Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

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Habia

Habia

Habia is a delicious Middle Eastern grain, similar to barley, that is versatile and can be served as side or main dish. I love it for the chewy texture and slightly nutty flavor. Not to mention it has many health benefits- vitamins, minerals and is […]

Nana’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Nana’s Chicken Noodle Soup

This chicken noodle soup recipe is super creamy, tasty, and hearty. Your kids will love it! With cardamom in the recipe, this is definitely a uniquely-flavored chicken noodle soup. Of course, Nana brought us this amazing recipe! Sick days were always a great time staying […]

Za’atar Spiced Popcorn

Za’atar Spiced Popcorn

This is the time of year when I really miss Chicago. St. Patrick’s Day weekend is coming up, and the whole city gets together to dye the river green and party. The festivity screams Chicago. Just like the many Chicago staples: Lou Malnati’s deep dish, Wrigley Field, and Garrett’s Popcorn.

In honor of our Chicago roots, we wanted to celebrate this holiday and Garrett’s Popcorn by making our own Middle Eastern version spiced with za’atar. Although the St. Patrick’s festivities have been postponed, we hope you can celebrate this weekend and try our recipe!

Thank you, Carrie, for painting the picture of the Chicago skyline in our featured image!

Tina snapped this double rainbow by the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago
Pot of Gold (ok it’s popcorn!)

Za’atar Spiced Popcorn

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time3 mins
Course: Snack
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Homemade Popcorn

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1/4 cup kernels
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Za'atar Spice Mix

  • 2 tsp za'atar
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard seed
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 3 grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Instructions

Homemade Popcorn

  • On medium heat, heat coconut oil and ghee in a medium-sized pot with a lid. I like this mixture to help balance the flavor, but you can use 4 teaspoons of either coconut oil or ghee
  • Once the coconut oil and ghee have just about melted, add salt. Add 3 kernels to the pot, and place lid on pot to test the heat of the oil. Once the 3 kernels all pop, immediately add the rest of the 1/4 cup of kernels. My favorite popcorn kernel brand for homemade popcorn is Quinn popcorn kernels (pictured)*
  • Remove popcorn from heat once you hear 2-3 seconds in between pops
  • If you do not want to make homemade popcorn using the pot, just pop a bag of lightly salted popcorn

Za'atar Spiced Corn

  • In a large Ziploc bag, mix together za'atar, ground mustard seed, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder and salt
  • Melt 2 tbsp of butter and either in pot or popcorn popping bag add butter to mix/shake to coat on popcorn
  • Place butter coated popcorn into Ziploc bag with spices, close the Ziploc and shake! Make sure all popcorn is evenly coated and it's ready to serve!

Notes

*Depending on brand of popcorn kernels, size may vary. Rule of thumb is to make sure that all kernels are covered by oil. If you add more kernels than can be covered by oil, then the kernels will burn.
James’ Cold and Throat Citrus Remedy

James’ Cold and Throat Citrus Remedy

The lovely combination of the first few weeks of freshman year at university, trying out for a cappella groups, and coming home for Tamara’s wedding resulted in the combination of a cold and lost voice. This would not have been too much of an issue […]

Spiced Golden Latte

Spiced Golden Latte

I love the beautiful color of this Spiced Golden Latte – hence “golden” in the title. It is so delicious and feels indulgent, and actually has many health benefits. The color comes from the antioxidant-rich turmeric! This spiced latte contains ingredients that create not only […]

Tahini Granola

Tahini Granola

This Tahini Granola is just so satisfying. I love having it on hand to top on yogurt or eat by itself. It has a mix of oats, almonds, tahini, apricots and cranberries, and it’s not overly sweet, which I really appreciate.

The hint of nuttiness from the tahini and the natural sweetness from the cranberries and apricots make this an absolutely delicious way to start your day. And, the best part is that it has many immune boosting properties. No complaints. Add tahini to anything, and I say we have a winner.

So what’s in the granola?

Lets talk about the ingredients and why they are fabulous to start your day with. Of note, what is listed below highlights the main immune boosting property of each ingredient. There are many additional vitamins and minerals in each ingredient that are not mentioned below that have their own benefit in the body.

  1. Oats
    • Contains zinc, which helps control inflammatory responses. Also a great source of B vitamins, iron, copper and magnesium.
  2. Tahini
    • Good source of B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper.
  3. Apricot
    • Excellent source of Vitamin A and E. Also a good source of iron, magnesium and copper.
  4. Almonds
    • Another superfood. Very good source of Vitamin E, magnesium and B vitamins, iron and protein which is necessary for normal cell growth and function. Almonds also contain antioxidants to protect cells. They are rich in copper, zinc, manganese and magnesium which are all essential minerals in the immune system.
  5. Cranberries
    • Has a touch of Vitamin E and B vitamins.
  6. Yogurt
    • Good source of B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and selenium.

Some Extra Tips to Boost Your Immune System…

  1. Aim to eat fruits and vegetables from every color of the rainbow. A diet that is largely plant based, rich in whole grains, nuts and lean proteins, like the Mediterranean diet, is a good guide.
  2. Maintain healthy eating habits over time. While eating vitamin rich foods is very important when you are sick, it is equally important to maintain this type of eating for infection prevention.
  3. Eat whole foods. While vitamins and supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet, your body absorbs and uses nutrients better when them come straight from food.
  4. Stay hydrated! The majority of your body is made up of water and is necessary for your body to function, including your immune system. Try to also eat hydrating foods, like watermelon, cucumber, celery.
  5. Get enough sleep! You body need rest to produce essential components of your immune system that fight infection and reduce inflammation.

Tahini Granola is a great thing to have on hand all year round. I hope you enjoy!

Tahini Granola

This Tahini Granola is a mix of oats, almonds, tahini, apricots and cranberries. It's great on its own or topped on yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick oats*
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/16 tsp salt (or a pinch of salt)
  • ¼ cup slivered or chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 large egg, whites separated from yellow (you will only use the whites in this recipe)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300F
  • Mix oats, cinnamon, cardamom, tahini, salt, brown sugar, egg white, vanilla, and almonds in a bowl
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread granola evenly on the sheet and press down with a spatula or small piece of parchment paper (this will help clusters form)
  • Bake for about 20 minuets, until a lightly toasted color is achieved. Once out of the oven add chopped apricots and cranberries and gently mix together with granola
  • This stores freshly at room temperature for 4 weeks in a sealed container. But, it may be devoured sooner than that

Notes

Three Teas Tips
*If using whole oats bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until a lightly toasted color is achieved. 

Have you checked out the other posts in our Immune Boosting Series?

Immune Boosting Green Smoothie

Avocado Toast

More to come!

Articles for Reference

Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function.

Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses.

The immune system: a target for functional foods?

Micronutrients and innate immunity.

Interrelationship between vitamins and cytokines in immunity.

Vitamin D, innate immunity and upper respiratory tract infection.

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast. Now on every cafe, coffee shop, and brunch menu. Is this a fad or is there something to this raging menu item? Well, good news is that you can make Avocado Toast any way you would like and can load it up with […]

Immune Boosting Green Smoothie

Immune Boosting Green Smoothie

There are only a few mornings where I am not starting off my day with this Immune Boosting Green Smoothie. I just love it. This smoothie is chock-full of vitamins, fiber, and protein. It sets such a positive tone for the day and really gives […]

Fasoolia Kuthra (Green Bean Stew)

Fasoolia Kuthra (Green Bean Stew)

There is nothing better on an early spring day than coming home to a dinner of Fasoolia Kuthra. Consisting mostly of green beans and tomato broth, it is a light, yet warm and comforting stew perfect for an evening when the sun is setting around dinnertime (and not before 5pm) , but there is still a chill in the air.

Given its easy to make nature, it was often on Nana and Mom’s list of options for dinner. I have to admit, it wasn’t my first choice of “timin and marakah” (rice and stew) dishes as a kid. I would have much rather gone with Basalia or Ras Asfour. But it’s funny how your palate changes throughout your life. Now, it is one of my favorites as it is not quite as heavy as some of the others. I just feel better eating it.

This dish is the perfect one to end our “Medley of Marakah.” We hope you’ve enjoyed this series and hope you will love kicking of your spring with Fasoolia Kuthra.

Fasoolya Khuthra (Green bean stew)

Green beans are braised in a tomato based sauce and served over rice. Delicious!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6oz can tomato paste
  • 12oz bag cut frozen green beans
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped small to med sized
  • 1/2 lb ground beef can be substituted for ground turkey
  • 1/4 tsp Iraqi baharat or all spice if you don't have baharat on hand
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • in a medium sized saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes
  • add chopped onion and sautee for 1-2 minutes until you see onion starting to get shiny/translucent
  • add ground beef and 1/2 tsp of salt. break up the meat with wooden spoon while browning the meat.
  • once meat is brown mix in tomato paste
  • use tomato paste can to add 4.5 cans of water, bahar, pepper and 1/2 tsp of salt to the pot and stir
  • bring to a boil, then add frozen green beans
  • cover the saucepan and bring to boil on high heat
  • once it boils reduce heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes
  • add additional salt or pepper to taste and serve over rice

Notes

Three Teas Tips:
You may substitute the ground beef for ground turkey if you would prefer it a bit lighter. 
Make this dish vegetarian/vegan, by removing the ground meat and instead adding a can of drained white beans with the green beans for a hearty, protein and fiber packed meal!
Fried Dough

Fried Dough

There are few things in life as tasty as FRIED DOUGH. It’s basically the quick fix for a doughnut. And as quick it is to make, it will be equally as quickly gone. My love for fried dough runs deep, like all the way to […]