03/24/2015 08:32 EDT | Updated 05/24/2015 05:59 EDT

How to Throw a Sustainable Seder

Passover Seder plate
Angela Coppola via Getty Images
Passover Seder plate

Seder actually translates to mean "order", something that I can relate to very much, as I love all things when they are in good order and make sense, as rare as that is to find. Passover offers an opportunity to combine the wisdom of this Jewish holiday with our commitment to our families, our health and our world.

What perfect timing, as spring arrives and as we commemorate the pilgrimage of Jews out of Egypt, to make new commitments and traditions ourselves. As we sit around a shared table and are encouraged to question everything, let's really pause and appreciate who is there and get connected to what we are doing. What are your traditions? Is it time for new ones, and healthier ones? No matter how you celebrate, and with who you choose to surround yourself by, I hope that it's full of meaning for you.

The following are a few of my family's traditions that we build on every year as we get rid of our "chametz" that no longer serves us:

1. Being with your family is really what's at the true heart of any holiday. Remember too, friends are the family you choose.

2. The Haggadah (Hebrew for "the telling") is the book of blessings and instructions for the Seder. We use Debra Mazer's Open-Eyed Heart-Wide Haggadah -- a beautifully illustrated, progressive ritual guide for Passover. Full of meaning, spirituality, and incredible art.

3. We make, serve and share organic food -- and as much locally grown and made as possible -- and we make sure to take everyone around our table into consideration: allergies, lifestyle, beliefs (in our home that means nut-free and plant-based, so thank goodness for quinoa!). Special mention to Chef Doug McNish for his help over the years. Here are three of his recipes we have used.

4. An organic and vegan Seder Plate is at the centre of our table, and includes homegrown microgreens, nut-free haroset, a roasted beet, an avocado pit, sea salt water, and an orange (if you don't know the symbolism of the orange, here's a great explanation).

5. Organic Spelt Matzah -- now widely available! We are also trying something new this year -- a gluten-free version made from kosher oats directly from a Toronto Rabbi -- you can't imagine what you can find when you go looking!

6. Organic Wine -- for Eliyahu, and Miriam, too.

7. Safe candles. I created them because I couldn't find ones that made me happy, so it's extra meaningful in our home. Remember, when we buy and burn petroleum-based candles, we are harming ourselves and our world. When we make better choices and buy, for example, organic, locally-made, beeswax candles, we support beekeepers and bees, and, we help save the world (listen to my son weigh in here). Pretty simple. Beeswax candles leave your air fresher and cleaner -- they are a true air purifier and they are the only candle for those with chemical sensitivities or allergies. Also, make sure to select 100 per cent pure beeswax (candles can be labeled as beeswax candles even with only 10 per cent beeswax and many are blended with cheap paraffin to cut costs).

8. Really great desserts -- because a sweet ending always matters. Coconut caramel, shortbreads, raw macaroons (thank you Sarma, of Pure Food and Wine for the great recipe), sunbutter stuffed, chocolate covered dates, banana cream pudding, and fruit, of course.

9. Laughs. Lots of laughs. An essential part of every day.

Next year, again, together, in good health. Chag Pesach Sameach.


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