Spring is here and that means Spring holidays. Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the jew’s escape from slavery in Egypt. Anyone see the Ten Commandments? Yep, when Moses led his people out of Egypt, that’s Passover! But the celebration of this freedom is centered around food, much of it healthy and full of symbolic meaning.
The highlight of Passover is the Seder, a fifteen step, family oriented, tradition and ritual packed feast. The focal points of the Seder are eating matzah eating bitter herbs and drinking wine.
The matzah, a cracker like, unleavened bread is the symbol of Passover (Pesach) to honor the lack of leavened goods available to the Jews when they left Egypt. It is said that they left in such a hurry, that they could not wait for the bread to rise so for this, matzah is eaten in lieu of leavened bread for the duration of the 8 days. Additionally, only matzah made of flour and water is acceptable over Passover. Matzah is great for light sandwiches, snacks and even crumbled into soups and for this week, it’s a great way to keep away from baked goods and bad carbs ; )
Eating bitter herbs is essential and to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites. Such herbs like parsley and horseradish, common at Seder, are great antioxidants, aid in digestion and posess a great many medicinal qualities so loading up on such herbs will leave you that much healthier after the week is out.
The charoset—a mixture of apples, almonds, cinnamon and ginger is served to represent the mortar to make bricks used by the Israelites under Egyptian bondage. Healthy and quite delicious as an after dinner sweet.
Another tradition is to drink four cups of wine or grape juice, a royal drink to celebrate the newfound freedom. Wine and grape juice is packed with fabulous antioxidants like polyphenols and a fantastic little thing called resveretrol, now being hailed as the “substance of youth”. Resveretrol helps in regeneration of cells, is a cancer fighter, lowers blood sugar as well as having many other wonderful traits. So bottoms up this Passover and beyond!
While Pesach includes lamb as the centerpiece of the meal, as the turkey is to thanksgiving, be sure to check this week’s Passover recipes for healthy alternatives to the rest of your healthy Passover Seder.