Passover is just around the corner, starting on Monday, April 14th and ending on Tuesday, April 22nd. Around the world, Jews celebrate this memorable holiday based on the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and the symbolic foods that are served for the dinner and the seder plate.
The key differences of this Jewish holiday are the dietary restrictions. The only grain product that can be eaten is Matzoh, which is unleavened bread. This is symbolic of the Jews leaving Egypt so quickly to escape and not having time for their bread to rise. According to tradition, no other wheat can be consumed with the exception of quinoa, which is a seed, not a grain.
The food during this holiday is traditionally not healthy as it tends to be loaded with calories, fat and sodium -- lots of meat, eggs, potatoes and oil are used. Eating this way even for just a week can add on extra pounds as well as put extra stress on your gall bladder, kidneys, heart and blood sugar levels. Statistics show that during Passover more people go to the emergency ward at hospitals with acid reflux, severe constipation and even angina pains from the week's food!
There is really no need to do this to your body. Here are some easy and quick tips for a healthier Passover week.
• Don't use chicken fat. Substitute with light mayonnaise, olive oil or non-hydrogenated margarine.
• Use a combination of livers including calves, chicken or beef to lighten it up.
• This contains gluten which in excess can increase constipation and gastrointestinal disorders.
• Try whole wheat which has more fibre or eat less and increase your water and fruit and vegetable consumption
• This appetizer fish dish is made with a smorgasbord of inexpensive white fish. Try a combination of fresh salmon and tilapia. To die for!
Matzo Ball Soup
• Made with eggs, matzo meal (matzo crumbs) and chicken fat, there is little nutrition in this soup. Use non-hydrogenated margarine and for every other egg substitute two egg whites. I also add a little club soda which makes the matzo balls light and fluffy.
Serve Interesting and Colourful Salads
• Passover dinner tends to look all brown and white with no rainbow of colors. The only green seen is the parsley on the seder plate!
• Serve up some colourful vegetable salads using dark greens such as spinach, kale and arugula. Add some fruit, toasted nuts and a light dressing.
• Brisket is most popular meat on this holiday, but oh-so-high in calories, fat and cholesterol. Remove as much of the fat as possible, or better yet substitute with flank steak or tenderloin which has half the calories, cholesterol and only one-third the fat. A four oz serving of brisket has 27 grams of fat, whereas a flank steak or tenderloin only has 8 gm of fat! And who only has a four oz serving!
• Chicken or turkey is leaner than brisket, but try to remove the skin and eat the white meat rather than the dark. The skin and dark meat can double the fat.
Potato Latkes or Potato Kugel
• These vegetable pancakes are delicious but made with eggs and fried in loads of oil. Best to serve either roasted potatoes or mashed potatoes made with olive oil.
• You can try grating different root vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and Yukon golds and baking them rather than frying
• Very little nutrition in this constipating stuffing.
• Substitute with Quinoa
• Quinoa is not considered chametz, which means it's not part of the leavened grains such as wheat, barley, oat, spelt or rye.
• Passover desserts are primarily made with eggs, margarine, dairy-free whipped cream substitute (which contains hydrogenated vegetable fat), nuts and sugar. I use less eggs and oil and used whipped egg whites for volume.
For a light and delicious dessert, here is one of my favourite Passover recipes:
Chocolate Chip Mandel Brot
These are sensational "biscotti" kosher for Passover without using excess oil or eggs.
Makes approx. 30 cookies.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups matzo cake meal
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a large cookie sheet with vegetable spray.
1. In a large bowl and using a whisk or electric mixer, combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
2. In another bowl, stir together cake meal, potato starch, and chocolate chips. Stir the mixture into
the sugar mixture until combined. Divide it in half. Form two logs, each approximately 3 inches
wide and 8 inches long. Transfer the logs to the cookie sheet.
3. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the logs
cool on the sheet for 5 minutes.
4. Transfer the logs to a cutting board. Slice them on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick cookies.
5. Place the cookies flat on the sheet. Bake for 15 minutes longer.
Nutritional Analysis per Serving
Protein 2.4 g
Fat, total 2.7 g
Fat, saturated 0.6 g
Carbohydrates 11.7 g
Fibre 0.2 g
Cholesterol 14 mg