Here we are back with our countdown until Pesach, drum roll please...14 days!
In honor of the approach of one of my most favorite holidays I wanted to add something new for you! There will be a new tab containing recipes that have met our nutritional and family approval. Because we have not turned over our kitchen just yet, the Pesach recipes will not all have been tested, but I will update them as we do!
As we all ponder what will be on our menus not only for the seder but for ALL the meals beyond the seder we will focus on some helpful cooking tips. Pesach is the golden ticket to getting back to basics. With all chometz (and for those Ashkenazim, kitniyot) taken out of our diet, we might need to creatively think how to make a balanced meal. For some, it might be a fairly easy task while for others it might require more brain power. What I would like to suggest is to seize the chance for cooking simply and do not complicate your Pesach pantry with kosher for Pesach cheerios (I still have nightmares about them) or radioactive jelly fruits.
In that vein, it will be important for us to explore cooking practices that help our fruits and vegetables to retain the majority of their nutrients. For example, there are probably 103 ways to cook a potato. Some of those methods might encourage the loss of nutrients while others will better preserve them. Being that this is not commonly explored I want to share a few common vegetables and the methods of cooking that will enable them to be most nutrient dense.
Keep in mind it is always best to consume an array of fruits and vegetables, I just want you to be exposed to what might happen in the cooking process - especially since pre-pesach is a big stock up time for large amounts of the fruits/vegetables that will be needed throughout Pesach. My family always goes to the local farm to buy cases and cases...and cases of produce!
There are vegetables that actually increase their viable nutrients when cooked. The cooking process breaks down the incredibly strong plant cell wall and allows the nutrients to be more readily absorbed by the body.
Some of these vegetables are: tomatoes, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers.
Boiling requires much water and many of the nutrients are "boiled out." However, if the water that it was boiled in can be used as a stock or mixed back in- the nutrients can be retained. Steaming on the other hand, is a wonderful alternative and keeping the skin on potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams boosts the nutrient value too!
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind are these three things: (1) water amount, (2) heat level, and (3) time of cooking. As each of these categories increase the nutrients in the produce at hand lessen. Suggested cooking methods to keep these levels in check are steaming, braising (cooking slightly at a high temperature and than covering in a pot at a low temperature), and sauteing.
At the end of the day, as we mentioned above, eating fruits and vegetables no matter how they are prepared is beneficial! BUT if you have the option, why not get more nutrients with each bite?
With that information, let's get some of your creative juices flowing for some Pesach food ideas/staples:
- Mashed Potato Cups (if you like meat, you can put meat in the muffin tin and have mashed potato or sweet potato icing!)
- Baked Apple Chips
- Baked Sweet Potato Fries/Chips
- Apple Sauce
- Fruit Leather! (spread applesauce thin on a baking sheet and cook on low in the oven)
Happy planning and cooking! Remember to use this chance to channel the idea of "less is more" meaning less ingredients and the less complicated the cooking the more enjoyable the Pesach time will be not only for your nutrient intake, but for you and your families! In English, Pesach is referred to as "Passover" lets "pass-over" the stress that many ingredients and complicated recipes can cause, and choose the option of simplifying our menus. This will be a sure bet to give us more peace of mind, more time with those around us, and ultimately less time in the kitchen!