Even with all the hard preparation, I love Passover. I love the table full of guests, the house ringing with song and the flavors and aromas that we only experience once a year.
The one thing I don’t like very much is looking too closely at the special Passover products in the supermarket. In an effort to replace everyday foods which are forbidden for ritual reasons, manufacturers have conjured up replacements that contain ingredients terribly harmful to our bodies. (Have a look here: http://www.realfooddigest.com/foods-to-pass-over/) No wonder digestive distress, constipation and fatigue are part and parcel of the Passover experience. But it doesn’t have to be so.
Here are five tips to get through Passover without compromising your health:
5. Don’t use highly processed products to replicate every day food. We are commanded to think and act as though we are the ones who were brought forth from Egypt. Our ancestors didn’t have fake taco mix; do we really need it?
4. Offer organic grape juice. Do we really want to fill our kids up with sulfite preservatives? Organic juice tastes so much better than nonorganic that adults may prefer it as well.
3. Beware of excess matzah. Unless it’s specifically made from whole wheat, matzah is a refined carbohydrate product. Beyond the portions eaten for ritual purposes, holiday breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are laced with matzah in the form of farfel, matzah meal, matzah cake flour, etc. Besides the immediate effects on the –ahem – digestive tract, we all now know that white flour products are a major contributor to heart disease and diabetes, and this damage starts in childhood. Matzah moderation allows us to fulfill the great mitzvah of caring for our bodies even as we observe the wonderful rituals. Build meals around lean protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables and you won’t need the matzah.
2. Enjoy the bounty of the season in its natural form. Some Passover symbols – the egg, the sharp horseradish, the parsley – intentionally remind us that it is spring, the season of renewal. We can extend our appreciation of the season to our entire table by including spring’s colorful natural bounty on the menu: leafy vegetables, fresh asparagus, artichokes, leeks, strawberries…the list goes on and on. Your guests will compliment you on how colorful your table is (works for me every time). This is also a great antidote to the “excess matzah effect”.
1. Let go of “preparation perfection”. Stress is as bad for us as refined carbohydrates. I used to think I had to outdo myself in menu originality every year. Then I realized I’m just the conduit – the real credit goes to the One who created the food in the first place. Whew – what a relief! Intersperse moments of rest and self-care among holiday preparation sessions. Who’s at the table is far more important than what’s on the table.
Questions or comments? Need recipe suggestions? I hope you’ll contact me below.
A sweet Passover to all!