What’s In Your Pantry, Helene Abiola?

What’s in Your Pantry? is a recurring feature where I ask women to tell us more about their food and eating habits by opening up their kitchen pantries to us. This week I’m featuring Helene Abiola. Helene is a New Yorker and a mother to one very active toddler named Harvey. She holds a masters degree in Community Health Education and currently creates Worksite Wellness programs for a large governmental organization in NYC.

Let’s get to know Helene and learn from her.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in an inner city suburb in New York City. The only grocery store in the neighborhood we had closed down before I was 10 years old and so, the neighborhood became a food desert – you couldn’t get fresh food anywhere- it was all bodegas with processed, packaged foods. The bulk of my community was riddled with obesity, diabetes and other chronic preventable diseases that have to do with diet and lifestyle. When I was in my 20s I lost my mom to cancer and my dad to a heart attack. People who don’t know me well often assume my food preferences and lifestyle are a result of some sort of elitism or desire to look a certain way, but the reality is that I believe food and fitness are a lifeline. If you have a genetic propensity towards certain health problems, eating an unhealthy diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle is increasing the odds that these unfavorable genes will be expressed. For this reason, I will always lead an active life and buy the best food I can afford for both myself and my family. My experiences growing up inspired me to study public health in graduate school and they continue to inspire my work daily – food justice and health equity are my guiding forces.

When I want to relax, I love to go to nature – parks, long runs, yoga classes, bike rides. I also love to travel and escape the city because a change of scenery often helps me feel reconnected. I rarely do alcohol these days; I tend to drink a bottle of kombucha the same way people drink a glass of wine or beer to unwind.

My favorite meal is actually a bowl! By bowl I don’t mean the glass dish you put your food in, but rather a meal where you just throw everything in. I love to make bowls with my favorite ingredients: greens like kale, chard, collards or cabbage, quinoa, almost any kind of beans, avocado, tomatoes, roasted veggies, hummus, black sesame seeds, kimchi, sweet potatoes, seaweed, tempeh. Writing this is making me want one now.

How do you typically feel, emotionally, when you open your kitchen pantry?

When I open my kitchen pantry I feel emotionally in tune with myself. I stock my pantry with healthy food so I can nourish myself because I know that food and mood are connected. Junk food is reserved for an occasional treat or outside.

What’s your process for organizing your food pantry?

I took a training in food safety years ago and I still abide by the first in, first out process so that food doesn’t go bad. I also try to make the unhealthiest stuff as inaccessible as I possible can so junk food is always on a high shelf, out of eye level and easy reach.

I have an IKEA raskog utility cart where I keep foods that shouldn’t be refrigerated: potatoes, onions, bananas (my toddler’s favorite food), avocados and tomatoes

What’s inside your pantry right now?

La Tourangelle avocado oil

Nutiva chia seeds

Barney Butter bare smooth almond butter. This almond butter doesn’t have any added sugar or salt which a lot of these brands tend to have.

Braggs nutritional yeast – i love putting this on any savory dish.

Banza chickpea pasta –  gluten free and high protein pasta that I love.

What’s the healthiest item that you keep in stock?  

Turmeric powder that I buy in bulk.

What about your guilty pleasure that you always have on hand?  

Chocolate is something I can’t live without. I usually would have some 70 percent or more dark chocolate bars in my pantry, but a couple of weeks ago I decided to cut out eating products with added sugar. So now when I have a chocolate craving, I have to make something. I have this cacao powder from Red Tractor Farms that I just bought – I  blended it with a couple of bananas and avocado and I had this yummy chocolate pudding that had no added sugar and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

Compared to your mother, how is your pantry the same or different than what you grew up with?

My mother battled cancer 4 times in her life. After getting sick the first time, she tried to revamp her own and our whole family’s eating habits. She focused a lot on the Japanese practice of Macrobiotics. As a result, she was ahead of her time in eating certain foods. My mom’s pantry was stocked with millet, dried beans, seaweed, kukicha tea, barley malt syrup, medium grain brown rice (this was before the conveniences of online shopping so she traveled to a different borough to buy it). Whereas my friend’s parent were making cupcakes for their kids, my mom made us millet cake – today I can appreciate it, but at the time I thought it detestable along with so many of these other foods.  I don’t remember my mother really keeping any treats in the house. Treats were mostly reserved for when we were outside the house. We never had sugar in the house growing up and I don’t purchase sugar either. I do sometimes buy really good quality local honey for its medicinal properties and I always keep agave in case I want a little sweetness in my tea. My mother drank kukicha tea and green tea. She also kept shelf stable rice milk in her pantry and I remember it tasting like water- fortunately dairy alternative milks have evolved so much and are so widely available these days. My pantry has a lot of these same products today, but better quality non-dairy milk and a few more superfoods!   

If you could change anything about how your pantry is now, what would it be?

More space! I live in a NYC apartment

Thank you, Helene for sharing. I will remember Helene’s story about growing up in a food desert and all of the terrific foods in her pantry. Some of my favorites too.

Your turn:  Tell us in the comments what you remember from Helene’s interview?

36 Jewish Quotes on Resilience That Will Teach You How To Be Strong

Last year before Rosh Hashanah, I collected a few sentences from the Rosh Hashanah prayers that I feel are particularly meaningful. One of the prayers is: “Transform my suffering into gladness,” based on Cantor’s Personal Prayer before Musaf.

One of the highest forms of suffering I can imagine is the loss of a child. I cannot imagine such a loss or what it is like to move forward after this tragic event. Under these circumstances, how is it possible for a parent to transform their suffering into gladness?

Sherri Mandell experienced this loss in 2001 when her 13-year-old son, Koby, was stoned to death along with a friend by Palestinian terrorists near his Tekoa home. This experience led her on four essential healing paths:

Her book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration explores the seven spiritual stages of resilience that teach us how to not only survive grief, but how to thrive in the face of loss and trauma.

Mandell proposes that resilience is often misunderstood. In her book, she draws on Jewish wisdom and teachings to illustrate that resilience is not bouncing back, but is a process of becoming greater.

Here are 36 quotations on resilience for your reflection from her book The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration.

Your turn:  Tell us in the comments, which of these quotations is your favorite?

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Healthier Pareve Honey Cake

Honey is a Rosh Hashanah tradition. The traditional dessert in Ashkenazie tradition is a honey sweetened cake called Lekach, also known affectionately as Jewish honey cake. We put honey into our mouths at Rosh Hashanah to taste the sweet New Year.

I wanted a healthier Pareve version of Jewish honey cake so I’ve adapted a traditional honey cake recipe with healthy ingredients that are all plant based.

This healthier version of Jewish honey cake makes a lovely addition to your holiday meal. Raw Honey and spices give this cake a special earthy sweetness that everyone is sure to enjoy.

This Healthier Honey Cake is:

  • The perfect level of sweet – sweet enough and not too sweet
  • Moist
  • Very Similar taste profile to the french favorite pain d’épices
  • Pareve- dairy, egg and margarine free
  • Delicious smelling
  • Perfect with tea or coffee
  • A modern update of a Jewish food favorite

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Healthier Pareve Honey Cake
Jewish Food Hero
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    Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (or 1 cup whole wheat flour + 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • 1 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    Glaze:
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
    Tools:
  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Small bowl
  • 9 ½-inch bundt pan
  • Baking spray
  • Small saucepan

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk to blend.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine the applesauce, non-dairy milk, honey and vanilla. Whisk to blend. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Don’t over mix.
  4. Lightly oil the bundt pan with earth balance. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake in 350 F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and bake for 45 more minutes. Top should spring back to the touch when finished.
  6. Cool completely before inverting onto a plate.
  7. Prepare the glaze:
  8. In a small saucepan, combine the honey with the cornstarch and whisk to remove any lumps. Bring to a simmer over medium heat while stirring constantly. Cook for a few minutes, until it thickens. Remove from the heat to cool.
  9. To glaze the cake:
  10. First dust the cake lightly with powdered sugar. Then evenly drizzle the cake with the honey glaze.

; Yield: Makes 9 ½-inch 1 bundt cake

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Sweet and Sour Tofu

This sweet and sour tofu recipe is inspired by Claudia Roden’s recipe called “Kofta Mishmisheya: Meatballs in Apricot Sauce” featured in her book The Book of Jewish Food. Her recipe features lamb meatballs in a sweet and sour sauce from the Iraqi Jewish community.

I wanted a healthy vegan version of this sweet and sour recipe so I’ve adapted and simplified it with healthy ingredients that are all plant-based.

This recipe:

  • is less than 10 ingredients (not counting the salt and pepper)
  • uses apricot jam and lime/lemon juice to get that perfect balance between sweet and sour
  • is savory
  • is oil-free, gluten-free and vegan
  • is perfect served over rice

Sweet and Sour Tofu
Jewish Food Hero
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    Tools:
  • Frying pan
  • A good knife
  • Cutting board
    Ingredients:
  • 400g of tofu
  • 1 large onion,diced
  • 2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 anise star
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp salt,or to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

  1. Dice the tofu into 2 inch squares and brown it in 2-3 batches in a non-stick pan without oil and set aside in prep bowls
  2. Wash and dry the frying pan
  3. Sauté onion in 1 cup of vegetable broth until translucent
  4. Add tomato paste,apricot jam, allspice and 2 cup of vegetable broth and simmer over low heat
  5. After 5 min, add the mushrooms and simmer for 30 min, adding more vegetable broth if needed
  6. Add the tofu and simmer for 5 min
  7. Serve sweet and sour tofu over rice (optional)
  8. Garnish with sliced green onion tops or cilantro

; Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

Why A Jewish Woman Studies Jesus and The New Testament

Two years ago, I was searching for Jewish ideas about Jesus for two reasons:

First, my daughter had returned home from school one day with the question “Who is Jesus?” and I did not know what to say.

Secondly, I wanted a skillful way to respond to questions posed by well meaning Christians about what Jewish people think about Jewish.

So I did some research online and found the book The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus by Amy-Jill Levine.

For those of you unfamiliar with Amy Jill Levine, she is a self-described Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches New Testament in Nashville, Tennessee, the buckle of the Bible Belt.

She is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies, and Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science; she is also Affiliated Professor, Woolf Institute, Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge UK.

Levne is a prolific writer. See the long list of her books at the end of this post. When she is not writing, she is knitting to relax and refresh herself (especially during faculty meetings).

It’s with great honor (and excitement!) that I share this interview with Amy-Jill Levine.

Who has influenced you in your life?

The most influential person in my life was my mother, who died a month before I accepted the invitation to leave Swarthmore College and move to Vanderbilt. My mother graduated university in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. She wanted to do graduate studies, but her family encouraged her to return home and get a job, so that they would have enough money to get her two brothers through medical school. She went to work, married, struggled with infertility and finally at age 44 had one baby, me. Knowing what it was like not to be able to fulfill her educational goals, she made sure that her little girl would not face the same difficulties. She encouraged my academic interests and modeled for me what good parenting looks like. After my father died, when I was still quite young, she also taught me how to succeed as a woman in a world where women, and widows, were not expected to have professions outside the home.

Why did you write The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus and what do you want people to learn from it?

Misunderstood seeks to show how Jesus, a first-century Jewish teacher, is part of Jewish as well as Christian history. It points out where, in some Christian interpretations, Jesus is incorrectly depicted as against Judaism; in such interpretations, anti-Jewish views are introduced and then reinforced. Thus, the book shows that Christians do not need to make Judaism look bad in order to make Jesus look good, and it shows Jews how Jesus fits into his own Jewish context.

Why did you choose to focus your career on Christianity and New Testament?

The two areas where I work are Jewish-Christian relations and the Bible, Gender and Sexuality. I’ve seen the Bible deployed too many times to hurt people. As the cliché goes, the Bible should be a rock on which one stands rather than a rock thrown to do damage.

How has your research into Jesus, Christianity and the New Testament influenced your Jewish spirituality?

I’m not a particularly spiritual person (although a number of my friends disagree with my self-perception). I find myself thinking more about history and literature than about theology, about ethics rather than about a divine presence in the world. However, in studying the New Testament, I have become a better Jew: I have learned more about Jewish history, Jewish discussions of Torah, the role of the Pharisees, the importance of the Temple. It’s one of those ironies of history that the only Pharisee from whom we have written records is Saul/Paul of Tarsus, and the first person in literature ever called “rabbi” is Jesus of Nazareth.

You describe yourself as an unorthodox member of an Orthodox congregation. What does this mean to you?

I am a member of Congregation Sherith Israel, an Orthodox shul in Nashville. However, I do not keep kosher, I am not shomer Shabbos, and I don’t always light candles on Friday night – often because I’m in a hotel for a church-based scholar-in-residence program. The congregation is my home: the people, the Torah study, the services, the community outreach, etc., all sustain me. Saying the same prayers I recall my parents saying connects me to my past; hearing my son daven shacharit in the shul when he is home reinforces this connection.

Do you think Jewish parents should talk to their children about Jesus? If so, what should they say?

Ignorance never helped anyone.

If children ask, Jewish parents can explain how Jesus was a Jewish teacher, and that his followers, who are today called Christians, see him as more than a teacher. They see him as divine.

The most important thing is that parents first give their children a strong grounding in Judaism: history, ethics, theology, and practice.

In your experience, what do Jewish people think about Jesus? Do they have many misconceptions?

Jews have misconceptions about Jesus and about Christianity in general; Christians have misconceptions about Jews and Judaism. It seems to me that if we Jews want our neighbors to respect us as Jews, which means knowing something more about Judaism and Jews than the Shoah, Middle Eastern politics, Hanukkah, and “Fiddler on the Roof,” we Jews should know more about Christianity than Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the history of Christian antisemitism.

How should Jews answer Christians who ask about the Jewish view of Jesus?

There is no singular “Jewish” view of anything; Jews do not have a head Jew telling us what to believe or how to practice. Jews should provide the answer that best works for them, but to do so, Jews should learn about Jesus in his Jewish context. My various publications:

The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus

The Jewish Annotated New Testament,

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

– speak to such questions.

What are the similarities and differences between Jewish feminism and Christian feminism?

There are multiple definitions of ‘feminism’; generally, feminist approaches seek to promote human flourishing in all forms, with special attention to issues of gender and sexuality. Some Christian feminists still argue that early Judaism was a hopelessly misogynist system in which women were oppressed, suppressed, repressed, and consequently depressed, and these women rejected their Jewish identities by joining the Jesus movement. This is a misconception of early Judaism and of Jesus. Indeed, the New Testament is a wonderful source for Jewish women’s history: we find Jewish women owning their own homes, worshiping in synagogues and the Jerusalem Temple, having freedom of travel, having access to their own funds, serving as patrons, etc. Jesus had women patrons; so did other Jewish movements at the time, including the Pharisees. Christian feminists will sometimes look for a Jesus who represents liberation; my concern is that they not use Judaism as a negative foil in order to arrive at this portrait.  

For men and women who want more resources on this topic, what 3 books would you recommend?

The Jewish Annotated New Testament, 2d edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017) by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler (eds.).  the full New Testament, annotated by Jews, and close to 50 short essays, also by Jews, on the history of the New Testament period, Jewish understandings of Jesus, Mary, and Paul over time, and other matters that explain Christian texts and diversity of beliefs.

The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus  (New York: HarperOne, 2006) by Amy-Jill Levine,: how Jesus fits into his Jewish context, and how false and toxic views of that context, promoted by numerous Christian teachers and preachers, deform the image of Jesus and prompt anti-Jewish views.

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi (New York: HarperOne, 2014) by Amy-Jill Levine, : shows how Jesus’ parables – the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, etc. – are Jewish stories that make sense in Jewish ears; it also shows how Christians, over the centuries, have often incorrectly read these stories in light of false and negative stereotypes of Jews and Judaism.

Also, the noted children’s book author and Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and I are writing a series of children’s books about Jesus’ parables. These volumes should help prevent Christian children from developing anti-Jewish prejudice; they also allow Jewish parents, if they want, to introduce their children to stories told by Jesus, just as they might introduce their children to Buddhist stories, stories from indigenous and aboriginal peoples, etc. A note to parents and teachers explains why two Jews are telling stories from the New Testament.

Thank you Amy-Jill Levine for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us. I will remember your words “Ignorance never helped anyone.” Reading your book has helped me talk with my daughter about Jesus and also to answer Jesus questions from my Christian neighbors.  

Your turn: What did you learn from reading Amy-Jill Levine’s  interview?

Amy-Jill Levine’s books include

The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus

The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us (with Douglas Knight);

The New Testament, Methods and Meanings (with Warren Carter), and

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

With Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, she co-authored the children’s books

Who Counts? 100 Sheep, Ten Coins, and Two Sons and

The Marvelous Mustard Seed.

With Marc Z. Brettler, she co-edited The Jewish Annotated New Testament,

What’s In Your Pantry, Esther Klein?

What’s in Your Pantry? is a recurring feature where I ask women to tell us more about their food and eating habits by opening up their kitchen pantries to us. This week I’m featuring Esther Klein.   Esther says that she is  “addicted to snacking” She channeled this love of snacking into a Instagram account and youtube channel where she reviews Kosher snacks from all around the world.

I first watched one of her reviews and laughed so hard that I cried.  The first thing I did was to share the video with my older brother who said “This is so funny and true!”

So Esther and I do not share the same ideas about food or snacking!  However, I appreciate and admire the humour she brings to kosher food snacks.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Toronto, Canada. I was born and raised in this large city by my lovely parents who were born and raised in Slovakia. They moved here at a later age and I was the kid in class that had the parents with the funny European accent. I have an older brother who is married, and I am 24 years old. I am a recent graduate of a post-grad program in Journalism. Growing up I always had a love for drama and being on television. My ultimate dream is to be a news reporter one day! I love to exercise, hang out with friends, shoe shop, listen to music, and just hang low key! One of my other favourite past times is eating! I love anything from sushi, pizza, spicy fries, to anything sweet. I never grew out of my sweet tooth.

How do you typically feel, emotionally, when you open your kitchen pantry?

I am always excited. My intention is to go and find an epic, unique snack that I will either enjoy myself or film and share on IG or you tube.

What’s your process for organizing your food pantry?

We have three cupboards in my home where our food items get stored. One is for baking goods, one is for cooking, and the other is the cereals and snacking foods. The last is always my go-to cupboard!

What’s inside your pantry right now?

We have Shreddies, always a healthy and good break food.

Nutri Grain bars! My favorite is the pumpkin spice flavour, oolala!

Gatorade – great drink pre and post working out. The blue colour is my favourite.

Apple cinnamon oatmeal – by Quaker! So good!

Cliff bars. I am into protein bars quite a bit. I love the peanut butter flavour.

What’s inside your healthiest item you keep in stock?

I would have to say Simply Protein bars. They have simple ingredients you can read and understand. It also has a great amount of protein without a lot of sugar and other foreign supplements inside.

What about your guilty pleasure that you always have on hand?

CHOCOLATE! Ferro Roche. Oh damn.

What are your go-to cookbooks?

I do not have any go-to cookbooks since my mom does most of the cooking and she just uses her own eastern European recipes from Slovakia.

Compared to your mother, how is your pantry the same or different than what you grew up with?

I still live at home.

If you could change anything about how your pantry is now, what would it be?

I would just keep adding more and more snacks. Seriously.

Your turn:  What is your favorite snack food?

All You Need To Know About How to Plant Trees Every Time You Shop Online

 

Today most of us search for ways to live that respect and do not harm our environment. In the modern world of transport, commerce, and consumption, it can be hard to find simple positive environmental actions that offset our carbon footprint.

This year, I am taking three specific actions to offset my carbon footprint:

  1. My family (finally, after talking about it for 4 years) started a compost pile in our yard.
  2. I started reducing our use of plastics; I specifically stopped taking my coffee in takeaway cups and started using biodegradable plastic bags at home.
  3. With Live Green, every time I shop on Amazon and Live Green, I support the planting of trees in Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Here is how I support the planting of trees every time I shop on Amazon:

First, I joined Live Green, a new online wholesale organic market that is eco-conscious.

Live Green is a partner with Trees For the Future. I now connect to Amazon through the Live Green website and place an order with Amazon during that session, so that Live Green will plant 10 trees for my Amazon order.

Trees For the Future is a charity, started in 1989, with a large field-based team that oversees projects to make sure trees are planted and make a difference.

Trees.org created a tailored program called “The Forest Garden Program”: a simple, replicable and scalable approach with proven success. The program partners with male and female farmers in Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The beneficiary group (approximately 300 farming families per group) are all living below the poverty line, struggling to feed their families on increasingly degraded land.

The program systematically plants, over a four-year period, specific types of fast-growing trees, fruit trees, hardwoods and food crops. “Forest Gardens” consist of thousands of trees that provide families with sustainable food sources, livestock feed, products to sell, fuel wood and a 400% increase in their annual income in four years.

The initial goals of the program are to work with 125,000 impoverished farming families in Africa and plant 500,000 trees.

Plant trees with every Amazon Order: 4 Simple Steps

Here is how I support tree.org when I buy products online via Amazon.

Step 1:

To start out, try a free 14-day trail of Live Green here (if you are not already a member). Go to the Live Green site and log in.

Step 2: Then click on the Retail Cash Back page and click on the Amazon menu item:

Step 3: Click on square banner in the middle of the page to connect to Amazon’s website:

Step 4: When you log into your Amazon account through the Live Green website, shop and place your orders. Live Green will automatically provide the corresponding funds to trees.org on a quarterly basis.

Here is our potential impact: 12 orders per year from Amazon through Live Green (12 orders X 10 trees) will help plant 120 trees in Africa! 60 orders = 600 trees!

If you want to validate trees.org as charity, go to Charitynavigator.com and type in “Trees for the Future” in the charity search box to see a report on the charity.

Shopping online via Amazon is a habit that has and will continue to change the way we live. I am pleased that while I shop via Amazon, I can support planting trees to help families and the environment.

SPECIAL OFFER: Jewish Food Hero readers get a 14-day free-trial and exclusive discount off their first purchase on Live Green

5 Ways Advance Planning Makes The Jewish Holidays a Tiny Bit Easier

Your relationship with planning is often a function of your upbringing and your personality.

  • How far you plan in advance
  • If you plan using a digital or paper calendar or agenda
  • If you plan using directives or lists
  • If you thrive on meeting last minute due dates
  • If you need a lot of time to think before your plan

I’d like to make an argument for planning in advance (at least somewhat) instead of waiting till things absolutely must be done.  

Planning Increases Confidence

Planning gives us a increased sense of control and increases our confidence. I know it is not possible to make plans about life’s big events; we all know the Yiddish proverb “Man plans, God laughs” (Mann traoch, Gott Lauch).

Here is a gender neutral update of that Yiddish proverb:

With the small stuff, we can have a vision and make a plan. When we do, it increases our confidence.

“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”

Brian Tracy, The Gift of Self-Confidence

Spending For Healthy and Special Meals

A financial consultant I once spoke to pointed out that certain expenses come every year and yet, many of us act surprised every time they roll around. We all spend more money for creating Passover and Rosh Hashanah meals especially if we want to buy non-toxic organic high-quality food and household cleaning products (at affordable wholesale prices).

Cooking and Cleaning

Some of us may recall laughing at our mothers or other women for starting to cook for a holiday a week before (or even earlier). But as I get older and busier, I can see the benefit of doing things in small increments instead of in one fell swoop. I dislike having to rush when I am preparing anything. It is not enjoyable to rush myself, experience stress and end up exhausted. Wouldn’t it be better to do a little bit every day and be able to relax or even nap right before the holiday?

This is true especially when we are hosting a lot of people. We all want to enjoy spending time with my friends and family. It is hard to enjoy people when we are so tired from the last minute rush of creating a menu idea, cooking and cleaning.

Start by looking at the date of the holiday and work backwards to see what you can do each day of the week, to get to the holiday better prepared.

Ideas include:

  • Shop and clean a few days before and request help!
  • Make desserts in advance that you can freeze. Here is a raw sweet date ball that tastes like a snickers bar. These Mini Maple Pumpkin Cocoa Cakes are delicious. The mini cakes have a perfect level of sweetness, are satiating (from the pumpkin puree) and have a slight cocoa flavor (from raw cocoa powder)
  • Some dishes can sit in the refrigerator for a day before serving like this oil-free healthy hummus. This salad includes beets, chickpeas, walnuts, and fresh green lettuce. The pink dressing is tangy-sour from citrus and creamy from walnuts.

Spiritual Engagement

Holidays aren’t only about the physical preparations although sometimes it certainly can feel like that. With advance planning, it is easier to fit into time to cultivate the emotional, mental and spiritual holiday experience. We can:

  • Read about the upcoming holiday
  • Call and friend and talk about the spiritual aspects of the holiday
  • Pray before the holiday

If we wait till the last minute, the opportunity to do this will likely slip away, and we will find myself physically prepared for the holiday but not feeling it spiritually.

Scheduling in Personal Time To Refresh and Relax

Holidays (and life) can feel exhausting. Putting self-support actions into our calendar is one way to ensure that we make the time to care of my body and emotional self. This is even more important when things get even busier as they do during a holiday. With advance planning, it is possible to schedule a morning walk, a movement class, quiet mediation in the morning before anyone wakes up, or even 20 minutes just to lay down and rest.

Know the Holiday Calendar

You can only plan in advance if you know what’s coming! The Jewish Food Hero 5779 Holiday Calendar will remind you when each holiday is coming and give you plenty of time plan.

Click here to order

Letterpress Jewish Holiday Calendar 5779 Available Now

 

The annual letterpress Jewish holiday calendar 5779 is available now until July 18th.  

If you’re doing a Google search every time you want to find out the exact dates for this year’s Jewish holidays, writing them in your paper planner, or entering them once into your electronic calendar, the holidays can feel out of sight, out of mind.

You’d love to have a beautiful Jewish object in your home that makes you feel proud of your heritage—but you haven’t found anything that delights and inspires you.

The Jewish Food Hero Holiday Calendar displays the 16 major Jewish holidays with beautiful custom icons and this year’s dates.

Order Here

Printed with letterpress on thick, luxurious linen paper, you won’t be able to stop running your hands over the imagery.

Perfect for display in your home, it also makes a unique and special gift for hostesses, schools, and synagogues. Particularly for Rosh Hashanah, the calendar serves as an ideal L’shanah Tovah gift.

This calendar is where beauty and our Jewish traditions connect.

Product Details

  • Size is 8 x 10”
  • Letterpress print on thick, white linen paper
  • Limited edition print
  • Packaged in a cello sleeve with cardboard backing

Includes dates for 16 major Jewish holidays:

  1. Rosh Hashanah
  2. Yom Kippur
  3. Sukkot
  4. Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah
  5. Chanukah
  6. 10th of Tevet
  7. Tu B’Shvat
  8. Tan’anit Esther
  9. Purim
  10. Pesach
  11. Lag B’Omer
  12. Shavuot
  13. 17th of Tammuz
  14. Tish’a B’Av
  15. Tu B’Av
  16. Shabbat

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Choose Your Own Display

Here are a few ideas for where and how to display this calendar:

  • In the home—displayed on the refrigerator held by magnets or in a frame hung on your wall
  • In schools—on a bulletin board as part of an educational display or framed on a shelf where children can see it
  • In synagogues—framed in the entrance area, in the Hebrew school classroom, or in the Rabbi’s office

Special Gifts

When you order your letterpress Jewish holiday calendar, you will also get two special gifts:

  • Via email: An instant download of high-resolution PDF file of the 5779 Jewish holiday calendar will be emailed to you
  • With your calendar:  A beautiful recipe card for a plant based healthier Honey cake recipe

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18 Non-Toxic Cleaning Products That Are Proven Effective and Healthy

Non-toxic cleaning products are healthier for our homes and our environment. Today most of us want to find products:

  • That are created using healthy ingredients for our bodies
  • That respect and do not harm our environment.
  • That are produced by green businesses

Unfortunately, most people do not buy non-toxic organic cleaning products because

  • they feel less important than healthy food (I doubt this is true)
  • the price point is too high

With non-toxic organic cleaning products, one strategy to save time and bring down the cost per unit is to buy at wholesale prices.

Here are 18 non-toxic organic home products that I sourced from Live Green, a new affordable organic wholesale online market that runs on a Costco membership model.

SPECIAL OFFER: Jewish Food Hero readers get a 14-day free-trial and exclusive discount off their first purchase.

Clothes: Non-toxic laundry liquids and clothes maintenance products

Biokleen Laundry Liquid

  • Special enzymes neutralize odors caused by perspiration
  • Extracts of Lavender and Eucalyptus.
  • No artificial fragrance or colors

Ecover 2x Laundry Detergent – Lavender Field

  • Works in cold water, which means you can use less energy for every load.
  • Made with plant-based ingredients; biodegradable formula is gentle on your skin and the environment.
  • 100% natural lavender fragrance

Ecover Delicate Wash

  • Ideal for fine fabrics, silks, and wool
  • Biodegradable, plant-based ingredients, formula that is safe for your skin, as well as the environment.

Biokleen Bac-Out Stain and Odor Remover

  • Blend of live enzyme-producing cultures, citrus extracts and plant-based surfactants
  • Removes the toughest stains: pets, kids and everyday disasters.
  • CONTAINS NO chlorine, ammonia, butyl, glycol ether, SLS or SLES, DEA or EPA priority pollutants.

Grab Green Bleach Alternative – Fragrance Free

  • Eco-responsible pods: pre-measured concentrated pods are simple to use and worry free.
  • Laundry booster for brightening whites and removing stains.

Home: Non-toxic All Purpose Sponge

Scrub Sponge from TWIST

  • Effective for your kitchen, furniture, bath and outdoor purposes.
  • Dye-free, and also doesn’t use any plastics or toxic adhesives.

Home: Non-toxic All Purpose Cleaner

Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner

  • Environmentally safe home cleaner for our families and planet.
  • Good for any washable non-porous surface, including countertops, appliances, sinks, toilets, walls, baseboards, floors, tables, chairs, showers, and tubs.
  • For daily cleaning, spills and messes.

 

Dishes: Non-Toxic Dish Products

Seventh Generation Dish Liquid – Free And Clear

  • Dishwashing liquid with no dyes or synthetic fragrances.
  • Non-toxic, biodegradable liquid dish soap formula.
  • 100% recycled plastic bottle (excluding colorant).

Seventh Generation Auto Dish Packs – Free And Clear

  • Convenient Single-Use Packs.
  • Cleans without chlorine, phosphates or synthetic fragrances.

Kitchen: Cleaning Cloth and Trash Bags

E-cloth Kitchen Cleaning Cloth

  • Multi-purpose kitchen cleaning cloth.
  • Offers perfect, chemical-free cleaning for all hard kitchen surfaces using just water.
  • True Chemical Free Cleaning – Kitchen cloth fibers attract moisture and oil and trapping dirt/grease/grime and proven to remove over 99% of bacteria from hard surfaces with just water.
  • Guaranteed for 300 machine washings.

Kitchen Trash Bags

If You Care Tall Kitchen Trash Bags – Certified Compostable

  • Made from potato starch from non-GMO starch potatoes blended with a certified, fully compostable polymer.
  • No plasticizers are added.

 

Glass: Non-toxic Glass Cleaner

Better Life See Clearly Glass Cleaner

  • Free of harmful solvents and Volatile Organic Compounds.
  • makes a clean, streak-free shine on any glass surface.
  • Safe for you, your family, and the planet.

Bathroom: Non-Toxic Bathroom Products

Better Life Cleaner – Tub & Tile

  • Naturally powered by plant surfactants, organic citrus acids and essential oils.
  • Dissolves soap scum, hard water stains and mineral deposits. Removes mold, mildew stains & rust.
  • Non Toxic and safe – FREE OF: bleaches, ammonia, petro-chemical solvents, sulfates (SLS/SLES), phosphates, synthetic fragrances, dyes.

Ecover Toilet-Bowl Cleaner- Mild Pine Scent

  • Angled spout makes it easy to use.
  • Removes tough stains, decalcifies and freshens.
  • Quick and complete biodegradability minimum impact on aquatic life.
  • Not tested on animals.
  • Safe for septic tank.

Candles: Non-toxic Scent

Mrs. Meyer’s Soy Candle – Lavender

  • Jar is reusable.
  • 35 hours burn time.
  • Made with essential oils and plant-derived ingredients.
  • Free of animal-derived ingredients and not tested on animals.

 

Produce Wash

Biokleen Produce Wash

  • Safely removes chemical sprays, waxes and soils leaving no residue or taste behind.
  • No negative effects on rivers, streams, plants or wildlife.
  • No artificial fragrances, colors, or preservatives.

 

Hands: Soap and Cream

Kiss My Face Bar Soap Pure Olive Oil Fragrance Free

  • Perfect kitchen soap to wash hands before meals.
  • Leaves skin clean and soft.
  • Vegan, meaning it doesn’t contain rendered animal fat.

Weleda Hand Creme – Evening Primrose Age Revitalizing

  • Perfect to use after cooking, washing dishes or kitchen cleaning.
  • 91% organic, vegan and gluten-free.
  • Light, floral fragrance inspired by evening primrose flowers.
  • Created with sunflower seed oil, sesame seed oil and olive oil, shea butter and wheat germ oil.

 

I am in hopes that this resource supports your best intentions to create a non-toxic home.

SPECIAL OFFER: Jewish Food Hero readers get a 14-day free-trial and exclusive discount off their first purchase.  

When you click on the special offer, you will be directed to the Live Green Friends of Jewish Food Hero page.  Place your email in the white box that says “email address” and start saving on non-toxic organic products.

Your turn:  Name 1 non-toxic household cleaning product you would add to this list.