24 Volunteers
1 Rabbi
15 pounds of potatoes
5 pounds of carrots
and a pound of onions
…take all these “ingredients” and what do you get?
4 stock-pots of delicious soup!

I was thrilled to have the  honour of leading a group in women in soup-making for the Bikur Cholim Soup Brigade evening at Holy Blossom Temple. Bikur Cholim is Hebrew for “visiting the sick”, and what we did was chop, dice and stir two big batches of soup.  While the soup simmered the room filled up not only with delicious cooking smells, but the warmth of people working together and a Talmud study session lead by Rabbi Teri Appleby. We all left that evening with a good feeling in our hearts, leaving behind 100 containers of some great-tasting soup that will help warm some people over the coming winter months.

Here is the link to Holy Blossom’s Bikur Cholim if you would like to know more.

Here are the two recipes we made:

Vegetarian Vegetable Soup 

This recipe serves 4 to 6


  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup green or yellow beans, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped savoy cabbage, sliced
  • ½ cup orzo or any small pasta


  1. In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, sauté until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another few minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the water and tomatoes with the juice.
  4. Then add the vegetables, the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add the mashed and whole beans.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings, you may need more salt and pepper.

Leek and Potato Soup

This recipe serves 4 to 6


  • 6 potatoes, diced
  • 2 large leeks, white part only, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, fresh
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the leeks and slice them thinly.
  2. Dice the potatoes, carrots and celery.
  3. Heat the oil in a large stockpot, sauté the leeks for a few minutes.
  4. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking until onions are soft.
  5. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery.
  6. Add the water, salt, thyme and bay leaves.
  7. Simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.
  8. Add the pepper.
  9. Remove the bay leaves.
  10. Puree soup in blender or with hand blender.
  11. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Cooks Notes:  Both theses soups are great basic recipes.
Here are a few suggestions to make these soups your own…

For the vegetable soup:

  • Add some red or white wine 
  • You can add some little meatballs, (cook meatballs in the oven then add to the soup).
  • Add a parmesan rind while the soup is simmering.
  • Drizzle some pesto over the soup just before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs like basil or parsley

For the Leek and Potato Soup:

  • Garnish with chives or fresh parsley.
  • Garnish with some crumbled goat cheese or sharp cheddar.
  • Toast some bruschetta with a little olive oil for dipping.
  • Make the soup creamy with some cream or milk.
  • Or for an Asian twist add a tin of coconut milk and a dash of curry powder and a chunk of ginger (omit the thyme and bay leaves).


My brother-in-law Len is visiting from Perth, Australia.  So to make him feel at home I am baking him a batch of granola made with pure Ontario maple syrup. Welcome to Canada!

Here is my basic recipe for a healthful granola.  You need just a bit of maple syrup for sweetness, a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruit to pull it all together. This is easy to make with kids, you bake the base and they add all the fun stuff to make it their own.

My secret to a very crunchy granola is to use a combination of flakes.  Some of my favourite combinations are equale parts of oat flakes, spelt flakes, rye flakes and quinoa flakes.


  • 4 cups raw oat flakes (or combination of flakes)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup (you can use honey in place of maple syrup)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • ¾ cup unsweetened dried flaked coconut
  • ⅓ cup chopped or sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax or chia seeds
  • 2 cups assorted dried fruit, like apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries, dates, etc.


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Place the oats in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the oats with maple syrup and the melted coconut oil.  Add the salt, vanilla and cinnamon and stir until well combined.
  4. Spread the granola out on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.
  5. Let the granola cool completely.
  6. Add the coconut flakes, nuts and seeds, flax or chia seeds and dried fruits.
  7. Stir to combine.
  8. Store in a glass jar.


Yale calls these cupcakes magic.  Magic because they taste good, magic because they make you smile, and magic beccause cupcakes make you happy.  I call them magic because they are made without white sugar and white flour.  Gordy calls them magic because he can make them disappear real quick.

This recipes makes 12 cupcakes.

This recipe was developed by my friend Karen from Nutrilicious and myself. We spend many afternoons baking, testing and eating these cupcakes. Thanks to our personal testers Mark, Marcy, Haley, Gordy and Yale, you worked hard eating the dozens we made!


  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup agave
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup safflower, canola or melted coconut oil
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2.  In a small bowl, mix apple cider vinegar and soy milk. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix well with a whisk.
  4. Beat the milk mixture again.  Add the agave, maple syrup, oil and vanilla to the milk mixture, whisking until well combined.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well until only a few lumps remain.  Do not overmix.
  6.   Spoon into greased or lined muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  8. Cool completely before frosting.



  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp Earth Balance or vegan margarine, softened
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup maple syrup


  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.
  2. Spoon onto cooled cupcakes.
  3. Shave or grate some dark chocolate to top your cupcakes, (optional).


Gordy and I are in training, our motivation is to get in shape for our 10k hike in Algonquin Park.  Gordy’s idea is to run up and down the Baldwin Steps at Spadina and Davenport, located just between Casa Loma and The Spadina House.  Not sure if this put us in shape for the hike but it sure was a good workout.  After climbing the stairs (five times), we wandered through the gardens at the historic Spadina House, did you know we have an apple orchard right here in Toronto?  Just when you think you know your city you can be surprised.  Time to make an apple crisp.


Whichever type of apples and pears you use, make sure to choose the best local varieties.

This recipe is a classic and is adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. I added pecans for some extra crunch.

This recipe serves 8 to 10.


2 pounds ripe Bosc pears (4 pears)
2 pounds firm apples (6 apples), I use whatever I have in my fridge.
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup peacans
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel and core the pears and apples and cut them into large chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and toss with the cranberries, zests, juices, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish.
  3. For the topping:
  4. Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, pecans and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.
  5. Place the baking dish on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.


Why are beets so amazing? They are jam packed with potassium and antioxidants, low in calories, and purple too. Beets make these burgers juicy and sweet and are full of good healthy stuff like veggies, beans, fresh herbs, oats and flax.  These burgers may be gluten free, dairy free and egg free but  filled with so much goodness that I can promise you that this tasty little burger is just that – amazing.

This recipe makes 8 burgers.


  • 2 cup cooked black beans, (if using canned drain well)
  • 2 cups shredded beets
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed*** + 4 tbsp water
  • Olive oil or coconut oil for sautéing



  1. Soak the 1 tbsp ground flaxseed in 4 tbsp water for 15 minutes.
  2. Clean beets and carrots and shred with the shredder attachment of your food processor, then set aside.
  3. Change the attachment to a metal blade and add the beans, carrots and beets. Pulse about 10 to 15 times until the mixture blends together making sure not to over process, the beans should still have some texture.
  4. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients.
  5.  Using your hands mix very well. Everything should be well incorporated.
  6. Place the mixture in the fridge for a half hour to chill.
  7. Form patties, shape with your hands into burgers.
  8. Heat a pan over medium-high heat.
  9. Pour a thin layer of oil into the pan and cook patties for about 5 minutes on each side.  Depending on the size of you pan you should cook 3 or 4 burgers at a time.
  10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place burgers on parchment lined cookie sheet.  You can prepare ahead at this point and either keep in the fridge until ready to bake in the oven or put them directly into a preheated oven.
  11.  Cook the burgers in the oven for 30 minutes until heated through. Check the burgers after 15 minutes and flip the burgers, this will make them crispy on both sides.
  12. Serve with your favourite toppings.

Cooks note:  I like to serve this burger with some honey mustard that I make by adding some honey to dijon mustard, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and stir well.  Serve as a dipping sauce or on the side.