Healthy and Sane

Entries Tagged as 'Israel'

Israel – day 3 – saved the best food for last

September 2nd, 2009 · 18 Comments · Israel

So this was really a quick trip because my sister and I didn’t have much vacation time left for the year. Despite that, we definitely spent a good amount of time with our grandmothers (the reason we went there!) and luckily my friends also dropped any plans they may have had for the last 3 days and hung out with me :mrgreen:

I did a whole lot of nothing, except eat and sweat, for most of my last day. Good thing this blog is about at least one of those 2 😉

I started the morning with a somewhat odd breakfast: 2 ww toasts with an eggplant/mayonnaise spread (only 1 toast pictured). I really missed the eggplant stuff so I picked up a little cup at the grocery store yesterday and couldn’t wait to see if it’s as good as I remembered.



(Sorry for the blurry photo) Yup, still as good as I remembered! The eggplant is so smokey. This stuff is good! I used to eat this by the tubful, and although they used to make the “lite” version, it’s still definitely no health food. At least I got some veggies in at breakfast, right? 😉

Lunch was another super Israeli food: 2 cheese burekasim (you may remembered I had the spinach/cheese one the day before) that I found in my grandma’s freezer and decided to bake. I added some roasted peppers + carrot and cucumber to bulk up the meal, but at the end only ate the peppers (the other guys were a little too soft… eww).



Mid-day snacks: 1 plum + about 2/3 of a green apple



At night I met up with my girlfriends again and we hung out for a bit until I was starving and requested that we immediately go out to eat. I wanted something “super Israeli.” The place I really wanted to go to was Nafis where the girls took me on my last visit to Israel 5.5 years ago. I remembered the super thick hummus and the fluffy pitas and really wanted to have something like that before I leave. Somehow we ended up at the same place again. I was really happy about that 😀 Seriously, I was practically jumping up and down when we sat down and I remembered another old favorite. I was also hungry which just made everything even more exciting!

Of course we had to split a plate of hummus for the table. Hummus with mushrooms + pitas:


Can you see how thick the pitas are? I’ve never had pitas like that in the US! The mushroom mixture had onions in it so I stuck to plain hummus, but oh man… so good! The crushed tomatoes you see in the background were there to accompany our entrees. Which brings me to the highlight of the meal: the nafis filled with yellow cheese and green olives, which is a very buttery kind of puff pastry like dough (malawach for those of you who know what that is) with stuffing.


Mmm, super cheesy goodness…


The perfect bite:


Thank goodness they don’t have this stuff back at home, because my workouts would need to get all sorts of crazy to make up for eating this kind of food everyday. Haha. Ok, I probably wouldn’t, but I’m still happy I don’t have easy access to it because it’s kind of amazing in that greasy-ish sort of way. Yum * 100. Ok, I think it’s time to sign off because now I’m being beyond cheesy 😆 This was definitely the best Israeli food this trip!

Last photo together:


And that’s how my Israeli trip ends. 3 days well spent. I’m scheduling this post to publish tomorrow so by the time you read this, I’ll definitely be up in the air on the way back home.

Question of the day: do you like reading about places you’ve never been to and possibly will never go to or do you prefer spending your time reading about recipes you can easily replicate? Be honest… I really don’t think there is right or wrong answer here – just a preference! I like reading restaurant reviews, etc. even at places I won’t visit because it gives me ideas for things to make at home or products to seek out at specialty grocers :)

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Israel – day 2 – celebrating grandma’s birthday and discovering new places

September 1st, 2009 · 11 Comments · Israel

Wow, I’ve been a lazy bum today. I’ve been up for nearly 7 hours, and haven’t done anything so far. I’m trying to convince myself to step outside for a workout but it’s so hot in the apartment that the idea of going out to where it’s even hotter, makes me a little queezy. Anyways, at least yesterday was an action packed day so I have lots to cover here 😉

My sister and I got up at 7:30 am to get a workout in (how’s that for dedication on vacation? :) ) and had our pre-workout snack… 1 stolen Nature Valley oats ‘n honey bar from the plane + coffee:


Have you ever had this bar? I used to eat them like it was my job back in college 😆 If you have, you probably know that there are normally 2 bars inside the package. The plane version had only 1, which I thought was normal since they obviously have snacks custom made, but I was surprised to find out that the same packages in Israel also only have 1 bar. Do Americans really need 2 bars and double the calories? 😕

About 45 minutes later, we were off on a run … until we realized it was a billion degrees out and super humid. After 1.5 miles we were kind of done so instead of torturing ourselves in the heat I decided to create a little boot camp for us in the playground (where it was a bit more shady). We had a lot of fun (in that masochistic way)! The heat and the slight hill we were on made it quite the challenge… in a good way 😉 About an hour later, we were both spent. My sister’s HRM said she burnt 688 calories. Wow, I’m good. Haha 😆

Post workout we hit a local convenience store and I spotted this guy:


This is basically liquid tart yogurt and it really hit the spot! So creamy and delicious. Lots of protein too to repair those muscles 😀 Then we showered and went for a walk around our old hometown. First stop was at a local bakery for a few treats we’ve been missing: burekasim and rughalah.



The burekas on the left had onions in it, so I only had 1. It is basically puff pastry filled with different stuff. This guy had spinach and cheese. Yum! The rughalah was chocolaty and doughy. Just what I’ve been missing (I had 1 for a snack right away and another one later in the day). Great stuff here :mrgreen:

Oh yeah, I also had a juicy peach before leaving the house.


Our walk was nice. We recognized so many old spots, like our old fruit and veggie shop, and also saw some businesses turn over. Our old hair salon is now a toy store. Funny. One cool thing on our walk was this recycling cage:


The sign says: “It’s crazy not to recycle.” I agree! We saw a few of these around town. Very cool.

Next up: lunch at Makom Balev (translated as “place in the heart”) to celebrate my grandma’s 75th birthday! The restaurant is kind of in the middle of no-where in Raanana, and has a cute garden where they grow some of their produce. My kind of place 😉



My sister and I drank to my grandma’s health (this is a glass of Riesling). The grandmas were drinking water.

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The water was pretty cool too. I think that’s lemongrass. Can you guys identify these leaves?

And now onto the meal. We decided to take advantage of Israel’s restaurant week. Kind of funny that it’s here now, since it just ended in Boston. Maybe I brought it on 😉 I started with some portabello mushrooms stuffed with creamy mixed mushrooms and topped with breadcrumbs. This was really delicious and very indulgent. I had 1 of them, and opted to save room for the rest of the meal.


For my entree some fresh fish sounded great, so I ordered the whole fish with vegetables and green butter.


Wow, so fresh and wonderful. Veggies included eggplant, zucchini, and diced tomatoes and the sauce was slightly lemony, buttery and was subtle enough as to let the fish shine. I loved my entree and polished off nearly the entire thing 😀

I was getting perfectly full by this point (not too stuffed, just happy full) but of course dessert was coming our way. There were 2 options: sorbet and frozen yogurt and my sister and I decided to order both and try each others’.



Both desserts were really nice (I preferred the frozen yogurt, my sister the sorbet) but I only had a few spoonfuls. I wanted to leave this fine meal on a good note instead of being weighed down for the rest of the day. Overall, I really liked this lunch! 😀

Fast forward a few hours, I met up with my friends for drinks and dinner at Namal Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv’s port), which was such a good spot. Very European… lots of restaurants, cafes and dance bars right on the water. Such a great vibe, I had no idea places like this existed in Israel! The cafe we chose was named Cafe Nimrod and it was great. I started with my second glass of Riesling for the day and ordered a salad:

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My salad was awesome! It had lots of candied dried fruit, cherry tomatoes, seeds and 3 mini-toasts with olive spread and goat cheese rounds.


Really great stuff! It also came with this mini-bread loaf which I am sure had crack in it. 😆


I originally was going to stay away from the bread (since my salad already had a few slices) but after 1 bite of it with some sun-dried tomato spread (in the background) I couldn’t stop! I had a few slices until I ran out of the spread and continued picking at it throughout the night. All those seeds and nuts were so addictive. I loved it!

My gorgeous girls:


Another fun night! I also got to meet my friends’ boyfriends and husband, which was really nice. Now I’m off to get ready for our next night out. Too bad this trip is nearly over :( although I also really miss my husband.

Sorry for the long post. Too much good stuff to share and I couldn’t hold back 😉 I’ll try to squeeze my final post before our flight back home tomorrow morning. Are you guys getting excited for the long weekend ahead? I already am! 😛

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Israel – first day back in Kfar Saba

August 31st, 2009 · 8 Comments · Israel

I lived in Israel for 3 years (during middle school) but haven’t been back in 5.5 years. It’s kind of surreal being here. I feel like so many things are familiar. I know where things are in relation to my grandmother’s house, yet my Hebrew is practically gone (so embarrassing!) which makes me feel like a tourist. The best part is definitely seeing my friends, though. We used to be so tight in middle school and we picked up right where we left off 5+ years ago. All my girls even look the same… I hope we can say the same thing in 10 years 😉

Upon arrival at my grandmother’s place we were greeted with a small feast.  Despite having fabulous airplane food (that’s sarcasm btw), I of course could not resist to have a little taste. My grandma was really hesitant to keep the oil out of most dishes (as per my request), but for the most part did quite well. What you see here is a mashed potato/ground beef (fried) patty (she just couldn’t resist to use oil in at least something) + some veggies (roasted red peppers, eggplant/tomatoes, carrots).


After a short nap, I enjoyed a little dessert 😀


Then it was time to meet with my friends! I was super excited :) We walked around town a bit and decided to sit down for “a drink.” This to me means alcohol but apparently they meant smoothies and milkshakes. I stuck to mineral water to save calories for the good stuff. I told the girls about my blog and they thought it was funny that I took a picture of my water… so I had to pose with the bottle too :mrgreen:

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Now that I have a hard time reading Hebrew, it almost looks exotic. What do you think? Isn’t this bottle kind of cute? :) We then hopped to another cafe. I was on a mission – I wanted “toast” – my old favorite. It’s basically a hybrid between panini and pizza on an Israeli bagel, which is nothing like American bagels… definitely bigger but lighter. Again, the menu was a bit overwhelming to me, but I was also getting a kick of being back in Israel!!!!


The cafe (called very creatively “Cafe Cafe”) was pretty cute too :)


I split a “toast” with my friend Zoya. This guy had mozzarella, tomatoes, red sauce and green olives, and came with a side salad.


My portion:


I’m not going to lie – I was not impressed with the toast (the salad was the best part). Maybe white over-processed bread with red sauce is just not my thing anymore, or maybe this was just not the right place to get it. My sister had the same craving and went to a place in Tel Aviv with her friend and had the opposite experience. She was talking about her toast all morning. I may give it another try on my next visit :)

We had a really fun time, though. There was also a bit camera playing (I SO want a super fancy one now!). Here are my 2 friends taking pictures of me, taking pictures of them. We’re such dorks 😆


All 4 of us, just like the old days 😎


Oh yeah, I also had a glass of cabernet with dinner. Apparently this is very not Israeli. Oh well, I like wine :)

Have you ever reunited with a childhood friend? How was it? What about eaten an old favorite dish? Was it as good as you remembered?

I’m a day behind in my blogging, so I can tell you already the next post will be full of fabulous eats. Hope you have a great day. What day is it anyway? Hehe, I love vacation! 😉

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