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Why We Eat Whole Wheat Matzo for Passover

 

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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!

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About Tamar Genger MA, RD

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Tamar lives in New York and is the mother of three amazing children, a Registered Dietitian, professor of Nutrition, and as you can probably guess, a foodie! Tamar loves to travel with her family and visits kosher restaurants wherever she goes. Although she loves the sights, she spends more time talking about the restaurants and food she ate! As a mom and a nutritionist, Tamar tries to balance her passion for healthy cooking with her insatiable desire for chocolate! Find more on Google

 

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2 Responses to Why We Eat Whole Wheat Matzo for Passover

  1. avatar says: cdgoldin

    Despite what self-designated “Food historian Gil Marks, author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, recently told” you, the original matzo was quite definitely NOT whole wheat, as white flour was considered to be superior.

    Similarly, it was NOT “soft, more like a flatbread than a stale cracker”. Matzo has been prepared and baked the same way (as required by Jewish law) since the time of Moses. If it were “soft…like flatbread”, it would not meet the halachic requirement of matzo at all.

    Please also note that there is a big difference between the matzo sold year round, and the matzo sold for Pesach. The former has a variety of ingredients and is not kosher for Passover. The later is made of flour and water only, and must be kneaded and baked completely in less than 18 minutes, so that it cannot begin to leaven.

    If you are going to have a website titled “the joy of kosher”, perhaps you should learn something of Jewish law pertaining to kashrut.

    • Thank you for your comments. According to most food historians, white flour did not exist until the late 19th century. Also, in many Sephardic communities (even today) matzo varies in texture and it is likely that in ancient times matzo would be of much different texture than industrial produced matzo today. In the future, I hope you would share your opinions without personal attacks or accusations and with citations to help inform our readers.

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