Why We Eat Whole Wheat Matzo for Passover

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Tamar Genger MA, RD
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Matzo Granola

On all other nights I eat whole wheat bread, but on Pesach I eat whole wheat matzo.  Here’s my story…

My family switched to whole wheat bread a long time ago. I don't really remember white bread in our house. That’s not to say I don't enjoy a nice baguette or focaccia when I am at a café or restaurant, but for everyday sandwiches I always choose whole wheat. Why should Passover be any different?

You can bet that original matzo was whole grain and probably tasted pretty good, too.  Food historian Gil Marks, author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, recently told me that in the pre-industrial age matzo used to be soft, more like a flatbread than a stale cracker...  I am a little jealous!

Today we know that whole grains will decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancer.   Whole wheat matzo is a very good source of fiber and manganese and a valuable source of magnesium.  And it tastes pretty good, too.  If you are not much of a matzo maven, white cardboard will not taste much different from brown, so give it a try this year.

Despite its historical roots, whole wheat matzo is a relatively recent arrival on store shelves. The first year it came out, my parents were so excited to have a high fiber alternative to help with the inevitable Passover digestive problems.  There are quite a few brands to choose from this year and we can even get whole wheat shmura matzo, whole wheat matzo meal and whole wheat matzo farfel!

A few recipes actually work better with whole wheat.  I am going to share some of my favorites below.  Granola with Orange Essence gets an extra crispiness from the whole wheat farfel and holds up better to milk and yogurt than regular matzo.  The Matzo Rolls with Caramelized Onions and Rosemary will fill you up all morning.  And the tasty Butternut Squash Matzo Lasagna is so delicious, you might find yourself trying it during the year!