Healthy & Kosher

 

Are Potatoes Healthy?

 

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As we march into a week filled with starchy spuds, I thought I would share some of the hidden health benefits of potatoes.  Potatoes have gotten a bad rap over the years as people have moved towards lower carb diets and sworn off the white fluffy stuff.  The truth is potatoes are a vegetable and they provide nutrients that our body needs.  Potatoes are a good source of B vitamins like Folate as well as Vitamin C and Potassium.  If you eat the skin it is also a good source of fiber.   One medium potato has 150 calories, a lot more than a cup of broccoli, but it is filling and satisfying as part of a full meal.

The problem with potatoes is really about their preparation.  The biggest culprits are French fries and potato chips, both of which are usually deep fried.  When fried their peels are usually removed and they absorb so much oil they basically become fat sponges.  Even when baked they are often a magnet for fat laden toppings, like butter and sour cream.  If you can change the way you eat potatoes they can and should be part of a healthy diet.


 

A Very Vegetarian Passover

 

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It’s not easy being green.  Vegetarians on Passover have it pretty rough, especially Ashkenazim who can’t eat beans or tofu.   I can’t even imagine menu planning for vegans who don’t eat eggs!  I’m not sure how they make it through eight days.  I have quite a few vegetarian friends, including my sister in law who will be with me for a couple of meals.  Passover tends to be a very meaty holiday, but there are some great Passover vegetarian and vegan friendly dish ideas that even carnivores will enjoy.

Roasted Vegetables


 

How to Eat Healthy At an All Inclusive Resort

 

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I’ve never experienced it, but I have heard the stories.  All inclusive Passover vacations are a great way to have all the fun without all the stress of Passover.  Sitting by the sun and enjoying yourself, while someone else does all the cooking and cleaning.  Sounds like a dream come true!  But if you take “all you can eat” to an extreme, you might come home with more than a sunburn.  And a sunburn fades a lot quicker than those extra 10 pounds.

You can still enjoy your resort vacation while maintaining a healthy diet, and it’s not as hard as you think.  Here are my tips on resisting the temptation to overeat when you are spending so much money to eat everything you want.


 

The Truth About Tilapia

 

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Passover is approaching and we are getting ready for protein overload.  Without rice, pasta, corn, beans and tofu, meat seems to make an appearance at most every meal.  Since I try and limit our meat consumption all year, on Passover I recommend swimming with the fishes.  It is easy to find kosher for Passover canned tuna and canned salmon and there are so many ways to enjoy those two other than just spread on a matzo.  Use matzo meal instead of bread crumbs in most any salmon cake recipe and you will have a yummy appetizer or main any time.  Fresh salmon is also easy to come by and is very popular.  And then there’s tilapia.

The USDA reports that Americans ate 475 million pounds of tilapia last year, four times the amount a decade ago, making this once obscure African native the most popular farmed fish in the United States.   It is an inexpensive and mild flavored fish that many people love.  Fish is a low-fat, high quality protein.   The American Heart Association’s recommendation to eat fish twice a week is because fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to keep our heart and brain health.  But tilapia may not be the best source.


 

Hydration and The HINT Water Challenge

 

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Liquid calories are hiding in your coffee drinks, your cocktails, your sodas, your fruit smoothies, and even your “hydrating” sports drinks. Yup, it’s true. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are advertised as fluid replacements for athletes. They provide carbohydrates (for energy to fight fatigue) and electrolytes (for hydration and muscle function) that are not found in water.

But here’s the catch. While electrolyte and energy deficits can occur during rigorous events (say a 50 mile run, a 100 mile bike ride, or a four hour triathlon), average workouts (an hour lifting weights, a 45 minute spinning class, or a 30 minute run) will not do the same. In fact, you need to engage in strenuous exercise for at least an hour or longer in order for expensive sports beverages to provide a performance edge that water can’t supply. Also keep in mind that if your goal is weight management
or weight loss, drinking extra carbohydrates (aka extra calories) is counter productive.


 

Vegan Seitan Recipes

 

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Today I am going to share with you everything I know about seitan, what it is, how to make it at home and some recipes that feature seitan.

Seitan is a meat alternative that is made from the protein found in wheat, gluten.  Although it is made from wheat, seitan has little in common with flour or bread.  It actually becomes surprisingly similar to the look and texture of meat when it is cooked.   The texture is chewier than tofu and it is also high in protein which makes it a popular protein source for vegetarians and vegans.


 

The Sushi Diet

 

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It’s no secret that actor Jonah Hill has lost a lot of weight over the past year.

Jonah Hill’s work in “Moneyball” earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, recently spoke with ABC News.  Apparently, the secret to his remarkable weight loss was a diet of mostly sushi.  ”It was just mostly diet,” Hill said. “I wish there was some crazy thing that I did, like a pill or a genie or something, but it wasn’t, unfortunately, I went to see a nutritionist, and he told me what to eat to change my habits and stuff.”


 

Chia Seeds – It’s Not Just For Growing Pets

 

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Wondering why Chia seeds are all the rage?

Chia is part of the mint family and is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.  Chia seeds are smooth, tiny and oval flecked with gray, white, black and brown colors.  Last year I bought it at a local supermarket and it has been sitting in my cabinet all year while I waited to figure out what to do with it.


 

Hummus: Israel’s Hidden Treasure?

 

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Before I moved to Israel five years ago, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was considered to be the “national food” of Israel.  Even though I grew up in the United States, far from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, I remember my mother telling me that falafel was sold on almost every street corner in Israel. She described it as being similar to the hot dog vendors I would see on every corner in New York City, or the soft pretzel vendors you would see on the streets of Philadelphia.

What my mother didn’t tell me was that Israeli falafel was NOTHING without its “partner in crime”, hummus. Even in the fanciest of restaurants or the most unusual events here in Israel, hummus somehow becomes part of the menu.   From hummus served with meat, at the Basarim restaurant in Tiberias; to hummus with mushrooms at Marvad Kasamim (The Magic Carpet) in Jerusalem; to the local hummusiyah (hummus vendor/restaurant), the flavor of hummus is ubiquitous in Israel.


 

Secrets to a Healthy Purim

 

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With the chance to dress up in costume and stock up on treats, Purim is a favorite holiday for kids of all ages.  But since its also high season for candy and sugary snacks, it can also be frustrating for parents who want their kids (and themselves) to choose healthy foods and limit sweets as part of a balanced nutritious diet.

On the one hand, you want to indulge and enjoy the holiday, after all Purim is one of the few one day holidays where you can visit out of town friends and relatives and hop from party to party.  On the other hand, you don’t want to undermine all the work you do the rest of year and confuse kids with mixed messages.


 

Food Allergies You Need to Know

 

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Allergy Free.  Nut and Seed Free.  Gluten Free.  The signs are everywhere these days.

Allergies appear to be on the rise and awareness has grown.  Everyone knows someone who has an allergy.  It wasn’t like this when I was growing up, or at least it didn’t seem that way.  The only person I knew who had an allergy was my dad.  He was allergic to sesame, but since we didn’t go out to eat very often, I never really noticed.   Looking back, I realize why we never had hummus or sesame bagels.  Since I enjoy cooking Asian and middle eastern foods, I have to stop and think every time he comes over to make sure I don’t accidentally add sesame oil or sesame seeds to a dish I am preparing.  I go out of my way to make special recipes like Walnut Hummus so he can enjoy the taste of hummus, without the inconvenience of upper respiratory failure that can totally ruin your night.  When we all go out to eat for Chinese, Japanese or Israeli food we make sure to let the waiter know, no sesame.  Fortunately, my family is allergy-free, but I feel for my friends who struggle and their children who struggle with food allergies.


 

Drinking To Your Health – L’Chaim

 

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With the Purim holiday fast approaching many people are starting to plan their Purim cocktails.  Purim is the day that tradition tells us we are supposed to drink so that we can’t tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman, good and evil.  Tradition did not have to go to work and get the kids out for school the next morning.  For the rest of us, who may take things a little easier on Purim but still would like a drink or two, there are some great scientific studies to justify drinking in moderation.

Here are a few peer-reviewed excuses to keep in your pocket, right next to your hip flask.


 

Healthy Mishloach Manot Ideas

 

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Purim is one of my favorite Jewish holidays.  I love baking hamantashen with my kids.  I have so many special memories baking with my mom and grandmother as a child.  After college, I had a tradition to bake hamantaschen with my friend Arlene, who now lives in Israel. One day I hope to resume that tradition, but for now my baking team consists of three children, ages seven, five and three.

Each year my kids are very excited to show off the new Purim costumes their grandmother bought them.  They wear the Purim costumes to shul, to school and usually to some other Purim carnival or festival.  They also begin to strategize how and where they will hoard their candy.  They tear open every package with excitement and pick out their favorite items to stash away.  All my kids have their own hidden treasure of refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Dentists everywhere must love this holiday!


 

Should You Give Up Sugar?

 

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Alec Baldwin, star of NBC hit comedy “30 Rock”, attributes his recent weight loss to giving up sugar.  In a recent interview, he told Access Hollywood, “I gave up sugar. I lost 30 pounds in four months. It’s amazing.”  From Hollywood to the American Heart Association, sugar is under attack.

The American Heart Association says no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That’s about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men.


 

Take Down the Carbs This Purim

 

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Purim is a very special day and is certainly more than fireworks and candy bars. The mitzvah of Mishloach manos is a unique mitzvah that has gotten a bit out of hand. Where is the source that requires Mishloach manos to have as much refined sugar and carbs as possible!!

As parents, we want every Yom Tov to be special for our families. Since Purim centers on so much eating in one day, it might take a bit of serious determination and foresight to make it as healthy and meaningful as possible. The same goes for Seuadas Purim–Join our campaign against Purim carbohydrate-overload and make this important day a time of fun, and a healthy and good example for the entire family!