Between limitless Rosh Hashanah feasts and next week’s pre-fast “stuff-your-face” marathon & break-fast’s “starving, I’m going to faint” mindset, there’s a lot of munching going on in Jewish homes around the world within the next two weeks!
If you’re like my younger self, you feed (yes, literally), into what I call the “holiday mindset,” also known as the “limited time only, get it while it’s hot” phenomenon.
But remember, even fasting on Yom Kippur doesn’t make up for all the fattening foods that are typically associated with the Jewish holidays. While the winter holidays receive all of the media’s attention surrounding holiday weight gain (see you back here in a few months!), if you know one stereotype about Jewish people (that I totally think is true), we can definitely EAT!
HEL-LO?! Grandma’s chicken soup? Mom’s kugel? Aunt Ida’s home-run desserts??? You get the point!
But since Yom Kippur shouldn’t be spent repenting for overeating, be smart, think, and plan ahead! Here’s how to survive in the kitchen and at the table, Rosh Hashanah edition:
- Skip BLTs. My grandma once followed Weight Watchers, which told her to look out for BLTs (I know, you’re thinking, “duhh”)…Well they meant Bites, Licks, and Tastes! This can be difficult when cooking for a crowd, but try your hardest…you’ll save hundreds of calories.
- Think outside the box. When I became a vegetarian and my dad a vegan, my mom had to rethink entire holiday meals. Meat was no longer the superstar, although still present. Even if every person at your table is a carnivore, focus on vegetables and have more than one veggie dish…I bet it’s a bigger hit than you think! This year my mom’s making stuffed tomatoes & I can’t wait! YUMM
- Swap refined grains for whole grains. When possible, in a recipe, swap not-good-for-you white flour for whole grains. Even if you do halfsies (50-50 white & whole wheat flours) you’re feeding your guests a better option…and one you can feel good about too! Try these ideas:
- Quinoa salad with roasted vegetables. Prepare quinoa in vegetable broth, grill vegetables, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Warm bulgar salad with roasted almonds, dried cranberries, and pepitas.
- Skim the salt. One of the easiest ways to healthify your cooking is by cutting the amount of sodium in your food. Guests can always sprinkle some on themselves.
- Don’t go hungry! Eat breakfast before temple and a nutritious lunch when you return. “Saving” calories for later is never a good idea because then you’ll be ravenous. Instead, set yourself up for success.
- Sneak in a sweat session. In addition to walking to and from temple, try to squeeze in an afternoon workout before your big dinner…but don’t use it as an excuse to pig out either!
Beyond Portion Control At the Table:
- Wine down. Jewish holidays are synonymous with wine guzzling, so watch the size of glass you pour! Manischewitz has cals too!
- Honey is just sugar. Why do you think it’s so delicious?! I dip my apples in the honey for a sweet new year too, but keep in mind that honey = sugar! Use this condiment sparingly!
- Have a (matzoh) ball! Sipping on broth-based soup will fill you up for fewer calories than any other starter, making less room for other fat-loaded dishes. Gefilte fish is also a low-cal app, clocking in at about 45-50 calories/piece, plus protein!
- Help serve. If your holiday meal is a sit down dinner, do the opposite…at least at first. Volunteer to serve the soup and then clear dishes. Repeat for other courses and you’ll spend less time eating, but still be present when most conversation takes place.
- Survey the choices. Look at everything being served before putting anything on your plate, so you can choose what you truly want.
- “Chews” wisely. Unless something only comes around once a year, skip it…you can have it another time when there aren’t so many other calorie bombs looming. For me, it’s my mom’s applesauce and dad’s homemade challah. Truly savor what you’re eating and it’s worth every calorie!
- Be mindful. It may not be Thanksgiving yet, but paying attention, and even being thankful for the food you’re eating, will leave time for your body’s satiety clues to kick in so you’re less likely to overeat.
The holidays are a special time, filled with family, friends, and good food, but paying attention to what you put on your plate goes a long way for your health…especially when you have TWO food-filled suppers in a row! Now get back to cooking…