by Sanaa Abourezk
The eastern Mediterranean countries of the Levant – Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria – share a love of toothsome breads and grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish plucked from the sea, and ripe olives from hillside groves. Meat is used sparingly; aromatic olive oil replaces butter. But cutting out these cholesterol-laden foods does not leave the Levantine palate lacking for taste – their absence allows the subtle flavors of herbs and spices to shine. This is the secret of the deliciously healthful diet that eastern Mediterranean cooks have long understood, and that the West is just beginning to appreciate.
In Secrets of Healthy Middle Eastern Cuisine, Sanaa Abourezk recasts traditional savory Levantine recipes with the eye of an accomplished chef and nutritionist. The 150 recipes range from appetizers to desserts and include nutritional breakdowns. The author also explains the Mediterranean food pyramid, advises on spice shopping, and intrigues with evocative tales of Levantine life and lore. The resulting cookbook is a colorful bazaar of mouth-watering, healthful recipes, where both ancient and modern culinary secrets are revealed.
About the Author
Sanaa Abourezk trained at the Masha Innocenti Cooking School in Florence and the Cordon Bleu Baking School in Paris. She is a food writer, and has also worked as a nutritionist in South Dakota, where she now lives.
“Abourezk recasts traditional savory Levantine recipes drawn from the culinary traditions of Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria with her expertise as an accomplished chef and nutritionist. Secrets of Healthy Middle Eastern Cuisine offers mouth-watering, sumptuous dishes to please the palate and satisfy the appetite.”
“Middle Eastern cuisine, based as it is on grains and greens, might seem like healthy cooking at first glance. But, as Abourezk points out, it is often laden with oil and butter. Abourezk, a nutritionist by training, reforms classic Middle Eastern cooking by eliminating many of these fats. While most of these recipes are vegetarian, Abourezk includes a few meat and fish dishes to demonstrate that these are not always outside the realm of good health. In order to keep fats from dairy sources to a minimum, she suggests making one’s own yogurt cheese at home in a simple process of coagulation. This cheese turns into both spiced and aged versions for different tastes and strengths. Nutritionists commonly balk at desserts’ concentration of sugars, but Abourezk’s simple milk pudding perfumed with orange blossom water and garnished with chopped pistachios will satisfy most sweet cravings.”
“Great emphasis is placed on the natural healing aspects of the foods in these cuisines. So much so, in fact, that the book is as much a health guide as it is a cookbook….As per the title, recipes are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium, but are still interesting and authentic….Written by an author passionate about health and her native food, this volume delivers good recipes, a lively read and a Middle Eastern twist on a timely subject.”
“As Abourezk invited her new friends to join her at the supper table, she found the same appreciation for her Mediterranean cooking on the prairie that she received in California… ‘You should write a book about that,’ a friend said.”
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