How to lighten up on Rosh Hashanah plus a savoury apple recipe for autumn

There’s no doubt about: the Jewish holiday table at Rosh Hashanah is definitely a feast (true it’s followed by a fast 10 days later). But doesn’t have to leave you or your guests feeling stuffed like a turkey.

While for some people, it’s just a couple of meals but for others who observe Sukkoth, it can seem like an eating marathon.

Here are just a few tips for the cooks on how to lighten up traditional dishes (I’m busy cooking up a storm).  Your guests may thank you as they may not need a fork lift to leave the table.

•    Spare the oil- it’s not Chanukah (I’ll have something to say about my thoughts on oil and Chanukah later in the year!). When sautéing ingredients such as onions and garlic to start off a dish, many recipes call for a sea of oil. It simply is not necessary to use three and four tablespoons when one tablespoon may do the trick.

As fat does add flavour to a dish, bump up the taste with more herbs and spices. Or use some of your flavourful chicken soup in the recipe. For example, if you are making farfel, kasha, stuffing or another starch, if you have cut down on the oil, use the broth instead of water.

•    Make fatty dishes ahead of time and skim off the fat. Chicken soup and brisket are just two examples of dishes you can remove more fat from if the foods have been chilled. I bake my mini-meatballs in the oven before putting them in a sweet and sour tomato sauce (for the non-fish eaters).

•    Serve some simple vegetables – some that are not in a pudding or kugel – that your guests can fill up on if they want to limit the heavier fare.

•    Don’t let your waist be a victim of the baker’s tax. Baker’s tax occurs when the person preparing the baked goods must sample each edible ingredient, such as chocolate chips, dried fruit and nuts, before it’s added to the bowl.

Another example of this is sampling  at least one cookie as each pan is removed from the oven.  How much the tax is depends very much on hungry the baker is. To avoid paying these taxes, bake at a time when you’re less likely to nibble. For example, baking right after breakfast is an opportune time to save on taxes.

If you are just enjoying the holiday eats, here’s some food for thought:

•    Pace yourself. There are many courses and dishes likely to come so think about your favourites and choose accordingly.

•    At holiday meals, everyone sits around the table for hours. And during that time, as the food is usually pretty delicious, it’s easy to just keep eating. The platters are there before you so while you’re talking you take a little more of one food and then another. You know the story. When you have taken your initial portions and you really don’t need anymore, put your knife and fork down – without making a statement- and slightly push your plate in front of you. It’s a signal to yourself that you are done.

•    If you are watching your weight and don’t want to partake of a food, don’t announce it at the table. Not only will you make everyone else feel guilty but you will be inviting the host to ply you with food. A simple, “no thanks” or “maybe in a minute” will suffice and keep you in everyone’s good graces.

If you decide that you want to go all out and enjoy everything, then go for it.  It’s what you do day and day out that counts the most.

L’Shana Tova to all of you celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

Here’s an change of pace apple recipe, from my book, The Enlightened Eater’s Whole Foods Guide (Viking Canada),  that you won’t want to keep just for Rosh Hashanah. When I am making this slaw with a meat meal, I omit the yogurt and up the light mayo to 1/2 cup.

                                                   Cabbage, Beet and Apple Slaw

Makes  6 – 8 servings

6 cups (1.5 L)  thinly sliced cabbage
3/4 cup (175 mL) coarsely shredded carrot
3/4 cup (175 mL) coarsely shredded  raw beets
¼ cup (50 mL)   finely chopped red onion
1  large or 2 small apples, shredded
6 tablespoons (75 mL) light mayonnaise
1/4 cup (50 mL)  plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons (45 mL) cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons (22 mL)  honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrot, beets, onion and apple in a large bowl. To prepare dressing, whisk together light mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar and honey in a small bowl. Pour over vegetables and toss with dressing until well-mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per serving nutritional information:
Calories:  90
Protein:  2  grams
Fat:  4  grams
Saturated Fat:  1 gram
Carbohydrate: 13  grams
Dietary Fibre: 3   grams
Sodium: 195 milligrams

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Recipes

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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