Mango Black Bean Salad

mango and black bean salad

This mango black bean salad is a delicious and refreshing side to add to any Southwest or Mexican themed meal. The sweet and juicy mangoes paired with the lime and cilantro add a burst of flavor to the black beans and corn. I also add peppers, red onions, and tomatoes to complete the dish and this is quite filling. Top it off with tortilla strips and enjoy with your favorite fish or chicken, or serve it up along with tacos or fajitas!

salad ingredients

Add all the ingredients over a bed of greens. I like to use the spring greens mix. Use whatever you prefer. For the corn, the absolutel BEST way to do it, is to roast the corn on the grill or over a flame. Then slice the kernels off the cob. YUM! I can devour a whole bowl of this salad in one sitting. It is very filling!

mango black bean salad ingredients

The easy dressing of lime, cumin, cayenne pepper and avocado oil couldn’t get any easier. I love eating this salad along side my mahi mahi. 

mango black bean salad

Mango Black Bean Salad
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  1. 1 mango, peeled and chopped into cubes
  2. 1-2 tomatoes diced
  3. 1/2 c diced poblano pepper
  4. 1/2 c sliced red bell pepper
  5. 1 c cooked and drained black beans
  6. 1/2 c diced red onion
  7. 1 c sweet corn
  8. 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped finely
  9. 1/2 c lime juice
  10. 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  11. 1 tsp salt
  12. 1/4 tsp pepper
  13. 1/4 tsp cumin
  14. 1/4 tsp hot chili pepper or cayenne pepper
  15. 8 oz of lettuce, field greens, or spinach
  1. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together.
  2. For extra flavor, roast corn on the cob on the barbecue or over a flame. Slice the corn kernels off the cob and add to the salad. This is my preferred method of preparing corn, which I do in the summer over a grill.
  3. Enjoy as a main dish, with burgers, chicken, fish, tacos, fajitas, or anything else!
  1. For variation try adding avocado, or tortilla strips on top.
Sugar & Garlic

Brussels Sprout and Farro Salad

If you have been following along, I have been preparing, eating, and posting a lot of salads lately. I am loving our shift to a more plant based diet, but I just cannot do leafy salads everyday! I need salads with texture, crunch, flavors, protein, color, and variety. I think I have been doing fairly well creating and compiling a good collection of resources. Here is one of my absolutely best and favorite salads! Who has been OBSESSED with yummy, caramelized, roasted brussels sprouts?! Me! Me! Me! I die for it. If its on a menu, I order it. Always. 

roasted brussels sprouts

This hearty salad incorporates roasted brussels sprouts, crunchy and chewy farro, sweet apples and raisins, toasted pepitas, and zesty lemon juice with shallots. What a flavor bomb! 

brussels sprouts and farro salad

This salad is so easy to prepare, with the most tedious step being washing and preparing the brussels sprouts. Sometimes you can find them already trimmed and washed, which is convenient. I always prefer to trim and carefully wash brussels sprouts myself. Once they’re all prepared, lay them flat on a large, flat pan, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees (F) and voila! Be sure to save these to roast and then add onto the salad right before serving, because they are so delicious crunchy. If you toss them in the salad and let it sit, they will get soft. 

cut the brussels sprouts

After trimming and cleaning the brussels sprouts, cut in half.

roast the brussels sprouts

Lay the prepared brussels sprouts in a large pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

For the farro, I have started cooking it the way renown chefs do at SoHo’s Charlie Bird Restaurant. Cooking the farro with 1 cup of apple cider and bay leaves, makes it perfectly scented and flavored to toss with the rest of my aromatic autumnal ingredients: apples, pepitas, and raisins. 

Brussels Sprouts and Farro Salad
This hearty salad incorporates roasted brussels sprouts, crunchy and chewy farro, sweet apples and raisins, toasted pepitas, and zesty lemon juice with shallots.
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  1. 1 cup farro
  2. 1 cup cider
  3. 2-3 bay leaves
  4. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  5. 1 medium apple, diced
  6. 1/2 c red onion, diced
  7. 1/2 c golden raisins
  8. 1 lb brussels sprouts (about 2 cups)
  9. 2 tbsp minced garlic
  10. 1 large lemon
  11. 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  12. 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
  13. 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  14. 2 tbsp minced shallot
  15. 1/4 c pepitas
  16. chopped parsley for garnish, optional
  1. Cook the farro in the cider, with 1.5 cups of water, the bay leaves and cinnamon. Once it boils, turn the heat to low, and cover. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Allow farro to cool before adding to the salad. Refrigeration for at least 1 hour is recommended.
  2. Prepare the brussels sprouts by washing, peeling the outer leaves, trimming the stem on the bottom, and cutting in half. Lay the brussels in a large flat pan, and drizzle with 1-2 tbsp of the olive oil, some salt and pepper, and the minced garlic. Set aside to roast right before serving the salad.
  3. Toss the farro with the apples, raisins, and red onions.
  4. Zest the lemon peel with a zester, and then juice the lemon. Stir the lemon juice with the shallots, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with the farro salad mixture.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roast the brussels sprouts for about 25 minutes, until golden and crispy. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and add to the salad immediately before serving.
  6. Toast the pepitas in a pan over medium heat, until aromatic. Toss the pepitas on top of the salad.
  7. Enjoy!
Sugar & Garlic

Orange Fennel Salad

orange fennel salad

This orange fennel salad is different than our typical Middle Eastern flavors, but you won’t have to look far to find some Mediterranean influence . I combine the citrus flavors of oranges and lemons with crunchy carrots and fennel, and toss it all with fresh mint and honey for a really surprisingly delicious winter salad. Since we have started to shift to an 85% vegan lifestyle (the other 15% is gooey yummy dessert I just can’t depart from), I have explored a wide variety of fresh and raw fruit and vegetable combinations. This salad has been consistently a hit and relished by all I have fed it to. Throughout the cold winter months, there is a colorful variety of delicious citrus, and I use any combination in this salad. My kids really enjoy this because of the artful appearance, and also because they love the sweet and juicy flavors. The crunchy sweet fennel complements the citrus, and makes a nice contrast of flavor on top of a bed of field greens. 

orange and fennel


Start with a fresh bowl of field greens or arugula. 

field greens

Use a vegetable peeler to peel ribbons of colorful crunchy carrots. I also like to use the peeler to slice thin slivers of the fennel. Because the flavor of fennel can be strong, its better to have delicate little pieces throughout.

carrot slices

The citrus honey vinaigrette is the perfect dressing for this salad, and it happens to be my family’s favorite one yet! The citrusy tang is balanced with some sweet orang clover honey and a fresh burst of mint! I hope you enjoy this fresh and delicious salad as much as we do.

citrus honey vinaigrette

orange fennel salad

Orange Fennel Salad
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  1. 2 oranges, any type you prefer
  2. 1/2 c sliced fennel
  3. 1/2 c chopped mint leaves
  4. 1/2 diced shallot
  5. 8 oz spring mix field greens
  6. 1 carrot
For the citrus honey vinaigrette
  1. 1 tbsp minced mint leaves
  2. 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  3. 1/4 c fresh orange juice
  4. 1 tbsp orange zest
  5. 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
  6. 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  7. 1/4 c olive oil
  8. 2 tbsp orange clover honey
  9. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  1. Wash the oranges and zest the peel. Set the zest aside to be used for the dressing later.
  2. Peel one orange with a sharp knife, including the white pith, so that the juicy flesh of the orange is exposed. Make two cuts into each section of the orange, just shy of the segment dividers. Set these segments aside to place on top of the salad.
  3. Use the other orange for fresh squeezed juice. Cut the orange in half, juice only half of it, and then slice the other half into circles to place on top of the salad for decor.
  4. Wash and rinse the greens. Place the drained greens into a large bowl.
  5. Toss in the chopped mint leaves, shallots, and sliced fennel.
  6. Wash and peel the carrot. With a vegetable peeler, slice thin ribbons of carrot and arrange artfully on top of the salad. You may do the same with the fennel, to slice thin pieces.
  7. Arrange the orange segments and slices on top of the salad.
  8. In a small bowl or cup, combine all the ingredients for the citrus dressing, and whisk. Pour on the dressing as you serve and enjoy!
  1. Extra dressing may be stored in the refrigerator and used on many other salads! Try tossing in cooked farro or quinoa with this salad as well.
Sugar & Garlic

Egyptian Falafel, the best recipe out there (t’aamiya)

falafel with greens It has been a frequent complaint when we go out to eat at Middle Eastern restaurants: “they just don’t make falafel like they do back in Egypt.” We have tried countless places, and although it still may taste good, it doesn’t ever taste the same. Oh, how I miss my Egyptian falafel. The memory of waking up in our Alexandria vacation home and finding my cheery grandfather walk into the dining room with some hot and fresh falafels wrapped in a greasy newspaper, along with some hot-out-of-the-oven pita bread is one of my best childhood memories. I can almost smell it. 

2017-01-13sugarandgarlic2017-9 falafel towerHere, in the U.S., it is easy to find falafel everywhere. It is even in our local grocery stores. Falafel is such a loved favorite by all because it is a healthy, flavorful, vegetarian and vegan protein based dish. In metro-Detroit where I grew up, and in Chicago where I currently reside, it is even easier to find a wide variety of falafel dishes in endless cafes, restaurants, and diners. But why can’t I still enjoy that same nostalgic scent and flavor of falafels in Alexandria?

I finally figured out what is different. The falafel so well known here is that which hails from the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine) and it is primarily made with chickpeas. Now don’t get me wrong, these chickpea based falafel recipes are still delicious with all their variations and spices from each chef. But that is why it always tasted so different to us.

Egyptian falafel is not made with chickpeas, it is made with fava beans! Ah hah! Here is the key difference and why it has never tasted the same to me. We also load it up with greens for flavor such as cilantro, parsley, and leeks. So there you have it; it wasn’t a special oil, a pan, or even certain contaminants from the Egyptian cooking environment as we have often joked :D. The Egyptian falafel is greener, crispier, and flakier. In Cairo they call it T’aamiya, but if you are in Alexandria they still call it falafel. My dad and his family is from Cairo, and my mother’s side is from Alexandria so we use both names, interchangably. That is the beauty of blending cultures; you have a richer experience and vocabulary 🙂 And this here, is the best falafel recipe out there, demystified.

To make falafel, we do not use the brown fava beans as used in my ful mudammas recipe. Instead, you need peeled, large fava beans. These are sometimes labeled habas beans. I was lucky to find some in the bulk section at Whole Foods. Bob’s Red Mill also sells the correct larger, peeled bean. They should look like this: 

habas beans

Peeled fava beans, also knows as habas beans.

The beans need to soak in water for at least half a day, preferably overnight. The beans do not get cooked soft, but only pulsed in a food processor before frying or baking. So the soaking is very important. The soaking also helps remove some of the unwanted by-product in the beans that our bodies do not digest well and may cause bloating. So, step 1: soak the beans!

falafel ingredientsThe greens used in the recipe give this falafel a really fresh and flavorful bite. It is crispier and lighter than the chickpea variation. Because there is a lot of liquid from the onion and fresh herbs, you need some type of flour to bind the falafel together. I love using garbanzo bean flour, which is really just ground chickpeas. The flavors combine perfectly, and keeps the recipe gluten-free. You can also find ground chickpea flour from Bob’s. Some chopped white onion, cilantro (with stems), parsley, and leek go into this falafel dough for a fresh and green patty. It is fine to add the cilantro and parsley leaves along with garlic into the food processor with the beans, but it is better to finely chop the onion and leek so that the mixture does not get too much water.

leek and garlic

The leek…

chopped leekWhen blending the ingredients slowly pulse the beans until they are like a grainy texture, with no large chunks. Be careful not to puree it into a paste. It won’t hold together into a patty if you do. Once everything is blended, you may begin to combine all ingredients for the dough. Add the spices: cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper. Cayenne is a great addition if you want some kick, but I keep the heat down for my kids.

falafel spices falafel doughOnce all the ingredients are combined (except for the baking soda), you may either pack away the falafel “dough” into freezer bags for later use, or if you are ready to fry them, prepare for shaping the patties.

Do not put the baking soda in while storing the dough. Only add baking soda when ready to fry.

Do not put the baking soda in while storing the dough. Only add baking soda when ready to fry.

When the falafel will be shaped into patties to fry, you need to add 1 tsp of baking soda per 1 cup of dough. Use about 2 teaspoons of dough to roll into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Roll in sesame on both sides and set onto a plate until ready to fry. I fry mine in a combination of sunflower, grapeseed, and olive oil, but you could use any frying oil you like.

falafel patties falafel patties sesame on falafel frying falafelIt is basically compulsory to eat falafel with tahini. The sauce smothers the falafel with the right amount of juicy zest, and makes any sandwich better. Tahini to falafel is like ketchup to potato fries. My cilantro tahini is perfect for falafel. Simply whisk the lime juice into the tahini. Add the minced garlic and cilantro, and whisk in the water until the tahini is the desired consistency. For some reason blending the tahini makes it get hard. So only use a whisk. Drizzle over your falafel sandwich, or simply dip the falafels in and enjoy. :p

falafels falafel sandwich falafel with tahini

Egyptian Falafel
A flavorful and crunchy homemade falafel recipe full of greens and spices!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
5 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
5 min
For the falafel
  1. 3 cups habas beans (peeled and soaked overnight)
  2. 1/2 white onion, finely chopped (1.5 cups)
  3. 1 bunch of cilantro leaves and stems
  4. 1 bunch of parsley leaves
  5. 4 large cloves of garlic (or more to taste)
  6. 1 leek
  7. 2 tsp salt (more to taste)
  8. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  9. 1 tsp ground coriander
  10. 1/4 tsp cumin
  11. 1/4 tsp white pepper
  12. 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
  13. 1.5 cups chickpea flour
  14. 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  15. 1/2 tsp of baking soda (for frying only)
  16. 3 cups of sunflower or canola oil (or any oil you prefer for frying)
  17. sumac for garnish
  18. pita bread to serve
For the tahini
  1. 1/2 tahini paste
  2. 1/4 c lime juice
  3. 1/4 c water
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 2 tbsp minced cilantro
For the falafel
  1. After soaking overnight, rinse the fava/habas beans with cold water and drain well.
  2. Thoroughly wash the parsley and cilantro. Remove the parsley leaves from the stems, and discard the stems.
  3. Trim off the bottoms of the cilantro stems and discard, but keep the tops of the stems near the leaves.
  4. In a food processor, combine the beans with the parsley, cilantro, and garlic cloves.
  5. Peel the outer leaves of the leek and wash well. Roughly chop the leek and add to the bean mixture. Pulse in a food processor until the bean and herb mixture is grainy like sand. You will likely need to pulse in a few batches to fit it all, so that you do not process parts of the beans too much. Be careful not to puree to a paste.
  6. Stir in the spices and chopped onions.
  7. Slowly stir in the chickpea flour so that you have a moldable dough with no excess water. If it is too watery, add more chickpea flour.
  8. Separate the dough into baggies to refrigerate or freeze for later, or you may fry it all at once to yield several dozens.
  9. Only use the baking soda right before cooking the dough, not for storage. Stir in 1/2 tsp of baking soda for every cup of falafel dough you will cook. Roll into balls, then flatten lightly. Roll the patty in a plate of sesame seeds and set aside on a platter until ready to fry.
  10. Heat the oil in a medium pot on medium-high heat. The oil is ready when you drop a crumb of dough into it, and it sizzles and turns golden quickly. Once hot, turn the heat down to medium and place about 6-8 falafels into the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and set onto a towel to drain. Serve hot and eat immediately!
  1. Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Dip the falafels in tahini and enjoy! Bil hana wil shifaa!
  1. Like potato fries, falafel tastes best served immediately. It is best to only fry a small amount that will be consumed immediately, and store the rest in the fridge or freezer. Store in the fridge for 3 days maximum.
  2. When using a frozen bag of falafel dough, allow it to thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour.
  3. Serve the falafel with the tahini sauce, sliced tomatoes, green onions, and cucumbers, and of course, with some pita bread.
  4. Bil Hana!
Sugar & Garlic

Easy Bruschetta (tomato basil)


Bruschetta has lately become one of my favorite appetizers and sides to share for dinner parties or casual gatherings. It is easy, healthy, delicious, and serves beautifully as an hors d’oeuvre (or an appetizer if you want to keep it ‘cas’). I make my bruschetta with three main ingredients: sweet and juicy tomatoes, fresh and fragrant basil, and of course, garlic. I serve my bruschetta atop some freshly toasted slices of baguettes, topped with fresh mozzarella and freshly ground pepper. 

My secret ingredient is roasted garlic. I use plenty of garlic in this recipe, and I roast 3-4 cloves in the oven to impart a surprisingly sweet and rustic flavor to this dip. I simply wrap a few large, plump garlic cloves in foil and set them in the oven at 400 degrees (F) for about 10-15 minutes.  I use almost equal amounts of basil as tomatoes, and drizzle on some good balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

roasted garlic juicy tomatoes and garlic

I can eat a whole bowl of this as a salad, guilt-free. This dish is so perfect in the summer when I can use my garden fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and freshly picked basil. Our summer tomatoes that start as measly little stems from the farmer’s market for $3, flourish into jungle-like vines of endless, plump, juicy tomatoes that we don’t know what the heck to do with! Hence, this timely salad. Although not timely with my blog publication in the winter, this recipe is still amazing any time of the year. I promise, this appetizer is equally delicious throughout the winter, and I have been making it more often because of all the holiday and family gatherings. I finely dice the tomatoes into cubes, as I would for tabbouli, or I if using cherry tomatoes, I cut them into quarters. It is important to separate the extra juice and seeds from the tomatoes; this prevents an overly soppy bruschetta. Scooping the juicy seeds to the side and slurping later, works perfectly fine for us!

tomatoes and basil marinated tomatoes

The tomatoes get marinated with balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt & pepper, onion powder, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. The basil is not merely a topping, but is an essential partner to mingle with the tomatoes. The fresh flavors are just WOW. 

bruschetta bruschetta on bread

I don’t feel the need to toast bread in oil, but instead set them onto my panini grill and press them for a a couple of minutes until golden and toasted. Any method works fine!



A juicy, zesty, and deliciously savory blend of tomatoes, basil, and garlic served over crunchy baguette slices or crackers.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
  1. 4-5 firm, but ripe tomatoes (2 cups chopped)
  2. 1.5 cup of basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
  3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  4. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. freshly ground pepper, to taste
  8. 1/2 tsp onion powder
  9. 1/2 tsp oregano
  10. optional: fresh mozzarella sliced into rounds
  11. 1-2 fresh baguettes, sliced diagonally into rounds
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (f).
  2. Wrap 3 of the garlic cloves loosely in foil and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes.
  3. Dice the tomatoes into small cubes, separating the juicy parts and seeds to the side.
  4. Separate the basil leaves, and layer several basil leaves into a single stack. Roll, and slice thinly into long strips. Chop strips into smaller pieces if they are too long. Repeat until all the basil is thinly sliced.
  5. Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and smash it in the bottom of a medium sized bowl.
  6. Add the tomatoes. Mince the remaining fresh garlic cloves and toss them with the tomatoes in the bowl.
  7. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices, and stir well. Add the basil. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes before serving.
  8. On a grill pan or regular pan add olive oil, and toast the slices of baguette until golden.
  9. Spoon a dollop of bruschetta onto the toasted bread, add a piece of mozzarella, and top with freshly ground pepper.
Sugar & Garlic

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Peanut butter energy bites are a delicious and healthy snack packed with protein and healthy whole grains and seeds. This treat is 100% nut free because my dear husband has a tree-nut allergy. If you are wondering about the peanut butter, well it is a common misconception that they are nuts. Peanuts are a legume, a seed that grows underground. So my highly allergic-to-nuts husband often enjoys peanuts and peanut butter to most observers’ surprise. These peanut butter bites are deliciously sweetened with honey and dates, as well as chocolate chips and dried cranberries or cherries. Similar to my date truffles, these peanut butter bites are a healthy source of energy and protein, so they make a great snack in Ramadan when Muslims fast for long hours, or between meals in a very busy schedule. The recipe is a quick and easy no bake one that you could complete in under 15 minutes.

peanut butter balls

medjool dates

My kids always make these with me. In fact, my inspiration behind these come from my own childhood. Back in the 1980s when television was full of great, wholesome shows like Mr. Rogers, Fredd Penner, and Mr. Dress Up, we learned how to make a delicious and easy treat called “peanut butter balls” from Mr. Rogers. I don’t recall exactly what was in it, but it involved peanut butter, honey, and raisins to some extent. So this recipe is credited to Mr. Rogers, and it is one that conjures up nostalgic childhood memories for me. I further enhance the recipe with the use of dates, a superfood. Dates have numerous minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, to name a few. Their additional nutritional benefits include being a heart healthy, fiber rich fruit, and a source of healthy sugars or carbs to fuel you up. The natural sweetness of the date imparts a perfect caramel flavor to this recipe. I soak the pitted dates in hot water and smash (or blend) them into a paste to incorporate into the peanut butter. A touch of honey also gets whipped into the peanut butter until I have a nicely sweetened creamy base.

spoon of dripping honey

spoon of honey

I add some crunch with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, a sweet and tart bite with the cranberries and cherries, and some heart healthy fiber with oats. Additional flavors such as chocolate chips are optional, and you can also experiment with alternative additives like coconut, white chocolate, carob chips, raisins, dried blueberries, sesame seeds, or tree nuts.

oats, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter



I let my kids roll these into balls, because this is so fun for them! Besides, this was the way we learned to make peanut butter balls from Mr. Rogers. When I make these for friends or to store as a snack for a few weeks, I prefer to lay it into a rectangular pan and then cut them into bars. Either way, they are deliciously scrumptious! Here is a treat you don’t need to feel guilty about!

child rolling balls

peanut butter bars

peanut butter bars

peanut butter bar

Peanut butter bites
A healthy and delicious energy treat that is so easy to make!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
  1. 1 3/4 cups peanut butter
  2. 1/2 cup raw honey
  3. 1 1/4 cups quick oats
  4. 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (peeled)
  5. 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  6. 1/2 cup of Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in hot water then blended or mashed
  7. 1/2 c chocolate chips
  8. 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  1. In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter, honey, and dates together. Add all other ingredients and stir well.
  2. Roll into balls or spread in a pyrex pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Adapted from Mr. Rogers
Adapted from Mr. Rogers
Sugar & Garlic

Green Bean Stew (Fasulya)

Green bean stew

Serve over rice or your favorite grain.


This is such a delicious and simple recipe, you will want to add it to your favorites and quick dinners repertoire. The recipe is a classic Egyptian stew eaten in most Middle Eastern homes throughout various countries in the region. There are sure to be variations, but the main ingredients along with the green beans are crushed tomatoes seasoned with onions, garlic, and crushed coriander seed. Some people cook this with lamb or beef stew, and others keep it entirely vegetarian. I prefer to prepare this flavorful stews as a vegetarian recipe whenever possible as I am trying to be a more conscious consumer and cut down on the amount of meat butchered in the world, both for environmental and health reasons. Besides, dishes like this fasulya, my Sipinagh (spinach stew), mulokhia, or stuffed zucchini and peppers are already so tasty and hearty without the meat; you really do not need it. 

You need green beans, of course. Because these are the main ingredient, and play the starring role, these guys need to be of superb quality. Some people use frozen cut green beans, which is fine. If you do use frozen, make sure it is cut only horizontally (not french cut).  French cut green beans are thinly sliced, or julienne, vertically which is too thin for this stew, and all the juicy little beans will leak out, making a stringy mess of a stew. You want a nice full green bean, simply cut in half to be shorter in length. 

fresh cut green beans

Cut the green beans in half, or in thirds if they are long.

Fasulya ingredients

Green beans, onions, garlic, and tomato sauce.

While using frozen may be faster and more convenient, you will really enjoy this dish with some freshly picked, crunchy summer green beans! Simply cut off the stemmy ends and cut in half, or in thirds if the bean is particularly long. This is really the most tedious part of the recipe (which isn’t all too tedious at all), so you may want to enlist some help from the kids to do this part (a plastic knife works fine). My kids love to help and are more likely to eat when they have “cooked” the meal; so try to include the children whenever possible.  

The stew is ready to be prepared once you have a crushed tomato sauce from either freshly blended tomatoes or a jar of crushed tomatoes. You will sauté the onions and garlic with the coriander, until fragrant. If meat is being used, you also add it in the beginning to brown it, before adding the tomatoes.  Once the onions and coriander have scented your kitchen and have sizzled golden, pour in the crushed tomatoes. In Egyptian kitchens, the infamous chicken bouillon cube called Maggi is often used. I have forbidden this mysterious and magical concoction of MSG and sodium from my kitchen for a variety of reasons, so I use good ole’ chicken broth instead. I use Saffron Road’s Artisan Roasted chicken broth which flavors the stew perfectly. Let it simmer until all the flavors have come together and add the cut green beans for the last 20-30 minutes of cook time. 


Serve with rice or your favorite grain, and enjoy!

Green Bean Stew (Fasulya)
A hearty and flavorful tomato broth stew with savory green beans, onions, and garlic.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
  1. 1.5 pounds fresh green beans, stems cut off ends
  2. 1.5 cup crushed tomatoes
  3. 1 tbsp crushed coriander seed
  4. 1 large onion, diced (3/4 cup diced)
  5. 3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  6. 1 tsp fresh crushed garlic
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  9. 1 tbsp olive oil
  10. 1.5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  11. 1 lb meat or lamb stew (optional) + 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper
  12. fresh cilantro leaves and stems for garnishing
  1. Wash the green beans thoroughly, and cut in half to shorten the length. It may be necessary to cut some into thirds if they are long. Do not cut vertically.
  2. Sautee the onions in the olive oil, over medium-high heat until yellow. Slowly stir in the crushed coriander seed, until fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spice.
  3. If you are cooking with stew meat, add it now with the salt and pepper and brown.
  4. Add the crushed and sliced garlic. Stir well as garlic browns quickly and may burn. Add the crushed tomatoes before the garlic burns.
  5. Add water if you are cooking meat. If no meat, simply add the broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
  6. If you are cooking with meat, simmer for an hour. If you did not add meat, allow the sauce to simmer for 10-15 minutes before adding the green beans.
  7. Add the green beans and a few stems of cilantro for flavor and simmer on medium for 20-30 minutes until they are tender. Taste the sauce and season with more salt if needed. Remove the cilantro stems after cooking if you do not want to eat the stems.
  8. Serve over rice and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
  1. If you added meat, the cook time will increase. The sauce will need to be diluted with more water to allow enough liquid for the meat to cook well. Let the sauce simmer for at least an hour before adding the green beans.
Adapted from Mom and Neveen Aref
Adapted from Mom and Neveen Aref
Sugar & Garlic

Green Blender Review

Raspberries, cranberries, apple, goji berries, and walnuts.

Raspberries, cranberries, apple, goji berries, and walnuts.

orange carrot smoothie

orange carrot smoothie

Oranges, goji berries, carrots, cashews, and a dash of cayenne pepper.


I’ve always been into smoothies and juicing, but every once in a while I fall out of routine.  Then my Vitamix just SITS there. After all, it takes time to plan to purchase all the fresh produce you need for smoothies, and then it takes more effort to think of new or creative ways to blend up some concoctions that actually taste great. So naturally, when I heard about Green Blender, I was intrigued. It’s a food delivery that provides you with at least 5 different smoothie recipes and all the ingredients you need to make them. They source their ingredients responsibly with almost all produce being organic, and everything is non-Gmo. The best part though is their incorporation of superfood supplements for protein and nutrients so that I can try new things I have never heard of and would certainly never think to purchase on my own. In just two deliveries you get to try unique ingredients such as  camu camu (the most potent source of vitamin C), matcha green tea, yacon root, quinoa flakes, goji berries, maqui berries, chlorella, and ginseng. The recipes also teach you to incorporate a variety of nuts into your smoothies to boost your protein and nutrient intake. I just love that!

Superfood supplements

The recipes are really unique too and taste great. They provide a delicious range of flavors you wouldn’t think to pair. For example one of my favorite green smoothies I’ve tried is with squash, spinach, banana and tahini! It’s a sweet and creamy blend with a hint of cinnamon. My absolute favorite out of everything I have tried, is the persimmon mango. This is one tropical and delicious treat loaded with vitamin C, and who doesn’t need that boost at this dreadful time of year?

Mango, persimmon, cantaloupe, walnuts, camu camu

Mango, persimmon, cantaloupe, walnuts, camu camu

The box delivers in a thermal ice box and will stay fresh for at least a few hours until you get home to receive your fresh ingredients. Everything is already prepped and portioned, which is a great bonus!

Green blender unboxing

Green blender unboxing

Unboxing of my fresh ingredients.

Unboxing of my fresh ingredients.

Butter pecan smoothie

The butter pecan smoothie!

So go ahead and give Green Blender a try, whether you don’t have the time or energy to buy and prepare what you need, simply need new inspirations like I did, or are just plain lazy, these smoothie deliveries are going to get you right on track! You do need your own blender, or you could rent/buy a VitaMix blender from I use Vitamix and I highly recommend it; their patented push stick makes all the difference in achieving a smooth and silky texture when larger products are built up at the top of the blender. You can skip or cancel deliveries whenever you want. And now as one of my readers you can get 20% with this code: sugarandgarlic. Enjoy!

Roasted Sumac Chicken (Mediterranean Chicken)

Garnish with sumac sprinkled on top for an extra citrus kick.

Garnish with sumac sprinkled on top for an extra citrus kick.

I was in the mood for a delicious roasted chicken. I love the flavor of sumac with onions so I decided to rub a fresh whole roaster all over with some of these fantastic flavors. The result was a juicy, incredibly flavorful chicken! I surrounded the chicken with yellow potatoes and plenty of onion slices, which are very important for delivering that delicious citrusy sumac flavor. This dish is reminiscent of a popular chicken dish from the Levant, called Mm’sakhan (yes, pronounced with a mmmm in the beginning for good reason 😉 ). Mm’sakhan also involves some delicious toasted pita bread and pine nuts…but that is another post. This roasted sumac chicken is an incredibly easy dish to prepare with the same great flavors. It takes less than 10 minutes to dress the chicken, and then you just let the magic happen in the oven while you do a few other things.

Sumac is a gorgeous reddish-purple Middle Eastern spice that comes from crushed flowers. You can find sumac spice in an international or Middle Eastern store (obviously), as well as some specialty stores that carry international spices. I could not find it at the local Whole Foods, however. Sumac is also that special spice Arabs use in zaatar bread, spinach pies, and Arabic salad dressings such as Fattoush. It has a strong citrusy, tangy flavor that is perfect over chicken or fish. Every chef should include sumac in their culinary repertoire!


First I dressed the chicken with a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and a lot of sumac and paprika. Then I also generously rubbed sumac and paprika ALL OVER the chicken. It is essential to rub underneath the skin, right onto the flesh. This gets the chicken’s flavors to really stand out and keeps it very juicy and delicious. Be sure to surround the chicken with plenty of sliced onions and sprinkle them as well with the seasoning.


Surround the chicken with potato wedges and sliced onions.

Surround the chicken with potato wedges and sliced onions.

Mix lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika, sumac, crushed garlic, and olive oil to dress the chicken.

Mix lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika, sumac, crushed garlic, and olive oil to dress the chicken.

roasted sumac chicken

Stuff the chicken with onions and the remaining lemon halves, to infuse the chicken as it roasts.

Cover the chicken with foil, and let it roast for 1-2 hours, depending on its size. Then remove the foil at the end and let it broil for about 10 more minutes to get a nice golden crust. Be careful not to scorch or dry out the chicken. I find it well worth it to purchase a meat thermometer, so that you could measure when you reach the desired internal temperature (160 F) and not overcook the chicken.



roasted sumac chicken roasted sumac chicken

 roasted sumac Chicken

Roasted Sumac Chicken
A delicious citrusy roasted chicken, surrounded by lemony potatoes and tangy onions.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
2 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr 25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
2 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr 25 min
  1. one whole roaster chicken (pasture raised is best), neck and insides removed
  2. 2 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1-2 lemons, juiced
  4. 3 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp pepper
  6. 2 tsp paprika
  7. 3 tbsp sumac, plus garnish
  8. 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  9. 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  10. 1 lb yellow potatoes cut into medium wedges
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and place the rack in the center.
  2. Place the chicken in a large oven-safe dish, and surround it with the potatoes and onions. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over everything.
  3. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, crushed garlic,1 tablespoon of sumac, 1 teaspoon of paprika, remaining salt and pepper, and the olive oil. Pour evenly all over the chicken, rubbing some underneath the skin.
  4. Use the remaining sumac and paprika and rub it directly onto the chicken skin, as well as underneath it. Sprinkle sumac on the potatoes and onions as well.
  5. Put the leftover lemon halves and some onions inside the cavity of the chicken, to infuse it as it roasts.
  6. Cover with foil and roast for 90 minutes-2 hours, depending on the size of the chicken. Internal temperature should be 160 degrees F. Once internal temperature is achieved, remove foil and broil under high for 5-10 minutes until the chicken is golden.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven, and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  8. Sprinkle chicken pieces with sumac to garnish when serving.
Sugar & Garlic

Khoshaf (Dried fruit salad) خشاف

apricots, prunes, dates, raisins, and almonds


This is a common starter in Egyptian homes during the months of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, which during these long summer days is over 16 hours long! When we break our fast, it is the tradition of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) to break the fast on a date and water. This dried fruit compote reflects that tradition, but it also combines other highly nutritional dried fruits and nuts. Dates are well utilized in the Muslim world as they are recognized for their high mineral content: calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, and zinc are all packed into this tiny superfood. Dates are also a supreme source of fiber and energy, and their sugars are low glycemic, releasing slowly and steadily into your body (which is a great thing for sustaining energy while fasting!). Dried apricots are also a super star in this fruit compote; they are packed with carotenoids, iron, potassium and fiber. This fruit salad compote is not only a very refreshing and nutritious way to break your fast (or start it). It is a delicious and sweet juice cocktail to enjoy, but you will need a spoon! The juice taste like an apricot drink scented with almonds and dates. I like to add extra apricot juice to the water to boost the color and flavor, but this is not necessarily traditional to the recipe. Apricot juice however, is another very popular drink enjoyed in the Middle East during Ramadan, but that is another recipe post! The dried fruits in khoshaf get very plump and juicy because they reconstitute themselves as they soak in water for a few hours before serving. 

The ingredients are very basic and easy to find; I collect them all on the same shelf at the grocery store where the dried fruits are, except for the dates. I do not recommend using chopped dates or already pitted dates, because they seem to be drier for some reason. They ar not as fresh either. We use organic Medjool dates that are very plump and sweet (Whole Foods and Costco have some of the best ones I have found). You should always slice the date open first to make sure it is clean, and also to remove the pit!

pitted dates


khoshaf ingredients

First, you will add boiling water to the apricots, raisins, and prunes. You could also add dried figs if you like, but I do not because I personally do not prefer the texture of figs and their seeds in this compote. 


Once the water and dried fruit mixture cools, you can add the chopped dates and stir in cold sugar water and sliced almonds. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve chilled. As I mentioned, this is a great drink or fruit salad to break your fast on because the dates and other dried fruits will replenish the body with several nutrients and minerals. This compote is hailed to be more nourishing and hydrating than water alone. So give it a try if you have been fasting, or if you simply need to replenish your body after a workout or marathon!


Khoshaf: Dried Fruit Salad
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
  1. 1/2 c sliced, pitted dates
  2. 1/2 c golden raisins
  3. 3/4 c dried apricots
  4. 3/4 c prunes
  5. 1/2 peeled and slivered almonds
  6. 2-3 cups of boiling water
  7. 1 cup cold water
  8. 1/4 c sugar
  9. 1 cup apricot juice (optional)
  1. Wash the dried fruits.
  2. Place the apricots, prunes, and raisins in a large serving bowl or pitcher.
  3. Pour boiling water over the fruits so that they are covered in water. There should be an inch of water above the level of the fruit.
  4. Once the water has cooled, dissolve the sugar with cold water and pour over the fruit mixture and stir. Add the dates, almonds, and apricot juice.
  5. Serve chilled in a large serving bowl and ladle, or in individual dessert cups or bowls. Drink with a spoon!
  1. You may also add figs to the dried fruits. Try adding other nuts such as walnuts or hazelnuts as well! This compote is very flexible to your personal tastes and preferences!
Adapted from Mom
Adapted from Mom
Sugar & Garlic