Kisir-A Light, healthy lunch

Kisir is essentially tabbouli with extra pizazz. I like to make a batch and then we eat it for lunch or supper during the hot summer days. It keeps in the fridge for a few days and the flavors meld together beautifully. Here is how to make it:


  • 2 c. fine grain bulgur
  • 2 3/4 c. (or more) very hot water
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. pepper paste (available at Middle Eastern markets)
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1-2 fresh hot peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 T. dried mint or 1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • 1-2 T. Pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern markets)
  • lemon juice to taste- at least 4 T.
  • 1/4 c. fruity olive oil
  • 1 T. sumac, optional
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper or 1 T. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • optional: toasted walnuts, 1 chopped onion sauteed in olive oil, chopped cucumber

Place the bulgur in a bowl with room enough for the hot water. Add the minimal amount of water first, along with the tomato paste and pepper paste (if using). Stir well and let rest for 20-30 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed. If the water is gone in 10 minutes, add more hot water. After 20-30 minutes all the water should be absorbed. If you add too much water, you will need to drain it off or add a spoonful or more bulgur.

While bulgur is soaking, chop the parsley, fresh mint, tomato, peppers, and green onions and place in serving bowl. MIx together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes, allspice, cumin and sumac. Pour over the mix. Stir in the soaked bulgur and mix well. Can serve immediately or refrigerate for a few hours. Serve by itself or with romaine lettuce leaves to make kisir-romaine wraps.

8-10 servings

Adapted from Turkish Family Favorites by Helen Akinc.


Calorie Budgeting

This isn’t a new idea but is one that I find very helpful to use. I am not one to count calories, but I try to watch what I eat throughout the day so as not to go overboard on intake versus calorie expenditure. So, when I’m tempted to mindlessly eat something, I try to stop and think about whether whatever I am considering is really worth it in terms of a calorie budget, OR, could I spend those calories somewhere better? Better can mean more nutritious, something I like better, something I need to eat more of, etc. Sometimes that simple question can stop a bad choice in its tracks.

The other thing I’m realizing is that, sadly, not all calories are created equal. This may vary from person to person, with each individual’s metabolism and hormones. Some types of calories do not seem to give me any trouble. But others, yikes! For example, I could eat a large apple which could be about 100 calories. I would not notice any problem with the apple. But if I drink 100 calories worth of white wine, the next day my water weight will be up. Looking at the type of calorie also plays into my calorie budgeting scheme.

In recent years, many ice cream manufacturers have basically sold out and have begun making a product that has a much softer texture, and is not even labelled ice cream. Depending upon the variety one buys, the calories may be equal or lower than traditional ice cream. If I am going to consume ice cream calories, I would rather have real ice cream, as opposed to a soft, sticky product with ingredients I cannot pronounce.  Once again, that’s calorie budgeting.

Try it!