Category Archives: Weight Loss

Refried Beans

This is our favorite recipe for refried beans!  We use it in tortillas, with guacamole, or chips.  Also, we love to make no-queso quesadillas with it (recipe coming soon!)
Serves about 6 Click here for the printer-friendly version.
2 400 g cans of pinto beans, washed and drained

1 onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 fresh green jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and chopped fine (optional)

2 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil and onions for 2 minutes.
2.  Add the garlic and chili pepper and fry for another 2 minutes.

3.  Add spices and stir for 30 seconds. Don’t let them burn or stick to the pan.

4.  Add the beans and stir fry for 3 minutes, making sure the spices have coated the beans.

5.  Add chopped tomatoes, stir for another few minutes.
6.  Add tomato paste and stir through.

7.  When the beans are soft enough, mash them either with a potato masher. You can mash them to the consistency you like.  Some people want creamy refried beans and others like to have whole beans in the mix.

8.  Remove from the heat and serve as you like.
Serving Suggestions and Variations:
  • Serve as a filling for hearty no-queso quesadillas.
  • Use in burritos, tacos, on nachos…
  • Serve as a side dish…
  • Add more jalapeno peppers or chili powder to up the spiciness!
  • Experiment with other kinds of beans.

Nutrition Information: 1 of 6 servings
172 Calories; 4 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 29 g Carbohydrates; 8 g Fiber; 8 g Protein

*This recipe is filling and highly nutritious, and is therefore rated as an excellent choice for weight loss.

Alf Hana!!!


Hearty Minestrone

Recently, I attended a cooking class in Egypt.  It was sponsored by the Healthy Life Center and was all about cooking vegetarian food.  We had a lot of fun and in one day, we made 8 different vegetarian dishes using all kinds of pasta.  The classes are usually held in a series.  We will definitely post the upcoming series so you can attend, too!

One of the delicious, nutritious dishes we made was minestrone.  Minestrone is such a versatile soup – you could do almost anything you want with it!!!  The version we made is on the traditional side, using lima beans.  Remember we told you about lima beans in a recent post?  But, if you can’t find them dried, they’re available in a can, too.  AND, if you just want to use your favorite bean – FEEL FREE to improvise!

One of the great things about this dish is that it is highly nutritious and filling.  That makes it perfect for those of us watching our weights!  For example, in one serving of this soup, you get 151% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A!

Get the printer-friendly version here.

Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
6 cups water
1 bouillon cube, crumbled
½ cup of small pasta
1 package (450 g) frozen mixed vegetables (or substitute fresh)
1 can lima beans (450 g) (or soak and cook your own)

We soaked and cooked our own!

salt to taste (we use 2 teaspoons)

1.  Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until onions are translucent.
2.  Add the crumbled the bouillon cube, tomato paste, basil and marjoram and stir to mix.
3.  Add the water, pasta, frozen (or fresh) vegetables, cooked beans.
4.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the pasta is completely cooked.

Nutrition Information: 1 of 4 servings
296 Calories; 4 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 53 g Carbohydrates; 12 g Fiber; 13 g Protein

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

  • Use different beans
  • Use your favorite vegetables
  • Serve with garlic bread or crackers
  • Add some hot peppers for a spicy twist
  • Add more greens!




Pharaoh’s Friday #13: Pureed Potatoes with Black Beans

Fridays are “Pharaoh’s Fridays“!  We like to take traditional, Egyptian recipes and adapt them so they are entirely plant-based!
This recipe will satisfy your craving for a hearty, nutritious meal.  It’s relatively low in calories, low in fat, and will fill you up!  It’s a perfect treat if you’re trying to lose weight!
Serves 6
(for the potatoes)
1 kilo potatoes
2 tablespoons water
1 cup soy milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper(for the black bean mix)
250 grams black beans, canned or soaked and boiled (about 1 and ½ cups)
125 grams mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 tablespoon chili powder(on top)
1 tablespoon fine breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Prepare the potatoes:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, or 400º F or 200º C (moderately hot).
1.  In a large pot, boil the potatoes until tender (about 20 minutes).

Prepare the black bean mix:
2.  While the potatoes are boiling, heat the onion and garlic in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 2 minutes.
3.  Add the mushrooms, bouillon cube, and chili powder. Cook for another 4 minutes or so until the mushrooms have released their water.
4.  Add the tomatoes, beans, and tomato paste.  Cook for another 5 minutes.

5.  Once the potatoes have finished boiling, place the potatoes in a colander, but reserve the water they cooked in.  You can peel them if you like or leave the skin on for the extra nutrients (of course, you should invest in organic if you choose this option…).  Mash them with a potato masher or fork.
6.  Place the potatoes back in the empty large pot.  Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water from the potatoes, soy milk, cornstarch mix, salt and pepper and mix well until creamy.
7.  Using a little bit of oil, grease a casserole dish (9-by-13-inches or 22-by-33-centimeter).  Spread half the mashed potatoes in the dish.
8.  Spread the black bean mix on the first layer of potatoes and then cover with the second half of the potatoes.
9.  Sprinkle the tablespoon of breadcrumbs all over the top of the potatoes and then sprinkle the oil on top.
10.  Bake for 30 minutes until the top turns brown.
Nutritional Information:
324 Calories; 6 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 60 g Carbohydrates; 9 g Fiber; 10 g Protein

Alf Hana!!!

What’s your favorite way to eat potatoes?

Barbecue Tofu and Mushroom Salad

Are you yearning for a filling, tasty, summer meal?  Well, you should try this.

Serves 2
1 package of fresh tofu, frozen and thawed (about 150 grams)*
½ package of fresh mushrooms (about 150 grams)
1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup of vegan barbecue sauce**
about 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 small head of lettuce, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon salt

1.  Squeeze any remaining liquid from the thawed tofu.  Slice into ½ thick pieces.
2.  In a skillet, fry the tofu and mushrooms in the oil until browned.
3.  Remove the tofu and mushrooms from the heat and mix in the barbecue sauce and sesame seeds.

Prepare the salad:
4.  In a large bowl, toss the lettuce and tomatoes with salt until well mixed.
5.  Arrange the tofu and mushrooms on top of the salad.

*When you freeze tofu and then thaw it before using, the texture becomes more firm and a bit more like the familiar texture of meat.
**You can use homemade barbecue sauce, but we found an ‘accidentally’ vegan barbecue sauce in the market and it was quite tasty!!  It was called “Bull’s-Eye”.

Nutritional Information:
242 Calories; 11 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 27 g Carbohydrates; 4 g Fiber; 10 g Protein
What do you like to eat when it gets hot?
Alf Hana!!!

Spicy Pinto Bean Soup

Are you trying to lose weight?  Maybe you’re just trying to not gain any more!  Well, we have been trying to maintain a healthy weight for a while.  One of the tricks we use is to look for highly nutritious, but low calorie food.  Beans and vegetables are the perfect for for this!!!
The base of this soup is the pinto bean.  The pinto bean is mostly known in North American and is very common in Mexican food.  If you go to a Mexican restaurant, you will probably eat these mashed or refried or in a burrito.  I love pinto beans!  Unfortunately, I have never found dried pinto beans in Egypt, so we always use them from a can.
This soup is kind of spicy, so adjust as you need!
Serves about 5Ingredients:
1 can pinto beans (about 500 g)
4 small to medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
1 large onion
1 vegetable bouillon cube, crumbled
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, (hot green peppers) diced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
water to cover (about 500 ml)Instructions:
1.  Place everything in a large pot.
2.  Add enough water to cover the beans and vegetables.
3.  Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.
4.  Check frequently and add more water if necessary.

Add an extra jalapeño pepper for more ZING!
Serving Suggestions and Variations:
  • Serve with cornbread, balady bread, or any grain.
  • Guacamole might even go well with this spicy soup!

Nutritional Information (1 serving of 5):
116 Calories; 1 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 22 g Carbohydrates; 6 g Fiber; 6 g Protein

What’s YOUR favorite bean?!
Alf Hana!!!

Chickpea and Corn Curry

Packed with protein and fiber, chickpeas are one of my favorite snacks.  I like them on salads, in hummus, mashed and used for a burger (recipe coming soon!), and in curries!  Not only are they quite nutritious, they are also considerably filling!  Get a full tummy with less calories!

Serves 6


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cube of vegetable bouillon, crumbled
  • 500 ml of water
  • 325 g of chickpeas (from a can – or soak overnight and cook about 2 hours)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 432 g of sweet corn (about 1 can)
  • 6 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
1.  Sautee the onion and the garlic in olive oil until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
2.  Add the bouillon cube, curry powder, coriander, turmeric, and cumin and stir well.  Cook about 5 more minutes.
3.  Add the water, chickpeas, sweet corn and tomato, mixing all the ingredients together.
4.  Cover and let simmer for around 30 minutes.
We love to serve it with bulghur, but you can have it with whatever you like….
Serving Variations and Suggestions:
  • Serve with bread, rice, or other grain.  We had it with bulghur.
Nutritional Information: (for 1 of 6 servings)
202 Calories; 6 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 34 g Carbohydrates; 6 g Fiber; 6 g Protein
(23% of your daily need for Vitamin A, 46% of your daily need for Vitamin C,  5% of daily need for calcium AND 13% of your daily need for IRON!!!  Woohoo!!!)
What’s YOUR favorite way to eat chickpeas?
Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #10: Apricot Pudding (Qamar Al-Din)

Hi everybody!  Are you hot?!  It’s 40 degrees Celsius!!!  (That’s 104 for you Fahrenheit folks!).  Want something cool, creamy and sweet?!  Try this!  A traditional Egyptian dessert, this has been one of my favorites since I first step foot in Egypt.  Our version is low on sugar (we didn’t add any at all!!) but still has all the natural sweetness of the dried apricot!

¼ kilo pressed apricot sheets (1/2 of the package; 250 grams)

1 and ½ cups of water¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup water

shredded coconut for serving

1.  Open up the sheets of dried apricot and separate about half of the package.

2.  Cut the 250 grams of dried apricot into small pieces and put in a saucepan.

3.  Cover the pieces of apricot with about 1 and ½ cups of water.  Make sure all the pieces are covered with water.
4.  Boil for about 10 minutes.
5.  Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

6.  Once cooled, press the mixture through a sieve with narrow holes.

After straining

7.   In a separate bowl, mix the ¼ cup of cornstarch with ¼ cup water until all the cornstarch is dissolved.
8.  Stir the cornstarch mix into the apricot mixture.

9.  Heat this mixture in a saucepan until boiling.  Boil for a few minutes until thick.
10.  Spoon into small dishes. Garnish with shredded coconut.  Refrigerate until sets.

Serving Suggestions:
*Add chopped nuts (pistachios, walnuts, or any you like!) to the coconut topping.
*Add chopped dried apricots and raisins to the apricot and cornstarch mix.
*These sheets can also be used to make a cold, refreshing drink commonly consumed during Ramadan.

Nutritional Information:
1 of 2 servings:
135 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g cholesterol, 32 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein

Have you ever had Qamar Al-Din before (as a pudding or drink)?  Which way do you like it most? What other ways do you like to eat apricots?

Alf Hana!!!