Chicken couscous

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! In his new book, Family Friendly Mediterranean-Style Cooking: With a Groundbreaking Guide to Weight Loss, Weight Control and Cardiovascular Health, (Targum Press), Dr. Arnold Slyper offers up the Israeli version of the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle. Arnold Slyer, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist, cleverly combines family-friendly recipes with nutritional guidance, helping you serve up healthier meals.

The Mediterranean diet is a super-healthy diet for numerous medical conditions, in large part because of its antioxidant content. Traditionally, this diet is low in animal products. The Israeli Mediterranean diet includes moderate amounts of dairy, meat, and eggs, and is a practical solution for many Western families. Slyper’s family-friendly cookbook contains delicious Mediterranean-style recipes to get you started on this program.

The first section of his book contains 190 delicious, family-friendly recipes in an Israeli-Mediterranean style. This is a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and olive oil. It also contains moderate amounts of full fat dairy, eggs, fish, poultry, and some red meat.

The second section of Dr. Slyper’s book focuses on a health guide that explains why the Mediterranean diet prolongs longevity and improves health, why the nutritional control of excessive hunger is an essential first step in weight control, and how successful weight loss can be achieved by “regulating” carbs (this is not very low-carb dieting). He explains why restricting total and saturated fat and eggs for cardiovascular disease and obesity prevention is a total myth, why eating plenty of natural plant-based antioxidants is essential for cardiovascular health, and how attention to glycemic index can improve elevated blood sugars in diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Arnold Slyper discovered the Israeli Mediterranean diet while strolling through the Mahane Yehune market (the famous fruit and vegetable market in Jerusalem), eating in friends’ homes in Israel, eating at restaurants in Jerusalem, and looking at what people were eating as he walked past the numerous restaurants lining Jerusalem’s streets.

Slyper writes: “Israelis eat a somewhat Western-style diet. They eat a fair amount of eggs. Red meat is not eaten as often as it is in America since it’s expensive. Nevertheless, chicken and limited amounts of red meat are often part of Israeli meal planning. Israelis eat a significant amount of dairy in the form of milk, cheese, leben (soured milk products), and yogurt.”

He continues: “The diet of health-conscious Israelis is also very Mediterranean-like in that it contains lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and spices. Many Israelis eat their meals in a very Mediterranean way, with veggies and fruits mixed together with grains and meat. Fresh fruits are bought in season. Plates of vegetables are often served as hors d’oeuvres, and olive oil is used extensively for salad dressings and cooking, including for roasting vegetables.”

Dr. Slyper strongly believes that a good quality Israeli Mediterranean diet is a wonderful model for how Mediterranean and Western culinary cultures can be blended together.

Family Friendly Mediterranean-Style Cooking includes the following chapters:

Mediterranean-Style Eating

Experimenting with Grains

Jazzing up Vegetables

Classy Cold Salads

Breakfast – an Essential Meal

Snacking to Health!

Satisfying Soups

Encouraging Fish

Tasty Desserts!

The Israeli Mediterranean Diet – Debunking the Myths and Moving Forward

Preventing Excessive Weight Gain by Controlling your Hunger

Lose Weight by Regulating Carbs?

Go Mediterranean and Save your Arteries – and your Life!

Improve your Blood Sugars Using Low-Glycemic Carbohydrate

The Carbohydrate and Fiber Content of Groups of Foods

References for the Scientifically Curious

You’ll find family-friendly, Mediterranean-style recipes for:

Split Pea and Barley Soup (below)

Couscous Chicken (below)

A Really Delicious Cholent (below)

Quinoa with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Leeks & Slivered Almonds (below)

Turkey Meatballs, Lentils and Mint

Middle East Vegetable Tacos

Pasta Ratatouille Bake

Rice and Lentil Pilaf (Majedra)

Mushroom Kasha Pilaf

Quinoa with Black Beans

Mushroom Barley Casserole


Turkish Salad Dip

White Bean and Meatball Soup

Honey Salmon

Spanish Style Fish

Apple Muffins

Fruit-Almond Crisp

Zucchini Carrot Cake with Oats

Enjoy the Israeli version of cooking family-friendly Mediterranean-style meals. Bitayavon – eat in good health!


Cooking Time: 70 minutes

Serves 9

This is an irresistible soup – and kids and adults will love it. It’s also very filling.

1 1/2 cups dried split peas

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 large clove garlic, diced

7 cups chicken broth, divided

1/2 cup uncooked barley

1 cup water (or more if needed)

1/4 tsp oregano

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the split peas, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and 6 cups of broth, and bring the ingredients to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture in an uncovered pan for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the liquid gets too low, add more water to prevent scorching.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small covered saucepan, cook the barley in the remaining 1 cup of broth plus 1 cup of water over a low heat for 40 to 60 minutes or until the barley is tender.
  4. When the vegetable mixture is done, purée it using an immersion blender.
  5. Stir in the barley, herb seasoning, and white pepper.
  6. Heat the soup over low heat, stirring often before serving.

Nutritional Information:

Per serving: 25 g total carbohydrate, 156 cals, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 9 g fiber, 761 mg sodium

Tip: Serving soup as a first course is an excellent way for providing satiation from a main meal and preventing after-meal snacking. Soups also make nutritional snacks.


Adapted from Family Friendly Mediterranean-Style Cooking by Arnold Slyper, MD

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

With its mixture of vegetables, grain, and chicken, this tasty dish is Mediterranean-style to the core. Couscous is a form of pasta. Like pasta, it is often made from semolina and durum wheat and therefore has a low-glycemic index.

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs), cut into 1-inch cubes

3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 x 1/2 x 1-inch strips

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or one 8-oz can of chopped tomatoes with juice)

15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup uncooked couscous (preferably whole wheat)

  1. In a large frying pan, sauté the onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown.
  2. Add the chicken, carrots, celery, chicken stock, salt, cumin, turmeric, and red pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more or until the vegetables and chicken are tender.
  4. In the meantime, prepare the couscous according to the packet instructions. (Once the pot of water is boiled, this takes just over 10 minutes to cook.)
  5. Serve the chicken dish over the couscous.

Nutritional Information:

Per serving: 87 g total carbohydrate, 558 cals, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 12 g fiber, 546 mg sodium


Adapted from Family Friendly Mediterranean-Style Cooking by Arnold Slyper, MD

Preparation and Cooking Time: Marinating of the beef overnight, and cooking of the cholent overnight.

Serves 4

Cholent is a traditional dish made by Orthodox Jews especially for the Sabbath. Jewish law does not permit cooking a raw dish on the Jewish Sabbath, but it is permitted to keep food warm on a slow burner overnight. A crockpot plugged in on Friday is also permitted. Many cholents contain barley and potato. This one contains wheat berries, potato, and chickpeas. This combination congeals less than barley and the leftovers taste just as delicious during the rest of the week as they do on the Sabbath!

1 lb beef stew

1 16-oz can beer

3 potatoes, cut in quarters

1/2 cup raw chickpeas

1/2 cup wheat berries

2 Tbsp onion soup mix

1 1/2 cups water or more

  1. Marinate the beef stew overnight in the beer.
  2. Place the meat and the beer in the crockpot together with the other ingredients.
  3. Cover with water to fill the crockpot and cook on low overnight.

Nutritional Information:

Per serving: 53 g total carbohydrate, 643 cals, 25 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 8 g fiber, 429 mg sodium


Adapted from Family Friendly Mediterranean-Style Cooking by Arnold Slyper, MD

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves 6

This delicious recipe is another excellent way for introducing quinoa to your family.

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 leek, washed, trimmed and sliced

1 lb Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)

1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds

1/4 cup plump golden raisins, plumped in hot water

1–2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp golden balsamic vinegar

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

2 tsp dried dill

2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and salt to taste in a medium-sized pot, bring to a boil, and cook the quinoa until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa can be fluffed with a fork.
  3. In a roasting pan, toss the prepared leek, Brussels sprouts, almonds, and golden raisins in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with golden balsamic vinegar. Season with salt, minced garlic, and dill, and toss to coat.
  4. Roast for roughly 20 to 25 minutes, stirring at least once, until the Brussels sprouts are tender and browned a bit.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven. Add in the fluffed cooked quinoa and chopped parsley.
  6. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to taste. Add salt and ground pepper to taste. Gently toss to combine the roasted Brussels sprouts and hot cooked quinoa.

Nutritional Information:

Per serving: 36 g total carbohydrate, 286 cals, 14 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 6 g fiber, 28 mg sodium

Tip: Try out the other whole grain recipes in this cookbook to find the ones your family likes. This quinoa dish will likely be among them.

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of twelve cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at [email protected]


Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, cookbook editor and now a podcaster. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at gourmania.com..