Healthy Passover Recipes? Yes, It’s Possible!

Passover, the Jewish celebration of the liberation of Jewish slaves, can be a joyous time for family and friends but can wreak havoc on the old body. The Seders , festive dinners accompanied by religious rituals that begin the week of Passover, can be quite delicious but packed with foods that weigh us down, literally. Traditional Passover foods are laden with carbohydrates like potatoes, matzohs, matzoh balls, and matzoh casseroles called kugel.

Since Passover falls in spring we may also have summer time bathing suit season in the back of our minds. Two meals packed with calories and carbs may not be a part of the health regime we started in January after the holidays.

So, what to do? How can we partake of the partying without feeling lousy for the week?
Putting a healthy spin on some of the traditional menu items or even creating new dishes may not be what our families of origin prepared but may be what our bodies have been craving. Try these recipes and see for yourself!

Contrary to popular belief, quinoa is a seed, not a grain, and therefore permissible for Passover which prohibits the use of grains. Quinoa is also a complete protein which will provide a nice alternative to meat for the vegans, vegetarians or omnivores at your table. This dish can also be made in advance which is an extra bonus when you may be pressed for time the night of.

Quinoa with Almonds and Dried Cherries:
6 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (about 3 cups raw -cook one cup quinoa to two cups water until tender)
6-8 thinly sliced scallions, white and green part
2-3 tsp salt
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped dried cherries (or dried cranberries if need be)
1 TBS orange zest from 1-2 oranges
ground pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salad and drizzle with the dressing recipe below.

Dressing:
2/3 cup Orange juice
1/2 cup olive oil
(you will only use about 1/2-3/4 of this dressing so use the rest for another time
Whisk together until completely emulsified
Pour dressing, not all of it, over the salad, and stir until all quinoa is coated with dressing.
Adjust salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Greens are often absent at the Passover table as they are not traditional for the Seder but here’s where we start our new and delicious traditions! If dairy is a no-no at your table, you can try tofu or a vegan cheese alternative.

Baby spinach, Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad:
Salad:
1 lb of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled & sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds, roasted and salted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
7-8 oz of washed baby spinach or other dark, leafy greens
3 oz. of goat cheese (sprinkle of goat cheese or take about 2 tbsp of goat cheese, form into a small patty, coat in matzoh meal crumbs and brown in a little olive oil-YUM!)
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons honey
1 TBS mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 TBS white vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion 
1 TBS poppy seeds
pinch of salt
pinch of garlic powder
1/2 cup olive oil
Mix above ingredients in a bowl until fully combined

Combine salad ingredients, place goat cheese on top and pour on desired amount of dressing.
Serves about 4

Charoset is one of those forgiving recipes where you can add or take away most of the ingredients and it will still be tasty. Enjoy!

Delicious Charoset:

3 cups chopped walnuts (or almonds)
1 cup dried cranberries (I like them chopped)
1 cup dried prunes, chopped in a food processor
3 peeled, chopped apples
1 cup red wine-omit if it is for kids (Kosher wine if need be or grape juice)
1/2 cup Orange juice
2 1/2 tsp brown sugar
Combine all together and leave as is or stew together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until it is a texture that you like-keep tasting it.
This can be served with yoghurt, as a dessert by itself, topping for ice cream, etc.

Serves at least 15 for the Seder

Yes, matzoh ball soup is traditional but how about adding or substituting it with a lighter soup? No one says we must always have heavy, wheat filled dumplings to make it a holiday. Enjoy!

Alma’s Butternut Squash Soup:

1 Large butternut squash, cut into big chunks, placed on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and roasted at 475 degrees until it is tender (about 45 minutes to an hour)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (more if needed if soup gets too thick)
2 TBS maple syrup
3 TBS sour cream (or coconut or soy yogurt if keeping Kosher)
1/2 tsp crushed fresh rosemary
salt to taste

Method:
After squash is roasted, let it cool and peel off the skin.
Put it into a large saucepan with broth and simmer for a few minutes. Add maple syrup, and rosemary and stir until well combined. Let cool. When cool, place in a blender or food processor or use a hand blender and blend until smooth.
Then add sour cream and salt to taste.
Enjoy!

P.S. This was originally posted for knowmore.tv

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