables of choice
Again, the varieties here are never ending. Ideally, you should choose a protein with less saturated fats, such as legumes, lean cut meat, or seafood. For this mediterranean Buddha Bowl, I chose chickpeas and accompanied it with roasted red peppers, fresh kale, roasted eggplant, and green olives. Choose your favorite vegetable and try roasting it for even more flavor!
3. Top it with a healthy fat
Topping these healthy bowls with a dressing really ties everything together nicely. For fun, try avocado, tahini, or yogurt toppings. I combined avocado and yogurt, which adds creaminess. If you prefer no dressing, top the bowl with nuts or seeds for a source of healthy fats.
Adding heart healthy olive oil into your dressing or marinade is also an excellent way to sneak in healthy fats. I used olive oil for a chickpea marinade and roasting the eggplant. You should try to use a high quality olive oil. Some olive oils go through a chemical refining process with poor quality olives while others even dilute olive oil with other types of oils. To make sure you are not getting scammed look out for poor quality olive oils labeled “pure olive oil” or just “olive oil”, and those in clear or plastic bottles that are easily exposed to light.
A new favorite!
One excellent brand of olive oil I have newly discovered is I Love Aceite. This company based in Boulder (also in California and Texas) values good quality extra virgin olive oil and never uses chemical processing or deodarization! I met Oscar Sanchez, the CEO of I Love Aceite, while networking in the Boulder foodie scene. He was so pleasant and could not have been more passionate about his olive oil products. His mission is to deliver the highest quality olive oil directly from Spain to the U.S. food market and our homes. Not only is the packaging beautiful, but the olive oil was so amazing I used it alone on top of my kale and mixed green salads! Even better, they can ship to your home with an option for a monthly subscription. You no longer have to worry about getting “false” olive oil at the stores any more!
Disclaimer: I received free samples of the I Love Aceite olive oils mentioned in this post. I was not compensated for this blog post.
These ingredients can be made ahead of time and used for other meals during the week. Use the extra chickpeas on a salad and extra quinoa in a soup, salad, or stir fry. The toppings are extremely versatile! If you prefer other vegetables than eggplant, feel free to roast them for extra flavor. Additional toppings used in this bowl were raw kale, roasted red peppers, and green olives.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (split between the eggplant and chickpeas)
- 1 large eggplant, skin removed and cubed
- 1 15 ounce can low sodium chickpeas
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or juice of half lemon)
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (about 1-2 garlic cloves)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup low fat Feta, crumbled
- Optional Toppings: sliced kale or spinach, roasted red peppers, olives, feta cheese
- Avocado Dressing:
- 1 medium, ripe avocado, pit removed
- 1/4 c plain yogurt
- 1-2 T lemon juice (or juice of remaining lemon half)
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- optional add ins: basil, additional tablespoon of olive oil, red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Prepare the eggplant for roasting by tossing with olive oil and seasonings (pepper, italian seasoning, garlic powder optional). If using a pinch of salt, top it after cooking to prevent further moisture loss of the eggplant.
- Roast the eggplant for 20-30 minutes or until browning occurs.
- While the eggplant cooks, prepare the quinoa and water in a medium pot to boiling, then simmer covered for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
- While the eggplant and quinoa cooks, marinate the chickpeas with the lemon juice (half of lemon), garlic, shallots, and 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
- One the quinoa and eggplant are done. Place the quinoa in the bottom of a large bowl and fill the top with the eggplant, chickpeas, and desired additional toppings. Drizzle the avocado dressing on top.
- Avocado Dressing:
- Place all of the listed ingredients for the dressing in a food processor or high powered blender. Blend or pulse until all ingredients are mixed to a smooth consistency.
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