Holidays

 

A Healthier Take on Jewish Classics

 

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There are only a few things more confusing than advice on healthful eating: Paleoists, vegans, carb cyclers, ketone diet adepts, fructarians, vegetarians, flexitarians, doctors, dietitians, trainers, scientists, celebrities, coaches, chefs–and the list keeps going– all state that they’ve found the perfect way to eat, but many of them give opposite recommendations. And then, if we were already confused, there’s kashrut…However, if you look closely, there’s something everyone–including kosher laws–agrees upon: plants are great for us, and they should be the core of our diets.

We don’t normally think of Jewish dietary laws being plant based, however, they do give us plenty of freedom when it comes to the plant world. They also promote moderation with products from the animal kingdom; restricting us on how to obtain, combine and eat them. We do obsess with meat and dairy, however, maybe our eyes should be on the plants, which are pretty much free for all (except for checking them for insects, which are not plants!).


 

Israeli Inspired Cookies for Tu B’Shevat

 

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I wanted to create a recipe that was at once inspired by the foods of Israel- fruit, seed and nuts for Tu B’Shvat. The connection to using fruit is so clear- of the four renewal holidays in Judaism, it is all about trees and the fruit they bear at it’s literal essence after all. But many Jewish dishes for this celebration also utilize the Biblical 7 species: wheat, barley, dates or honey, figs, pomegranates, olives and grapes or wine.  I wanted to focus on the contemporary Israel- widely multi-cultural, sophisticated and rich in local food traditions as well. My first thought: tahini. I can’t think of the Middle East, or mizrachi cuisine without it.

Heralded chef Yotam Ottolenghi, in his book Jerusalem with Sami Tamimi, has a great recipe for a tahini cookie – and I have made  it and enjoyed it. There are plenty of tahini cookie  recipes around – Bon Appetit’s Tahini Cookies; David Lebovitz’s Tahini and Almond CookiesMartha Stewart’s Tahini Cookies


 

How To Celebrate a Tu b’Shevat Seder

 

 

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Tu b’Shevat is one of these hidden minor holidays, which haven’t gotten much attention until the last few decades. It is kind of a New Age, cutting age type of holiday with no ‘don’ts’ and not even any specific must ‘dos.’ If you are looking for spiritual renewal through mystical teachings, meditational practice and conscious mindful eating, then Tu b’Shevat has much to offer.

On Tu b’Shevat, the sap in the tree begins to flow once again to revitalize the tree. The secret of Tu b’Shevat gently whispers; “when everything looks dead, dark and murky, life, light and glory is hiding just below the surface.” The time when nothing seems to be happening on the outside is the beginning of the richest inner life. Tu b’Shevat begins a period of renewal for the individual and the community. On Tu b’Shevat we can tune into the redemption of spring. Even though we may be experiencing the winter of exile in both personal and collective stage of our lives on the outside, a new life force begins to emerge within our souls on the inside.


 

Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs with Pomegranate...

 

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Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs with Pomegranate Glaze Posted 01/27/2015 by ToqueandScalpel
As we celebrate the Tu bishvat holiday this recipe came to mind. The components of this recipe bring together flavors that are the essence of holiday. The earthy distinctive savory flavor of the lamb combined with lemon and garlic. Which is then complemented by the sweetness of the pomegranate glaze. I have paired this with a Couscous of dates and toasted almonds. When you take one bite your mouth will crave more.

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A Mom’s Guide To Super Bowl

 

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Have you been waiting patiently on the sidelines as the football fanatics in your life have immersed themselves in a world of ‘touchdowns, red zones and huddles’ for the past 17 weeks? If you’ve been counting down the minutes until the end of the football season – albeit it for slightly different reasons than your other half  – then get ready to celebrate. The big day has arrived; it’s time for Super Bowl Sunday XLIX!


 

Kosher Wine for Tu B’Shevat *Giveaway*

 

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The Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat is one of four “New Years” mentioned in the Mishnah and you don’t have to wait until midnight to start your celebration! Occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, there is a widespread custom to eat foods of the Land of Israel, wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates, a land of olives and date honey.

In celebration of the grape, we wanted to introduce three special kosher wines from Israel to celebrate Tu B’Shevat:


 

3 Menus for Tu B’Shevat

 

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Because Tu B’shevat has fallen out on shabbos lately, I can’t seem to remember what it’s like to celebrate it outside of the normal shabbos meal.  I suppose it’s the same really, except that we get two celebratory meals in one week, and double the normal amount of cooking.  To help keep things simple, below are three Tu B’shevat menus that are holiday worthy, but won’t have you slaving away for hours in the kitchen after work.

 


 

A Recipe Inspired By Parshat Bo

 

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At Rosh Hashana, I started a blog, Neesh Noosh: A Jewish Woman’s Year Long Journey to Find Faith in Food. Each week, I create a recipe inspired by the weekly Torah portion and what’s in season at my farmers market.  This week, in Bo, the remaining three plagues—locusts, darkness and the death of first-born sons–are inflicted upon the Egyptians. While Egypt was shrouded in darkness, “all Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings” (Bo, 10: 23).  How, despite the plagues and the continuing hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, did the Israelites live at the precipice of freedom and eventually gain freedom?

The Sefat Emet teaches that “God had already placed in Egypt hidden treasures that Israel had to take out. . . . When they clarified the lights that came out of such a place, they would go on to live [and shine] throughout the generations.” (The Language of Truth, Translated by Arthur Green, pgs 93-94).


 

Tu B’shevat And The Seven Super Foods of The...

 

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Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar, is observed this year on February 4th, 2015 on the Western calendar. This is the day when trees in the Land of Israel officially wake up from their winter slumber and begin blooming and bearing a new fruit cycle.

In our home we find it especially meaningful to eat something from all of the Shiv’at HaMinim, seven species of the land of Israel – wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates – that have a special significance in Judaism.


 

Chilled Mulled Pomegranate Wine with Pomegranate...

 

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Chilled Mulled Pomegranate Wine with Pomegranate Ice Posted 01/01/2015 by Melinda Strauss
Instead of drinking your wine right out of the bottle, spice it up for summer with some citrus, cinnamon sticks and fresh herbs. Add some homemade pomegranate seed ice cubes to cool you down and impress your friends.

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A Healthy Brunch Menu

 

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As I sit down to write up this menu, I am still full from the Sunday birthday brunch I just came from for my almost 9 year old niece.  My sister in law did got raves for her egg casserole and pecan streusel french toast shuffle, which she noted are her faves because she can prep the the night before.  They were delicious, but after hearing about them, I have to note they were not the healthiest.


 

Purple Latkes with Truffle Yogurt and Arugula ...

 

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There is always room for one more latke recipe, right? I hope you said yes, because I can’t get enough!

I’m Amy, and I blog over at What Jew Wanna Eat. I take my Bubbe’s traditional Jewish recipes like brisket and kugel, and modernize them with new ingredients and techniques to make Bourbon and Coffee Braised Brisket with Cranberry Sauce and Caramel Apple Kugel. And latkes are no exception. When I first saw purple potatoes at my local supermarket, I knew they’d make the perfect fancy latke. But feel free to use sweet potatoes if you can’t find them. This recipe offers some tricks for the crispiest sweet potato latkes around! Topped off with a simple arugula and yogurt sauce. This certainly isn’t your Bubbe’s applesauce and sour cream!


 

Italian Jewish Food For Hanukkah

 

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Food. Italy. Jewish.

Put them all together and you’d be hard-pressed to come up with anything more mouthwateringly delectable. This recipe is my spin, Gnocco Fritto, a less well known classic of the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, where the famed gnocchi dumpling, rich in cheese and eggs and made with semolina flour (not potatoes), reigns supreme.


 

Party Platters In 20 Minutes Or Less

 

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Last year I judged a food competition at the Nachum Segal Network. We had a blast and it was a fun, food-oriented competition among the talented staff at the network. The competition was close. The winner of the Chopped-style competition beat his competitors simply because of ONE unique item he produced: he made the most incredible pickled shallots. It was that one component on his plate that put him in the lead. This reflects a secret of many chefs and party planners. You don’t need to spend lengthy amounts of time making every component. Use fresh, store-bought ingredients and focus your energy on that ONE amazing component and you will have immediate success and awesome feedback from your guests.


 

A Healthy Paleo Chanukah Menu

 

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There are lots of things I love about Chanuakah. I love spending time with family, watching the candles burn as we sing Chanukkah songs. I love watching how excited my kids get about playing dreidel. And of course, I love the food. 8 days of decadent fried treats, from the traditional latkes and sufganiot to the less traditional deep fried cookie dough and cheese bunuelos, I love it all. But if I am being totally honest, I don’t love the way I feel after indulging in so much fried heavy foods. I usually try to offset some of the grease by serving a big kale salad alongside all the fried dishes but even with that nod to something green the heaviness of the traditional Chanukkah treats is a bit much.

That’s why this year I decided to come up with a Chanukkah menu that celebrates the miracle of the oil in a healthier, less deep fried, way. Don’t worry, it is still totally delicious, but it has the advantage of not leaving you feeling weighed down and unable to move by the end of the holiday. In fact, this menu is paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free, but it tastes so good no one would ever suspect it is so healthy.