Author: Sasha Martin

South African Around the World Lunch

Ava’s South African Lunch

This week Around the World Lunch takes us to South Africa (thanks to your votes on our FB Page). The result is a hearty meal perfect for autumn, packed with nutrition. Watch a clip of Ava introducing this meal (and showing off her South African flag) on Instagram. Get Creative.  Who says creativity must be difficult? In a sea of bologna sandwiches, leftovers are a great way to mix things up and add interest to your child’s lunch! For dinner we made a batch of South African Yellow Rice (a.k.a. Geelrys), seasoned with turmeric, a touch of brown sugar, and raisins. While it’s amazing hot, it’s also decent cold the next day. South Africa is famous for her enormous coiled sausages, called Boerewors made up of beef and lamb or pork. These aren’t available here, so I improvised by browning a couple of small breakfast sausages. For cute-factor (and ease for small hands), try putting them on skewers. Balance. Nutrition is packed into the rest of this lunch. First up? Corn. Garnish a boiled ear of corn with a puff of smoky chile powder – a popular treatment …

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The Creepiest Kitchens in the World

The 7 Creepiest Kitchens in the World

The kitchen should be the heart of every home, filled with happy memories… but these kitchens are chilling reminders of historical disasters, spine-chilling authors, and the cruelest politicians who ever lived.   Edgar Allan Poe (USA) This kitchen might seem quaint, but this iron stove fed the creativity of one of the world’s best mystery writers – Edgar Allan Poe. He lived in this cottage during the last few years of his life in the late 19th century, along with his wife, mother-in-law, cat, and birds: … Poe’s mother-in-law Maria Clemm prepared the family’s meals. Mary Gove Nichols recounted of this room, “The floor of the kitchen was white as wheaten flour. A table, a chair, and a little stove that it contained, seemed to furnish it perfectly.” Poe Museum. If you don’t remember the man, perhaps you’ll remember the famous opening to his poem The Raven: Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently …

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falafel-head

15 Halloween Costumes Made from the World’s Most Iconic Foods

This Halloween go international: spin the globe and dress up as an iconic food from whatever country strikes your fancy! To get you started, here are 15 adorable costumes representing famous foods from all over the world.  Escargot (FRANCE)  Oohh la la! A bit of newsprint and foam balls and you’ve got the most adorable snail costume. Learn how to make the costume at Oh Happy Day. On snails: While the French are best known for their love of snails, the snail has a long (and slimy) history. Archeologists have found snail shells from prehistoric times. The Roman Philosopher Pliny the Elder considered escargot an elite food to the Romans. There is also a recipe for snails in the oldest surviving cookbook written by Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman foodie from the 1st century. Sushi & Sashimi (JAPAN) This little sashimi eating sushi is way too cute. Find the costume on The Wishing Elephant, then try making our Futomaki recipe (a.k.a. Veggie Sushi) – it’s super fun! On Sushi: Sushi is a Japanese dish originally developed as a fermentation process for …

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small-photo-ofMusakhan

Celebrating the shining star of Palestinian cuisine: Musakhan

Within Palestine’s hotly contested territories there is one thing everyone can agree on: Musakhan. This simple dish doesn’t shout. It’s flavors don’t battle for dominance. No, Musakhan is a quiet meal – a layered preparation of chicken, onion softened with sumac, and doughy pieces of taboon bread. And yet this unassuming dish earned a Guinness World Record in 2010 in the city of Ramallah. Why a Guinness World Record Matters The clout of earning a Guinness World Record often remains limited to the feat itself – at most a symbol of egregious excess (consider the world’s largest pancake, for example – nearly 50 feet across with no other purpose than to … eat). But for Palestinians, the world’s largest Musakhan was a show of pride and honor far beyond simple bragging rights. Making the Musakhan was a critical show of cultural pride during a time of great crisis. More than 40 Palestinian chefs united efforts to cook and assemble the 4 meter loaf. The finished dish weighed nearly 3,000 pounds, including 1,100+ pounds of onion, 550+ pounds of flour, 370 …

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Around the World Lunch: Greece

Ava’s Greek Lunch

For this edition of Ava’s Around the World Lunch we’re heading to Greece with mezze. If you play your cards right, the flavors of Greece can be in your child’s lunch box in less than five minutes. Quick-Fix Secret Tucked away in my pantry is my greatest quick-fix secret: stuffed grape leaves, a.k.a. dolma.  Sure, I’ve been known to make dolma. I happen to LOVE making them. But sometimes I’m in a hurry and need to grab something quick for my daughter’s lunch. While I’ve found dolma at grocery store salad bars, I don’t always think far enough ahead to grab some. Thankfully our local Middle Eastern market sells dolma in cans for $3.99. There’s well over a dozen in each can. While not the same as homemade, they still have the same great pop of lemon and rich olive oil. They’re great to have around for hectic mornings!  Serve with pitted olives and a little tomato sauce for dipping, just like the do in Greece. Is it Greek without Spanakopita? I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out. This is another recipe you …

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besan doodh recipe

Besan Doodh: A Drink Worthy of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Malala & Kailash

One thought crossed my mind every time I took a sip of the Besan Doodh. The thought overwhelmed the bold cardamom and it distracted from the warm milk tinged with saffron. A small thing, really – a sentence, again and again, bringing tears to my eyes. “I didn’t clip her wings.” These are the words of Malala Yousafzai’s father. Malala is a young woman from Pakistan – just 17 years old. She is easily the greatest superstar in the peace movement right now thanks to her unapologetic opposition to those who would keep girls from receiving an education. Though she’d been blogging for the BBC since she was 11, the whole world paid attention when she took a shot to the head on the way to school at age 15, two years ago. As of Friday, Malala is the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first Pakistani winner. In a nice nod to her work for children’s education, she found out about the award during chemistry class. Malala’s father was the first person to write a girl’s name on the family …

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Around the World Lunch: Egypt

Ava’s Egyptian Lunch

Ever since Ava’s Egyptian-themed birthday party this summer, she’s been obsessed with all things Egypt. Naturally, when I asked what she wanted to try for this week’s Around the World Lunch she sang out “EGYPT!” Finger Foods  First up? Ful medames (pronounced “fool”), Egyptian street food often served for breakfast and lunch. Ful is a dip made with fava beans cooked with onion and tomatoes. It’s high in protein making ful great for concentration during the school day!  For color and flavor I added torn parsley and drizzled some olive oil and lemon juice over the top, just like they do in Egypt. We treat ful like hummus, so on the side Ava has plenty of pita bread to dip, dip, dip. I also included tomatoes and a hard boiled egg, both popular ful toppings in Egypt. Dessert As a nod to Ava’s Egyptian birthday party, I included a slice of Basboosa, a Middle Eastern semolina cake laced with rose water and lemon juice. This cake is dense and sweet – but the touch of lemon juice and rose water balances everything out.  It’s …

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Chana Masala Recipe

Chana Masala & The Remarkable Quest of Chris Guillebeau

Psst… Be sure to enter the giveway at the bottom of this post! I want to tell you a story about Chris Guillebeau – a man who traveled to every country in the world. It took him 10 years.  He’s not the first to do it, and he won’t be the last. And yet his quest is remarkable. Let me explain. From Quest to Calling I stumbled across Chris’ journey a few years back  when he had about three years left in his quest. I read with amusement about his jogging escapades on strange terrain, how airport lounges can double as offices (and triple as bedrooms!), and how he managed to maintain relationships with his family and friends all while exploring the world. Like many people, I was immediately smitten with Chris’ quest.  It’s not simply that his journey mirrored my own (cooking every country in the world for anyone stopping by) – but it was the fact that Chris was able to escape the confines of standard travel blogging to become a remarkable life blogger. That is to say, he used …

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Ava's Around the World Lunch - France

Ava’s French Lunch

This week Ava’s Around the World Lunch is inspired by the food of France. The Snacks We were in a bit of a hurry, so I started by grabbing some popular French snacks – a dark chocolate covered biscuit and a tiny, ultra creamy imported French yogurt called Petit Montenbourg (Ava’s favorite flavor is raspberry, but the little six-pack also comes with flavors like pear, apricot and banana). It’s really special that I can offer Ava the same snacks I enjoyed when I lived in France as a teenager (I was delighted to find both at Whole Foods). The Sandwich As for Ava’s sandwich – we did a simple cheese sandwich, though butter and ham would also be very French. A little lettuce adds color and a bit of nutrition – remember romaine lettuce offers much more than iceberg (Romaine is 17% protein and one head contains 4 1/2 times more vitamin A than a large carrot!). I’ve always added greens to Ava’s sandwiches, so it’s never been a struggle to “get” her to eat them. Sometimes it’s just easier …

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Where in the world are all the vegetarians

Where in the world are all the vegetarians?

This post started innocently enough – I was curious where all the vegetarians were around the world. But once I went down the rabbit hole, I was lost for good. Of the ten countries I was able to analyze, India takes the lead by a long, long shot. 31% vegetarian is amazing! And I wasn’t particularly surprised with the low results of Portugal and Spain (so many meat-heavy dishes there!). I thought Brazil’s would have been similar but it ranked quite high at 8%. Digging ever deeper, I found that the Brazilian city called Fortaleza is 13% vegetarian. 3 things to understand about vegetarian populations: Individual cities within a country will skew more or less vegetarian, depending on the culture The types of food a country loves will skew the results Some people who identify as vegan also identify as vegetarian. Depending on how accurate the survey is, there’s a risk they might have been counted twice. The huge frustration in my research. I may have been able to cook food from every African country, but no thanks to …

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Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes.

Celebrating World Vegetarian Day with Gandhi and Lemon Rasam

In our house we live by Michael Pollan’s addage: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  This week we’re going one step further, invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s strict vegetarian diet in honor of World Vegetarian Day (October 1st). While most people think of Gandhi as a famous pacifist, he also had a lot to say about eating a pant-based diet, led in great part by his compassion and respect for the lives of even the smallest creatures. Not one to mince words, Gandhi wasn’t afraid to puts his beliefs in black and white:  No flocks that range the valley free To slaughter I condemn Taught by the power that pities me I learn to pity them – Gandhi (1869 – 1948) Our daughter Ava has been eating mostly vegetarian for a while now, so she was particularly happy to celebrate World Vegetarian Day with a new-to-us dish. What to eat for World Vegetarian Day? While we have hundreds of vegetarian and vegan recipes from around the world, I thought it’d be fun to try a dish Gandhi might have enjoyed …

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The REAL reason why people put butter in their coffee

We just celebrated International Coffee Day on September 29 (though every day might as well be coffee day around here)! In honor of the holiday, I did a little digging into the origins of butter in coffee… a hot trend in the United States. At the end of this post, follow the link to try your own Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. In Kate Bratskeir’s article entitled “Why People are Putting Butter in their Coffee”  a company by the name of Bulletproof is “credited for popularizing the concoction” (meaning butter in coffee). The article goes on to state the health benefits of adding butter to coffee – particularly how it stabilizes the caffeine hit for improved mental clarity and how it helps encourage weight loss. I’m no scientist. And I don’t particularly want to weigh in on the debate of  whether or not butter can help you lose weight. I would, however, like to back up a moment and explore the idea of butter in coffee and who came up with the concept. I assure you it is not a …

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