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From the Land of the Pharaohs: Egyptian Cuisine

This week I am in Cairo, Egypt. One of the oldest civilizations in the world, Egypt is not only famous for its pyramids, history, culture, music but also its cuisine. As a nutrition consultant and nutrition coach, I am naturally drawn to what people eat and how the traditional dishes keep them healthy, happy, and connected to their roots.

During this trip, I noticed that on every Egyptian street, you will find small cafés and food carts that serve affordable meals. The main staple of Egyptian food is fuul (the slow cooked, mashed, fava bean, often eaten as the first meal of the day with flat bread, onions, tomatoes and spices). Koshary is another traditional Egyptian staple. Available in simple restaurants, koshary is made of pasta, rice, chickpeas, lentils, and fried onions topped with a tomato-garlic sauce. Falafel is called Taamiya in Egypt. These delicious fried patties of spices and chickpeas are soft on the inside, gently crispy on the outside and hugely popular throughout the Middle East. They are usually served in sandwiches with tomatoes, pickles, and tahina (a sauce made from sesame paste).

Something new caught my attention the other night – a refreshing, delicious, healthy and simple drink called limonada. This fresh lemon-mint drink is different than the typical lemonade we are used to in the US. It is frothy and velvety; it is sweet, sour, fragrant, and bursts with lemon-lime flavor.

This drink is so easy to make. I plan to make it in my home and I’d like to share it with you, too! All you need are:

- 2 cups crushed ice

- 4 cups water

- 2 large lemons (or limes), washed, cut into small pieces and seeds removed,

- Juice of 1 large lemon

- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, stems removed (about 25-40 mint leaves)

- 1 cup sugar, sweeten to your liking.

Using a mesh strainer, pour the lemonade into a serving pitcher. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. When ready, use a high-quality blender, add all ingredients to it, taste it, and add more sugar or mint leaves, if you like.

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