My family makes Passover a week of fresh veggies, but most of my friends will be filling up on meats and sweets and thus eating more fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol than usual. Here are some tips on lowering the fat and cholesterol in your own recipes, as well as two recipes of my own for which I reduce the amount of unhealthy ingredients.
In the field of calorie and fat reduction (the work I do for Rhode Island’s Public School System) we follow a four step system to make recipes healthier. Remember it is not necessary to eliminate all of the ingredients considered harmful. Small amounts of fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol can actually be good for your system, so we are just looking to decrease the amounts of each, not remove them completely.
1) Identify the problem ingredients; look for nutritional issues like more than one egg per serving, or lots of oil and salt.
2) After you have listed the problem ingredients figure out what they do in the recipe. For example eggs may be used for leavening, or thickening. Don’t try making custard without the eggs, it may be healthier, but it won’t be custard. You can safely remove half of the egg yolks in almost any recipe; just replace every other yolk with one white. Look at the use of sugar, if it is for taste alone then it can be replaced or reduced, but if it is for moisture retention in baking, or for caramelization like in butterscotch there are very few things that will react like sugar so it may be best to leave it alone.
3) Modify the recipe, substitute other ingredients for the problem ones, or reduce them. Also, at this stage people will add spices and other flavor-enhancing foods to keep the food tasting good, even though fat and cholesterol have been reduced.
4) Evaluate the recipe, see how well it works. Does the finished product look, smell, sound, feel and taste good? If it does then you did it! Your family will have a delicious and healthy meals this Passover.
Here are two of my own Passover recipes that I have modified; these offer a good balance of pretty healthy and very tasty.
Austrian Mocha Peach Torte – yields 12 portions
7 egg whites
Three egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 ounces margarine
1 ¼ semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
2 teaspoons instant coffee
½ cup white chocolate chips
3 ripe peaches cut in thin wedges
1 fresh lemon
1) Preheat oven to 325. In a mixer bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form then add ½ cup sugar slowly while whipping to stiff peaks.
2) Melt margarine and semisweet chocolate together whisk in coffee, orange juice and sugar.
3) Remove from heat and add egg yolks one at a time to bowl, and then fold in egg whites.
4) Pour into an ungreased 10” spring form pan. Melt white chocolate in double boiler and pour over batter, cutting in with spoon to “marble”
5) Bake for 35 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. The center will fall when cooing.
6) Use a paring knife around the edges to release from the spring form pan and unmold.
7) Arrange fresh peach wedges on top and brush with fresh lemon juice.
8) Melt the remaining semi sweet chocolate chips and drizzle over the peaches.
Refrigerate before serving.
Spinach Mushroom Tomato Matzo Bake – Yields 4 entrée size portions
Requires overnight in refrigerator
1 pound of frozen spinach (thawed)
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup fresh dill
salt & pepper to taste
at least 4 matzos
1 pound fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra virgin first cold press olive oil
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 large egg
½ cup milk (skim is fine)
½ cup shredded cheese (cheddar works well)
1) Spray a casserole dish with non stick cooking spray
2) Squeeze water from spinach and mix with ricotta, dill and salt & pepper
3) Cover bottom of dish with matzos, breaking them to fit if needed
4) Spread spinach mixture over matzos then add a second layer of matzos
5) Sautee mushrooms with olive oil and place them on top of matzos
6) add another layer of matzos
7) slice the tomatoes very thin and use all of them for the third layer
8) Cover tomatoes with remaining matzos
9) Whip together the egg and milk with at least 1/8th teaspoon salt and pepper until blended and pour over all the ingredients in the baking dish.
10) Top with cheddar cheese and refrigerate overnight
11) Preheat oven to 350 and bake for one hour until golden brown and firm in the center.
12) Serve warm!