Spicy Tomato and Red Pepper Dip


Spicy Tomato and Red Pepper Dip

If you eat veggies naked, do you burn more calories that way?

 And by ‘naked’ I mean … eating them raw, without any dip or dressing:) The answer is: probably not. Today I have a recipe of a dip that is very easy to make and tastes great!

But first, to answer the most-asked question by parents: How to get your kids to eat healthy foods?

Answer: Don’t tell them it’s ‘healthy’! Unless, you have one that really cares about health and does an indepth research of the ingredients of all her/his foods:)



1 red bell pepper. deseeded and roughly chopped
3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 red chili pepper, seeds removed
1/4 cup of chives (or 1 green onion)
1 teaspoon of vinegar (my secret ingredient) LOL
Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Combine red onion and red chili pepper in the food processor (you can use Ninja or Magic Bullet) till nice and fine.

2. Add red bell pepper and tomatoes to food processor and blend till desired consistency. Some like a bit more chunk to it, some like it fine.

3. Empty the blended contents into a bowl and season to taste.

4. For another flavor dimension and a bit of color add chives (or green onions) to the mix.

5. Add Natalia’s ‘secret ingredient’ – vinegar

6. Mix everything lightly with a spoon and serve. Instead of chips choose veggies. Enjoy!


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Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Thanksgiving side dishes are plentiful. Every family has its own favorites. This year I invite you to try this ridiculously easy to make, but ‘oh so tasty’ roasted Brussels sprouts.

 Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 35 min

Yeld: 4

1 pound brussels sprouts, rinsed, ends trimmed, rough outer leaves of larger sprouts removed
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Toss the brussels sprouts with olive oil and coat well. Salt generously. Sprinkle with black pepper and lemon juice (or cider vinegar). Toss in the garlic. Then place the seasoned brussels sprouts onto a cast iron skillet (if you have one). If not, a roasting pan will do.

3. Put brussels sprouts in oven on top rack, cook for 20 minutes, then stir so that the sprouts get coated with the oil in the pan. Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.

4. The sprouts should be nicely browned, some of the outside leaves crunchy, the interior should be cooked through. Enjoy!


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Slow Cooker Black Beans

A hearty bean and beef dish that ‘sticks to your ribs’. Economical way of getting your fiber, vitamins and protein. Why people aren’t eating them more often?

My guess is that one reason is the popularisation of Paleo diet, which demonises legumes. While Paleo has some good guidelines for healthy eating, there’s absolutely no scientific evidence to support avoidance of beans.

Extra credit for the nutrition geeks:

Paleo proponents’ reason to avoid these: Their high concentration of anti-nutrients, which supposedly reduces their nutritional value to zero. They cannot be more wrong. Indeed, research suggests that the benefits of legumes far outweigh their anti-nutrient content, especially in light of the fact that cooking eliminates most anti-nutrient effects.

Lectins and protease inhibitors, in particular, are greatly reduced with cooking. And once cooked, these chemicals may actually be good for us. Lectins may reduce tumor growth, while protease inhibitors become anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. 


  • Beans and peas taste good, they’re inexpensive, they’re healthy, and they pose very little risk of causing food borne illness.
  • Consuming just a half cup of beans and peas each day can result in a higher intake of fibre, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium.
  • When we eat more legumes, saturated fat intake and blood cholesterol tends to go down.
  • Beans can help to protect us against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  • We also have data that shows legumes predict overall survival among elderly

This recipe is an amalgamation of several bean recipes I’ve tried over the years. By now you probably know that I like to save time in the kitchen, without sacrificing taste or nutrition of the dishes. This one takes time to cook down, but preparation is minimal. You don’t have to check the stove every 10 minutes or so to stir the beans (as opposed to the traditional New Orleans style Red Beans’n’Rice I cook for my husband occasionally).

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: about 8 hours

Serves: 6-8



1 oz dried black beans, rinsed and drained

1 lbs of stew meat

1 large onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 dried bay leaves

1 can (28 oz) Rotel Diced Tomatoes (They do have other flavors. I use Original. Try the one with chopped Chilies)

1 can (28 oz) can of water

2 Tbsp of Olive Oil

2 Tbsp of Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of ground Cumin

1/2 teaspoon of Thyme

1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 large Bell Pepper, chopped

fresh parsley and green onions for garnish


1. Put all the ingredients (minus the salt and bell pepper) in the slow cooker/crock pot. Cover and cook on high heat 8 hours or more, until beans are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. (I put it all together at night before going to bed, wake up to the most awesome aroma, and get out of the door prepared with my home-made meal for lunch).

2. About 30 minutes before serving, stir in the salt and chopped bell pepper.

3. Continue cooking on LOW untill ready to serve.

4. Remove bay leaves. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and gren onions.

Notes: You can use 2 (16 oz) canned beans instead of dried ones. Drain them well and add to the slow cooker. Omit the 28 oz can of water. Reduce the cooking time to 4-6 hours.

Bon appétit! Or, like they say in Russia: На Здоровье! [Na Zda-ro-vye]

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