Israeli health coach and real-food chef Efrat Petel says you can have your cake and eat it too – with a few healthful adjustments.

Petel’s book, 100 American Favorite Dishes: The Real Food Version (Segol Books) has been available on Amazon since March and she’s just translated it into Hebrew.

“I took favorite American dishes like burgers, sloppy joes, grilled cheese sandwiches and ice-cream sundaes, and modified the ingredients to make them a little more healthy and back-to-nature, but still tasty,” Petel tells ISRAEL21c.

“The Oreo cookies will not be the same as the Oreos you buy, but they will be Oreos.” (They’re made with brown rice flour and sweetened with maple syrup.)

Petel, who lived and worked in Boston for three years, includes gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options such as Buffalo wings made with chicken or with cauliflower.

Efrat Petel’s cookbook was published in March 2017. Photo by Anatoly Michaello

Though the author is Israeli, this is not a Jewish cookbook. You’ll find enlightened recipes for classic non-kosher American fare such as clam chowder and Maryland crab cakes. There are Thanksgiving staples like green bean casserole (without the Campbell’s soup) and pumpkin pie free of gluten, grains and dairy.

Every dish in the book was taste-tested by children and adults.

Also a mother, avid swimmer, entrepreneur and software engineer, Petel avoids eating meat but doesn’t believe everyone has to eat the same way.

“I do what’s best for me and you should do what’s best for you,” she says.

The only thing she’s preaching is greater awareness of the choices we make in buying and preparing food. Natural and healthful alternatives to highly processed foods and basics such as table salt and white sugar are readily available if you know what to look for.

“The special thing about the book is that I explain why I changed the ingredients and why I chose the ingredients I did,” says Petel, who has a degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

“I want to open minds, to encourage people to take what they want from this and start thinking about what they’re buying and putting into their dishes.”

You can follow Petel on her Facebook page, Daily Real Food.

“Real food” grilled corn salad. Photo by Anatoly Michaello

Grilled corn salad from 100 American Favorite Dishes: The Real Food Version

6 ears fresh corn on the cob
1 cup baby spinach
1 small avocado
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 red onion, diced
1 packet fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1-2 limes
Zest from 1 lime
Fresh chili to taste
Sea salt

Brush corn with coconut oil, put on the grill, and remove kernels when cool. Alternatively, remove kernels first, heat oil in a skillet and cook about 4 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix corn with all other ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste.