A Vegan Rosh Hashanah Courtesy of Mariano’s







Every day eating is hard for me, let alone Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah. Being vegan has its pluses and minuses. The vegan chopped liver my friend’s aunt makes every year is a joy and aside from missing out on the brisket and honey cake, I usually make do. This year I was asked by Mariano’s, (#MyMarianos) Roscoe Village’s most popular joint, to create and blog about a Rosh Hashanah dish that I could make using only the store’s ingredients.

I’m not the greatest cook, but I was up for the task. Because Mariano’s is in my ‘hood, and because I was making a vegan-friendly salad for my friend’s dinner this Thursday I wanted to try and practice a few sweet salad recipes I read about on Pinterest. Because Rosh Hashanah is all about sweet food.

I have shopped at Mariano’s before and I have always been impressed by their selection and service, even for a picky vegan eater like me. And as I set out to make a salad worthy of the holiday I was a little worried about finding all the specialized ingredients I would need:

  • Baby lettuce such as kale and arugula
  • Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate
  • Figs (2-3)
  • Pecans (about a cup)
  • Orange (1)
  • Red Onion (1)
  • Olive oil, red wine vinegar and dijon mustard for the dressing

I’ve shopped Mariano’s on price and convenience (I’m a rewards card member — it’s worth it), but not on specialty ingredients.

Good thing I was pleasantly surprised. I was welcomed by mountains of fresh produce and helpful staff members who even pointed out where to find ripened pomegranates. (Little did I know there is a big difference- the skin starts to crack at the top of ripe ones.)

And I found lots of other goodies including yellow figs. Who knew figs could be yellow…


fresh lettuce #shopMariano's produce #shopPomegranate #shop














The beauty of Mariano’s produce is apparent!

Then I got started with the salad prep:

I caramelized the red onions:

onions #shop

I candied the pecans:

pecans #shop

And I figured out how to get pomegranate seeds out of a pomegranate. It’s not for the faint of heart, and do not wear a t-shirt you like. Just sayin’.

pomegranate seeds #shop

My salad required dressing, and I made some by squeezing half an orange into a bowl, adding 1/3 cup oil, 1/4 vinegar, tsp of dijon mustard and salt and pepper and whisking it with a fork until it got a little creamy. Yum…

dressing #shop


I cut the figs (had to read a tutorial on that), and spread the greens into a big bowl. Best part about the greens I got from Mariano’s is that they were pre-washed. Love that. I put the dressing on the salad and voila, my Rosh Hashanah Sweet Vegan Salad was done!

vegan rosh hashanah salad #shop


A big thank you to my local Chicago Mariano’s (#MyMarianos) and Collective Bias (#cbias) for this shoppertunity. I really enjoyed the process and found Mariano’s selection for my Rosh Hashanah dish to be superb. I encourage you all to Like Mariano’s on Facebook, Twitter or both!

And here’s a link to the recent Mariano’s Opera Flash Mob (did you know that Mariano’s has a piano player in the Roscoe Village store? Made waiting in the check out line a little more tolerable 🙂

Nana’s famous matzah kugel recipe

I don’t cook much, but I have dabbled in holiday cooking occasionally and some of my recipes aren’t so bad.

Herewith, my next recipe to share – my mom’s awesome sweet matzah kugel. I won’t be able to eat much of it this year (thinking of substituting all that butter with… uhm… something else) but for you non-semi-vegans, this is one for the Passover books – I literally ripped the recipe out of mine to scan it today. Enjoy, and Happy Pesach!

Confessions of a Flexitarian, Semi-Vegan

I have a huge confession to make right here in public on my blog.

I’ve given up red meat, dairy and almost all animal protein all together. I’ve become what Caitlin is calling a flexitarian, and what Mark Bittman says is “semi-vegan.” Whatever you call it, since it’s been over three months since I started it, I thought I should get out into the open about it.

So here I am.

Here’s the rationale:

My new diet started after a conversation with a dear friend of mine who survived breast cancer said “it’s easier to prevent cancer than to cure it once you have it.” And it sort of clicked – what am I doing in my daily diet that could contribute to illness? If you know me, you know the answer – LOTS. I’d down a bag of sour patch kids a day. I’d eat fried food til the cows come home (more about cows later). I’d eat and drink without care. Luckily, I’ve never had to worry about my weight, but I should always worry about my health. Because prevention is the best medicine, right?

So my friend alerted me to this book by Joel Fuhrman called “Eat to Live” – it says how we can use our diet to alter how we feel instead of taking medicine and that we should move away from animal protein and live on plant-based  products instead.

Now I’m not saying that I’m “Living” by Dr. Fuhrman’s book. I accept some of his premise (we are over-medicated as a society), but cannot be as strict as he suggests. Soups are great, but eating raw veggies can get old…

Enter the “semi” part of the diet – I’ve made some major changes – no dairy – it was making me very congested (there’s some evidence on dairy and congestion and even my ENT dad couldn’t cure mine). No red meat. (I’ve not had it for some time and recent studies confirm my decision further to give it up.) I was eating chicken until I read this about their lifecycle and what the environmental impact they have on our world.

I’m not giving up animal protein all together. I’ve had turkey meat that I buy from a local store that’s been humanely slaughtered. I’ll eat fish as long as I check with Seafood Watch first. And, I will still have my extra hot chai latte from Starbucks because it’s the one thing I cannot live without. But now I have it with soy milk. (Don’t start with the soy on me, it’s just once a day.) I still eat out (you’d be very surprised how the best restaurants are incredibly accommodating when it comes to my strange diet!) I don’t let it bog me down and I’m flexible when I need to be. I pack lots of snacks.

And if you’re wondering, I’m not implementing this regime on my children (the #1 question people ask me when I tell them). No, they still eat cheese and milk and yogurt and…)

I’ve been feeling really good since I implemented “the change.” Besides getting rid of my post-nasal drip, my skin has cleared and I’m less bloated. However, I’m  not here to preach to you or anyone about what you should or should do with your diet. Diets are so personal. And I won’t lie – I miss cheese and I miss butter and sweets and maybe one day I’ll have them once in awhile.

I don’t know if this is permanent, but for now it feels right – it’s a semi-new way for me to live my life. Just as I’m about to speak to a room of dairy farmers. (G-d help me!) I’d love to hear your input and if you have suggestions (and recipes, please) or if you think I’ve gone just bat sh** crazy. Or just semi-crazy.




The world’s easiest Jewish pastry treat: Hamentashen

I don’t often post about food recipes on this blog, well, because I don’t really cook all that often. Or the food I cook isn’t that interesting. But once in awhile, like, the brisket, comes along another recipe that I can do and it happens to be with the oft-looked over Jewish version of Halloween: Purim.

Purim is the story of how the Jews were saved by the destruction of their society by the wicked Hamen. It involves a beautiful Queen who foiled the plot. Gotta love it. In our modern times, it also involves making hamentashen, little wonderful pastries that represents Hamen’s triangular hat. The filling of hamentashen are sweet – typically hamentashen are filled with jams like raspberry, apricot, or poppyseeds.

My friend Brooke introduced me to the ease of making hamentashen a few years ago and after a bit of a break, I’m ready to make some more this weekend. A bunch of you have inquired about her famous recipe so here goes. Let me know how yours turn out, k?

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
squirt of lemon
1 t vanilla
1/2 t water
2 1/4 cup flour


form into disk.
put in fridge for about an hr.
roll out and use circle cookie cutters (You can use top of a glass)
use whatever filling you like best
pinch well so they dont flatten
bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes