What’s Healthy to Eat—in Israel?!?!
No, I didn’t hop on a plane in the middle of the night (though the thought has tempted me a couple of times)…
A couple months back, while I was busy getting Morgan Spurlock to tweet about the show, I got an email from an enthusiastic foodie (are there any other kinds?) who wanted to share her healthy food travels with all of you!
Sounds perfect, right? This is *exactly* the kind of stuff I want to do with “Travel. Eat. Thrive.“—not only help you find WHAT to eat in a particular destination, but then HOW to make it at home! :)
(By the way, we only have 15 days left to reach our funding goal—help ensure that millions of people (including yourself!) know where to find healthy food!)
Without thinking twice, I took her up on the idea and BOOM, here we are. For this excursion, you’re in the very capable hands of Annabelle Harari of Local Belle…
Anabelle’s food explorations have brought her around the world from urban environments in San Francisco and New Dehli, to the rural foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. Going back to her native Israeli roots, Anabelle is spending the year in Jerusalem exploring the Middle Eastern cuisine that has fed her well in her formative years. As a self-proclaimed cheese lover, she imagines this year will involve many visits to dairy farms around Israel and Palestine.
(And she’s lived in my home state of Massachusetts: Mount Holyoke College, class of 2011—awwww yeah!!!)
While I’ve never been to Israel, reading about the dishes below is almost enough to make me forego my Christmas in Maui. Almost. I’ll just have to settle for making them!
Very awesome indeed. Now enough talk—let’s get to the food!! :)
When writing about the top 5 healthy food choices in Israel, I thought this post would come as a breeze. Israelis and healthy food is like peas in a pod. But then I started thinking, “what is actually an ‘Israeli’ food?”
It’s no surprise that “Israeli” food is highly influenced by its Arab neighbors. As one Israeli friend told me, “you know ‘Israeli’ salad is actually Arab, right?” Well there goes my number one contender then!
However, every country’s gastronomic history is influenced by trade, migration and borders—making Israel’s healthy food scene no different.
And so, while this list may be more of an “Arab” healthy foods list, I’ll say that about half of Israelis come from Arab countries (my family migrated from Tunisia, for example), and the other half bring with them a rich history of European foods.
Here’s to the Israeli melting pot!
The top 5 healthy food choices that are *easily* found in Israel:
Simplicity at its finest. Tomatoes, cucumbers, lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper. Done and done. You can find Israeli salad literally everywhere, but of course nothing is better than cutting up a few veggies at home. Typically eaten as part of a larger Israeli breakfast, it’s a staple in everyone’s diet.
No ‘Messing with the Zohan’ jokes here. Hummus is a ground up chickpea dip and a great healthy snack that goes with pretty much anything. If you want to get serious though, check out an authentic “Hummusia” like the one in Abu Goush- an Arab village literally famous for its hummus. Be warned though- do not enter a hummusia after 2pm, it’s simply not advised to eat that much hummus late in the day.
The shot above is Ful (pronounced “fool”) aka Fava beans, which are a staple topping to hummus in Israel.
An onion, lentil and rice recipe- sounds simple, but in fact the precision and technique are what separate “real” mujaderah from the imposters. Try this straightforward recipe, and give this protein packed meal a try.
If you craving something a little sweet, try halva- a sesame and honey dessert that is popular across Israel. Its slight sweetness and crumbly texture is a delicious spread or can be eaten straight out of the container! If you want to satisfy that sweet tooth, look no further than Mahane Yehuda (the open market in Jerusalem) where you’ll find the Halva King always ready with samples.
(pic courtesy of smittenkitchen.com)
Shakshuka, aside from having a rad name, is also one of the first Israeli dishes that I perfected in my early college years. A cousin of Huevos Rancheros, shakshuka is eggs poached in a spicy tomato and pepper sauce, cooked to perfection. And it’s extremely simple to make. If you’re in Israel though I suggest checking out Dr. Shakshuka in Tel Aviv for some authentic shakshuka that will have you drooling for more.
While Israel’s food scene is far more dynamic than the above mentioned, these 5 dishes are the perfect introduction to healthy Israeli cuisine.
Anabelle Harari is a local food blogger, currently based in Jerusalem, Israel. Anabelle prides herself in finding the best local and organic foods around the world, and shares the recipes on her blog Local Belle. You can connect with her on twitter @thelocalbelle.
Nathan here again. (did ya miss me??)
Quick question: Would you like to see more posts like this, of other people traversing the globe and reporting back? I’m excited to do my part, but I’m only one person! :)
I’d love to hear your response + any other thoughts you have below.
And for heaven’s sake: have you helped to introduce millions of people to delicious and healthy food? There’s only 15 days left!
Looking forward to learning more!