Purim Food for Thought
Healthy and simple mishloach manot ideas.
With Purim around the corner, many of us are thinking about what to send for mishloach manot, gifts of food. Of course, any type of mishloach manot is a welcomed gesture of friendship. But instead of sending cakes, cookies, and candy, why not consider healthier options? Your friends will be grateful to you for not tempting them to overeat, giving their kids a sugar high, or leaving them with too much chametz before Passover.
The Produce Platter
Fruit platters make a great snack on Purim day. My parents have given fruit platters for years, and every year recipients call to thank them, saying it was the best gift they received. Too busy on Purim day to assuage their hunger with real food, they found fruit to be the perfect thing.
You can vary the size and type of platter, depending on your budget. For someone to whom you owe appreciation, you might want to send a large arrangement of fresh pineapple and melons on a fancy platter, presented elegantly in cellophane topped off with a bow. For more casual friends, the arrangement could consist of basic winter fruit on a simple plate or a fruit salad in a bowl. I’d advise you to stay away from apple slices, as there is a limit to how long lemon juice can keep an apple slice from turning brown.
A vegetable platter is easier to set up attractively for those whose talent doesn’t lie in beautiful presentations. Fill a small clear plastic bowl with salad dressing and place it in the center of a plate or circular platter. Lay baby carrots, strips of different colored peppers, grape tomatoes, olives, baby corn, or any other vegetable in sections radiating from the bowl in the center. You can also buy sectioned disposable platters. Simply covering your platter with plastic wrap is sufficient, as the rich colors of a fruit or vegetable platter are beautiful in and of themselves.
Easy Russian Dressing Dip
1/2 c mayonnaise (reduced fat is fine)
2-3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
A hearty vegetable soup is another healthy option. It can be made in advance and doesn’t require any fancy packaging, since it’s normal to send soup in a plastic container. (You can decorate the container if you wish.) Attach a package of breadsticks to the container to fulfill the mitzvah of sending two types of foods for mishloach manot.
Another item that is generally appreciated is a kugel. Although kugel is not usually a healthful food, at least it’s real food! It’s not likely to contribute to Purim day snacking, since it will probably be put away for a Shabbat meal after Purim. Unlike many other side dishes, kugel refrigerates and freezes well and is almost universally liked. Lay a second item (a small bottle of wine or grape juice works well) on top of the kugel, and no container is needed.
Sweet potato Kugel
3 cups boiled, mashed, and drained sweet potatoes
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
Mix and pour into an 8x8 (20 cm) or 9 inch (22 cm) round pan.
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp oil
Optional: 5 Tbsp chopped nuts
Work the oil into the sugar and flour. Sprinkle the topping over the base. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 30 minutes or until light brown.
1 large saut