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A Healthy, Light Passover

May 8, 2009 | by Chana Rubin

This Passover, have it all -- delicious, healthy and kosher for Passover!

Hate feeling heavy and stuffed after the Seder? Tired of putting on pounds after a week of overeating? Had enough of spending hours in the kitchen during Passover?

If there's one holiday that's especially associated with food – and lots of it, it's Passover.

Enjoy a happy, healthy and delicious holiday with these tips and recipes:

Serve vegetables at every meal. Use vegetables in salads, soups and side dishes. Add vegetables to matzah brei and kugel. Spread mashed avocado on matzah.

Fruit makes a delicious dessert. Serve fresh seasonal fruit, dried or fresh fruit compote and fruit salad instead of cookies and cake.

Eat fish! Fish makes an elegant and easy first or main course. Our favorite menu is fresh poached salmon, roasted potatoes and a green vegetable.

Chicken and turkey are also healthy choices. Cook your chicken soup early, refrigerate it overnight and skim the hardened fat before serving.

Substitute a portion of whole eggs with egg whites in your Passover cooking and baking. Two egg whites are equal in volume to one whole egg.

Use oil rather than margarine for cooking and baking. Extra-virgin olive oil is healthiest. Walnut and peanut oil, if available, are also good choices. Don't use cottonseed oil, which is high in saturated fat and can contain pesticide residues. Avoid margarine altogether in baking by using recipes based on nuts, like macaroons and nut-based cakes.

Keep meals easy and light. There's no need to prepare huge amounts and endless varieties of food -- for any holiday!

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Passover.

Chana Rubin, RD


Sweet and Sour Braised Carrots (Parve)

This recipe uses a technique called braising – first sauté the vegetables in oil and then add a small amount of liquid to finish the cooking. The result is a crisp-cooked vegetable in a flavorful sauce.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds (1 kilo) carrots, sliced diagonally
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened grape juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the carrots and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.

Add the juice, vinegar, water, salt and pepper to the carrots and mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

Serves 6-8

Nut-Crusted Baked Fish (Parve)

Nuts and fresh herbs give a flavorful boost to baked fish. Start with your choice of fresh fish fillets. Choose from walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios. Match the nuts with herbs of your choice, such as parsley, cilantro, oregano or basil.

3 pounds (2 1/2 kilo) fish fillet (one whole fillet or pieces)
1 cup raw, shelled unsalted nuts
3/4 cup packed fresh herbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).

Line a roasting pan or large cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place the fish on the pan and pat dry.

Chop the nuts coarsely in a food processor. Add the herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper and process until the mixture forms a paste.

Spread the nut paste evenly over the fish. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.

Serves 10-12

Turkey Breast with Fresh Herbs (Meat)

Transform ordinary turkey breast into holiday fare with lemon juice, olive oil and lots of fresh herbs. For a large crowd, use a whole turkey breast and double the amount of marinade ingredients. Just be sure to start the recipe well in advance, as the turkey needs to marinate for 24 hours.

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Half a turkey breast, about 2 pounds (1 kilo)

Process all of the ingredients except the turkey in a food processor until the mixture is fairly smooth.

Put the turkey in a glass or other non-metal container and pour the marinade over it. Make sure that the marinade covers all of the turkey. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Remove the turkey from the marinade and place it on a roasting tray. (Save the marinade for the sauce; see below.) Cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 F (200 C) and cook until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 160 F (71C). Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and cook for 15 minutes or until it's reduced by about half. Serve with the sliced turkey.

Serves 8

Almond Macaroons (Parve)

2 cups blanched almonds (whole, halved or sliced)
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
1 large egg

2 tablespoons sugar

Grind the almonds and ¾ cup of sugar in a food processor until very fine. Add the lemon zest and the egg and pulse until the mixture forms a ball of dough.

Cover and refrigerate the mixture for at least 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (170 C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the 2 tablespoons of sugar on a plate. Form the dough into balls and roll each in the sugar. Arrange on the cookie sheets, about an inch apart.

Bake about 10 minutes, just until barely golden. Remove to a cooling rack while still warm to cool completely.

Makes about 30 cookies




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