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With 600 healthy recipes Norene's latest cookbook, Norene's Healthy Kitchen provides "a buffet of exciting international flavors" with ingredients found in your local supermarket.
The Kosher Table

Meet Norene Gilletz

-- Lisa Tuttle

In this month's Kosher Table I'd like to introduce you to Norene Gilletz, the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada, hailed as the Canadian "Jewish Julia Child." I learned about Norene from a footnote for a chocolate chip cookie recipe in a cookbook I was reviewing, citing one of her books as the source. The cookies were so good I got busy right away researching, and to my delight, my Google search brought me to Norene's website Gourmania—"for people who are crazy about food!"

Born in Winnipeg, for the past 11 years Norene has lived and worked in Toronto—home to a vibrant and diverse Jewish community—where she is a highly sought culinary consultant, cooking teacher/lecturer, cookbook author, and freelance food writer, focusing on healthy cooking.

I now own and have had the fun of cooking from four of Norene's seven cookbooks The Food Processor Bible, Healthy Helpings, Second Helpings Please! (the one with the great cookie recipe and her first, penned when she was in her twenties), and her latest — Norene's Healthy Kitchen. There's also Microways, a compact guide to microwave cooking (now out of print), and two specialty cookbooks directed to those coping with the health challenges (PCOS -- polycystic ovarian syndrome, and the need for a low-iodine diet).

Norene's cookbooks are not just recipe books--each and every one is a kitchen reference guide that builds both the cook's repertoire and technical culinary aptitude. The opening chapter of Norene's Healthy Kitchen, for example, entitled Things You Want to Know, includes sections on smart shopping and a primer on nutrition: "strategies to help you take control of your food, health, and lifestyle and to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, for example, entitled "Things You Want to Know, includes sections on smart shopping and a primer on nutrition: strategies to help you take control of your food, health, and lifestyle and to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight." And every chapter begins with pages of cooking notes and tips, and has secrets for freezing, storing, entertaining, and substitutions and variations throughout. The final chapter, Passover Pleasures has modifications for just about every recipe in the book plus great recipes for Passover and all year round.

Balancing all the serious information in all of Norene's books, and on her Gourmania website, is her light tone and often playful writing style, peppered with lots of puns and wordplay. I especially enjoy reading her fans' "taste-monials" and the comments of her many "pan pals" there.

From an early age Norene learned that food prepared at home always tastes much better. Norene's mom is 93 and still cooking, and the favorite recipes Norene cooks for her family, and which are featured in her cookbooks — particularly in Second Helpings Please! — are those she grew up with. Not formally trained, she learned along the way, and a weekend seminar with renowned French chef Jacques Pepin in Florida gave her license to be free in the kitchen. Pepin's improvisational style surprised her, and made a strong impression. "Every cook puts his or her own mark on a dish," she said. "If you give someone a recipe, they'll always put their own twist on it. There's a certain chemistry between the cook and the ingredients."

Noreen's Healthy Kitchen especially lends itself to simplicity and flexibility, and responds to the concerns we all have: "What are the best and healthiest choices? How long can I keep this? Can I freeze this?" "My intention in writing Noreen's Healthy Kitchen was to create as much awareness as possible and to answer all the questions people have. I know my readers and I know they demand lots of choices. I really see the book as a blueprint for how to feed my family."

Norene Gilletz

Noreen confesses that she was "the kid who never ate her vegetables." What's her secret to pleasing children, including her own grandchildren, in the kitchen now? "You make your kids what they like!" She must have done something right, as her son Doug has gone on to become a professional chef and food consultant (she said he makes perfect matzoh balls). Beside making food tasty and fun, what guides her are some simple pointers learned from reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: Eat real: Eat real food — right from nature; and eat everything in moderation — mostly plants. "Also, it is very important to cook at home with your kids. You become their first teacher in how food is prepared."

Does it work? I ask. "Just read my hips!"

Until we eat again,


Lisa Kelvin Tuttle has professional experience in the gourmet, catering, and health-food fields, as well as being an experienced kosher camp cook. Her greatest pleasure, though, is cooking Shabbat dinner for family and friends. She is Communications Director for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and resides with her husband, Alan, and sons Adam and Jeremy in Wynnewood.

The recipes below from Norene's Healthy Kitchen will make a great menu for Rosh Hashannah or Shabbat.

Pomegranate Chicken

According to ancient lore, the amount of seeds in the pomegranate is exactly the same number (613) as the mitzvot (commandments/good deeds) found in the Torah. If you're curious, count away! This fragrant dish also contains honey, carrots, and apricots--traditional foods served with hope for a sweet and fruitful New Year.

  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 cups baby carrots (or 2 cups peeled and sliced regular carrots)
  • 2 whole chickens (3 1/2 lb each), cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dried whole apricots, loosely packed
  • 1 cup pitted whole prunes, loosely packed
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika (optional)


  • 1 cup pomegranate juice (or juice of 1 pomegranate)
  • 2 cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons minced)
  • Juice and rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  1. Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Scatter the onions and carrots in the bottom of the pan. Rinse the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. Trim the excess fat. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and sprinkle--under the skin and on top--with thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Tuck the apricots and prunes between the chicken pieces.
  2. Whisk the ingredients for the marinade together in a bowl. (If using the juice of a whole pomegranate, reserve some of the seeds for garnish.) Pour over the chicken and sprinkle with paprika if using. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or for as long as 2 days.
  3. When the chicken ins marinated, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the chicken, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes longer, basting occasionally, or until the skin is golden. Remove the pan and let cool before refrigerating overnight.
  4. About 30 minutes before serving, remove and discard any congealed fat from the chicken. Reheat, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Transfer the heated chicken to a large serving platter and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds if you have them. Serve immediately.

Yield: 12 servings. Keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 4 months.

Couscous, Mediterranean Style
Pareve or Meat

Experience the fabulous flavors of the Mediterranean with this colorful dish. You can use regular or whole wheat couscous, or try the pearl-shaped grains of pasta known as Israeli couscous (or maftoul), which are much larger and more versatile than the typical Moroccan couscous. You can substitute the couscous with orzo (a rice-shaped pasta), bulgar, or quinoa.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons, minced)
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups hot vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots or dates
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or mint
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
Turkish Eggplant Salad

This sweet and spicy eggplant dish is served in many Middle Eastern restaurants and everyone I know who tries it, loves it. It's absolutely addictive!

  • 1 eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds
  • Salt (for sprinkling on eggplant)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic (about 1 tablespoon minced)
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar or granular Splenda
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley
  1. Cut off both ends from the eggplant but don't peel. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch chunks. (You should have about 8 cups.) Place the chunks in a colander and sprinkle with salt to drain out any bitter juices. Let stand for about 1/2 hour before rinsing and patting dry.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened. Increase the heat to medium high, add the eggplant and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes longer or until softened.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, thyme, and cilantro or parsley. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cover partially. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste. When cool, cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

Yield: About 6 cups (12 servings of 1/2 cup each). Keeps 4 or 5 days in the refrigerator. Freezes well for up to 2 months.

Honey-Glazed Carrots

This is a honey of a dish because you don't need to peel or cut the carrots, which is so a-peeling! These glazed carrots are perfect for the Jewish High Holidays, Passover, or any time of year.

  • 2 pounds baby carrots
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons apricot or mango preserves (preferably low sugar or all-fruit)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or dill weed, for garnish
  1. Place the carrots in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and return the carrots to the saucepan.
  2. Add the oil, lemon juice, honey, jam, salt, pepper, and thyme.
Apples N' Honey Cake

This high, moist cake is ideal for the Jewish High Holidays because it combines three traditional ingredients--apples, carrot, and honey. A food processor helps speed up preparation. If you don't have a large food processor, see Chef's secret, below recipe. This cake is much lower in carbs than a traditional honey cake and has the added benefit of soluble fiber from the apples and carrot.

  • 3 large eggs (or 2 large eggs plus 2 egg whites)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold tea (green tea is a great choice)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh)
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and grated (about 1 cup grated)
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup grated)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup fluted tube pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the eggs, oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla extract for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Don't insert the pusher into the feed tube while processing.
  3. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt to the processor bowl. Then add the tea and orange juice and process with several on/off pulses, just until combined. Add the grated apples and carrot and process with several quick on/off pulses, until combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before inverting the pan and unfolding the cake onto a serving plate.
Yield: 20 servings. Freezes well for up to 3 months.

Chocolate Almond Apricot Clusters


Though these appear in the "Passover Pleasures" section, Norene said these are her family's year-round favorites. These will melt quickly if left out at room temperature on a hot day, so keep refrigerated or frozen if you aren't planning on serving them right away.
  • 10 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (bittersweet or semisweet)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups toasted sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) cut-up dried apricots (scissors work best)
  1. Break up the chocolate into chunks and place in a large dry microwavable bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on medium for 2 minutes, then stir. Continue microwaving on medium for 1 to 2 minutes longer, just until melted; stir well. Cool slightly before stirring in oil, almonds, and apricots.
  2. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate for 30 toe 45 minutes or until firm. Transfer to an airtight container, separating the layers with parchment or waxed paper.
Yield: 48 pieces. Keeps for up to 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator, if you hide them well! Freezes well for up to 4 months.

Previously on the Kosher Table

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