For those of you who celebrate Passover it's less than a week away. The upcoming seders equals tons of food, Passover treats, and wine, and I know that chocolate matzah will be haunting you all week long! Since this 8-day holiday changes our routine menu, it's can be more challenging to stick to a healthy plan. Unfortunately Matzah products are often less nutrient dense, lower in fibre, and higher in glycemic index. This translates to non-satiating, high calorie, AND constipating 😕.
Passover or not, eating a whack of refined carbs and starches isn’t ideal. It’s true, your carb options are more limited with many of the whole grains off the table, but there’s still plenty of nutritious, carb-rich foods available to complete your plate. Think fruits, veggies, quinoa, starchy veg like potatoes and squash, and for some, beans and legumes are still in.
Read on for my 4 survival tips for a healthful Passover
Stick to whole foods. It’ll be cheaper and healthier. As mentioned matzah-based items are refined and low in fibre and boxed items that are kosher for passover are super expensive anyways. I’m not saying don't touch the stuff, but let's strategize how to use it in moderation.
What to do?
Take it as an 8 day opportunity to get creative using more veg based swaps and experimenting with alternative flours. For example instead of a matzah bagel, how about sweet potato toast, or how bout a cauliflower fried rice in place of your standard rice? Now, I’m not condoning fad diets here, but “paleo” and “keto” recipe searches will likely garner some cool ideas. Grain free and using low GI starchy veggies like sweet potato and squash, or alternative flours like coconut flour, almond or cassava, you’ll find many of these recipes acceptable on pesach and may become new menu staples!
Set a meal prep goal. This is a tip that always applies to stay on track with healthy eating behaviours, and it will definitely help during Passover while some of your go-to meals and snacks are on hold.
What to do?
Consider a couple touch points in the kitchen to meal prep for the week. Remember all your veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats are still in! Casseroles works great as they re-heat well and make a lot of food that can be re-purposed for lunches and quick dinners. I’m thinking eggplant or zucchini lasagna, squash and apple bakes, or things like crustless quiches, stuffed peppers or acorn squash boats. Don’t forget, batch-cookables like chilis, stews, stir-frys and sheet-pan chicken or fish with roasted veggies will still work splendidly.
Healthy snacking is always key to keep hunger at bay. This rule holds true for Passover. Balanced snacks should be whole food based. Perfect snack pairings include a bit of protein, or small amounts of healthy fat to keep you satisfied, with something fibre rich like fruit or veg. Matzah need-not entire into this equation.
What to do?
Plan for small portions of nuts, nut butters, cheese, with grabbable veggies like baby carrots, snap peas, or cherry tomatoes. Greek yogurt or cottage cheese are super high in protein and are great paired with berries. For those of you who love hummus but can’t do beans on Pesach, try turning your greek yogurt into a savoury dip or tzaziki. Other ideas include tuna lettuce wraps, smoked salmon on cucumber with cream cheese and dill, or a latte with a homemade almond flour muffin which would be perfect around workouts. Another fun one that can be made in batches is chia pudding. Check out my instagram posts for an apple coconut flour muffin and pumpkin chia pudding recipe for inspiration.
Whether it’s Passover, Easter, Thanksgiving or birthdays, family meals especially holidays and special occasions are bound to present "healthy eating" challenges. Consider the idea though that ‘healthy eating’ also means having a balanced and healthy relationship with food. Holidays are supposed to be fun! They only happen a few times a year, so this year, take a step back from rules and try to enjoy.
What to do?
Employ the 80/20 approach. 80% of the time we are making great choices and 20% of the time we make informed choices that we know aren’t perfect; and that’s totally cool! This year be mindful about your choices rather than fearing them. The all or nothing approach perpetuates shame, guilt, and lack of enjoyment of social events and that sucks. Being mindful may mean: Checking in with your hunger and fullness cues throughout the meal to help you decide on whether to take seconds; ensuring you come to the meal satiated rather than too hungry to facilitate portion control; allowing yourself to taste your favourites but maybe pass on the stuff you care less about to come away feeling satisfied, not overfull nor too deprived.
On that note, I wish you all a happy Passover and Easter. I hope these tips help you bring in the holidays with confidence, experimentation, and excitement, rather than food fear!
While I haven't recipe tested all of these below I thought I would post a few ideas on where my mind was at for some Passover friendly dish ideas.