The Unhealthy Vegetarian/Vegan

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Unhealthy you say? How can that be? Whether you are already eating a vegetarian or vegan diet or just considering it, you can still eat unhealthy. Potato chips (crisps) and French fries (chips) are vegan. Coca Cola and Sprite are vegan. Eating a surfeit of these foods is definitely not healthy. We have all seen and heard the outspoken person harping on how much more healthy they are because they switched to a vegetarian diet, yet some are either obese or sickly thin with an unhealthy pallor. So why eat a non-meat diet you ask? Some people are vegetarians because of animal rights, some are vegetarians for religious reasons, and some do it for health reasons. There are different categories of the vegetarian diet. 

Lacto vegetarians are vegetarians that eat dairy products; however they do not eat eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat dairy products and include eggs in their diet. Pesco vegetarians eat everything that lacto-ovo vegetarians eat plus fish. Vegans eat only plant based foods and consume no animal products of any kind. A healthy vegan needs to plan his or her diet carefully to ensure they get all of the daily nutrients they need. Vegans are typically prone to deficiencies in B-12, calcium, iron, protein, and zinc.

Animal products supply the body with “complete proteins” whereas vegetables, with the exception of soy or quinoa, do not. Vegans in particular need to combine the correct foods such as rice and beans together to achieve complete proteins.

Iron can be difficult to get on a vegetarian diet if enough leafy greens are not consumed. Teaming spinach with tomatoes facilitates the absorption of iron into the body. 

Getting enough calcium is important for both females and males. Drinking calcium rich soy or rice milk and even orange juice enriched with vitamin D is an easy way to get the recommended amount.

Vitamin B12 is needed for cell division and blood formation. Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12; rather, bacteria are responsible for producing it. Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with it and then the animal becomes a source of the vitamin. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are contaminated by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them. Thus, vegans need to look to fortified foods or supplements to get the vitamin in their diet. A vitamin B12 deficiency is a very serious problem and can lead to anemia or irreversible nerve damage. Prudent vegans will include sources of vitamin B12 in their diets. Some nutritional yeast contain vitamin B-12. Other sources are vitamin B12 fortified soy milk, food made from wheat gluten or soybeans, and vitamin B12 supplements. 

What should you do if you are considering changing your diet to exclude meat? Consult a professional to help with a balanced diet or check out the USDA vegetarian pyramid at These are things that everyone should do whether eating meat or not. 

White Fish Gravlax Recipe

White Fish Gravlax

Serves 4

Here is a great starter, light lunch or a fantastic item for your holiday buffet.  If you have problems with gluten substitute the wheat bread for a flax or millet bread or leave it out entirely and eat on some mixed greens.  


5 ounces/145 grams white fish, bass, snapper-I used tilapia (sushi grade)

2 tablespoons/30 ml coarse salt

2 tablespoons/30 ml caster sugar

1 tablespoon/15 ml of ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon/2 ml ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon/2 ml ground cloves

8-10 pieces of fresh dill fronds

Mustard Butter

2 Tablespoons/30 ml 28g of unsalted butter, softened

2 Tablespoons/30 ml of dijon mustard.


1 handful of watercress dressed with simple vinaigrette

Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream

Mix salt, sugar, black pepper, allspice, and ground cloves.  Liberally sprinkle on both

sides of the fish.  Lay half of the dill in a glass container.  Place the fish on top

and cover with rest of the dill.  Leave out for 1-2 hours then cover and put in the refrigerator overnight.  Scrape off the dill and excess salt mixture.  Serve on dark bread rounds spread with the butter mustard mixture.  Top with the dressed watercress and drizzle with creme fraiche or sour cream.

photo courtesy of:

Robin’s Nest Cookies Recipe

This is a fun project to do today with the kiddos as we are sure they are getting excited about Peter Cotton Tail hopping down the bunny trail… And after a couple of these cookies so will they!

1 cup/8 ounces/225g butter, softened


1/2 cup/110g firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons/7ml vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups/281g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups/174g walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons/30g butter, softened
3 tablespoons/45ml light corn syrup
2 drops blue food coloring
1 drop green food coloring
1 teaspoon/5ml almond extract
2 cups/260g confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350F/175C/Gas4

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks then stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour and mix well. Beat egg whites until foamy. Spread walnuts on a plate or waxed paper. Roll 1 teaspoon of dough into a ball; roll in egg whites then in walnuts. Place 2 inches/5cm apart on a cookie sheet. Make a depression in each ball with your thumb. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cream the remaining butter with corn syrup, blue and green food coloring and almond extract. Gradually stir in confectioners' sugar. Roll 1/2 teaspoon of fondant mixture into egg-shaped balls. Place fondant eggs into hollows of baked cookies.

Underground Dinner Parties/Chef Dinners

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Traveling Dinner Parties or Supper Club or Dinner Club or Sup'clubs or Popups also known as Underground Dinner Parties, whatever you choose to call it, the concept of a chef dinner is actually very simple. A dinner party is put in place at people's homes, private venues, or places of business. Those invited are charged a fee to attend to cover the cost of the chef, servers, food, china/rentals and other incidentals. 

In our case, the balance of the monies taken in go to the chosen charity or non-profit specified by the host or venue.

In many cases, the servers can be volunteers, the china/rentals can either be high-end disposables or the guests bring their own plates and cutlery. Doing this helps with your bottom line and allows more funds for your charity or non-profit.


Often, if wine is needed, this could be donated by a winery - with the chef customizing the menu to be paired with the wines of each course.  The same can be of spirits.

These dinner parties can be as simple, elegant, extravagant, as needed according to the guests you choose to invite.

There are no costs associated with the host.  YaDa Chef will work with you, your concept, and charity/non-profit to come up with the perfect dinner party, brunch, breakfast, cocktail hour, whatever YOU feel would be the best fit.

Everyone wants something for their money.  Instead of asking for donations, give your benefactors a wonderful dining experience while helping your favorite cause.

For more information, ideas, etc, contact us.

Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage Recipe

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Wholesome broccoli pairs with irresistible sausage in this one-pot dinner that will please kids and adults alike. Anchovies are the secret ingredient in this dish. They give it deep, savory flavor without a bit of fishiness, so if you're tempted to skip them, don't!

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound/450g rigatoni
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets 
1/4 cup/60ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
zest of one lemon, plus 2 tablespoons/30ml lemon juice
4 anchovy fillets, minced
1 pound/450g sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
Parmesan, grated, for serving

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. In last 2 minutes of cooking, add broccoli and cook until bright green and crisp-tender. Reserve 1 cup/250ml pasta water; drain pasta and broccoli.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, 1/2 teaspoon/2ml salt, and 1/4 teaspoon/1ml black pepper. Add sausage to the  pot the pasta was cooked in, and cook over medium-high, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, return pasta and broccoli to pot, and add oil mixture. Toss well to combine, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Note: This Italian-inspired combination is easy enough that kids can lend a hand. Let older helpers cut off the broccoli florets while little ones have fun whisking together the sauce. Feel free to use turkey or chicken sausage for a lighter meal.

Deconstructed Skinny Banoffee Pie Recipe


We have been working on a deconstructed "skinny" version of Banoffee pie.  Next is to make it dairy free.

Banoffee is an uniquely English dessert pie made from bananas, cream and toffee from boiled condensed milk and is what I believe the American version of Banana Cream Pie is based on.  Both can have either a pastry crust or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter. The name Banoffee is a combination of the words "banana" and "toffee.

 Serve 4-6

1 sheet of store bought pie dough, cut into strips or triangles

1 ounce/30 ml/30 g/2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 ounce/30 ml/30 g/2 tablespoons brown sugar lightly packed

5 large bananas, peeled (over ripe works best)

12 ounces/375 g of dairy free sweetened condensed “milk” see recipe below.

1 15 ounce/425 g coconut milk, place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour

Dairy Free Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

1/2 cup/125 ml cold water

1 1/3 cups/304 ml/90 g carnation nonfat dry milk powder

1/2 cup/118 ml/115 g white castor sugar (sub with Splenda granular if you want to go sugar free)

In a 2 cup/500 ml glass measuring cup, combine cold water and Carnation Nonfat Dry Milk Powder, stirring to make a loose paste.  Cover and microwave on HIGH (100% power) for 45 to 60 seconds or until mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk in sugar or splenda - be sure and mix thoroughly.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using. Will keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Use in any recipe that calls for sweetened condensed milk. Makes equivalent of a 12-fluid-ounce (375 ml) can of commercial brand.

Preheat oven to 325 F/162 C/Gas Mark 4

Place pie dough strips on a cooking sheet and place in the preheated oven.  Let bake for 35-40 minutes or the strips are golden brown. Remove pan from oven and let cool.

Slice one banana on the diagonal in very thin slices (about 1/8 inch/3 mm). Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or lightly greased.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm and crisp.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Cut three bananas into chunks and place in a microwaveable bowl.  Cover with plastic cling film.  Cut a slit in the film.  Microwave the bananas on high for 2-4 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the microwave.  Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over bowl you microwaved the bananas in and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.   Reserve any remaining banana pulp. Place liquid in a saucepan on medium high for 2 minutes or the liquid has reduced to 1 tablespoon/15 ml.  Add brown sugar stirring until it is completely dissolved.  Stir in the butter to incorporate it.  Slowly add the “condensed milk” to the mixture.  It should turn it a caramel colour.  

Slice the remaining banana.  Place sliced bananas in one or more even layers in a pie tin or individual ramekins.  Pour the caramel “milk” over the bananas.  Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.  While the mixture is chilling.  Remove the coconut milk from the refrigerator. Pour off the clear liquid.  Place the thick white liquid into a bowl and whip until thick and fluffy.  You can add vanilla or extra sugar if you want.

Garnish with crisped pie dough and baked banana slices.

Just as a note we have found it unnecessary to drain the coconut mixture.  Shake well and whip.  As long as the coconut liquid is cold it whips up well - if you have difficulty add a small amount of xamtham gum.  

Italian Easter Bread Recipe

The Italians love to celebrate holidays with food and Easter is one of those special holidays.  The breads come in every shape and size. Many are sweet, braided  and wrapped around eggs. The Neapolitans have a delicious savory one stuffed with ricotta and sausage or ham. This recipe is more along the lines of a Calabrian bread. Easter is preceded by Lent, a time of fasting for many Christians. Come Easter Sunday, it is time to come together...

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  • 3 cups/375g all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup/48g sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup/158ml warm milk (120F/49C)
  • 2 tablespoons butter/29g, softened
  • 2 large eggs 
  • grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup/43g chopped blanched almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 5 hard boiled eggs
  • neutral oil


  • 1 cup/130g confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons/30-45ml orange juice
  • sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup/125g flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add milk and butter; beat 2 minutes on medium.

Add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup/62g flour; beat 2 minutes on high. Stir in zest, nuts and aniseed; mix well.

Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Dye the hard boiled eggs in Easter colors and lightly rub with oil. Punch dough down. Divide in half; roll each piece into a 24-in. rope. Loosely twist ropes together to form a circle and tuck eggs into openings. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350F/173C/Gas 5. for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack. In a small bowl add sugar and 2 tablespoons/30ml orange juice, stir to combine. If too thick add the last of the juice. Decorate with a glaze and sprinkles, if desired.

Spicy Wasabi Pea Crusted Tuna Recipe

Read ingredients on the peas. Many of these fiery snacks are made with wheat flour rather than corn starch.

serves 4

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4 fresh tuna fillets (sushi grade)

2 teaspoons/10ml sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon/.5ml ground clove

1/8 teaspoon/.5ml allspice

5 ounces/145g wasabi peas

¼ cup/60ml coconut aminos

1 teaspoon/5ml minced ginger

¼ teaspoon/2ml oyster sauce

3 drops fish sauce

Place wasabi peas in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour peas on a platter. Brush tuna with 1 teaspoon/5ml sesame oil. Sprinkle tuna with cloves and allspice rubbing to spread evenly. Press tuna in the crushed peas on one side only. Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle in remaining oil. Place tuna in pan and cook for 1-2 minutes per side.

Combine aminos, ginger, oyster and fish sauce to serve on the side for dipping.

Serve with sauteed mustard greens.

The Healthiest Dessert Around

With the beach season quickly approaching, could this HEALTHY dessert be ice cream?  Frozen yogurt?


You guessed it, it is a blended banana!

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That's right.

Eat a heaping bowl of frozen, blended banana. It tastes like the freshest, creamiest ice cream you have ever had in your life.

This is a great idea for those overripe bananas which many will not eat.  Or, there are times your local grocery store will have a sale on over ripe bananas at a fraction of the cost of the just ripe ones.

So, the how-to.

Slice up a bunch of bananas.

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Place them in the freezer.

When they are frozen and you have a need for a sweet frozen treat.  Pull them out.

Let them sit a few minutes.

Blend/Food Process/Puree. 

Need a little protein too?  Add a little bit of peanut butter when blending or mix in when the banana mixture is in the bowl.

Add some fresh (or frozen) fruit.  Be creative and make this healthy dessert your own!


Stuffed Cabbage Leaves, Passover Perfection - Recipe

Here is a re-do of my Polish Babci’s Galumpki.  These can be done with or without meat, so they can be pareve. These are also rice free, so they can be eaten by both Sephardic and Ashkenazi sects, and goodness knows there are PLENTY of potatoes around during Pesach.

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Serves 4-6


1 medium head cabbage, cored

1 small onion, diced

1 pound/450 ground turkey

3 cups/450g shredded raw potato

½ teaspoon/2ml salt

¼ teaspoon/1ml black pepper

1 teaspoon/5ml dried dill

28 ounce/794g tomato puree or sauce (if you have leftover spaghetti sauce use that)

Preheat oven to 350F/176C/GasMark 4

Using a sharp knife cut the core out of the cabbage bottom. Heat a large stock pot with salted water to a simmer.  Place the cabbage in the water. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes until you can pull off individual leaves. You should end up with 15-20 leaves that are big enough to use. Chop remaining cabbage. Place on a plate or kitchen towel to drain. Mix the onion, turkey, potatoes, salt, pepper and dill in a large bowl. When leaves are cool enough handle place a tablespoon/15ml of the mixture on each cabbage leaf.  Tuck sides and roll up leaf sealing in the filling. In a casserole dish large enough to fit the rolls, place the chopped cabbage and about 1 ½ cups/375ml of the tomato sauce in one layer on the bottom. Place the cabbage rolls seam side down on the cabbage tomato mixture.  Pour remaining sauce over the rolls. Cover with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes.

Mushroom filling Pareve

1 pound/450 minced baby bella or white button mushrooms minced

1 small onion diced

1 teaspoon/5ml Neutral oil for sauteeing

3 cups/450g shredded raw potato

1 hard cooked egg, chopped

½ teaspoon/2ml salt

¼ teaspoon/1ml black pepper

1 teaspoon/5ml dried dill

28 ounce/794g tomato puree or sauce (if you have leftover spaghetti sauce use that)

In a medium pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and let heat up until it shimmers. Add the mushrooms and onions, just until most of the liquid is released from the mushrooms (1-2 minutes). Let cool slightly. In a bowl add the cooked mushroom mixture, potatoes, egg, salt, pepper and dill. Continue by following the above directions substituting the mushroom filling for the meat mixture.

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