KITCHEN SHRINK: ‘The Goddess’ serves up heavenly Mediterranean meals


Cemile Coopersmith grew up in Izmir, Turkey, along the Aegean Sea, eating healthful and sumptuous meals made with love by her mother and grandma.

They feasted on fruits and veggies grown by her father in their orchards and gardens, eggs laid by their free roaming chickens, and fish caught that afternoon in pristine waters and grilled the same evening.

When Coopersmith immigrated to America on her 18th birthday, she immediately befriended two evil cousins — refined white flour and white sugar, along with a family of junk foods. After years of commitment, introspection and education, this Turkish delight returned to her culinary roots, regaining her respect and honor for healthy foods with a deep passion and love affair she is now sharing with you.

With an artist’s eye, Coopersmith sees food as a palate of hues and recommends teaching children to eat a rainbow of colors — red and orange peppers, dark leafy greens, blueberries.

“The Goddess” shops at local markets to support organic farmers boasts she eats more fresh fruits and vegetables in a day than most people do in a week.

“Nobody has gotten fat from eating too many veggies,” she says.

Her healthful Mediterranean lifestyle also incorporates the following daily suggestions on her “Yes List”:

  • Two servings of beans and legumes like pintos, black beans, peas and lentils, packed with fiber and protein
  • Eight servings of whole grains, including whole grain breads and pitas, whole wheat pastas and brown rice
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil (cold pressed) — “the quintessential cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet.”
  • One ounce of nuts and seeds like heart-healthy almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds
  • Two servings of low-fat dairy products such as yogurt, goat, feta and parmesan cheeses
  • Eight servings a week of fish, especially the fatty ones loaded with omega 3s: Best choices are salmon and small, oily fish such as sardines. “Eat the skin and especially the bones where most of the calcium is stored,” advises Coopersmith.
  • Moderate amounts of red wine, and if you must, small amounts of red meat and other meat products.

You can prepare some of Coopersmith’s divine Mediterranean dishes at home, and like her mother and grandmother, don’t forget the secret ingredient — love.

The Mediterranean Goddess’ Hummus

(Serves 4 to 6)

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are used throughout the Mediterranean. This savory spread can be used in sandwiches, stuffed in pitas, or as a delicious dip for crunchy veggies.

  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon of paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • 4 tablespoons of hot water
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Place the chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, hot water, salt, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper in a food processor or blender. Process for two minutes until a smooth consistency forms. Spoon into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Refrigerate for up to one week.

Baba Ghanouj

(Serves 4 to 6)

This irresistible eggplant appetizer can be eaten as a dip, spread or topping, or can be transformed into a main dish.

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of roasted tahini
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Preheat broiler. Wash the eggplant and pierce with a fork. Brush with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. Broil eggplant, turning every 10 minutes for about 45 minutes until the skin is charred and the pulp is soft. Let cool.
Place tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a food processor or blender, and mix until fully blended.

Cut the cooled eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp, discarding the skin. Add the eggplant into the tahini mixture and process for 15 seconds or until smooth. Spoon the baba jhanouj into a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with pita bread wedges.