Pesach

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the merit of righteous women in that generation, our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt. 

Sotah 11:2

The miraculous holiday of Pesach (Passover) is upon us!

Pesach represents the liberation and birth of the Jewish People. And in many ways, it’s a coming-home period for us – as one, unified family.

The most universally celebrated holiday among observant and non-observant Jews, Pesach represents our joining together across differences and recognizing our spiritual uniqueness – our ONENESS.

In terms of food, Pesach brings us back to our roots, literally and figuratively – literally, through the many root vegetables that bless our Pesach menus.

And figuratively, with the matzah that symbolizes our humble beginnings as newly-freed slaves entering into a Divine covenant.

This is why I call it a coming home period.

Pesach takes us back to where we belong.

At this time in the seasonal cycle, each and every Jew is asked to break through the limitations and shackles preventing us from spiritual freedom – just as we did when we were released from slavery in Egypt.

Unhealthy eating habits are among these obstacles to overcome.

Too many of us are imprisoned by refined carbohydrates and over-processed foods, and it keeps us from achieving our true potential.

…Pesach is the time to BREAK FREE!

It’s a time for cleansing; a physical, emotional, and spiritual cleansing that’s nearly impossible to explain to someone who’s never done it. The cleansing reaches the depths of your being.

Every crevice of the home that is polished, every particle of dirt that is removed, every crumb of bread that is burned – each of these takes on the truest and most satisfying significance as a personal cleansing of your soul.

Only after all of this deep cleansing are we ready to usher in this most holy of days.

Our home environments are spotless – our bodies are prepared to embark on an 8-day cleansing diet.

Today I want to give you a powerful tool you can use to add nutrient density to your cleansing Pesach diet – bone broth, or stock, as it’s commonly referred.

The more nutrient-dense your diet is, the fewer CRAVINGS you’ll have.

I see so many women struggling with even the basics of nutrient-dense seasonal cooking and if you’re one of them, I encourage you to try this. Just like everything else in Judaism, this mitzvah must be experienced in order to be truly understood.

Eating the Passover Way

Ideally, the food enjoyed throughout the eight days of Pesach is simple and nourishing, consisting of little more than fresh, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, some wholesome dairy products (preferably raw and cultured), and a small amount of minimally processed grain in the form of handcrafted matzah, the “Bread of Affliction” but also the Bread of Healing.

A back-to-basics Pesach diet is actually reminiscent of the traditional dietary practices that spanned the globe for centuries, when refined carbohydrates and over-processed foods that plague our modern society were unknown.

We could really be eating the Pesach way all year long!

Broths for Life

For Jews during Pesach, when flavorful ingredients and condiments are limited and most vitamin/mineral supplements are off limits, stock has the unique ability to bring dishes to life while adding an explosion of nutrition.

Many do not realize the enormous nutritional value of stock.

But from a nutrition perspective, stock is truly a vitamin/mineral powerhouse hidden in the most sumptuous flavors – with true, documented, immune enhancing benefits.

In cultures throughout the world and for good reason, stock has always formed a nutritious backdrop of the diet.

And any professional chef will tell you that stock is perhaps the most important, tastiest ingredient in the kitchen.

Once you try real, authentic stock, you’ll never go back!

Stock can serve as a delicious foundation in recipes throughout the year, and especially during Pesach.

Kids love it, and you can “hide” nutritious superfoods and herbs in its savory flavors.

I always prepare a variety of nutritious stocks for Shabbos, freezing them in ice cube trays and when frozen, transferring to labeled freezer bags.

That way I always have tasty, nutrient-rich stock on hand!

The possibilities are endless – boil it down and thicken for a quick topping for potatoes; use as cooking liquid; place in a wok instead of oil before adding stir-fry ingredients; cook with meats and vegetables and puree for baby food; add to the cholent pot; make every type of soup or stew – use your imagination!

The Four Basic Stocks

There are four basic stocks: fish, chicken, beef, and vegetable.

During Shabbos, chicken and beef stocks take center stage; the former being eaten Friday night and the latter during the Shabbos day meal.

Traditional Jewish chicken stock is a nutritional panacea, and science has proven it.

Not only does gelatin-rich chicken stock soothe the senses and coat the entire digestive system with healing mucilage, it also provides the body with an intense burst of easily-to-assimilate vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that are only now beginning to gain mainstream scientific recognition.

Eaten once a week during the evening Shabbos meal, chicken stock has the ability to recharge our energy and rebuild our depleted systems after a long week.

Cholent is a beef stock traditionally eaten during the Shabbos day meal.

Extremely dense in nutrition, when prepared properly for Shabbos, cholent can provide enough iron, protein, and B-vitamins to keep a pregnant woman, hardworking man, or growing child strong and vital through the entire week ahead.

Cholent is a nutritional powerhouse.

But it must be prepared properly (see below).

Vegetable stocks are tasty and nutritious, although nowhere near as nutrient-dense as fish, chicken, or beef stocks. The reason for this is the lack of bone and cartilage in vegetable stock, which add immeasurably to the nutrient profile of animal stock.

As a student of macrobiotics, I learned to keep all of the “trimmings” from vegetables used throughout the day, such as carrot tops, corn spines, squash peels, etc. and save these for making vegetable stock.

The proper preparation of stock is both art and science.

The key to optimizing the nutrition of stock is adding an acidic medium to the stock water, which draws minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, out of the bones and into the stock more efficiently than using water alone.

You can do this with organic apple cider vinegar, red wine, or tomato sauce.

Simply add 2 tablespoons to 1 cup of your acidic medium to the pot with the bones and let it soak for 30 minutes. Then simmer for 2 to 4 hours (for therapeutic diets, simmer longer) and add your other ingredients.

My favorite Pesach chicken stock is made with organic chicken (have your butcher separate the bones from the meat, or purchase organic chicken bones separately – you can also add highly nutritious, gelatin-rich chicken feet to your stock, as long as they’re from clean, organic chickens), onions, fresh ginger and turmeric, carrots, celery, sweet potato, butternut squash, parsnips, and burdock root* with red wine added as an acidic medium to soak the bones before adding the meat and other ingredients.

My custom is to peel fruits and vegetables before eating them on Pesach, so I leave out many of the fresh herbs and medicinal superfoods that I would normally add to my stock throughout the year. But of course, you can add whatever ingredients work with your family.

Wishing you a kosher, meaningful, and transformational Pesach!

* Burdock, also known as gobo, is a traditional Chinese tonic herb (actually a root vegetable that you can easily grow in your garden) that tastes wonderful in soups, stir-fry’s or steamed, and has many well-known medicinal properties. It’s especially beneficial in the spring season for “spring cleansing” of the body, due to its enormous liver-supportive benefits. Burdock is available in teas, tinctures and capsules, but I prefer to enjoy it as a “superfood” vegetable in my meals.