Like many Jewish families, food has always been the center of our holiday celebrations. I have fond memories of the special meals that my grandma would lovingly prepare for our family. I also remember her and other family members gently coaxing me to finish the contents on my plate. “Ess, mameleh, ess” (eat, little girl, eat), my grandma would say. Between my father’s side, which survived the Great Depression in America, and my mother’s side, which survived the Holocaust, there was always reason to give thanks and finish what was put in front of you, without a fuss. So, from my childhood onwards I always cleaned my plate and often ate when I wasn’t even really hungry. This eventually caught up with me.
Passover, though one of my favorite Jewish holidays, is also one of the most challenging for me. As a vegetarian and Ashkenazic Jew, major staples in my diet such as beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and brown rice are suddenly banned. I have met some vegetarians/vegans who “go Sephardic” for Pesach so that they have more food options, even going as far as consulting and getting permission from their rabbis to do so. But bringing kitniyot (foods such as: rice, corn, soy beans, string beans, peas, lentils, mustard, sesame seeds and poppy seeds that are not allowed to be consumed during Pesach under Ashkenazic custom) into my home would be a big no-no, and personally I wouldn’t feel comfortable observing the holiday differently. I’ve had 11+ years to figure out and fine-tune the ins and outs of a vegetarian Pesach and I’m here to share some of my must-have foods, while still following Ashkenazic tradition and staying healthy.
Hanukkah often feels like a week-long calorie splurge. Between the fried latkes, sufganiyot (Hebrew for doughnuts), and chocolate gelt, the extra calories can really add up quickly in our diets. But maybe there’s a way to enjoy the holiday’s celebration of oil and sweets a bit more healthfully? Indeed there is!
For most of us, Thanksgiving is a time to overindulge, give in, and stuff ourselves to the brim — not so different from most Jewish festivals that revolve around food. You’re probably expecting me (a holistic health counselor and nutrition student) to give you a list of all the things not to eat, right? Well, what if I told you that you could eat to your heart’s content on Thanksgiving, with a small catch? Follow 4 simple tips.
Yom Kippur gives us an opportunity to reflect and repent, but for many of us the fasting element of the holiday can be very difficult. The most common problems include extreme hunger pains, headaches from caffeine withdrawal, and shakiness from low blood sugar (also known as hypoglycemia). Personally, I’ve dealt with all three of these issues in the past, and I’ve seen friends and family deal with a combination of them as well. Over the years through trial and error along with my nutrition education, I’ve come up with a list of tips to help get through the fast with ease: