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
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  • 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

 

7 Facts That Nobody Told You About Hunger in Israel

For Rosh Hashanah this year, I wanted to make a donation to an Israeli focused on alleviating hunger for Israel’s most vulnerable.  I did a search online and very quickly found Yad Ezra V’Shulamit. a humanitarian organization in Israel which helps needy families overcome poverty.  

I wanted to learn more about hunger in Israel so I reached out to Rabbi Aryeh Lurie, the founder and director of Yad Ezra V’Shulamit,

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up very poor in Israel.  My mother used to take cucumbers that were about to be thrown away and would pick one of them and that would be our lunch.

Every Shabbat my mother prepared a hot stew in our cold, damp house.  The first portion was given to families in need, to lonely people who waited for a warm meal. The primary concern was to give to neighbors who had nothing to eat.  I said when I grow up that I will act for the benefit of the people of Israel; For the good of Am Yisrael – the people of Israel.

How many hungry people are there in Israel? Why are so many people living in poverty?

Here are 7 facts about hunger and poverty in Israel:

  • 1.8 million people living under the poverty line
  • 842,000 children are living in poverty   
  • One out of every three children in Israel  goes to bed hungry.
  • Over 53% of children in Jerusalem are living in poverty 
  • The cost of living in Israel is very high, and the wages are low. 
  • Poverty is a real struggle for many:  
    • Seniors, including Holocaust survivors.
    • Single parent families  
    • Working families 
  • Unfortunately, today’s socio-economic environment in Israel poses many challenges in the day-to-day lives of many struggling families. It can even be difficult for middle class families to manage their basic expenditures.

While the Israeli government has several programs that assist those living below the poverty line, it is still not sufficient to ensure that all Israeli families have the food, clothing and education they need. Naturally, the consequences of this reality are devastating.

Our food distribution project serves over 3,000 needy families who all are classify as living below the poverty line according to Israel’s Ministry of Social Services and Affairs. The households include widows, orphans, holocaust survivors, handicapped, elderly, young families with children, single parents, lone soldiers, new immigrants, and families with ill, unemployed, or deceased parents.

What does Judaism say about the importance of helping the poor, specifically through food distribution?

“There will always be poor in Israel”, the sages tell us.  Why?  “So others will learn to care”.   G-d can provide everyone with everything.  However, I understand that G-d wants us to develop our ability to relate to our fellow Jew as a brother/sister and really care enough to make a difference.  If your brother/sister was hungry, you would make sure he had food. That is how we are supposed to feel about every Jewish person in need.

Another famous excerpt from the Torah in Leviticus 19:9 and 10: “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest . . . thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger”.

There are countless of other places in the Torah which are directly related to the act of feeding the poor.  We see here, the Mitzvah to leave a “corner” of a harvested field crop for the poor person.  Today, many farmers in Israel have taken upon themselves to fulfill this very important mitzvah which has aided in Yad Ezra V’Shulamit’s food distribution project. 

What are the Jewish social action values which drive and motivate you to do this work?

I can’t sleep at night knowing there are children who are hungry.  My hope is that everyone can make an effort – make it a priority to help feed Jewish children in Israel. These are all our children, our future and the future of Israel.

The mitzvah to give tzedakah (charity) requires every Jewish person to donate 10% of his/her income. G-d tells us, “Take care of Mine, and I will take care of yours.” Rashi explains, “You take care of Mine – the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, and I will take care of yours, your sons and your daughters.” It is as though G-d gives us 10% more money than is due to us, and that extra 10% should be shared with the poor.

How is Yad Ezra V’Shulamit taking care to provide families with healthy food, such as fresh food, fruit, vegetables, grains, tubers and beans?

Each food basket contains grains; fresh fruits and vegetables; and staples like flour, canned goods, oil, and other basics.   For holidays baskets have more, Rosh HaShana we provide honey and grape juice, Passover we give Matza and potatoes.   

The food baskets are delivered on Thursday afternoons, in preparation for Shabbat.

How does having plentiful and healthful food affect other aspects of a family’s life?

The food basket makes a great difference to the lives of these families. It relieves the parental stress of not knowing where the next meal will come from. Adequate nutrition is essential for a child’s success in school and in life. No one can focus on learning when their stomach is growling from hunger. A healthy diet will keep a children strong and in school.  Just meet Leah…

Leah Rivoni’s teacher was concerned.  The seven year olds lunch box never contained very much – usually a packet of potato chips and a cheap, sugary drink. Leah’s teacher began making an extra sandwich and brought fresh fruit to school for Leah. The teacher observed Leah hungrily devouring the food and knew it was time to speak to Rina, Leah’s mother.  Rina began to sob and explained to the teacher that she was a single mother with two daughters, Leah and her infant sister. Rina cleaned houses but did not make enough money to feed both daughters and herself adequately. Fortunately, the teacher knew about Yad Ezra V’Shulamit. The family signed up for weekly and holiday food baskets and an additional weekly infant basket containing formula, diapers and baby wipes. Leah is now on the waiting list for the Yad Ezra V’Shulamit’s after-school program where she will receive a hot meal once a day and academic and emotional support. We are hoping a place will open up for her at the start of the school year. 

Hundreds of thousands of children and families go without eating three proper meals per day. Hunger leads to depression, anxiety and puts kids at risk.  It is a yearlong, daily problem.  That is where Yad Ezra V’Shulamit steps in. We make sure needy children and families have enough to eat so they can function properly and break out of the cycle of poverty.

How is Yad Ezra V’Shulamit working to break the cycle of poverty, beyond food distribution?

Yad Ezra V’Shulamit is a humanitarian organization that works to provide nutritional security, educational enrichment, and social support to impoverished children, youth of immigrant families throughout Israel. The organization’s approach to combating poverty is to intervene not only on a material level (with food, money, etc.), but more importantly, to provide the tools indigent families need to break out of the cycle of poverty in which they are trapped, sometimes for generations.

We understand that poverty does not exist in a vacuum. Through our various programs, (weekly and holiday food baskets, children’s centers, feed-a baby program, assistance to single-parent families and job desk) we help more than 100,000 people annually. 

Our Food Distribution program provides needy families with an immediate solution to hunger. But that is just the beginning. Yad Ezra V’Shulamit deals with the ripple effects of poverty through various intervention and empowerment initiatives. 

The Food Distribution program is just one initiative of the many that provide immediate food relief. Nourishing, satiating sustenance is the first step in restoring health and dignity and helping families break free from the cycle of poverty.

How can people get involved and/or make a donation to your organization?

Donations can be made on our website, www.yadezra.net , by phone 1-866-978-5049 or by mail, Friends of Yad Ezra V’Shulamit 3470 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1020 Los Angeles, CA 90010 (501 C3- #46 0477228).  For donations in other countries, such as Canada or the UK, please visit our website. 

Whether it is a Jewish holiday, your birthday, wedding, anniversary or another milestone, you can include Yad Ezra V’Shulamit in your celebrations and give back to hungry children and families.

What’s On Your Rosh Hashanah Playlist, Maya Ross?

What’s on Your Holiday Playlist” is a recurring feature where I ask one woman to create a holiday inspired soundtrack for us.

This Rosh Hashanah, I asked  Maya Ross to build a Rosh Hashanah mood for us.

I met Maya in January 2018 when she came to Cambodia during her gap year.  She volunteered as a Circus teacher at Phare Ponleu Selpak, a non-profit Cambodian association that improves the lives of children, and their families, through art schools, educational programs and social support.

Having Maya living near our family in Cambodia felt like having a very intelligent, friendly and supportive younger sister living nearby, or how I imagine it might be since I have two brothers.  She shared Shabbat meals with us, many meaningful conversations (and texts), walks, and laughs.

Currently Maya is a full time student at East 15 Acting School in South End, England For the next three years she will be pursuing her BA in World Performance.

Maya is passionate about the arts and during our time together we spoke about books, music, movies and theatre.   She is the perfect woman to create an inspiring playlist for us this year for Rosh Hashanah.

We miss you Maya!  

Let’s connect with Maya and listen to her.  May this post inspire you.

What mood are you building with this Rosh Hashanah 2018 playlist?

Celebratory and rejoicing the new year! But also, an exploration of Jewish music around the world. The following songs are from Israel, Spain, Greece, and the United States. A combination of Sephardic and Ashkenazi songs. 

What do you imagine us “doing” while we listen to this playlist?  

I imagine you listening to this playlist while preparing the Rosh Hashanah dinner, with the whole family singing along and helping for a celebratory dinner with friends. I also just imagine dancing in the living room!

El legado oral de la diáspora sefardí – Música Encerrada 

The first song is a Sefardi song which slowly brings us in the mood of the holidays. Its begins tranquil and gradually picks up a pace. This instrumental piece, played in renaissance style, is about the longing for what was lost in Spain after its diaspora. The legend tells that some Sephardic Jews retained – generation after generation – the keys of what was once their home: Sepharad. The album “Música Encerrada” is played by Capella de Ministrers and Carles Magraner, from Spain.  

El Nora Alila – Youval Taieb 

El Nora is a song I first heard on Purim in the Synagogue in Geneva, Switzerland. I looked all over to find the same version on YouTube, but sadly couldn’t find it. This version is very uplifting and has a great instrumental section. El Nora Alila is a piyyut that begins the Ne’ilah service at the conclusion of Yom Kippur.

La Reina Jerifa Mora – Música Sefardí 

I adore Ladino Sephardic music. This is another favorite of mine. This song is based off of the time when Jews were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of 1the 5th century, moving all over the Mediterranean Sea. This is a poem about two sisters, one a queen the other a captive. To read more about the story visit this link

Los guisados de la berendjena – Aman Aman  

This is a song of my childhood. My mother played this CD in the house and in the car. Though my family is not Greek, this is a Sephardic song from Rhodos, Greece. She loved it because it was a song about the ways to prepare aubergine. You just want to dance and sing along. 

Cocek a la Kopyt – Amsterdam Klezmer Band 

It’s party time! And what better way to start celebrating than with some Klezmer. I recently found out about Amsterdam Klezmer Band. They have a kind of a funky, modern, Klezmer style. But you can’t help tapping your feet. The song is from the album “Oyoyoy.” They state it is “the natural next step in the evolution of progressive Klezmer from Amsterdam.” 

Rapsodie Hébraïque – Alexandre Tansman 

This puts your mind at rest…Tansman was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of Jewish origin. He spent his early years in his native Poland, but lived in France for most of his life. He was friends with Charlie Chaplin, and played for the Emperor Hirohito of Japan and Mahatma Gandhi. You can hear the power of Jewish musical roots, and the Polish flavors. 

This Is One Of Those Moments – Yentl

I am a Musical Theatre fanatic! So of course, we must include Yentl. And who isn’t a fan or Streisand?! I remember singing this Soundtrack infant of the piano with my mum accompanying me. I love this song. It brings so much warmth into my heart. 

To Life – Fiddler on the Roof

And to finish off, the most well-known song from Fiddler on the Roof. It is the story about a man, Tevye, and his five daughters as he tries to maintain a stable relationship with his family and his Jewish religious traditions. Sung by Topol, a wonderful singer and actor. I say “L’Chaim to everyone!” 

Thank you Maya for inspiring us!

Your turn: What song would you add to this playlist?  Put your choice in the comment section below.

Chag Notebook: Danielle Flug Capalino

One of my goals with the Chag Notebook series is to tell stories from our global female Jewish community.

To help me reach this goal, I contacted the Joint Distribution Committee, which works to help build Jewish life and leadership all over the world. They connected me with Danielle Flug Capalino a Registered Dietitian, Author, Consultant, Wife, Daughter, and new Mother living in Manhattan.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a born and raised New Yorker. I work as a registered dietitian, consultant and author. I specialize in helping people with digestive issues so my friends joke that I help people with “Jewish guts”. I have a private practice, and also offer an online program called WTFodmap. I have written two books –Healthy Gut, Flat Stomach and the Microbiome Diet – with a third on the way.

I am proud to be a board member at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which I joined as part of JDC Entwine’s innovative Global Leaders Initiative. “GLI”, as we call it, takes passionate and talented young Jewish adults, trains them to help respond to a myriad of global issues, and places them on JDC’s board of directors to ensure the organization can benefit from their expertise. Since then, I have increased my involvement even further. My family’s foundation is helping support Tikkun Olam Ventures (TOV), a groundbreaking new JDC project to help fight poverty among rural farmers. The organisation matches the farmers with Israeli agricultural technology, a philanthropic loan fund, and untapped markets. Vegetables have sprouted in Ethiopia and we have issued loans, deployed the Israeli drip irrigation systems, and some produce is already at market. I am also co-chairing a JDC food circle where we learn about and taste different ethnic Jewish cuisines.

How do you connect to Judaism?

I connect to Judaism through philanthropy and through food. I have been very lucky that the idea of Jewish philanthropy was imprinted on me at a very young age by my grandfather Joseph Gurwin. My mother and I are honored to continue his legacy now through a foundation he established. Upon coming to the United States at the age of 16 on his own and losing his parents in the Holocaust, his major passion in life was helping Jewish people.

On the other side of my family, my grandmother, Fortune Flug was an incredible cook who introduced me to Syrian flavors. I have Syrian cousins who I love to visit – they make the most delicious food! I feel like I can connect with my heritage through food and it is a connection that I want to pass along to my son.

On the days leading up to my son’s birth, I participated in a guided mikvah session with a family friend through Immerse NYC. It was such an impactful experience, connecting me to Judaism and my son. I baked challah using a 5-pound bag of flour and recited prayers as I burned a piece of dough over a flame. My Syrian cousin gave me the idea to perform the ritual and it really showed me how much family, food, and religion are connected.

How do you prepare to host people for a holiday meal or celebration?

I started preparing for the major holidays on my own about four years ago. That first year I went to Kitchen Arts and Letters and asked for a Jewish cookbook. They responded and asked “what region of Jewish food?” as they had an extensive selection. My grandmother was from Aleppo and she was a fabulous cook so I am drawn to more Sephardic flavors (though I love pretty much all Jewish food). The first Jewish cookbook I bought was Jayne Cohen’s book Jewish Holiday Cooking. I have used the book for the past few holidays as the recipes are phenomenal!

The recipes I remember making the first year were – a Moroccan brisket that was a 3-day process, Egyptian beans, and potato leek matzah balls. I had never made a brisket before and I was doing this by myself. I prepared it in a ceramic roasting pan and heated it on the stove (don’t try that at home). Once I realized the pan cracked in half, I had to think on my feet!

How does the ideal holiday celebration look and feel to you?

Passover is my favorite holiday. I am in charge of the food and my husband is in charge of the Seder readings. We try to incorporate more modern songs and readings in addition to our Haggadah. I think any meal that is cooked from scratch has beauty and meaning. The food is infused with love and tradition.

Leading up to, during, and after the holidays, how do you reconnect with yourself?

Personally, I reconnect with myself 100% through cooking. Every year now, I will take one full day before Hanukkah, Passover, and Rosh Hashanah, and cook by myself. It is a meditative experience and it makes me feel proud that I can carry on Jewish traditions. This year it is even more special, because it will be my son’s first time experiencing the Jewish holidays.

What is one of your most memorable holiday experiences?

The first year I made Passover I was nervous that my matzah balls were not going to work out (they did even though I chose an insanely ambitious recipe from Jayne Cohen’s book Jewish Holiday Cooking). I went to Russ & Daughters to buy some backups just in case, and while I was there I bought some gefilte fish. The night before my husband was hungry and I told him to have a matzah ball because we would have mine at the Seder. He gobbled away right in the kitchen and said how delicious they were. Well, my husband who claims to hate gefilte fish, totally ate gefilte fish thinking they were matzah balls. So – don’t write off any food based on what you think they might taste like!

What’s your absolute favorite holiday dish?

I love the Moroccan Brisket from Jayne Cohen’s book Jewish Holiday Cooking. I’ve gotten better at making it after a few years so now it is not as intimidating.

Do you have any non-traditional holiday rituals or habits?

We try to incorporate some contemporary music so I have a playlist including Louis Armstrong “Go down, Moses.”

What was something that your mother (or another influential figure) shared with you about the holidays that has stuck with you?

“Perfect is the enemy of good” – so I try to just go for it and not worry too much if what I make is not “perfect.”

What’s your number one tip or trick you’ve discovered that makes the holidays smoother, more positive and meaningful for you?

Cook! I am not a professional chef and I taught myself how to make holiday food from a book with no pictures in it. The experience of preparing an entire meal from scratch has connected me to Judaism.

Your turn:  What will you remember from Danielle’s interview?

7 Ways To Add More Mindfulness To The Jewish Holidays

In modern culture, there is a lot of talk about mindfulness and how it can help our physical and mental health in general. Can mindfulness be integrated into our Jewish holiday experience? In thinking about it, there might be two questions:

  • Can mindfulness help us stay more present with our own experience during the holidays?
  • Can mindfulness help us feel more connected with the the holiday experience?

After all, the high holiday services are long and many of us

  • Find it hard to spiritually and psychologically connect to the Rosh Hashanah prayers
  • Struggle to turn the act of reading words into a spiritual experience
  • Experience some moments of ambivalence, mental and emotional boredom and/or other difficult emotions.

After the holiday, it is easy to feel that you completed a lot of reading, but missed the spiritual experience of the holiday.

These days, the term ‘mindfulness’ is so common (and overused) that it might be helpful to revisit its definition. American professor and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Jon Kabat-Zinn states,

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, it’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

Last year, I created Rosh Hashanah centering prayer cards (think of them as pretty and sweet spiritual flashcards) to help us stay connected.

Helping ourselves connect to this theme, here are 7 ways to add more mindfulness to your Jewish holiday experience:

Include Your Own Reflections and Vision

Before the high holidays, schedule some time to prepare. Here is a downloadable worksheet to help us reflect on the past year and create a vision for the upcoming year before Rosh Hashanah begins.

Daydream (just a little bit)

Our mind wanders during prayers naturally and it can feel difficult to stay focused. Sometimes you may feel that your mind is distracted and wandering all the time. You could give yourself some leeway to daydream and then return to prayers. According to neuroscientist Amishi Jha, giving yourself a little space to daydream, is “[the] capacity to let the mind engage in spontaneous thought…Positive mood increases. Creativity increases. And the key is that we have the space to do that.”

Breathing To Relax

It would be nice if the holidays gave us some feelings of physical and mental relaxation. I am not talking about the type of relaxation we feel when we are almost alseep or zoning out in front of the TV. I am talking about the type of relaxation where our body and mind feels calm and open. One way to do that during the holidays is to breathe deeply when you notice your breathing is shallow and you feel tired or bored.

Be Curious

One paradoxical way to connect more to your own experience is to be curious about another person. It is funny how listening to another person allows us to connect more deeply to ourselves. Take the time to ask someone about their experience of the holidays.

Focus on the environment around you

Beyond reading prayers during the holidays, we can also focus on the environment as a way to connect to the holidays. We can close our eyes and listen to the sounds in the synagogue and we can look around and notice others as a way of connecting more deeply with the present moment.

Eat Mindfully

Some Jewish food wisdom: “Eating is the best of prayers.” -Avrunin (you can find more Jewish food quotes here for your inspiration and reflection).

We can incorporate the principles of mindful eating into for our holiday meals. My two favorites are:

  • Respect your inner wisdom and select and prepare food in a way that feels positive and nurturing for your bodies, minds and spirits.
  • Tune in to the sensations of physical hunger and satiety and let them guide your decisions to begin and end eating.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and mindful new year!

Your turn:  Do you have a mindfulness tip to share with us.

7 Simple Ways To Reduce Your Meat and Dairy Consumption During the Jewish

Outside of the synagogue, the Jewish holidays are celebrated in large part by enjoying communal meals and eating (too much) special food. For many of us, these special meals are meat or dairy rich.

When I last checked, most Jewish people do not want to celebrate the holidays with 100% vegan or vegetarian meals because it does not feel right. Unfortunately many view diet, and specifically meat and dairy eating, as a black and white issue. Either you eat meat and dairy or you don’t. Either you serve meat or dairy or you don’t. What if we could drop this all-or-nothing idea and take a middle way during the Jewish holidays (and the rest of our lives)?

Meat and Dairy Reductionism Explained

For many people, meat/dairy reductionism is a more reasonable moderate approach that feels less extreme and therefore more possible. Reductionism means that you are committed to eating less red meat, poultry and fish, and less dairy and eggs in your diet for health and/or environmental reasons.

Here are 7 simple ways to reduce your meat and dairy consumption during the Jewish holidays.

Serve more fresh vegetables and fruits

Add delicious fresh vegetable salads and fresh whole fruits to your menu. Here are 17 plant- based recipes that your eyes, mouth and gut will love.

Serve more tubers, whole grains, and legumes.

Tubers, whole grains and legumes are satiating and give us the feeling of being full. And no, they will not make you fat! We cannot live on vegetables and fruit alone. Here are three recipes:

Serve less meat and dairy

If you want to prepare your favorite meat and dairy recipes for the holidays, you can simply focus on reducing the amount of meat, fish, dairy, eggs on your table. This means that you can reduce the amount of meat or dairy in the recipe or look for vegetarian substitutes for your recipes. For example:

  • If your recipe calls for beef, you might reduce the meat in half and add mushrooms to the recipe
  • If your recipe calls for a yogurt or a milk based ingredient you might use plant milks and yogurts instead.

Ethical Animal Products

If you are going to eat meat and dairy during the holidays, you can serve ethical less kosher meat and dairy products. Yes, these higher quality and ethical animal products are more expensive but they are also healthier for our bodies and the environment.

Serve Once

Serve animal protein in only one course at each community meal. In today’s world, there is no need to have an animal protein appetizer and an animal product based soup and then an animal protein main course.

Serve smaller portions of meat

If we focus on meat, fish, and dairy as condiments, not the focal point of the meal, we can serve smaller portions of animal products. As a guideline, no more than 4 oz (113 g) or less per meal.

1 Vegan/Vegetarian Meal

Consider preparing and hosting 1 vegan/vegetarian holiday meal during the holidays .

I am proposing meat and dairy reductionism as an approach for the Jewish holidays.

Here are some benefits to eating more plant-based foods:

Benefit #1: Mood and Energy Levels

Ever notice how a few hours after you eat that cookie, your energy plummets and your mood worsens? Eating plant-based food can stabilize your mood and energy levels throughout the day.

Benefit #2: Environmental  

Food consumption and agricultural practices impact the health of our environment, too. In particular, factory farming and other large-scale meat and dairy production contribute to climate change.

Benefit #3: Disease Prevention

Here’s a sample of the common health problems that can be prevented or improved when you eat a plant-based diet:

diabetes, heart disease, obesity, acne, intestinal diseases, depression, fatigue, liver disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and more.

Your turn:  Of the 7 tips, which one seems the most possible?

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Toasted Almond Brown Rice Salad with Dried Cherries

I love grain based salads. This brown rice salad it nutty and fresh and satiating.

The rice and fresh vegetables paired with the sour and tart dried cherries and the toasted almonds gives the salad a earthy and special flavor.

This salad can be a side dish or a main, depending on your guests and your menu.

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Toasted Almond Brown Rice Salad with Dried Cherries
Jewish Food Hero
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    Tools:
  • Rice cooker
  • Good knife
  • Blender
  • Salad bowl
    Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ cups long grain brown rice (to get 3 cups cooked), you can sub in quinoa
  • 1 cup diced yellow pepper
  • 1 cups sliced spinach
  • ½ cup of seeded and diced tomato
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • ¼ cup green onion tops, sliced (the green part only)
  • 1-2 tsp natural cane sugar
  • ¼ cup dried cherries, sliced in half
  • ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

    Instructions:
  1. Prep:
  2. Cook the rice according to the directions, making sure to rinse the rice before cooking
  3. After the rice is cooked, spread it out on a baking sheet and allow it to cool for 1 hour. This is important for the overall appearance of the rice salad and keeping it from looking like “rice mush”
  4. Dice the vegetables, garlic, shallots, onions and cherries to small diced size and set aside in a large prep bowl.
  5. Place all diced vegetable EXCEPT the spinach into salad bowl and set aside
  6. Slice the almonds and toast them until slightly golden and set aside to cool (around 5 min)
  7. Blend lemon juice, salt and sugar into a dressing and set aside
  8. Pour dressing mixture over the vegetables and mix gently with your hands
  9. Add the rice, spinach and almonds and mix gently by hand
  10. Taste and add more salt, pepper or sugar to taste
  11. Transfer to a pretty salad bowl
  12. Serve at room temperature or cold

; Yield: Serves 4-6

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

Jewish Food Hero Cookbook // jewishfoodhero.com

From The Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Sweet + Simple Carrot and Cashew Salad

Carrots are a symbolic food for Rosh Hashanah.

This dairy free raw salad is fresh and the dressing is creamy. Carrot salad is simple to make and most people enjoy eating it. The dressing is made from soaked cashews and plant based milk. This is a perfect side dish for any Jewish holiday (or any meal really).

From The Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Sweet + Simple Carrot and Cashew Salad
Jewish Food Hero
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    Tools:
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • blender
  • Box grater
  • Salad bowl
  • Small frying pan
    Ingredients:
  • 6 cups grated carrots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: ¼ cup whole raw unsalted cashews, chopped and toasted
  • Dressing:
  • 1 cup of non dairy milk (rice, almond or cashew milk work fine)
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
  • ½ tsp honey, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Optional: a tiny slice of red jalapeno pepper to add heat to salad

    Instructions:
  1. Soak ¼ cup of cashew nuts for 2-4 hours and then drain
  2. Chop ¼ cup cashews, lightly toast them in a frying pan and set aside
  3. Grate carrots for 5 cups and place in mixing bowl
  4. Add all dressing ingredients to blender and blend until smooth
  5. Add dressing to grated carrots and mix gently with your hands
  6. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste
  7. Transfer to a pretty salad bowl
  8. Refrigerate or serve right away.
  9. Garnish with lightly toasted chopped cashew nuts

; Yield: Serves 4-6

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

Jewish Food Hero Cookbook // jewishfoodhero.com

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Apple and Honey Pancakes

I have never been a pancake fan. In the last year, my daughter started asking for pancakes so I was forced to engage with the world of pancakes. I made a plant based vegan pancake recipe specifically with the high holidays in mind.

These vegan pancakes are fluffy, thick and delicious. They are as tasty as normal egg and oil pancakes but feel much lighter in the body.

What I particularly love about this recipe:

  • Including apple cider vinegar adds a subtle and necessary sour taste to the pancakes
  • Combining oat flour and white whole wheat flour – it feels like if the recipe called for just one or the other, it would be too gummy or too heavy
  • 1 Tbsp of honey adds just the perfect level of sweetness
  • Enjoy the pancakes with apple compote, traditional maple syrup, or raw honey.

These pancakes would be a perfect breakfast or brunch during the days of awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. After you eat them once, they will become a family favorite.

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Apple and Honey Pancakes
Jewish Food Hero
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    Tools:
  • Frying pan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Soup pot
    Ingredients:
  • For Pancakes:
  • 1 ¼ cups oat flour (rolled oats ground in a blender)
  • 1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of rice milk
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
    For Apple compote
  • 5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

  1. Make apple compote first:
  2. Peel, core and slice the apple into small pieces
  3. Place apples and brown sugar into a soup pot
  4. Simmer over medium heat for 20 min or until soft and mushy
  5. Set aside
  6. Prepare pancake mix:
  7. Place 1 tbsp chia seed in the rice milk and stir well. Set aside for 10 min to thicken.
  8. Blend whole oats to a flour and place in large mixing bowl
  9. Add white whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  10. In another mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients: apple sauce, vanilla and the rice milk/chia seed mixture
  11. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend gently and evenly
  12. Let sit for 10-20 min before making the pancakes
  13. Make the pancakes
  14. Turn on the stove with a pan to medium heat.
  15. When the pan is hot, spoon one pancake mixture into the pan
  16. When you see tiny bubbles in the middle and the edges look done, gently flip the pancake
  17. Repeat until all the pancake mixture is gone
  18. Eat warm with apple compote or maple syrup

; Yield: makes approx. 8-12 pancakes

Ultimate Guide to Healthier Challah Recipes

Challah is one of the central iconic Jewish foods served every Shabbat and on some holidays. The bread is beautiful and smells delicious. The classic Challah recipe includes flour, eggs, sugar/honey and oil. Needless to say, challah is a very rich food and heavy on our stomachs. If you are serving classic challah out of obligation, here is some food for thought.

We live in a more health conscious time. Because of this, healthier challah recipes are abundant.

Here are 18 healthier Challah recipes to explore on your health journey:

Sourdough Challah

Sourdough is made with wild yeast, which neutralizes the phytic acid in bread, which is what irritates many peoples’ stomachs. It combines the health benefits of sourdough with the classic challah shape.

Cornmeal Challah

Anyone a cornmeal fan? Corn muffins, cornbread, and yes, even cornmeal challah! Save this recipe for Thanksgiving too. To top it off and add that special touch to your bread, include the pumpkin seeds.

Paleo Challah

This challah is beautifully brown and crusty on the outside and soft within. The loaf is also nut, coconut, dairy, and yeast free! The special ingredient is cassava flour.

Vegan Water Challah

Lots of kosher bakeries created what are known as “water challahs” to cater to egg abstainers.

This recipe creates a crusty, chewy, and sweet vegan challah.

Water Challah Recipe (You can use date syrup in this one)

This adaptable water Challah is inspired by both Sephardic and Yekkish, German challah recipes that use less sugar than the traditional sweet egg challah of Ashkenazic cooks.

Vegan Challah

The speciality in this vegan challah recipe is that it uses chickpea flour! What a concept, right?! But it proves to bake delicious sweet bread. Follow the DIY instructions to chickpea flour.

Olive Oil Challah

The New York Times published this recipe. It makes one large loaf and tastes similar to the classical Challah we all know.

Olive Oil Flax Seed Vegan Challah Bread

This vegan challah uses flax seeds instead of eggs and olive oil instead of canola oil. The recipe is simple and it is easy to make.

Whole Wheat Challah

Whole wheat with brown sugar too! This recipe makes two big loaves. It has a smooth yet doughy texture inside.

Vegan Challah from Aquafaba

This vegan Challah uses aquafaba, which is just a fancy name for bean water. (If you want to DIY this, you can use the water in a can of chickpeas). The results: rich vegan Challah!

Egg Free Challah

This egg free Challah is perfect for every Friday night as it is simple to make and yummy to eat. It is cholesterol-free. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Oat Flour Challah

This gluten-free bread is delicious and nutritious as well. This recipe can be adapted to make Challah rolls.

Moist, Delicious Gluten Free

It’s gluten free, dairy free and sweetened with honey or date paste. The great thing about this recipe is that it uses oat flour, which allows you to use it for the hamotzi blessing on Shabbat or other times.

Gluten Free and Vegan Challah

This is a gluten free and vegan. Due to the wet consistency of the dough, use a challah mold to make this look like traditional Challah bread.

Gluten Free and grain free Challah

This is another recipe where you will want to use a challah mold. This texture is more cakey than bread. The recipe calls for coconut flour and almond flour.

Low carb Challah

For paleo folks, this challah recipe includes protein powder, coconut and almond flour and avocado oil.

Braided Flatbread Challah

When you are short on time, this challah flatbread recipe can be made super-fast. Add sesame or poppy seeds to these.

Whole Spelt Challah

Spelt is a species of wheat cultivated since approximately 5000 BC. You can prep this Challah using a bread machine.

Cornbread Challah

These cornbread loaves are dairy and gluten free. For the Hamotzi prayer, add a trace of wheat, spelt, barley, rye, or oats to this recipe.

Your Turn: Have you found healthier alternatives to traditional challah? Please let us know so we can share the love!