Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The (Secular) Passover Diet


Recently I suggested the concept of NRL (Non Religious Lent). It has a big hit with our clients; regardless of religion clients are shunning stairs, sugar, office candy or alcohol. Fun. Sadly, Lent is coming to an end but have no fear Passover is here. What? You’re not Jewish? The word Gefilte scares you? Not to worry, we have a Passover primer and, of course, what would be a holiday without a food challenge?

First, Passover Vernacular
Seders- celebratory meals held on the first and sometimes second nights of Passover (Friday and Saturday). Here is a great NYT article on Seder specifics.
Key Components:
Matzoh  cracker-like unleavened bread (see above) that can constipate you like no other food
Seder Plate- more symbolic than celebratory you’ll see a plate that’s reminiscent of those toddler plates with sections for different foods such as an egg and parsley.
Haggadah- the Passover story book, some families read for hours making this meal looooong, others do an abridged version.

The foods specifics:
  • Matzoh Ball Soup- this is the matzoh holiday after all. Love  “not your mamas” gluten free version.
  • Charoset- there are different versions sweet or spicy with fruits and nuts, a “wet” trail mix if you will.  My favorite combo is: pitted dates, chopped
 figs, chopped, sesame seeds, 
ground or fresh ginger and a splash (optional) of 
red wine. Coconut is nice too (optional).
  • Gefilte Fish- ground poached fish. This is a modern interpretation and so delicious 
  • Desserts- we can take a vote in the comments section but most Passover desserts go into the “not worth it” category with the exception of macaroons.  Try Danny's Macaroons, they're made in NYC, gluten free and the salted caramel variety will rival any Easter Bunny (not trying to spark any sort of conflict).

Rules
There is a huge spectrum of religiousness and how Passover is observed. Without getting too deep the food rules for Passover involve refraining from anything containing barley, wheat, rye and oats, specifically no leavening is allowed. Does this sound familiar? Um to those who are gluten free there’s a huge overlap. 
NRP (Non Religious Passover):  want to show some solidarity to your Jewish friends? For one week starting Friday skip bread, pasta, cakes and cookies made from wheat. Most people eat too much wheat and even whole-wheat matzoh isn’t worth it nutritionally. A wheat free week, c’mon…or simply try one of the recipes.

Are there other holidays with dietary restrictions I may not know about? Do you celebrate Passover? What are your favorite recipes? Up for NRP?

28 comments:

  1. Nice post, Lauren. Happy Passover.

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  2. I make THE BEST matzo ball soup ever. ever ever =) ok i'm totally bragging but just thinking about it means i have to make it this week! lol

    I used to celebrate all the jewish holidays when my gram was around but now I just go the health-nut route and eat ethnic foods 90% of the time =) i love it!

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    1. Do you vegify it Jenn? Where's the recipe, I can link to it.

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  3. I when to school with many Jewish girls, and my school was located in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, so I learned about all of this, but sort of forgot the rules throughout the years. It's good to get a little review, especially since we get a lot of questions about our food at the store around this time (we do have an entire section dedicated to passoveR). My favorite thing to eat is the matzah with PB&J. I used to eat that with my friends for lunch in high school. SO GOOD!

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    1. And what is PB and J bad on? I need a review of every holiday because every rule starts to blur, ha.

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  4. My favorite party of the holiday is family. I have so many special memories from NYC and my childhood at family and friends seders.

    As for the food, it isn't my favorite at all. I went on WedMD and found some good, alternative recipes to the norm. Quinoa is approved for Passover, so I am making a quinoa citrus salad, and a butternut/pear side dish.

    Of course, I have to make chocolate matzoh -- so not healthy, but a delicious treat!!

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    1. some say yes to quinoa and some say no (I say I hope so). I think holiday memories and traditions are fantastic. I love that you can retain the memories and adapt/improve the recipes.

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  5. The Matzoh Ball Soup recipe looks great! As does the wet trail mix!! Love learning about food traditions!

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    1. Try them Lisa, you may find Passover foods pleasing.

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  6. Lauren, love that you're up on the quinoa controversy. It wouldn't be a jewish event without a debate. A wonderful passover primer! Passover begins the 49 day countdown to the lesser known holiday of Shavuot. The countdown is called the "omer". Looking forward to a foodtrainers Omer challenge? Wishing you and your family a happy holiday.

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    1. I have to research Shavuot, that's for the tip!

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    2. Shavuot = cheesecake. That's all I know.

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  7. Passover is my least fave because I am a mega carb-lover. My biggest issue is with breakfasts since I normally eat oatmeal or english muffins. I am ok on lunches since I can do soup&salad combo and dinner can be grilled meats&veggies.

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    1. maybe some breakfast quinoa Einat?

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    2. that's a good idea! I forgot how much I love using leftover quinoa for bfast w/ some jam & cinnamon - thanks :-)

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    3. breakfast pilaf, try cardamom too.

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  8. Passover is always a love-hate thing - the seders are fun but it's hard avoiding all the bread and pasta for 8 days. we have a tradition in my house of breaking passover with bacon cheeseburgers at the end (to break the most rules with a single bite). my go-to recipes for passover are pretty simple. we do kosher style for passover (we don't keep kosher in our house so i don't bother with a kosher butcher and whatnot). i make a lot of eggs, hard boiled, scrambled, and frittatas. also tuna salad with a little matzoh. my son likes matzoh pizza, and i like it with PB&J (although i think peanuts are technically not kosher for passover - but i'm not that strict about it!). i look at the whole week as a good reason to up our fruit/vegetable intake, since it's that much harder to pick out a snack that is not wheat-based. if it comes from the produce department then it's safe!

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    1. I guess you're not that stick about kosher Ms Bacon Cheeseburger (LMAO). OK so let's look at it as an opportunity, produce aisle "kosher for everything".

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  9. I never thought I could handle a wheat free week but once you stop eating it the less you need to have it.

    I'm still laughing at the Matzoh description...

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    1. I couldn't agree more, it's really a case of craving what you're eating. Have you had Matzoh, it's intestinal mortar.

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  10. As I am quite new in passover, I am just looking for some new and special information about diet and recipe. Got something special from here.
    Wishing you a happy Passover.
    You can take a look at this passover message: goo.gl/lFsMZ on this celebration. Very unique one.

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  11. I should do a wheat-free week, but honestly, a "bread-and-pasta-free week" sounds easier. Also, those macaroons have ruined me just looking at them! Wow!

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    1. I have been burned by burnt caramel (you know what I mean) many times. Breadless is perfect.

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  12. What a great post! Thanks for sharing so much about Passover. I didn't know a lot about it.

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    1. Of course Kristen, holidays r us :)

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  13. Matzoh balls were AWESOME!! Thanks Lauren! :) xoxo

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  14. Yay, so glad you tried the recipe, any other GF successes for Passover? My sister made GF kugel too.

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