Chag Notebook: Kristin Eriko Posner

Kristin Eriko Posner is a Japanese-American and Jewish recent bat mitzvah girl, student of tea ceremony, and founder of Nourish Co., an online sanctuary and resource for people and couples of mixed ethnicities.  I am honored she agreed to share her thoughts with us.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve lived in California almost all my life. I grew up in Los Angeles and now live in San Francisco. There was a two-year stint between LA and San Francisco, when I lived in the countryside of Southern Japan. I am lucky enough to run my lifestyle company, Nourish Co., as my full time gig. When I’m not working on Nourish Co., I’m at the stove cooking for family and friends, studying the way of tea, and going on fun adventures with my husband, Bryan. I always come back so inspired.

In what ways do you connect to Judaism?
Even though I grew up without religion, I’ve felt very deeply spiritual for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to Judaism at a young age by friends and was enchanted by all of the beautiful rituals. My husband Bryan is Jewish and very secular, so I know that when we have children one day, I’ll likely be the gatekeeper of our family’s traditions. The day of my conversion was one of the most meaningful days of my life.

After we got married, I found myself wanting to learn more. I am very lucky to be part of an incredibly open-minded Reform congregation. That being said, I look different from most people in our congregation. For a while, I quietly felt painfully self-conscious about it. Then one day, I saw a link in the newsletter for an Anshei Mitzvah course and signed up. Learning Hebrew and studying Torah was incredibly healing for me – it gave me a renewed sense of confidence and a sense of belonging in my community.

Last March, in front of family, friends, and my community, I became Bat Mitzvah at 33 at Congregation Emanu-el in San Francisco; the same synagogue where I converted and where Bryan and I were married. It was the coming of age ceremony I never had. Instead of becoming an adult, I vowed to become a Jewish leader.

How do you prepare to host people for a holiday meal or celebration?
My gameplan sounds intense but it’s not really. It’s spread out over a week, so I just chip away at it. I start brainstorming the menu a week or more in advance. To do this, I refer to a Google doc that lists anyone I’ve ever cooked for and their dietary restrictions and needs. I know this seems crazy but I mostly have this memorized. I grocery shop two to three days before and prep for the next two days. I try to spread it out so I’m not spending many hours in the kitchen at a time. My husband Bryan inevitably runs to the store to pick up things I forgot or herbs and things that need to be really fresh. Bryan is an amazing sous chef and my sister in law Rachel and brother in law Steve usually arrive early, roll up their sleeves and start helping. My family makes an amazing team! For my Bat Mitzvah celebration, we hired a bartender to serve drinks, replenish food and help with cleaning up. It was the best decision because I got to spend every second with my family and friends.

How does the ideal Jewish holiday celebration look and feel to you?
I have two ideal holiday celebrations. One is a full house with all my favorite people, where it’s so loud with people chatting that you can’t even hear the music anymore. My other ideal holiday celebration is an intimate group of loved ones gathered around our dining table for a simple but festive meal. My last job was as a residential interior designer, so lighting is everything to me. We dim all the lights and light lots of candles which makes everything feel really cozy. I like to make a blend of classic Japanese or Ashkenazi Jewish dishes, plus a couple of unexpected takes on them. Often, I make Japanese and Jewish blended dishes like mochi latkes and brisket braised in a homemade Japanese barbecue sauce. I also try to incorporate an element of surprise such as a special ingredient we picked up on our most recent trip or a gorgeous whole roasted fish. My hope is that when each person walks into our home, they feel like they are walking into a giant, comforting hug, knowing that they will be taken care of for a few hours.

Leading up to, during, and after the holidays, how do you reconnect with yourself?
Before everyone comes over, I get ready at my vanity table and sit for a few extra moments with some photos of my grandparents. There is a photo of my paternal grandmother that hangs on my wall that I love. In it, she’s wearing a haori (Japanese-style silk jacket) in front of this incredible spread of Japanese-Hawaiian food she’s prepared for a holiday. Her hair is perfectly coiffed, lips painted her favorite Shiseido pink, and she looks so happy. When I prepare a meal, I am honoring her, my Mom and my aunt: the women who have nourished my generation. Oh and I try to take a hot bath before everyone comes over! The Japanese girl in me loves a nice, long bath.

What is one of your most memorable Jewish holiday experiences?
My most memorable holiday experience is Japanese New Year. Even as an adult, it just feels so magical and special to me. After all the housework is done, my family gathers around the table to make nigiri sushi together. When no one is looking, we put a giant piece of wasabi under some of the sushi. The problem is, everyone does this, so we end up with quite a few very spicy pieces. In Japan, we watch my favorite show ever, which is about all of the different New Year’s food traditions in different regions in Japan. Then, around 11, we bundle up and head over to the neighborhood temple and get in line to ring the bell at midnight. My Mom gets her favorite cup of hot amazake, which warms up our hands. She would always give us a small sip, during which you get a whiff of sweet, fermented rice wine. Whenever I have it, it takes me back to standing in that line at the temple with my family. The next morning, we eat traditional New Year foods and a steaming hot bowl of ozoni, with big gooey pieces of mochi, handmade by my Mom.

What’s your absolute favorite Jewish holiday dish?
Nothing beats a beautiful loaf of challah. Especially if it is homemade! I know for some, Jewish food in America hasn’t always been great, but I think everything can be reinvented to be delicious. My favorite Japanese holiday dish is a Tokyo-style ozoni on New Year’s morning.

Do you have any non traditional Jewish holiday rituals or habits?
All of the holidays in the Posner household are pretty non-traditional. It’s important to us to update rituals that don’t resonate with us. I believe this is what all of our ancestors have done since the beginning of time. While some of our rituals don’t seem traditional to our parents our even us, I hope they will be for our children and future generations (and of course, they can do some of their own updating!)

What was something that your mother (or another influential figure) shared with you about the holidays that has stuck with you?
Some of the most influential figures in my Jewish life are people I’ve never met in real life! I was so lucky to begin my Jewish journey during a time when we have access to so much via the Internet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked to Joan Nathan, Anita Diamant, Tori Avey, Molly Yeh, ARQ and Jewish Food Hero for advice and inspiration!

What’s your number one tip or trick you’ve discovered that makes the holidays smoother, more positive and meaningful for you?
Things can get really hectic leading up to a big holiday meal. During the week before, I try to take some time to reflect on the purpose behind the meal. I find it helpful to think about how I want people to feel when they walk through the door, and why I am hosting. I think about who I am remembering or thinking of, and if it’s an intimate group, I share this with them. I try to think of everything I do as an act of service, and each dish I prepare, an edible prayer. I think cooking for people you love can be a deeply spiritual experience – similar to how preparing a cup of tea for someone in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony is. When this is my lens, it’s impossible for things not to be smooth, positive and meaningful.

Kristin, thank you for sharing. I love how you have found such positive ways of integrating and honouring your Japanese heritage and your Jewish faith.

This post is part of our Chag Notebook series where we interview inspiring women and men about their approach to the holidays. What did you take from Kristin’s notebook? Tell us what you enjoyed in the comments below.

8 Satisfying Salad Recipes for Hanukkah

Adding salad dishes to your holiday table is a great way of incorporating raw and minimally processed vegetables to your diet. Uncooked foods maintain their nutrient profiles and their vibrant colours appeal to children and adults alike. There is no need to drench a healthy dish in an oil-heavy dressing. Instead, keep things light and fragrant by making simple dressings from lemon juice, mustard, tahini or even blended corn for a creamier but light dressing.

 

Gone are the days when salad means a chunk of floppy old iceberg with a fridge-burnt tomato and a sorry old slice of cucumber. A good salad can easily be ramped up to a showstopper with just a minimal amount of effort put into slicing, grating, roasting and layering. Get children involved with washing, chopping and mixing ingredients and you can be sure they’ll sneak a few nibbles of the raw ingredients as they go.

 

 

Here are 8 salad recipes you can prepare over Hannukah. Each could be a side dish as part of a meal, or the star of the show itself.

 

Beet, Fennel and Orange Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing

This salad is filled with winter vegetables.  It has a crunch from the cucumber and fennel and sweetness from the beets and  oranges. The maple-mustard salad dressing is delicious and oil free. Serve it over fresh green salad leaves for lunch or as a side, or with steamed kale or chard for a warm supper.

 

Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Cauliflower is naturally juicy, and boiling it is an effective method of pumping it full of excess moisture and removing all the flavour. Instead, here it is baked to a smokey deliciousness full of bite and depth. Served with spiced chickpeas and plenty of fresh herbs, this middle-eastern warm salad would make an ideal main dish, or accompaniment to simple steamed new potatoes.

 

 

Georgian Beet and Chickpea Walnut Salad

I created this Beet Walnut Salad for Hanukkah after reading about the Georgian Jewish community recipes (Georgia the country, not the state in the USA) in Gil Mark’s cookbook, Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World. You can boil your own beets and dried chickpeas for this recipe, or use vacuum packed and canned versions if you’re short on time. If you like things sour, you could also use pickled beets.

 

Roast Pumpkin Salad

Nothing says hearty, winter veg quite like a pumpkin. The good news is that cutting the oil in this recipe won’t cut the flavour, as the natural sugars in pumpkin turn to sweet sticky caramel in the oven. Rocket would make a peppery, light addition to this rich, earthy base.

 

Toasted Almond Brown Rice Salad

 

Simple switches of white to whole grain carbs can massively increase the nutrient profiles of our meals, without any extra hassle. Brown rice has a nutty richness which pairs perfectly with the almonds and sweet, chewy dried cherries in this recipe.

 

Vegan Summer Rolls

If it was in a bowl you’d happily accept this as a salad. However, here it’s rolled into rice paper wraps. Packed full of raw, shredded and sliced veggies, along with strips of baked tofu for a satisfying meat-free protein punch. Prepare the fillings and dips in advance but keep the stuffing and rolling for the dinner table, for an interactive and fun meal children will love!

Carrot and Cashew Salad

This is a classic staple in the Jewish Food Hero household. Children are often branded picky-eaters when it comes to salad, but really they just have a very understandable dislike for the texture of large soggy leaves. Grated carrot is sweet and easy to chew, making this dish a big hit with kids.

 

Mango Salad with Peanut Dressing

Who said fruits have to stay in the sweet course? The intense sweet-sour flavor of mango pairs perfectly with the creamy peanut dressing in this Asian-inspired recipe.

 

Your Turn: Please share your go-to salad recipes for every day and special occasions in the comments below!

 

8 Nourishing Vegan Soups For Chanukah

Why is vegan soup so good for us? We cannot just eat sufganiyot doughnuts and latkes for eight nights! Soup is a practical family meal which can be cooked ahead of time and left on the stovetop. You can adapt it to suit all the family by stirring in different combinations of herbs, topping with sprinkled seeds or crunchy croutons. Children of all ages love to dip bread into soup and then spill soup all over themselves and the floor. What are you waiting for?!

Soup is an ideal no-oil food. I don’t use oil in any of my cooking, because it is calorie-rich and nutrient-poor. Watch this video to find out more about why cutting, or at least reducing, the quantity of oil we eat is a good idea.

Here are 8 healthy and satisfying soups to serve and enjoy this Chanukah.

 

Vegan Corn Chowder

Creamy and comforting but without the use of heavy butter or oil, this coconut cream plant-based soup will fill even the hungriest of tummies on a winter’s evening. Children will love the sweetness of the corn, why not get them involved with helping you pop the kernels off the cob? (Or pouring the frozen sweetcorn from the bag…) 

 

Gazpacho

This cold, Spanish tomato soup would make a perfect meal to lighten the load of heavy holiday eating. You can make this in any blender and, because it’s served cold, it retains all of the nutrients of the raw vegetable ingredients. Make it a couple of hours ahead of time and get kids involved with cutting or ripping vegetables to chuck into the blender.

 

Jamie Oliver’s Super Leek and Potato Soup

Who doesn’t love a hearty, potato and leek soup? This version is packed full of iron rich kale, too. Instead of frying the vegetables in oil, use vegetable broth to gently sweat them for 10 minutes. Switch out Parmesan for nutritional yeast to make the herb toast.

 

Oil Free Red Lentil Soup

Lentils provide bulk, fiber and plant-based protein, as well as being a simple and staple store cupboard ingredient. This is the Jewish Food Hero recipe for a bare-bones lentil soup which you can adapt, adjust and embellish to suit your family’s tastes and whatever you have in the fridge.

Easy Minestrone Soup

Imagine a situation where you can throw all your vegetables into one pot and it turns into a delicious, filling Italian soup. You’ve just imagined this minestrone. The inclusion of whole beans gives this dish a filling protein punch. Simply sweat the vegetables in stock rather than oil to cut the unnecessary calories.

 

French Onion Soup

The simple swap of vegetable for beef stock makes this vegan version of a soup classic. You can use any onions in any combination, they all turn to sweet sticky gorgeousness when they’re cooked down with the balsamic vinegar.

 

Sweet Potato Coconut Soup

Children love the smooth sweetness of this vibrant orange soup. Perfectly good just as it is, you could also sprinkle on some pumpkin seeds, spice it up with a pinch of chili flakes, or add crunchy oven baked croutons (no need for oil, just put diced bread into the oven on high until they brown).

 

Vegan Borscht

As soups go, it’s hard to find a more vibrant visual feast than this fuschia beauty. Root vegetables are satiating and provide a solid basis for our meals, and beetroot is no exception. This recipe calls for a vegan yogurt or vegan cream cheese topping, although I think it tastes just as good with a side of plain crusty white bread for dipping.

Your turn: Please share your go-to soup recipes for every day and special occasions in the comments below!

8 Perfect Baked Doughnuts For A Healthier Hanukkah

A sufganiyot is a round, fried donut which is eaten around the world at Chanukah. Sufganiyah are most commonly filled with jam or custard and covered in powdered sugar, but the possibilities for this versatile and adaptable food are endless.

Jewish people traditionally eat fried foods at Chanukah as a way of commemorating the miracle of the temple oil. I prefer to light an oil candle to commemorate the miracle rather than use my body to connect with the holiday (i.e. to eat the oil) and here is why. Eating large amounts of oil makes me feel sluggish and today there are many healthier ways to enjoy doughnuts.

Here are 8 recipes for healthier doughnuts that we can enjoy this year.

Vegan Raspberry Donuts

These pretty pink baked donuts are completely oil free. They have a creamy richness from light coconut milk, and the tart freshness of raspberry taste runs through the whole batter. Although you will need fresh raspberries if you want to decorate them, the recipe itself uses frozen berries, so these can be made from all store cupboard ingredients. Make them today!

Baked Strawberry-Glazed Sufganiyot (GF options)

These baked sufganiyot are a re-make of the traditional strawberry classic. These are just as delicious but lighter tasting and they are so better for us  than the traditional deep-fried ones. There is a tiny bit of oil in this recipe. These easy baked doughnuts avoid all the traditional mess of deep-frying. Glistening with strawberry glaze, these doughnuts will delight you and your guests.

Vegan Mini Powdered Donuts

The creator of these beauties describes them as “very unorthodox”, but don’t let that put you off. These baked mini donuts are sweetened with dates and there are suggestions for more than 10 different powdered toppings, to recreate the texture without the sugar-crash of traditional icing-coated donuts. Powdered peanut butter, anyone?

Vegan Baked Savory Donuts

You heard me right. Savoury baked donuts. An unusual proposition but if you think about it it’s kind of like a savoury scone, right? These are filled with fragrant herbs and would be great as an accompaniment to a soup for a satisfying but light evening Hanukkah meal.

Baked Vegan Apple Cider Doughnuts

Hearty, spiced and sweet, these cider-infused donuts are coated with delicious cinnamon sugar. Your house will be filled with gorgeous aromas. If you don’t have a donut pan, why not bake these in a muffin tin, scoop out the middle and fill with applesauce and chopped walnuts?

Baked jelly filled donuts

I love the idea of a baked filled donut as a non-fried alternative to the traditional Sufganiyot. The recipe here calls for butter, milk and egg. Try substituting

  • the butter with applesauce,
  • the milk with plant-based milk,
  • the egg with this egg replacer. 

Cinnamon Chai Baked Red Lentil Doughnuts

Get. Out. Of. Town. Lentil flour, mashed banana, chai tea, vanilla bean paste? Frost them with cashew cream? Oh go on then. Did you know that you can make lentil flour easily by pulsing lentils in a food processor? Serve them with strong black coffee or a hot, sweet tea.

Raw Red Velvet Donuts

Vegan and gluten free, not only are these not fried, they’re not even cooked! The only elbow work involved is the strength to press pulse on your food processor. The healthy, satisfying nut oils are a way to honour Chanukah traditions without filling our bodies with extra oil from frying. You can even shape these in your hands, so there’s no need for a donut pan for this recipe.

If you are looking for a good quality non-stick donut baking pan, here is one that I recommend.

Your turn:  Place your favorite healthier doughnut recipe in the comments below.

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Baked Strawberry-Glazed Sufganiyot

Sufganiyot are iconic for Chanukah. A traditional sufganiyot is a round, fried doughnut.

I wanted to make a version that is better for us than the traditional deep-fried ones.

There is a tiny bit of oil in this recipe. These easy baked doughnuts avoid all the traditional mess of deep-frying, but are just as delicious. Glistening with strawberry glaze, these doughnuts will delight you and your guests.

If you are looking for a good quality non-stock doughnut pan, here is the one I recommend.

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Baked Strawberry-Glazed Sufganiyot
Jewish Food Hero
Rate this recipe
Average: 0/5

    Tools
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 1 doughnut baking pan (this is an absolute requirement to bake these doughnuts and I recommend this doughnut baking pan)
  • Cooking oil spray
  • Small saucepan
  • Dessert platter for serving
    Dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose baking flour)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    Wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (can also use almond milk or soy milk)
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-natural vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup all-fruit strawberry jam

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Prepare the dry ingredients:
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients
  4. Prepare the wet ingredients:
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk, 1/4 cup safflower oil, 1/2 cup applesauce, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar
  6. Combine the two mixtures and bake:
  7. Add the dry mixture to the wet and mix quickly (do not over-mix)
  8. Spray the doughnut pan lightly with cooking oil spray
  9. Fill each doughnut cavity until 2/3 full (and not more)
  10. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the doughnuts spring back to the touch
  11. Allow to cool
  12. Remove the doughnuts from the pan by inverting it
  13. Keep them warm in the oven until ready to serve
  14. While the sufganiyot bake:
  15. Warm the strawberry jam in a small saucepan for a few minutes
  16. Glaze the doughnut tops with the all-fruit jam just before serving
  17. To serve:
  18. Arrange on a dessert platter, and serve the same day

; Yield: Makes 15 doughnuts

If you like the this recipes, you’ll love the Jewish Food Hero Cookbook: 50 Plant-Based Recipes

Jewish Food Hero Cookbook // jewishfoodhero.com

10 Simple Organic Staples You Can Start Buying in Bulk Today

Buying selective healthy staples in bulk is an effective way to:

  • lower your weekly grocery bill
  • reduce the time and energy you spend going to,  grocery shopping.
  • have healthy ingredients on hand to make simple balanced meals

People want healthy food and organic products are more expensive. The reality is that many of your regular go-to organic pantry staples are available in larger quantities for lower prices per pound (or kilo).

Shopping for organic staples in bulk reduces costs. I buy my organic staples from an online wholesale market called Live Green. For a 100 USD annual membership fee, Live Green provides access to over 22,000+ organic products, all at wholesale prices. They even donate money to plant trees every time you shop.  And shipping is always free!

 

Here is a list of the organic staples I bought during my last grocery haul on Live Green:

organic short grain brown rice

Brown rice is healthier for our bodies and guts than the more processed white rice. The great news is, it also tastes better! I love the nutty flavour of this brand, and I also like the way brown rice keeps a bit more of its texture when cooked.

red lentils

Pulses of all kinds are great to have in stock. Red lentils are one of the easiest to cook as there is no need to pre-soak or use a pressure cooker at all. They’re also very easy to digest. Perfect for dishes like vegetable and lentil soup, fragrant dahl, you can even use a handful to thicken a stew.

chickpeas (low sodium)

These chickpeas are low sodium for better health. They’re super convenient, so you can make a simple hummus at the drop of a hat, add a few spoonfuls to a stew or throw some on top of some raw vegetables for a satisfying salad.

apple cider vinegar

This health food is very en vogue at the moment, and prices can be high as a result. Buy in bulk to save money on this essential – it is equally useful in cooking as it is as a medicine, or even a cleaning product!

smooth light roast peanut butter

Many mass-produced nut butters contain additional oils, sugars and preservatives which are not only unnecessary but damaging to our bodies. I love this simple version spread on a chunk of bread, mixed with soy and vinegar to make an Asian style dipping sauce, or even stirred through vegan African peanut stew.

oats

Oats are a slow release carbohydrate, which means they sustain energy levels for longer and prevent slumps and mood crashes. Oatmeal for breakfast (and dinner if you’re anything like me), nutritious oat balls for kids’ lunchboxes, baked with honey to make oil free granola, or simply sprinkled raw into vegan yoghurt to make a satisfying breakfast, snack or desert. There’s no limit to uses for oats.

vegetable broth

Don’t just think of soups, did you know you can even use broth as an alternative to oil for “frying” to soften veggies? This is such a kitchen staple, having plenty in stock will always come in handy.

gluten free brown rice pasta

It’s no secret that I’m a passionate advocate of plenty of carbs. However, some people can find that eating pastas leaves them feeling bloated and can make digestion sluggish. This brown rice version contains more fibre and the bonus is it’s coeliac friendly.  

Tea

Keeping hydrated is important for general health, concentration and digestion. Too little fluid can even contribute to feelings of depression! Switch out some caffeinated beverages for some of this fancy tea to help you get better rest at night.

Cleaning Products

Many of us skip on buying organic and ecological cleaning products because of price and this is a shame for our environment.  The wholesale prices on these cleaning products might change our shopping behavior for the better!

All this to say that I found a positive way to find to buy wholesale organic products in bulk.   

I am in hopes that this resource supports your best intentions for health.

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.

Joan’s Soft, Fluffy and Delicious Vegan Challah Recipe

Community Recipes is a recurring feature where I ask a community member  to share a vegan recipe with us. This week I’m featuring Joan Laguatan.  Joan is a Filipina-Jewish vegan mom and real estate broker.  She was born in the Philippines and grew up and lives in San Francisco. She became vegan eight years ago after watching the documentary “Earthlings” and learning more about the realities of factory farming.  She and her husband, Devin Benjamin had a vegan wedding in 2011 (you can read their delicious vegan wedding menu here).

What’s In Your Pantry, Lyndi Cohen?

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 Lyndi Cohen. Lyndi is an Australian TV dietitian known as The Nude Nutritionist. When she quit dieting, she lost 20kg and it changed her life. Now, she helps people around the world eat healthily without obsessing via the advice on her blog, recipes and body positive message.

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Sydney, Australia and have always been really close with my family. I’ve been married for two years, to a lovely man who helped me be more accepting of my body. Growing up I was constantly trying to lose weight or ‘be good’. I was obsessed with food and my weight – it really controlled my life. Nowadays, I eat healthily without restricting or controlling myself. I am a really balanced eater. You bet I have challah on shabbas and never stress about sharing dessert with my family. My favourite food is chocolate – and at some point I realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life missing out on social occasions and my favourite foods. Luckily, I learned that you don’t need to cut out these foods to be healthy.

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

Hungry! But I also feel excited. Food used to make me feel anxious but I don’t stress about it anymore. I like to have a very well stocked pantry so now it makes me excited. A few years ago, I hated cooking and I wasn’t very good at it. I had to follow a recipe precisely because I didn’t have the confidence to play around. At one point I thought, “I’m going to have to cook for the rest of my life -whether I like it or not. I may as well get good at it!” Now, I’ve just written my first recipe book which is due January 2019.

What’s inside your pantry right now?

There are some ingredients I always have on hand.

Tinned chickpeas.

Pasta and tinned tomatoes are essentials for me. It’s an easy way to add another serve of veggies into my meals.

I love Sirena Tuna, the one in oil. I drain the oil a little before eating. I used to buy the tuna in brine when I was a dieter but I realised, I really much prefer the oil version! Life is too short to eat tuna in a brine 😉

Balsamic glaze (if you are unfamiliar with this is is simply balsamic vinegar with a sweetener like honey or maple syrup that is reduced into a syrup), which I drizzle on salads. You can make one at home if you keep kosher.

Pickles and olives. They’re so good to add flavour to meals, or serve if guests turn up. Plus, pickles count as vegetables so I love to snack on them.

What is your process for organizing your food pantry?

I live in a small apartment with a tiny cupboard for my pantry, so it can be a jungle in there. I ran out of space for all my foodie bits so my husband installed a shelf above my sink where I now store my food in jars. It’s also great for preventing weevils from noshing on my food.

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

I’m not sure I can define anything as the healthiest food because healthy eating is all about variety but I think legumes (beans) are totally underrated. Legumes are the one food eaten by people who live the longest. It’s super cheap, loaded with protein, slow burning carbs and fibre. They’re so versatile too, so I’m always adding them into a meals. It’s quick to make a dahl, add lentils into a soup or throw a tin of four bean mix into a salad. I try to eat legumes about four times a week. You can soak your own beans but I’m more of a throw-together-last-minute kinda girl so tinned suits me perfectly. If you want to be healthier, adding legumes into your diet is a simple way to boost your nutrition and support your gut health.

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

No food makes me feel guilty anymore so I don’t have guilty pleasures – only ‘pleasures’! Chocolate is my favourite so I tend to have a block in the pantry. The block is nestled on the side of the pantry so that it’s not the first thing I see when I open the door looking to satiate my hunger. Because I give myself permission to eat chocolate, I don’t binge on it any more like I used to. That’s been a big change for me.

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

My family kitchen was always very healthy but there used to be a stash of chocolate and lollies. As a teenager, I would ask my mum to hide it from me. The trouble is, this made me feel deprived so I craved the treats even more. When I inevitably found the stash, I couldn’t stop eating. It took me a long time to learn that making someone else into the ‘food police’ isn’t a good idea. When you try and control food, food ends up controlling you. So in my house, I don’t keep a stash of chocolate and lollies but I give myself full permission to have them. I have dessert at Shabbat dinner and remind myself that any time I want chocolate, I can go out and buy it. But I also prefer not to keep a stash of chocolate and lollies as I feel better when I’m not always eating that food.

What are your 2-3 go-to cookbooks?

I love Jamie Oliver like 15-minute meals,

Monday Morning Cooking Club cookbooks:  It’s Always About the Food and Monday Morning Cooking Club and The Feast Goes On  (I have all the books) and anything by Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and Simple.

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

I would love a bigger pantry! One where I can see everything. I’m grateful for what I have now but in the meantime, I’ll keep my pantry dreams alive with help from Pinterest.

I am going to remember Lyndi’s words “When you try and control food, food ends up controlling you.”

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

How Skin Care Can Increase Your Self Care

Skin care is something that is an important self care activity.  Most of us have memories of our mothers and grandmothers doing something to their face: moisteristing, getting a facial, plucking out facial hair or putting off taking of make-up.  And personal memories of all the things we have done to our own skin over our lifetimes – some of it kind and some of it very misguided.

Skin care as self care is a concept that appeals to me because it deepens “taking care of my own skin” from superficial fear-based activity to something that nourishes me.

I wanted to have a meaningful conversation about skin care as self care with another woman and the stars aligned for me to share this conversation with Ana Velouise.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with Ana, she is a witness writer and feminist activist.  She is a woman’s woman. She is on a mission to usher in a new era of humanity through helping women remember their divinity and elevating women’s stories. Her vision is justice and liberation for all people through the rise of awakened women. She writes literary fiction and contemplates what it means to be an awakened woman during this time in history. Ana is based in Los Angeles, California.

Tell us the story of how you developed the habit of attending to your skin in an intentional way.

It was only in my 30s that I started to attend to my skin in an intentional way by investing thought, time, and money into skin care. Before that, I didn’t have much of a routine beyond washing my face if I was wearing makeup! Everything changed for me when I started getting facials in my 30s. I had a patient esthetician who explained what my skin was craving (moisture! Which was a surprise as a combination/oily skin person) and introduced me to organic products and healthy routines. Now my skin care is my favorite part of my self care—it feels so good to slow down and be gentle with my face.

What is your skincare philosophy?

Do what feels good, follow your intuition, and less is more. (This is my life philosophy, too!) I also gravitate toward organic ingredients sourced sustainably with no animal testing. Bonus points if the company is a woman-owned business.

What is your skincare routine? (We love details!)

In the morning I wash my face with cold water. After patting my face dry, I spritz a gentle toner onto my face. Then I mix a Vitamin C serum into a moisturizer and apply to my face. After waiting about five minutes to let it soak into my skin, I apply sunscreen.

My night routine starts with double cleansing—an oil cleanser followed by a foaming cleanser. Next I run a cotton ball soaked in moisturizing toner over my face. I do an exfoliating mask or a sheet mask about twice a week. Then I put on my nighttime serum, let it soak into my skin, followed by moisturizer.

I also generously use a rosewater face mist whenever I crave more moisture.

How do you fit skin care into your busy life?

I build it into my morning and night routines. My skin care rituals don’t take more than 10 minutes each morning and night. Of course, I can take more time, and sometimes do. But I’m already at the sink to brush my teeth or in the bathroom to get ready for the day, so taking the time to perform my skin care rituals doesn’t feel like an extra step. Actually, it’s when I’m busy that I tend to spend more time on my skin care—making sure I lay down with a mask for 20 minutes in the evening. My favorite new thing is to put on a guided meditation and lay down while I’m using a face mask.

 

Do you view skin care as a way to chase away fears of not being young enough, beautiful enough or trendy enough, or as a way of supporting yourself as a woman?

Just like with any self-care routine, one brings their perspective into the activity performed. I view skin care as a way to signal to myself I’m worthy of being cared for, of spending time and money on. Skin care is not going to stop me from aging or change how I look. I don’t have misconceptions about that. Rather, it’s about the affect on my confidence and general outlook on life that comes from taking care of myself in ways that feel good—in this case, with serums. ☺

Taking care of my skin has also positively influenced my other self-support activities. Once I started to take care of my face, it pushed through a block I had about skin care—and by extension, self care—being a waste of time and money, indulgent, and unnecessary. It has helped enhance my self-worth, feeling worthy of being taken care of.

Since you started on your skin care as self-care journey, what are the three top things you have learned that you can share with us?

The first would be to use your intuition. Your skin will tell you what it needs based on what’s happening with it. For example, acne along the chin is a hormonal issue, so instead of attacking it with drying products, visiting a doctor to speak about your hormones. What I eat affects my skin, so if I go through a period of consciously avoiding dairy, I notice my skin looks and feels more healthy.

Second, moisture moisture moisture. The skin is a living organ, and the majority of us could stand to give it more moisture. I always thought because I had combination/oily skin, along with cystic acne as a teenager, that moisture was my enemy. It’s completely the opposite!

Third, give each product time to do its job. Sometimes I’m impatient or in a hurry and can’t wait between layering products. But the more I let each product take the time it needs to soak into my skin (three to five minutes is fine), the more the product gets to “work” on my skin and deliver the necessary ingredients.

 

Have you discovered any standout products everyone should know about?

Anything from the Eminence Organics skin care line is amazing. I particularly love their Stone Crop toner, Facial Recovery Oil, and Arctic Berry moisturizer, but you can’t go wrong with any of their products. I love the smell and texture of the Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Cleansing Oil. I use Missha Waterproof Sun Milk SPF 50+ and my skin always feels super soft and matte. As a Vitamin C convert, I use the COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid. I carry small bottles of rosewater spray in every bag and even stock one in my fridge during the summer, and love the Heritage Store Rosewater Spray (here is a place to purchase it wholesale).

If I want to learn more, what places would you recommend?

Gothamista has an amazing YouTube channel where she does all kinds of reviews. I like organic, natural products, so the Natch Beaut podcast is fun, along with shopping products (skin care and makeup) at Credo. The Forever35 podcast is my current obsession—it was everything I didn’t know I needed to hear about skin care and self care. Finally, while I don’t do the full Korean skin care routine, I do incorporate aspects of it and find Korean products to be very reasonable price-wise. My favorite websites for Korean skin care are Soko Glam and Ohlolly.

____________________________________________________________

I also use rosewater to hydrate and refresh my face.  I buy organic rosewater mist in bulk wholesale here

It really struck a chord with me when Ana said, “Skin care is not going to stop me from aging or change how I look.” Women are constantly given the message that the way our faces age is a problem that we have a responsibility to resolve. It feels like radical honesty to accept aging and I feel empowered by viewing taking care of my skin as a way of showing myself love, rather than trying to prevent something.

How about you: What did you learn from Ana’s interview?

 

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Vegan Potato and Spinach Patties

My maternal grandmother used to make these from day old mashed potatoes.  Her recipe included milk, eggs and butter. I used to love them! In the cookbook The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York there is a related recipe called “Sfongo”.  Sfongo that is a potato and spinach layered pie (rather than a patty) that is served as a dairy meal during the week of Passover.  That recipe, like my grandmother’s is filled with milk, eggs and butter.

I wanted a healthier potato and spinach patty recipe so I’ve adapted my grandmother’s  traditional recipe with healthy ingredients that are all plant based.

These healthier potato spinach patties are:

  • Just as delicious as the dairy heavy version and feel a lot better in our bodies
  • Creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside (from the bread crumb crust)
  • Pareve- dairy, egg and margarine free
  • Satiating because potatoes (without all the dairy) are a healthy carb for our bodies
  • Perfect the day you make them and the next day if you warm them up
  • A modern update of a Jewish food favorite
From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Vegan Potato and Spinach Patties
From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen:  Vegan Potato and Spinach Patties
Jewish Food Hero
Rate this recipe
Average: 5/5
1 ratings

  • Yield: Makes 14 patties
  • Tools:
  • Large soup pot
  • Good knife
  • Cutting board
  • Prep bowl
  • Potato masher
  • 2 cookie baking sheet, non stick
  • Spatula
  • Ingredients:
  • 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg) potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 3 cups of good water (you do not drain it afterwards so the water stays in the recipe)
  • 2 cups chopped raw spinach
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

  1. Dice the potatoes into medium sized cubes
  2. Dice the onion super tiny
  3. Place potatoes, onion, water, salt and pepper into large soup pot and simmer until potatoes are well down and mushy and the water is absorbed, approximately 30 min. (Make sure the the bottom does not burn as the water absorbs)
  4. Remove from potatoes from the heat and use the potato masher to mash completely
  5. Preheat the oven 400°F
  6. Chop spinach and measure out 4 cups
  7. Add spinach to mashed potatoes and mix evenly
  8. Taste it! Its yummy! Verify that the salt and pepper levels are right for you.
  9. Form the potato mixture into patties - approximately 2.5in diameter and 3.5 oz. (100 grams)
  10. Coat lightly with bread crumbs on both sides
  11. Place on a non stick cookie baking tray lightly
  12. Bake at for 10 minutes or until the bread crumbs are slightly brown and then flip with a spatula
  13. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the bread crumbs are slightly brown
  14. Serve warm

If you like this recipe, you’ll love The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook: 50 Simple Plant Based Recipes For Your Holiday Meals