Interview with Ashkenazi Food Expert: Jeffrey Yoskowitz

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Tell us a bit about yourself (where you grew up, what you do to rejuvenate yourself and relax, how your got into Jewish food, what is your go-to meal, what you are reading right now).

I grew up in New Jersey, in a pretty rural town that wasn’t all that far from New York City. I visited the city fairly often with my father, a Brooklyn kid, and that’s where I learned about delis, appetizing shops and even knisheries. I’ve always loved both the city and the outdoors. I currently live in Brooklyn, but I moved here from a farm in Northwest Connecticut where I learned to make pickles and jams, to grow organically and to brew biodiesel fuel from used vegetable grease. I try to get out of the city and go hiking in the Hudson Valley and the Piedmont Mountains of New Jersey. I play basketball regularly. I love to play around in the kitchen, too. When I’m in Manhattan, I tend duck into a classic Jewish deli for matzo ball soup when it’s cold out. All winter long I crave it. I’m currently reading The Revenge of Analog by David Sax.

What was your ah-ha moment about working in food, and Jewish food in particular?

Not sure I had that a-ha moment. I was working in food, importing organic products from the  Middle East, working with small olive oil producers in places like the Negev, and as I was doing that, articles appeared in most newspapers about the death of the Jewish deli and the decline of Ashkenazi cuisine. I felt like I needed to devote my time and energy to making sure the foods of my tradition didn’t die with the older generation.

Living in Brooklyn in the midst of the recession, where the artisanal food scene was growing and everyone and their mother was starting a pickle company or an artisanal mac and cheese company, I looked around and felt like I didn’t see “my food” represented. So I launched The Gefilteria with the intent to make artisanal versions of Jewish foods, and even more importantly, to do my part to bring about a renaissance in Ashkenazi cuisine.

How have trends in healthy eating affected your cooking and recipe creation?

My primary motivation at first was to create Jewish food products that matched the values of the day. I was making probiotic pickles and Ashkenazi kale salads and gefilte fish using higher quality, more sustainable fish, without gmo oils and without the usual fillers that were full of gluten. Much of that was in response to the health and environmental trends of the day.

A year or so into this venture, however, when The Gefilteria began catering meals, running pop-ups and presenting at outdoor markets, I began focusing less on responding to current health trends and more on mining Ashkenazi cuisine for its built-in nutritional wisdom, much of which, it turns out, correlates with current health studies. For instance, the sour garlic and dill pickles I’ve been making for years are lacto-fermented, meaning they’re probiotic and great for digestion and immune support. That’s also how you make a good Jewish pickle. Recently there’s been a reversal among nutritionists with respect to animal fats, and foods like schmaltz, which were once shunned, are now celebrated. Fortunately, schmaltz has always been a big part of Jewish cooking.

What feelings do you associate with Jewish food?

Since laughter and jokes so often accompany a good meal, I’d have to say mirth. And as a grandchild of holocaust survivors, I’d often hear stories of sorrow and tragedy during holiday feasts, so I’d say sadness.

What role does food have in Jewish tradition? Is this role changing in the twenty-first century?

I studied religion and history at a Jewish day school for much of my childhood, but it was only at home, with my family, that I learned the culture of our Polish-Jewish ancestors. It all started in the kitchen.

I tend to resist the “we survived, now let’s eat” view of Jewish food’s role in the tradition. I find that cooking and eating offer a rhythm for Jewish life. The big feasts with the more labor-intensive and calorie-rich foods mark the holidays, and in each separate culture, the adaptation of a local cuisine to Jewish dietary laws makes up our day-to-day foods.

I think lately there’s been this idea of “global Jewish cuisine” which merges together global dishes from around the world. I’m more interested in the regionalisms that make Jewish life so diverse and rich. I have personally been exploring Ashkenazi cuisine deeply and I’m really inspired by peers of mine who are doing the same for Italian-Jewish or North African Jewish or Iraqi-Jewish cooking, to name a few. I think the disambiguation of Jewish cooking is the future.

How do you picture the impact of Gefilteria in ten years time?

My hope is that people (Jews and non-Jews) will think of Ashkenazi culinary heritage as relevant and a full-fledged cuisine, on par with other major cuisines around the world. And I hope that a new generation will take pride in their culinary traditions, which wasn’t so much the case when I was growing up.

I also think The Gefilteria has played a major role in changing the narrative of gefilte fish as a maligned Ashkenazi dish. There’s been a bit of a gefilte fish renaissance as of late, with chefs in places like Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv and Berlin exploring the dish. We went all in on gefilte fish about 6-7 years ago and started a conversation. I hope to see that the conversation has continued.

What do you feel the most proud of about your work?

I’m most proud of all the teaching that’s increasingly become a big part of my work. I’ve been presenting to audiences around the world about Ashkenazi Jewish culture and history, in places as far away as Australia and Finland, and in parts of the US with small Jewish communities, like Charleston and Louisville. I know a lot of people are searching for meaning in their own histories and family traditions – I’m glad that I’ve been able to connect the dots for many people.  I’ve also been able to teach high schoolers and college-aged students and hopefully offer them a piece of their cultural heritage that will inspire them going forward.

What would your grandparents say about Gefilteria?

Well, my grandmother is still alive and she doesn’t quite know what to make of what I do. She thinks I’m just a caterer. But she has read The Gefilte Manifesto which credits her with so much inspiration and retells many of her stories, and I know for a fact that it really makes her proud. She’s especially excited to know that her strudel recipe is out in the world.

What is it that keeps you motivated and excited to do this work?

Jewish foods of eastern and central Europe carry with them a lot of emotion. At any given event or dinner or book talk, I hear people’s stories with these foods, whether someone grew up with a carp in their bathtub or a grandmother who made stuffed cabbage every week. Those stories are very nourishing for me, as is the feedback from many people I feed or speak to that my work is inspiring and gratifying for them.

Interview with Ashkenazi Food Expert - Books

For men and women who want more resources on Jewish food, what books would you recommend?

A book that came out recently that offers a unique historical perspective (and that’s also quite entertaining) is Rhapsody in Schmaltz by Michael Wex. David Sax’s Save the Deli is one of the books that inspired me to start The Gefilteria. Jane Ziegelman’s 97 Orchard is a real historical gem. And I’d add the recently translated from Yiddish to English cookbook, The Vilna Vegetarian, since it offers such a window into Jewish life in Vilna in the 1930s. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, to be honest. There’s a pretty significant bibliography in the back of The Gefilte Manifesto, which is to say that there are a lot of works of scholarship and on this subject that speak to me.

Your turn:  Tell us the title of your favorite Jewish food book.

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What Is Your Pantry: Sabrina Perl?

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Sabrina Perl is a weight loss coach and personal trainer who helps Israeli women who are struggling to find time to take care of themselves.  She supports women to eat healthier and move their bodies more.  

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. I currently live in Modi’in with my husband and 2 boys (ages 8 and 5).

When I want to relax I go on long walks with my ipod. My favorite music at the moment is by  Ellie Goulding, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry. But I am typically a classic rock kinda girl usually listening to the Beatles, Beach Boys,  and some Billy Joel… I admit I have eclectic taste…

I am currently re-reading The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick (I love British history).

My favorite meal is chicken marbella (recipe from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook) with simple steamed haricot vert and wild rice. It’s been my favorite meal since I was a small child and when I want some homey comfort food, that’s usually what I make.  A simple rib-steak grilled medium-rare with perfectly grilled vegetables comes in second.

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

Pretty happy! I like knowing it’s stocked with healthy foods that nourish the bodies of my loved ones.

What’s your process for organizing your food pantry?

Honestly, it’s not much of a process… It’s more like “it goes wherever it fits”…

What’s inside your pantry right now?

I have different nuts, which I always like to keep on hand, from shuk in Jerusalem. Aside from that, I keep:

GG Scandinavian Bran Crisps that I order from the USA regularly

Yogi Teas in Stress Relief Kava and Bedtime in my pantry at all time,

Wissotzky tea in lemon-nana and chamomile-nana (as you can see, I really love herbal teas).

80-100% Holy Cocoa bars

Canned tuna and sardines

Osem mini rice cakes (I think they are called פריכונים) in my pantry.

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

I don’t really believe that one item alone can be “healthiest.” I really believe that to be the healthiest you can be, you have to have a very balanced and diverse diet. I suppose, if I have to pick one product, it would be my Bob’s Red Mill chia seeds.

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

Chocolate. I love chocolate. My favorite is Holy Cocoa bars. Even their 100% bar doesn’t taste bitter!

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

My pantry has a few more superfoods than my mother’s, but we both really have the same food philosophy and eat pretty Mediterranean style, with some extra chocolate on the side!

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

I would love to have pretty rectangular canisters for everything, so it’s all nice and neat. I hope to do that someday in the near future, but finding the time is always the problem lol.

Your turn:  What item from Sabrina’s pantry appeals to you the most?

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How to tell your Shabbat host about your food preferences: A Fill-In-The-Blank-Template

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Shabbat meals are perfect for sharing. Many of us invite guests and have the opportunity to be guests for Shabbat meals.

Unlike our grandmothers, who sat down and ate what they were served (BTW, I have my doubts about this) most of us have specific eating habits that we are attached to: we are vegan, we are allergic to certain type of foods, we are following a specialized eating plan, etc.

All these different eating styles can make it stressful when you are a guest at a Shabbat meal!  On the one hand, you want to be a good guest and at the same time you want to be able to eat the foods that make you feel well.

If you want to be a respectful guest and be able to adhere to your eating principles, the best thing to do is to tell your host in advance about your food preferences and offer to help him/her cook.

You can send an email like the one below in advance. If they’d like, we have a phone conversation about the content after they’ve read it so they can ask questions.

This front loading of the particulars and offer to help can eliminates uncertainty and worry on their part – and allows you and your host to relax and enjoy our Shabbat meal together.

Here’s a fill-in-the-blank template for telling your hosts about your eating preferences before Shabbat:


Dear
host’s name,

Thank you for the Shabbat meal invitation.  I’m so looking forward to coming for Shabbat.

I wanted to let you know about my eating habits in advance.  I currently eat (tell your host how you eat here) and/or I am allergic to (tell your host which specific foods you are allergic to here).

What this means is that I don’t eat (indicate the foods that you cannot eat here). However, I do eat all kinds of (indicate the food groups that you do eat here).

I’m sharing this information with you so that you can ask any questions you’d like ahead of time, and so food stress does not have to take center stage during your Shabbat preparations.  

And, know that I respect your personal eating habits and don’t expect you to adhere to mine during Shabbat. .

I’d love to cook some (indicate the type of food you would like to prepare for the Shabbat meal here) dishes to bring to our meal – just say the word..  Some of the specific dishes that I could make are: (list three to five of your signature dishes here)

Let me know how I can help and make this easy for you.  

Love,

Your name

 

Your turn: Share your best tips on how to tell Shabbat hosts about your food preferences?

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Pretty Treat Bag Tags For Simchat Torah

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In some communities, there is a tradition of giving children sweets on Simchat Torah.  

Here are some pretty printable tags for your treat bags this year.

Download the printer-friendly Simchat Torah treat bag tags here

Download the printer-friendly Simchat Torah treat bag tags here

Chag Samach!

Your turn:  Tell us what is in your treat bags this year.

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Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home

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Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Green Mug

Here are 10 Jewish quotes on home for your reflection and inspiration.  

 

Ask about your neighbors, then buy the house.

– Jewish Proverb

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Jewish Proverb, Pink

A home not made for springtime and for rainy days is none.

– Talmud, Yoma

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Talmud Quote, Grey

Make your home an assembling place for the wise, and drink their words with zeal.  

-Sayings of the Fathers 1:4

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Sayings of the Fathers 1:4, Pink

Anger in a home is like rottenness in fruit.

-Talmud, Sota 3b

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Talmud Sota 3b, Gray

The home should be perceived as a microcosm of the universe

– Rebbe Menachem Schneerson

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, Gray

Build your home in such a way that a stranger may feel happy in your midst! ”

-Theodor Herzl

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Theodor Herzl, Gray

I do not recall a Jewish home without a book on the table. ”

-Elie Wiesel

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Elie Wiesel, Pink

The world is like an inn, the world to come like home.”

-Talmud, Mo’ed Katan 9b

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Talmud Mo'ed Katan 9b, Gray

The trip is never too hard, if you know you’re going home.”

-The Chofetz Chaim

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - The Chofetz Chaim, Pink

There are men who travel far to look for something that they can find in their own homes. ” -Mishle Yehoshua

Comforting Jewish Quotes on Home - Mishle Yehoshua, Gray

Your turn:  Which quotation resonates with you the most and why?

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7 Last Minute Questions For Your Sukkot Table

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Sukkot Questions

Every year on Sukkot, we leave the comfort of our home to eat our meals in booth. Among other things, Sukkot provides an opportunity to reflect on the concept of home and what it means to us.

There’s a tradition on Sukkot to invite seven guests into the sukkah, one for each night of the holiday. I’d like to add on to that tradition: seven questions you can ask at your Sukkot table during the seven days of Sukkot.  One question for each night of Sukkot.

These questions will help create meaningful and reflective conversation at your Sukkot table.

Last Minute Questions for Sukkot

Download the printer-friendly Sukkot question cards here

7 Questions for your Sukkot Table - 1

When a stranger comes to my house, what do I hope they notice first? Why?

7 Questions for your Sukkot Table - 2

What does it mean to be a generous host?

7 Questions for your Sukkot Table

Name three concrete actions you take to make your home open to others.

7 Questions for your Sukkot Table

What makes a home a sanctuary?

If a stranger walked into your home, what would they learn about your family just from looking around?

When you are away from home, what do you miss most? Why?

What’s your favorite room in the house? Why?

Download the printer-friendly Sukkot question cards here

Your turn:  Add another meaningful home themed question to our list.

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From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Kosher Kimchi

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Wondering what exactly makes kosher kimchi?  It is simply using Kosher Korean pepper paste.  

Kimchi is therapeutic to eat as it is filled  with vitamins A, B, and C, but its biggest benefit may be in its “healthy bacteria” called lactobacilli, found in fermented foods.

Kimchi (like other fermented foods) is therapeutic to make too as it is very tactile and almost magical.

Kosher Kimchi

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Kosher Kimchi
Jewish Food Hero
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    Ingredients
  • 14 oz oriental radish
  • 1 lb cabbage
  • 7 oz carrot
  • 5 oz Shallots
  • 1 head of garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt + 1 tsp real salt
  • ½ cup Kosher Korean pepper paste
  • 1 cup of water (if needed)
    Tools
  • Paring knife
  • garlic press
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 medium mixing bowl
  • Cutting board
  • food prep cooking gloves
  • 1-2 wide mouth quart size liter glass jar
  • Fermentation weights (try these grooved weights with handles for comfort and cleanliness)
  • 1-2 zip lock bags

  1. Peel and cut radish and carrot into batonnet shape
  2. Using the garlic press, press head of garlic
  3. Slice shallots
  4. Place carrot, radish, shallots and garlic into medium mixing bowl and add ¼ tsp of salt and mix with your hands so salt is evenly distributed
  5. Place ½ cup of korean chili paste on top of vegetables (this is to allow the paste to soften for 1 hour because it is refrigerated and cold. When the chili paste is soft, it is easier to mix)
  6. Set aside
  7. Wash Cabbage thoroughly
  8. Cut in half lengthwise and then slice
  9. Slice cabbage into the the same sized pieces as the carrot and radish batonnets (the reason for the this so that all ingredients ferment at the same pace)
  10. Place cabbage into large mixing bowl
  11. Place 1 tsp salt to 1 cup of clean water (this is a salty brine)
  12. Pour brine over cabbage and mix evenly over cabbage leaves
  13. Allow cabbage, radish and carrots to sit for one hour.
  14. During this hour, the vegetables shvitz (literally “sweat”) producing water
  15. After 1 hour, mix cabbage, radish and carrot together thoroughly. (You might want to use food prep cooking gloves to keep the chili paste and garlic smell off your hands)
  16. Pack the kimchi tightly into the glass jar (there should be some liquid brine left in the mixing bowl - do not throw it out! You may need it)
  17. Press the vegetables down into the jar so much so that the brine rises
  18. Add more brine if needed to submerge the vegetables in brine
  19. Weigh the vegetables down using a smaller jar filled with water, or a ziplock bag filled with brine. (If you ran out of brine you can make more using 1 cup of water and ½ tsp of salt).
  20. Ferment in your kitchen or another warm spot.
  21. You can taste the ferment every day and decide when it is ready.
  22. I like to ferment this kimchi for 7-10 days for optimal flavor.

; Yield: 1 large batch

Kosher Kimchi

To learn more about fermentation, read this interview with fermentation expert Sandor Katz.

P.S. Aqqo is offering 15% off their grooved weights with handles perfect for pickling and fermentation. Use code: 43QY62DS. Valid from October 2, 2017-2 April 2018.

Kosher Kimchi AQQO

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

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From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Mini Maple Pumpkin Cocoa Cakes

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It is a tradition in some families to break the Yom Kippur fast with water or tea, followed by a  piece of cake. People relax for half an hour to an hour and then come back to eat a meal. This is actually recommended, because it allows us to rehydrate and prevents us from overeating out of hunger. Making good food choices to break the Yom Kippur fast eases your body out of the 25-hour fast in a supportive way (your digestive system will thank you).  

This tradition is also comforting and cozy.  Let us keep this lovely tradition and serve healthier cake.

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)  that tastes just right after fast.  I even added some fresh orange juice to the cake to give it a fresh taste.

These can be made the day before and kept refrigerated until 2-3 hours before serving.

 

From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Mini Maple Pumpkin Cocoa Cakes
From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Mini Maple Pumpkin Cocoa Cakes
Jewish Food Hero
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  • Ingredients:
  • 2 ¼ cup white whole wheat flour (can you gluten free alternative)
  • ¼-½ cup rapadura sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 c applesauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3-4 Tbsp raisins
  • Garnish: powdered sugar
    Tools:
  • blender
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • citrus juicer
  • Spatula
  • 2 muffin tins
  • muffin papers

  1. Preheat oven at 425 F.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In blender combine rice milk, applesauce, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, salt, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar and maple syrup and blend until completely mixed.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and combine evenly.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. Pour into paper cups in a muffin pan.
  7. Bake at 425 F for 7 min and then turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for additional 20-25 min.
  8. Dust the mini cakes with powdered sugar.

If you like these recipes, you will love the The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook: 50 Simple Plant Based Recipes For Your Holiday Meals

Jewish Food Hero Cookbook // jewishfoodhero.com

Your turn: Tell us in the comments what healthy vegan cake recipes you love.

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A Woman’s Guide to Yom Kippur Promises

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A Woman's Guide to Yom Kippur

The ritual of teshuva can be set up as a time to reassess the past year, and come up with ways to improve and change in the coming year. Sadly, many of the promises I make to myself turn out to be empty promises.   

The three main reasons I don’t keep my promises to myself are:

  • My promises are actually a lot of abstract wishes
  • I have no accountability structure for the promises I make  
  • I do not take the time to “fill out” my promise

Wish List

In terms of personal change and improvement, an abstract wish list is a good place to start. Writing down or thinking about all the ways you may have “missed your target” this year and all the ways you wish you would change can feel like a huge release emotionally.

However, how many of us can really focus on improving 10, 20 or 50 of our personal behaviors?  Choosing one of two items on the wish list and transforming them into goals is a relief and makes change feel possible.

Supportive Accountability

As with any hopes for behavior change, setting up an accountability structure increases our chances for success. Accountability is how you “hold” your promise to yourself. Some people can do this themselves but most of us do better with support.  

Solo accountability structures include putting a reminder in your calendar, wearing a piece of jewelry to remind yourself or putting a sign with your written promise somewhere where you will see it every day. Support accountability structures include joining a class or group, hiring one-to-one support, or finding an accountability buddy who is hoping to achieve a similar change.

Your Promise

I am yet to meet a person who is able to change a behavior by just casual thinking alone. That is called “wishful thinking.” To change a behavior, most of us have to spend time to clearly and specifically define what we want to achieve. One of the best ways to do this is to use prompts that get your ideas and emotions  flowing. Some people learn more about what they want through dialogue while others while others find solo reflection and writing to be more beneficial.  Many people do both.

Here are the prompts for Yom Kippur. You can, of course, add your own prompts to these. Fill them out alone or with a friend.

Prompts for Yom Kippur Promises:

Download the Prompts for Yom Kippur Promises here

On a blank piece of paper, write down all the big, hidden and tiny ways you “missed my mark” this year.

 

Fill in the blank promises:  

I promise to ______________,

I will make space in my life for _____________

How is this promise so important to me this year?

How will I know if I am keeping my promise?

What will my day look like when I keep my promise?

What differences will I and others notice as I keep this promise this year?

What might get in my way as I try to accomplish my personal promise this year?

Name three ways I will hold myself accountable to the promise I make today?

Name one to three people who can support my accountability to this promise?

 

Download the Prompts for Yom Kippur Promises here

Your turn: How do you define teshuva? How do you make time for it before Yom Kippur?

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Why My Jewish Holiday Recipes Don’t Use Oil (And 3 Reasons You Might Want To Use Less In Your Own Food)

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Why My Jewish Holiday Recipes Don't Use Oil

Before I released the Jewish Food Hero Cookbook, I sent a some recipes to a few friends and bloggers for a bit of feedback. What did they think about the mock chopped liver? Were they intimidated by plant-based recipes?

Jewish Food Hero Cookbook // jewishfoodhero.com
By and large the responses were wonderfully positive. One sweet tester said, This modern menu made me want to be more Jewish. Jewish Food Hero can literally save some of our Jewish heritage with this!”

And one tester said All this looks great until you “fry” an onion in water or vegetable broth. Hey, a little bit of olive oil is a must in my kitchen :-)”

At the risk of being unpopular (or telling you things you’d prefer not to hear) oils aren’t health food.

Oils in any form.

Why My Jewish Holiday Recipes Don't Use Oil
Which is why I don’t use them in my recipes, except in one instance for Purim.

A few years ago, I didn’t think much about oil. In fact, I was sure it was healthy for my family and me. I made vinaigrettes for my husband, dribbled it atop soups for decorative flourish, I even made an egg-free version of olive oil cake.

“Healthy fats!” the magazines tell us.
“This is a healthy oil” is what we tell each other in discussion.
“Lower likelihood of cardiovascular disease,” we’d all repeat to ourselves while swirling our bread around in a shallow dish of that golden goodness.

And then I took this class.
And promptly reconsidered the oil-is-good-for-me stance.

Here’s why:

1. Oil is incredibly high in calories – and low in everything else
Did you know that oil has 120 calories per tablespoon?! That’s more than most premium ice creams. That means you could eat half a cup of your favorite ice cream flavor for the same calories as the two tablespoons of oil you placed in your healthy soup recipe. (This example is meant to be illustrative rather than prescriptive).

Why My Jewish Holiday Recipes Don't Use Oil

Do you know how much protein olive oil has? Or how many vitamins? Or how much fiber? Big ‘ol zeros in every category.

2. It’s not satiating
How do you feel after eating a big bowl of stew accompanied by a nice hunk of thick rustic bread? How do you feel after drinking a liter of Diet Coke and a pile of rice cakes? I’m just guessing here, but I imagine you feel full, happy, satiated after the former and, well, still hungry after the latter because it is just empty.

Oils are not satiating. They don’t make us feel full. They don’t signal our brains that we’ve eaten enough and our needs are met.

3. It doesn’t actually taste that great
When I think about this things I loved to put oil on – crusty breads, fresh heirloom tomatoes, edamame – I realize that really? The delicious aspect of that dish was the bread or the tomatoes, not the oil. The oil was just something I was adding because I thought it was really good for me.

But I’ve changed my mindset (through education) and habits (by trying and doing). For the last three years I’ve been living without oils, replacing them in both cooking and baking. When I developed my Jewish Food Hero Cookbook recipes, I opted out of oil except for one instance of using a tiny bit of oil in the Purim menu – to get the perfect shape of those Hamentachen cookies, of course!

Why My Jewish Holiday Recipes Don't Use Oil

Instead, I used ingredients like broth, starch purees, lemon juice, maple syrup, applesauce, and small amounts of nut butters to keep my recipes healthy, moist, flavorful, and delicious.

Here’s what nutritionist and dietitian Jeff Novick says:

There is absolutely no beneficial nutrient that is in cocoa, or coffee or coconut or olive oil or wine that you can’t already get in healthy plant foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, etc. Sometimes, these foods are praised for their high amounts of a nutrient but realize, on a healthy diet based on fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, we are already getting in more than adequate amounts of all these nutrients. And, in food, once you get in enough, there is no situation where more is better and in some cases, more may be harmful.

For us student types here is a 5 minute lecture on oil that you might like.

Your turn: Watch the video and let me know what you think about oil for you.

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