The trick to staying, ahem, healthy during Passover is eating as many veggies and fruits as you normally do. If your festive meals are front loaded with more meat than you regularly eat, it’s easy to shift to dairy or vegetarian menus, especially those that allow veggies to shine.
These zucchini boats are matzah- free so expect the filling mixture to be creamy and luxuriant rather than firm. They are best eaten soon after they come out of the oven though they may be eaten warm or at room temperature.
And speaking of matzah- free, this dish is perfect for any non-Passover meal also. It would be super served on a brunch buffet or served alongside a vegetable soup (tomato soup would be great), a green salad, roasted asparagus or peppers.
4 medium zucchini, firm and unblemished
½ lb whole milk ricotta cheese
6 Tbsp Parmesan cheese (or other firm, sharp cheese of choice), shredded. Set aside 3 Tbsp for topping
1 Tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
10 basil leaves, washed and patted dry, chopped. Reserve 2 Tb. for topping
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 Tbsp pine nuts (reserve half for topping)
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Canola oil non-stick cooking spray
Wash zucchini and leave whole and untrimmed.
Place zucchini in a large pot of boiling, salted water and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Do not overcook. They should be just barely tender to the fork.
Remove zucchini from water and place on dishtowel to cool. Pat dry.
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise, trimming off the tip (I leave the round end but you chose).
With a melon baller, gently scrape out the flesh of each zucchini, leaving enough in the shell so that it can support the filling. Reserve scooped out flesh for another use or discard.
Pat each zucchini boat inside and out, with paper towels, to absorb as much moisture as possible.
Choose a large rectangular Pyrex pan that is large enough to hold all zucchini in one layer. Spray pan with canola oil. Place zucchini halves in pan with cavity side up. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, place ricotta, Parmesan, EVOO, eggs, lemon juice and chopped basil. Mix until combined and set aside.
In a small non-stick pan, toss pine nuts to brown. (Do not add oil to pan). Remove and add to cheese mixture.
In the same pan add a few drops of oil and sauté chopped garlic for 1-2 minutes. Do not brown. Add to cheese mixture. Season mixture with salt and pepper.
Using a teaspoon, carefully fill the zucchini boats with cheese mixture and top with reserved shredded cheese, basil leaves and pine nuts.
Bake at 350 degrees F on center rack, 20 minutes, until just golden.
It’s a new year, so we’re trying out some new things. We love hearing what you’re eating, and we want to hear more. The same way we inspire you with new recipes and news, you inspire us with what you are cooking at home and eating out all over the country (and around the world).
So starting this first week of 2015, we will be hosting a monthly photo contest to see what you, our wonderful, creative, food-focused readers, are eating.
Each week there will be a new theme to the contest, and the instructions are easy:
- Post a photo of your dish on Twitter, Instagram or on our Facebook page.
- Describe the dish briefly – What is it? Why was it delicious?
- Be sure to use the hashtag #noshthis and tag @JewishFood on Twitter.
Show us your healthful eating for 2015. Not eating healthy this year? No matter, post a pic anyways so we can also enjoy the indulgence.
The winning photo will be featured each month on our Facebook, so get cooking and snapping those pics! We can’t wait.
Photo credit: Liz Reuven
By the time January rolls around it’s time to face the music: we’ve indulged in latkes and sufganiyot (It’s only once a year!), avoided insulting co-workers by eating mounds of their homemade cookies, (they stayed up all night baking), and rang in the New Year with a heaping stack of (you fill in the blank) nutty chocolate rugelach made with that cream cheese dough.
It’s time to lighten up, people.
But in the short days of January, when Shabbat approaches in what feels like mid-afternoon, the last thing we want to do is plan a menu of self-denial. I want to be sure there’s plenty of color and big flavors on the plate even if I’m making an effort to cut some calories and load in extra veggies.
We start with this honey whole wheat challah from The Nosher’s Editor Shannon Sarna. It tasted like a sweet indulgent challah, but with the addition of whole wheat flour and even ground flax seed.
This rich, but low cal vegan broth showcases bright orange Pumpkin Matzah Balls. This is great recipe to have up your sleeve for dairy meals or for when you have vegetarian guests at the table.
I chose to serve salmon, the kid- friendly fish. Searching my winter markets I turn to citrus for bright flavor and balance with my favorite local maple syrup. The moist salmon fillets are a perfect foil for a glossy Asian glaze. This dish is fine served at room temperature and will make tasty leftovers.
To go along with the salmon, I love these Chinese sesame noodles. This recipe is great with soba noodles, thin spaghetti, rice vermicelli or those super low calorie, gluten-free tofu Shirataki. With a load of crisp veggies tossed in a tangle of irresistible noodles this dish provides a perfect alternative for kids who may snub fish. The noodles benefit from hanging out in your refrigerator for a day or two before serving, so prepare this one in advance.
While beautiful winter salad greens are hard to come by in the northeast, Bibb or Butter lettuce is usually available and perfect for this avocado salad with carrot ginger dressing. Here’s that carrot/ginger dressing that your kids can’t get enough of.
For dessert, I’ve started experimenting with baked apples lately and with good reason. The carved out cavity provides lots of opportunities for fun filings and it’s a guilt free dessert that satisfies. Take advantage of the fact that you’re serving fish and use butter (not margarine) in this easy, granola based filling. Have gluten-free guests at your table? Consider this version of spiced baked apples instead.
And while we’re lightening it up for this dairy Shabbat dinner, you can chose your favorite frozen yogurt to serve on top of these apples. Be sure to serve them warm, if possible.
Turning to dried fruit is another great way to insert color on the dessert plate without adding fat. These spiced apricots dipped in dark chocolate have three ingredients-two if you omit the spicy chili powder. We’re talking easy, super low fat, and kid-friendly.
Yes, it’s a lightened up Shabbat but nobody expects you to finish without a little piece of some baked deliciousness. If we’re already enjoying a bit of dairy in this dinner I’m ready to bake these spiced chocolate oat cookies. They’re thick, deeply chocolaty and brownie-like. That’ll do the trick.
4 salmon fillets
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 navel oranges (for zest and juice listed below)
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic- peeled and chopped
1 two inch piece fresh ginger- peeled and minced
1/3 cup maple syrup (grade B is best for cooking and baking)
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp orange zest
Rinse and pat dry salmon fillets.
Place on large plate and salt and pepper each piece. Set aside.
Heat a large, cast iron or non-stick frying pan. Do not oil. When the pan is hot add sesame seeds. Stir often and watch carefully to avoid burning. Toast until golden. Set aside in small dish.
Juice orange to fill 1/3 cup and set aside.
Grate or zest orange peel being careful to do so with a light hand. Do not zest white pith (it’s bitter). Measure 1 Tb. and set aside.
Wipe out frying pan and place on medium flame. Heat EVOO until glistening and place salmon filets, skin side down in pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden.
Turn gently and brown the second side. Do not move fish while it is cooking. If skin sticks or falls off, it’s ok. It may be discarded if you like.
Remove fish from pan and set aside.
Place remaining ingredients (except sesame seeds) in pan and stir to combine. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce is reduced and thickened.
If using a cast iron pan, return salmon to the pan and spoon sauce on top of fillets. If using a non-stick pan, place fillets in an ovenproof dish (spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking) and spoon sauce over fish.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 6-8 minutes or until fish is cooked to your liking. If you like the salmon, cooked through, it should flake with a fork.
Plate salmon with glaze from the bottom of pan and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Note: This dish may be served hot, warm or at room temperature. It makes great leftovers.
I recently started my second round with a diet/food-cleanse called Whole 30, in which you eat nothing but unprocessed, unrefined, sugar-free food, while also cutting out entire food groups such as dairy, soy, and grains (oh and booze too). I am sure to many it sounds a bit crazy, but I will share that throughout the 30 days I woke up easier and stayed awake throughout the day, my body felt physically and mentally alive in a way it had not in years past and I felt stronger when I worked out.
Cutting out dairy, sugar, grains and booze? Ok, I could do it. But I could never do without my coffee, which thankfully you are allowed. In order to enjoy my one permitted cup of coffee, I needed to make my own almond milk since almost all sold in stores contain added sugar. I also wanted to find a natural way to sweeten the almond milk to make my coffee a little more enjoyable. So I added 1 medjool date when making the almond milk for the sweetness I craved with my coffee, but without any sugar.
I have come to love making my own almond milk so much that I do it even when I am not on the diet. There is something gratifying about knowing exactly what is in your food and drink. If you are going to try your hand at this I highly recommend buying a nut milk bag, but if you have a cheesecloth available that will work fine.
Homemade almond milk is for more than just crazy diets: it is great for baking, especially when making nondairy desserts, for making smoothies, in your cereal or oatmeal or just drinking too.
For the almond milk:
1 cup raw almonds
3 cups water
1 pitted medjool date
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
For the vanilla banana smoothie:
1 ¼ cup home made almond milk
1 ½ frozen banana
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
To make the almond milk:
Soak the almonds in 3 cups of water for 12-24 hours. Drain the water from the almonds.
Place the almonds, 3 cups of water, the date, cinnamon and salt in a blender. Start on a low speed and quickly accelerate to high speed until all the nuts are completely pulverized. Pour the nut milk into the bag to strain.
Tip: Don’t waste the almond meal left after straining the liquid. Save it and dehydrate it. It becomes perfect almond flour.
To make the smoothie:
Place almond milk, frozen banana, cinnamon, vanilla and honey in the blender and pulse until smooth. Sprinkle some cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder on top.
Dreaming up crazy flavors of challah like pastrami sandwich challah, balsamic apple date challah or gruyere and pesto stuffed challah is one of my greatest joys as a baker. But sometimes I do long for a simpler challah, and have even been known to make whole wheat challah. Yes, it’s true. I hope you were sitting for that.
I use a half whole wheat, half all-purpose unbleached flour ratio when making my whole wheat challah. Yes, you could try to use all whole wheat flour, but challah is supposed to be light and fluffy, and whole wheat flour is simply more dense. Because the whole wheat flour is denser, I make sure to be particularly patient when letting it rise: for the first rise I allow 4 hours, and for the second rise another 1 1/2 hours. It may seem like a lot, but the result is worth it. My mother-in-law even commented about this challah, “this is sinful.” Whole wheat challah? Sinful? Well, I will take it. And especially from my mother-in-law!
I also like to add ground flax seed in the challah for a little extra dose of healthiness which is impossible to detect. And inspired by the beautiful, Israeli challot of Breads Bakery, I love to add pumpkin seeds, whole flax seeds, oats, sesame seeds, black sesame seeds and even sunflower seeds on top for a fun and healthy crunch.
This honey whole wheat challah is perfect for Rosh Hashanah. And instead of a savory topping like the ones I just mentioned, you could add a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top for an extra sweet, and healthy, new year ahead.
1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
1 ½ Tbsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 ½ cups all purpose unbleached flour
2-2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
½ Tbsp salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
2 egg yolks + 1 tsp water + 1 tsp honey
Whole flax seed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds (optional)
Thick sea salt (optional)
In a small bowl, place yeast, 1 tsp sugar and lukewarm water. Allow to sit around 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together ¾ cup whole wheat flour, ¾ cup all-purpose flour, salt and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil and honey. Mix thoroughly. Pro tip: use the same cup to measure the honey as you used for the oil which will allow for easier clean-up of the sticky honey.
Add another ½ cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup regular flour and eggs and mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.
Add another 1 ½- 2 cups of mixed flour, mixing thoroughly and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining ½ cup flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 10 minutes (or however long your hands will last).
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise at least 4 hours, punching down at least once if possible.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Braid challah into desired shape. Allow challah to rise another 90 minutes, or until you can see the size has grown and challah seems light. This step is very important to ensure a light and fluffy challah.
In a small bowl beat 2 egg yolks with 1 tsp water and 1 tsp honey.
Brush egg wash liberally over challah. Sprinkle with seeds and thick sea salt if desired.
If making one large challah, bake around 28 minutes; if making two smaller challahs, bake 24-26 minutes. When making round challot, make sure the middle has cooked through, which might require an extra 1-2 minutes baking time.
Holidays in general are not very easy on the dieting sector, but when you think about it, nothing beats Hanukkah. Basically we have eight days in a row where its traditional to eat fried foods. And so we start the meal with fried carbs, cap it off with deep fried dough, and probably spend weeks dreading the scale.
Tradition is great, and I am all for it, but there is also a mitzvah to take care of yourself, and I think that eating healthy is way up there on the list of ways to take care of yourself. And while I am not suggesting we all boycott every form of fried food this Hanukkah, a great way to stay healthy and eat healthy is to follow one of my most important dieting tricks: combat delicious and tempting food with delicious, but healthy food.
The challenge, for me, as a perpetual dieter as well as a cook, is to come up with a recipe that is within the spirit of Hanukkah, but won’t cause a bad case of “scale fear.” I think, if I do say so myself, that I succeeded amazingly with these spinach latkes. It’s pretty sad the way spinach gets such a bad rap among vegetables. I think it’s delicious, and I let it shine in this recipe.
This recipe comes together in a frying pan, but don’t let that fool you. This latke recipe is super healthy…and yet totally delicious. Make sure to have enough on hand for the non-dieters. They might just love them as much as I do!
Miriam Pascal blogs at Tales of an Overtime Cook.
spray oil, for frying
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb bag frozen spinach, thawed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, to taste
additional black pepper, to taste
Prepare sauteed spinach: sautee onions in spray oil on low to medium flame until translucent. Add minced garlic and sautee an additional couple of minutes. Add thawed spinach and stir to combine. Continue to cook over low to medium flame, stirring occasionally. Cook 20-30 minutes, until spinach is heated through and fully cooked. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice.
You can make the sauteed spinach in advance, and when you are ready to make the latkes, proceed with the following instructions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine sauteed spinach, eggs, breadcrumbs, oil and salt. Heat a frying pan and spray well with spray oil. Roll some of the batter in your hands to form a ball, then press between your palms to form a (relatively thin) patty. Fry on medium flame for 2-3 minutes per side, or until light brown. I like to taste the first latke to make sure I got the spices right, then fry the rest.
Notes: When spinach fries it turns brown and may look burnt, but it isn't!
Don't flip the latkes too soon, or they will fall apart. Make sure you allow them enough time to get cooked on the bottom before flipping.