Tabouli is a Mediterranean salad that we make at home from time to time. It’s probably one of my favorite Lebanese dishes because it’s so light and refreshing.
Serves about 4-6 people.
2 bunch of parsley
½ cup of wheat germ
¼ cup of olive oil
2 pinches of salt
1.)Add a little warm water to the wheat germ and let it soak for ½ hour then drain excess water
2.)Mince the parsley into small pieces
3.)Dice the tomatoes and onion
4.)Squeeze the lemon for fresh lemon juice
5.)Mix the parsley, tomatoes, and wheat germ in a bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
6.)Put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, serve, and enjoy!
Eating organic is good for many reasons. First, it’s healthier because the food is not grown with pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals. It’s also safer for the environment and tastes better than conventional foods. On Thursday I went to the organic store in Easton called Nature’s Way. As soon as you walk in, you know it’s going to be a different food shopping experience because of the refreshing aroma that fills the room. They have so many different products to choose from and there’s even a “healthier” option if you’re craving chocolate or potato chips. The walls were lined with fresh organic produce, organic milk and juices, organic pasta, organic cereal, organic peanut butter, basically anything and everything organic. There was even organic makeup, sunscreen, shampoo, and soap. It was nice to see that there are alternative options to the ubiquitous conventional processed foods. There was so much I wanted to try but I ended up just buying a few items: mango nectar juice, hummus, Golden Ginger herbal tea, and organic gummy bears which are free of corn syrup and GMOs (I have such a weakness for gummy bears). The mango juice was flavorful, fresh, and sweet. The hummus was delicious and had just the right amount of garlic flavor. I’m definitely going again in the near future and trying other products.
If you want to be healthier, it really isn’t that hard to incorporate organic food into your lifestyle once you know the option of organic is accessible; and for Lafayette students it’s just a short walk down the hill. Even the smallest changes can make a difference. Although organic foods might be more expensive, you know you’re paying for quality and freshness. Also, it might seem difficult for college students to make healthy choices when we’re constantly surrounded with fried foods. Anything, however, is possible and making small alterations in the food provided, whether we make organic, whole, or locally grown foods available, can encourage more long-term changes. A lot of colleges are transitioning in order to integrate organic food in the dining halls. I found this interesting website about how Yale supports organic food 100% and how many colleges are starting to include organics in one way or another. The word is spreading fast and Lafayette should join the organic movement. http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2006-09-26-college-food-usat_x.htm
If anyone is interested, I got a flyer saying that this Saturday April 24th 9am- 5pm Nature’s Way is celebrating 35 years of business as well as Earth Day. There’s going to be free products given out, food sampling, and the opportunity to meet local farmers, which might be good since we always talk about the importance of knowing where your food is coming from and having a relationship with the person growing your what we eat. Also, Friday from 6:30-7:45 there’s going to be a speaker, Dewey, talking about his experience and a good way to loss weight by cleansing, fasting, and eating raw foods.
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The Slow Food Movement started as a response to the growing fast food industry. The main reason for the movement is to preserve food traditions of a culture. Food is an important part of our culture that connects people. Food is meant to be enjoyed, however, with the growing fast food phenomenon, food becomes less significant in our way of life. The Slow Food Movement started in Italy as a way to protest the opening of a McDonalds near the Spanish Steps in Rome. The movement has expanded a lot since then and has many members in various countries. Michael Pollan is actually one of the members of the Slow Food USA movement.
The Food Movement wants to ensure that the food we eat is produced in a clean way that is good for our health and for the environment. That means not using pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and chemicals; food should be organic. We have to care about where our food comes from and we also have a right to know exactly what is in our food. We have to be educated in order to make decisions on how we want to live our lives. Education of how to eat right should start early in elementary schools.
The Slow Food Movement has programs to help schools incorporate healthier lunches for kids. Also, they suggest that schools plant their own gardens in order for kids to learn about how food is grown. The smallest acts can really have an impact on a child’s life. I remember in Kindergarten, the theme for the year was monarch butterflies. We spent a lot of time outside learning about nature and its cycles. I also remember going on an apple-picking fieldtrip. Earth day was very important and still to this day I remember some songs we learned about the environment. One of them goes something like, “inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow, all it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground.” They wanted to emphasize that it really doesn’t take much to be healthy and that protecting the earth was important. I really believe if I went to a different school I wouldn’t have understood the significance of nature and the environment at such an early age.
I remember recently watching the movie Supersize Me, which documented a man who ventured to change his healthy lifestyle by eating fast food for every meal during the course of a month. The point of the movie was to see all the negative health complications caused by the fast food diet. In a small part of this movie, first graders were shown images of important familiar figures. The kids didn’t recognize George Bush, George Washington, or Jesus, but they had no trouble identifying Ronald McDonald. There is also a part in the beginning where kids at a camp were all singing the Kentucky Fired Chicken and Pizza Hut song. Why would you teach kids that song? It’s only going to lead them in the wrong direction later in life. It’s really scary to know that 2/3 of the United States is either overweight or obese and to see that type 2 diabetes is a new epidemic in children with an increase of 33% more cases during the past decade. This really shows that our society is emphasizing the wrong messages about food and health from the beginning and that something needs to change if we want to see a healthier America.
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This Saturday Dan and I made pizza from scratch. Both pizzas we made turned out to be delicious! Here are a few pictures from our cooking experience:
the dough for the first pizza after it rose
Hawaiian pizza before the oven
our amazing dessert pizza made with Nutella, marshmallows, M&Ms, bananas, crushed graham crackers, and caramel syrup drizzled on top
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Cooking takes skill even if all you have to do is read and follow the instructions on the back of a box of mac and cheese. Yes, I am that person that can mess up the simplest foods. I don’t think I’m patient enough to cook. I put in the pasta before the water is really boiling which makes the pasta hard yet mushy at the same time. I can’t explain it but it certainly doesn’t taste like normal mac and cheese when I’m done with it. I am not totally incompetent though in the kitchen. I can make things like eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. I also help out with important meals for the holidays. During Christmas time, for example, they whole family helps in the process of making the Mont Blanc dessert, which basically consists of pureed chestnuts, topped with whipped cream. It takes a long time to prepare and I’m given small tasks like cutting the chestnuts and scooping out the inside after they’ve been boiled. Here cooking is a team effort as well as a way to bond with my family.
At home my grandma lives with us and she does all the cooking since both of my parents work full time. So whenever I came home from school there was always something cooking on the stove whether it was chicken, rice with beans, or noodles with béchamel sauce. My mom would always pack me a lunch for school and for breakfast I had cereal and milk everyday so I never had to cook for myself. I don’t know why I never showed interest in learning how to cook. It’s probably because I don’t have enough patience and I wouldn’t know where to start. Cooking in my house is a time consuming event because everything is made from scratch including birthday cakes. The idea of ‘ready to eat’ food that you just put in the oven isn’t familiar to me.
There are a lot of little traditions my family has when if comes to cooking. Both my parents came to the US from Lebanon when they were in their twenties. Being Lebanese, there are a lot of interesting dishes we make occasionally. Sunday is the one day we can count on all coming together to eat as a family. My grandma works hard to prepare stuffed grape leaves or mouloukhie, a type of spinach soup served over rice. It takes a lot of work and preparation to make these dishes. My favorite Lebanese foods include Tabouli, a salad made with parsley, diced tomatoes, onion and lemon; shawarma, a pita sandwich with marinated lamb, tahini, tomato, onion, and lettuce; mankoushe, flatbread with zaatar (thyme) and olive oil typically eaten for breakfast; kofta, which is kind of like a hotdog shaped meatball; and of course hummus. To me food is associated with family and tradition. We eat because food brings the family closer together and in a way it provides a sense of identity.
Being in college I miss the cooking that I took for granted at home. Now, I always get excited when I see Farinon make foods like stuffed grape leaves or wraps with tabouli and hummus. Their attempt, however, doesn’t even measure up to how great true Lebanese cooking is. The hummus at Farinon always tastes watered down. The hummus we make at home has a strong taste of garlic, chickpeas, and olive oil and is eaten with real pita bread, not the hard stale slices of bread they put out next to the hummus. In this case, familiarity drives me to eat these foods even though I know they won’t be as good as the homemade cooking I grew up with.
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If you’re in need for some chocolate therapy then the Melting Pot is the place to go. It’s a great fondue restaurant. It has the best desserts I’ve ever had and honestly, I’m not usually much of a dessert fan because I always find them to be too sugary and sweet (I know that probably sounds crazy to a lot of people). At The Melting Pot there are so many choices of chocolate fondue to choose from whether you prefer milk, dark, or white chocolate. They can make each dessert with whatever chocolate you prefer. I was lucky enough to go with a large group of people because that meant trying 4 different types of incredible chocolate concoctions: ‘Cookies and Cream Marshmallow Dream’, ‘Flaming Turtle’, ‘Chocolate S’mores’, and ‘Pure Milk Chocolate’. The Cookies and Cream dip was prepared with milk chocolate, marshmallow cream, with crushed Oreos. The marshmallow was flambéed tableside in the pot of chocolate, which was pretty cool to watch. The Flaming Turtle was made with milk chocolate, caramel, and chopped pecans. The chocolate s’mores was made of milk chocolate, flambéed marshmallow, and crumbled graham crackers. They were all equally amazing in taste. For dipping in the smooth creamy delectable chocolate there were strawberries, bananas, cheesecake slices, rice crispy treats, marshmallows, pound cake and brownie pieces. I personally loved the chocolate with the strawberries and bananas because it was the perfect amount of sweetness. My eyes didn’t even know where to look and I can assure you that at the end, the bottom of the pots were scrapped clean and no chocolate was left. It was amazing and the best part is I just found out there’s a Melting Pot in Bethlehem, PA!
Here are some pictures of the scrumptious chocolate:
Flambeed Marshmallow in Chocolate
Food For Dipping
Pure Milk Chocolate!
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Tuesday at lunch, I had a grilled cheese sandwich and red PowerAde. I was in a rush to find something because I had chem lab in 20 minutes. So, I did a quick scan of what was in Farinon and when nothing else looked good I settled for the grilled cheese because there wasn’t a line at Porter’s for once. I ate with a few friends and we all got grilled cheese coincidentally. It was good but smothered in butter, which can’t be too healthy for you. I had PowerAde because I needed energy. Before dinner, I snacked on some goldfish while working on homework in my dorm. I went to dinner with some friends and I made a salad with Italian dressing and ate half a caprese sandwich at Farinon, which had tomato, mozzarella cheese and pesto sauce. It looked good and I love caprese salad so I decided to try it. The sandwich was pretty good but not as fresh as it could have been.
For breakfast on Wednesday at Marquis I ate half a bagel with cream cheese because it was easy and fast to make. I had tea because my throat was bothering me. I ate alone because I didn’t find anyone I knew to sit with and because it was too early to make small talk with people I didn’t know. I’m definitely not a morning person. At lunch, I had a small BLT panini sandwich, which was appetizing, and a salad with Italian dressing. Usually I just pick the first thing that looks good. I ate with one of my friends before we had to go to our neuroscience class together. I also had a glass of water. In the afternoon, while watching TV in my dorm I finished the bag of goldfish I started the other day. I didn’t realize how much I love goldfish; they are very addicting. At dinner I wasn’t really hungry so I just made a salad with balsamic vinaigrette and then added some seasoned bowtie pasta to the bowl from the vegetarian section. The addition of pasta made the salad less boring. I ate with my friends from my dorm and to drink I had water.
I noticed that when I’m not hungry or when I’m in a hurry to get to class I look for something that is simple and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I want. Lately I haven’t been very hungry which is why I’ve been eating mostly salads for lunch and dinner. To make a salad I usually just combine lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese with dressing. Next time, I’m going to experiment with what I put in my salad because after eating salad so often the taste becomes bland.