September 2017

What NOT TO DO in order to have a Succesful Fast?

With Yom Kippur approaching, and the impact of this long day of fasting and prayers, we want to dedicate today’s post to this topic: What NOT TO DO in order to have a Succesful Fast? I mean, like Really!!

When I started fasting for kippur I genuinely thought I just needed to put my mind “into it”. At that time I thought “emunah” would be enough to keep me going, then, during the actual fast I experienced the worst headache ever and I realized how tough this could be. How I was supposed to do this for the coming years?! 😱😱 Real reason behind my headaches and first “bad” experience with a long day of fasting? I was unprepared. My food choices were poor prior to the fast, and my water consumption was really low, and this alone affected me A LOT during the fast, so I started to change my habits little by little, specially two weeks to a week before the fast so that I could manage better and the result of the next kippur was really positive. For the upcoming years I did better and better, and now, now, I can really focus on the prayers without headaches or anything in between, and I am going to tell you how I do it.

This is not a complete list, of course. This is my No-No list of what to avoid, what not to do before and after the fast. After reading this you may discovered that some apply to you, or all, or even realized that we forgot something! (In that case you’ll let us know to add it to this list 😎)

Here we go…

No-No #1:
Jumping into the fast without sinking in the idea first

I said before that in my first experience fasting I had a terrible time because I thought it was enough to just put my mind into it and jump into the fast. I was so unprepared… Well, after many years of fasting, obviously this alone was not enough, but it is still a very important part of the fasting experience. You have to meditate in this idea of fasting and visualize you finishing it before it even starts. If you are in some way addicted to certain foods, and there is a good chance that you think about those foods and feel hunted by your cravings, think about what triggers those thoughts and feelings and try to bring other positive thoughts to your mind.

Usually when we crave food is because we “crave” a particular time in our life or a friend, a family member, or this particular food triggers some emotions like love, comfort, etc. If for some reason you have those cravings during the fast, you now know that it is not about the food, it is about the memories around them. If your cravings remind you of a friend or family member, you can make a conscious decision of calling them before or after the fast. Differentiating these two, real hunger and cravings, will make a huge difference in terms of how successful you will be during your fasting period.

No-No #2:
Starting the fast Dehydrated

Don’t you EVER start the fast dehydrated! You need to drink a huge amount of water, no kidding!
On the days around the fast (starting 2 to 1 week before) I make the conscious decision to drink a lot (Like a REAL LOT!) of water. It helps with focus, bloating and cravings and it makes you feel better in general. Even though Yom Kippur’s fast is not about “health”, at the end your body will thank you for all this water in your system .

I have found that drinking half my body weight in ounces of water helps me a lot with headaches, hunger and focus. I always start my massive water consumption at least a week before the fast. Even 3 days of massive (literally massive!) water consumption will make a big difference on your fasting day. Of course, consuming tons of water means you may go more than usual to the bathroom but this is just one little downside (if you really are that negative to call this “downside”) comparing to all the benefits you’ll get. And, since many people are partly dehydrated (even without knowing it), all this water will for sure make a positive impact on you overall health.

No-No #3: 
Eating like is the end of the world before the fast

If you want to be successful in this fasting endeavor, you need to start reducing your food intake at least a few days before the fast, not eating more!. I know! Your mind may be telling you that you need to “store” as much “food” as you can in order to “survive” but you will probably end up with stomachache, gas, bloating and other symptoms that are never good nor welcome, specially before Yom Kippur. What you really want is to get used to less food so that the day of the fast you don’t miss any food or at least the probabilities or doing so are reduced.

I usually start eating less at least a week before the fast. I have tried many ways, one of them being making a 3-days fruit “fast” that ends on ereb kippur which means I just eat fruits (that also counts towards my water consumption) for 3 days, and the end of this “fast” is the beginning of kippur . Take into consideration that if you are eating just fruits, you need to increase the amounts you eat because fruits have considerably less calories that other foods.

No-No #4:
Not Choosing your food wisely

When you are preparing for a fast, and after the fast, is better you avoid certain foods like fatty foods and junk foods starting days before the fast. Need reasons? We all know these foods are bad for you in general terms, and if you are not going to stop consuming them 100%, at least consider it at this time, previous to Yom Kippur.

One of your goals right before the fast should be to eat enough nutrient dense foods that will keep you full longer and maintain your sugar levels stable long enough so that you finish the fast without cravings, headaches, bloating and things like that, and for that reason is better to limit and even avoid refined carbs and super sweet stuff before and after the fast.

In my experience, when I eat refined carbs before the fast like breads, donuts, pastas, etc, I am more likely to get a headache, maybe stomachache and the worst… cravings!. In the past 10 years or so I have been eating from pasta to chicken soup to vegan food before the fast, and I have found that the best food to eat for me are those with more protein content (meat or plant-based) and less refined carbs; but I would not suggest cheese, because dairy is more comparable to a junk food than a proper nutrient dense food.

Also, and this is kind of obvious, avoid foods that tend to make you gassy. Of course this will vary from one person to another, but some people may find that legumes, dairy products, and certain vegetables like cabbage, onions and garlic make them more likely to get gas, so if you are one of those, avoid these foods completely before the fast.

No-No #5: 
Thinking & talking about food during the fast

I don’t understand why, right before Minhah, there is always someone that starts talking about how good his/her mom cooks, or even describing certain foods! (aka “pure torture for everyone else!”)… Going to the synagogue means that you will be very busy with the prayers, but if at any point in between services you feel like this, thinking and even salivating while remembering your favorite foods’; meditate or grab a book and read something positive. Even your siddur’s footnotes would be a good thing to read at such time 😉

No-No #6:
Overwhelm your shrunk stomach with a marathon of food 

All of these tips can lead you to have a more meaningful fast, so, don’t ruin everything you’ve done until now by eating 2 kilos of meat, a whole pizza or a dozen donuts after the fast is finished. You literally need to eat like a poor man after the fast. Try to be prepared and have a simple meal like some root vegetables soup or chicken soup ready at home. Hot chamomile, dandelion, ginger, lemon or mint tea are also great options to have as soon as the fast finishes. Try not to rush into food and, if for any reason you are going to eat something like pasta or rice to break the fast (we cannot control the universe after all) try to eat much less than what you normally eat. Remember that you just had 26 or so hours without food and water. DO NOT overwhelm your shrunk stomach with a marathon of food.

Well, well, this is all for today. Tell us, is there any other tip you put into practice in order to prepare for the fast? Let us know in the comment section below or head over instagram or pinterest and let us know there 🙂

Tizké leshanim rabboth!

 

High Holidays Series – Part 3: 5 Full Menu Ideas for Rosh HaShanah & Sukkot

High Holidays series part 3: 5 full menu ideas for Rosh haShanah & Sukkot

Rosh haShanah is officially 3 days from now! Whoop! 

 If you haven’t decide on your menu yet, today we bring you 5 Full Menu Ideas for Rosh haShanah & Sukkot. Each one includes entrees/salads, main dishes, sides & desserts. 

 

Once you have decided on your menu, don’t forget to head over our first post on this series where we talk about meal prepping for the holidays. We have included a 3-Days Meal Prepping Timeline that you can download and customize according to your plans and that way have everything ready just in time for the holiday. You can also check out our second post on the series; 50+ Recipes to help you build your Holidays Menu if you need even more recipes. 

Now, let’s jump into the menus: 

 

 

Entrees

Kale Salad with Warm Cranberries Vinaigrette (Can be Vegan by using Maple syrup instead of honey)
Spinach Salad with Toasted Pepitas & Creamy Dressing (Vegan)
Warm Garbanzo Bean Salad (Vegan)
Roasted Green Beans with Harissa (Vegan)
Carrot, Jicama and Sweet Peppers Slaw (Vegan)

Main Dishes

Spiced Roast Beef with Red Wine Gravy
Slow-Cooked Coffee-Braised Brisket
Meatballs in Spicy Curry
Rosemary-Maple Roast Chicken
Chicken, Mushrooms & Zucchini Skillet

Side Dishes

Zucchini Gratin (Vegan)
Roasted Fingerlings Potatoes with Preserved Lemons (Vegan)
Pomegranate Glazed Acorn (Can be vegan by using coconut oil or another oil with neutral flavor instead of butter)
Fragrant Rice (Vegan)
Balsamic Roasted Baby Carrots (Vegan)

Desserts

Ginger, Almond & Plums Crumble (For a vegan version, use maple or agave syrup instead of honey)
Pumpkin Panna Cotta (Vegan)
Tiramisu (Vegan)
Chocolate Mousse (Vegan)
Rustic Cherry Tart (Contains eggs – For a vegan version, you can either ignore the egg or substitute this with flax egg, add chia seeds to gelatinize a bit the cherries or add other binding agents like xantam gum or agar agar)

 

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Entrees

Chilled Tomato Soup (Vegan)
All Green Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette (For a vegan version, use maple syrup or agave instead of honey)
Spring Green with Orange Fennel Vinaigrette (Contains Honey)
Shaved Carrots & Radish Salad with Herbs and Pumpkin Seeds (Contains Honey)
Greek Salad with Mushrooms & Walnuts (Vegan)

Main Dishes
Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Petit Pois á la Française (Petit Pois in the recipe are cooked with butter but this can be easily substituted with neutral oil, olive oil or vegan spread)
Honey Lavender Balsamic Chicken
Roast Beef with Caramelized Onions Gravy
Rib-Eye with Soy & Spice
BBQ Steak with Watercress Salsa Verde

Side Dishes
Fragrant Rice (Vegan)
Smoked Salmon Niçoise with Blue Potatoes
Beet Bowls (This recipe mentions cheese as an optional ingredients which you obviously won’t add if you are cooking meat for your menu )
Balsamic Roasted Carrots (Vegan)
Broccoli with Black Garlic, Poppy Seeds & Olive Dressing (Vegan)

Desserts
Blueberry Peach Parfait (Vegan)
Rum Poached Pineapple with Coconut Sorbet (To make vegan use coconut or other plant-based whipped cream. In case you don’t know how to make coconut whipped cream, just take a can of full fat coconut milk (light won’t work) and place it on the fridge overnight (or in the freezer for about 10 minutes). Flip the can (to open it from the bottom), discard the liquid (but don’t throw it, you can use it for a variety of dishes and beverages) and scoop out the cream that is left. Whip it and voilá!)
Pears Baked in Marsala (Vegan)
Pumpkin Panna Cotta (Vegan)
Cherry Cream Pies with Chocolate Crust (Vegan)

Entrees
Butter Bean Soup (Vegan)
Hummus Sriracha Deviled Eggs
Crunchy Pickled Salad (Vegan)
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Green Mole (Vegan)
Green Beans, Beets & Pistachios (Vegan)

Main Dishes
Grilled Salmon
Salmon en Papillote
The Ultimate Vegan Meatballs (Vegan)
Eggplant Envoltini with Feta
Baked Cod in Tomato Sauce

Side Dishes
Vegetarian Stuffed Vegetables (Vegan)
Pearl Couscous with Roast Spiced Cauliflower, Saffron, Dates & Olives (Vegan)
Apple & Poppy Seeds Coleslaw
Skinny Scalloped Potatoes (Vegan)
Balsamic Roasted Baby Carrots (Vegan)

Desserts
No Bake Salted Caramel Chocolate Mascarpone Tart
Strawberry Granola Parfait
Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese
Creme Caramel (Contains eggs)
Cranberry-Apple Slab Pie (Contains eggs)

Entrees

Ful Mudammas Dip (May contains Eggs as topping, but you can totally skip the eggs)
Classic Salad with Anchovies Dressing
Garlic Roasted Beets & Chickpeas Salad (Vegan)
Sweet Potato & Green Beans Salad with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette (Vegan)
Roasted Asparagus & Avocado Salad (Vegan)

Main Dishes
Lamb Tagine
Rib-Eye with Soy & Spice
Chicken Shawarma
Falafel Crusted Schnitzel
Grilled Snapper with Olives Topping

Side Dishes
Balsamic Roasted Baby Carrots (Vegan)
Eggplant & Tomato Casserole  (Vegan)
Pearl Couscous with Saffron, Olives & Spring Vegetables  (Vegan)
Warm Garbanzo Bean Salad (Vegan)
Potato Borekas

Desserts
Raw Chocolate Ganache Bars (Vegan)
Black Sesame Seeds Cake with Raspberry Glaze (Contains Eggs)
Coconut & Blueberry Cake (Contains Eggs)
Vanilla Poached Peaches (For a vegan version, use maple syrup or agave instead of honey)
Almond-Medjool Dates Tart (Vegan)

Entrees

Curried Vegetables Stew

Beet Chutney
Cucumber & Radish Salad
Spring Green with Orange Fennel Vinaigrette (Use Maple syrup instead of Honey)
Middle Eastern Okra


Main Dishes
Greek Style Roast Lamb
Herb-Crusted Cauliflower Steaks
The Ultimate Vegan Meatballs
Tofu Popcorn Chick’n
Chickpeas Lentils Loaf

Side Dishes
Cheesy Cauliflower Broccoli Rice Bake
Stuffed Mushrooms with Kale & Onions
Cinnamon Roasted Carrots
Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Ignore the honey, use maple)
Flourless Vegetables Quiche


Desserts
Pan Forte
Blackberry Apple Crumble
Tiramisu
Coconut Pudding
Chocolate Pots

Well, this is it!
We hope you find some dishes for your menu, or even a full menu!Let us know what menu was your favorite in the comments section below, or in our social channels instagram and pinterest. We will love to hear from you!

Tizké Leshanim Rabboth!

High Holidays Series – Part 2: 50+ Recipes for Your Holidays Menu

Hi, there!
We are very excited to bring you PART 2 of our High Holidays Series (ft. Rosh haShanah & Sukkot). This 3 part series covers:
Part 2: Today we brig you our biggest recipe hunt to this day. 50+ recipes from around the blogosphere that hopefully will give you some inspiration and help you build your menu. For those of you who are vegan, we have included a selection of vegan recipes as well (We also love vegan stuff! 😀 )
Here we Go….

Main Dishes

Wild Mushrooms & Beef Stew

Wild Mushrooms Beef Stew
Spice-Rubbed Rack of Lamb
Jewish Style Chinese Brisket
Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing
Roasted Chicken with Dates, Citrus & Olives
Tofu Stir Fry (Vegan)

Honey Lavender Balsamic Chicken

Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we earn a few bucks if you decide to make a purchase through any of those links. We only recommend products that we personally use, support and/or would recommend without an affiliate link. Do not spend any money on these products unless you totally feel you need them for more that one-time use. Thank you so much for your support. For more information visit our Affiliate Disclosures Page.

Honey, Lavender Balsamic Chicken
Braised Chicken with Tomato & Fennel
Beef Stew with Root Veggies
Fiona’s Green Chicken 
Southern Style Smoky Meatless Loaf (Vegan)
Chickpeas Cutlets with Mushroom Gravy (Vegan)

Greek Style Roast “Lamb”

Greek Style Roast “Lamb” (Vegan)
Seitan Stuffed Roast (Vegan)
The Ultimate Vegan Meatballs (Vegan)
Peppered Lamb Chops
Spinach Cilantro Meatballs
Israeli Roast Chicken

Side Dishes

Pumpkin Puree (Vegan)
Herbed Rice with Dates & Pomegranate (Vegan)
Cauliflower Hashbrowns (Contains Eggs)

Yellow Rice with Pignoli Nuts & Raisins

Yellow Rice with Pignoli Nuts and Golden Raisins (Vegan)

Sautéed Carrots with Lemon & Marjoram (Vegan)
Grilled Vegetables & Tofu Kebabs (Vegan)
Grilled Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Steaks (Vegan)
Shepherd’s Pie (Vegan)
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)
Cauliflower Gratin (Vegan)
Garlic Thyme Pan Seared Tofu (Vegan)

Salads

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad (This Quinoa salad is a great addition to you holiday menu, just ignore the cheese 😉 Still will be delicious with that touch of balsamic, garlic and thyme! Yum! )
Moroccan Carrot Salad (Vegan)
Avocado Chickpea Salad with Pesto (Vegan)
Shaved Butternut Squash Salad with Dates & Sunflower seeds (Vegan)
Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad (Vegan)
Roasted Beets and Kale Salad (Vegan)
Warm Edamame Salad (Vegan)

Grainy Mustard Potato Salad

Grainy Mustard Potato Salad (Vegan)

Quinoa Salad with Beets, Carrots & Spinach (Vegan)
Ranch Potato Salad (Vegan)
Thai Cashew Chopped Salad (Can be vegan; just swap the honey with maple syrup or other sweetener of choice)
Italian White Bean Salad with Salsa Verde (Vegan)
Salmon Niçoise with Mint, Olives & Capers Vinaigrette

Sweets & Desserts

Edible Apple Bowl (Not properly a ”dessert” but this idea was so genius I had to include it)

Toffee Apple Cake

Toffee Apple Cake (The cake is Dairy-Free)
Grilled Apple Cinnamon Skewers (Can be easily prepared dairy-free, just swap butter for vegan butter, neutral oil like sunflower or don’t use butter/oil at all)
Flourless Almond Honey Cake (Dairy-free, Gluten-free, grain-free)
Curried Apple & Carrot Cake with Basil Buttercream (Dairy-free)
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Date Cake with Salted Caramel

Chocolate Date Cake with Salted Caramel 
Pistachios Stuffed Dates with Coconut
Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding (Vegan)
Honey-Apple Layer Cake
Pumpkin Coconut Flan (Contains Eggs, Gluten-free, grain-free)
Apple Crisp (Vegan)

Breads

Best Egg Challah
Apple Honey Challah
Apple Kugelhopf Rolls
Egg-Free Challah

Don’t forget to Follow on Pinterest & Instagram.
Stay tune for next week post: 5 Full Menu ideas for Rosh haShanah & Sukkot 🙂 😀

High Holidays Series – Part 1: Menu Planning & Meal Prepping {with downloadable meal prep timeline}

 

In today’s post I share with you some tips on how to kick off your High Holidays Menu Planning and Meal Prep for basically any Holidays, so that you can plan better, have more fun when it’s time to prepare for the Holidays, and in the process enjoy more the special occasion.

This High Holidays Series will consist of 3 Parts:

Part 1: High Holidays Menu Planning & Meal Prepping

When thinking about the High Holidays, I want to make sure I have enough time to plan my menu, look for special offers and make adjustments if needed, all of that without burning out or having a nervous breakdown, so, if you are like me in any way. I hope you find these tips useful:

High Holidays Menu Planning & Meal Prepping

1. Decide on a Theme

 You have to start by deciding which kind of food or ”theme” you want for your menu. Of course, by the end it will be ”food” but when you decide a theme your menu will look more cohesive. I usually go for mediterranean, caribbean or middle eastern kind of food. Once you’ve decided on the ”theme”, you want to think about who are you cooking for. If you are cooking for family members you can prepare some staples that your family love. If you are cooking for a larger group of friends you may want more ”crowd-friendly” dishes or maybe ”easy dishes”. Those decisions will define your menu. In my case, for example, if I am cooking just for my family I tend to cook simpler meals with plenty of raw veggies. On the other hand, if I am cooking for a larger group, the salads tend to be more complex and include more cooked veggies.

2. Brainstorm

Now that you have an idea of the kind of food you want to serve and the people who you are cooking for, you want to start a brainstorming process. At this point I brainstorm about starters, mains, sides, salads and desserts and their different components. I write down all my dishes ideas and if I get stuck I can head over pinterest, instagram or just a plain google search for inspiration. The Kitchn, Tori Avey Blog and Joy of Kosher are some of the blogs I look for inspiration specially at this time of the year (they have great selection on Sephardic-style dishes with a modern presentation)

3. Create a visual Board for your recipes

I am a very ”visual” person and that is why at this point I will start looking for images that resemble what I have in mind and pin those images to Pinterest (hopefully they are pinables! lol) to a special board dedicated to my menu. This works well for me because it helps me visualize the final menu as a whole and also gives me an overview of which are the main ingredients, and give me some ideas on how I’d like my final dish to look like. Pinterest is such an awesome tool because with it I can also visualize how many variations I may end up with and even how colorful my menu will be (I like to have many colors on the table as this alone makes the food looks much more appealing). Of course, if you are not into pinterest you can just write down your ideas making sure you have enough variety, and if you have cooking magazines you can literally *pin* your ideas to your bedroom wall ;).

For more inspiration, follow my current Rosh HaShanah Board by clicking here.


Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we earn a few bucks if you decide to make a purchase through any of those links. We only recommend products that we personally use, support and/or would recommend without an affiliate link. Do not spend any money on these products unless you totally feel you need them for more that one-time use. Thank you so much for your support. For more information visit our Affiliate Disclosures Page.

4. How many & How much

At this point you will need to use a bit of math but nothing fancy. Before you start properly building your recipes and calculating portions per dish you have to take into consideration your guests. For example: a 5 year old boy won’t eat as much as a 25 year old and may not eat certain things like soups or certain veggies so you may not need as much of those dishes as of those which may be a hit).

I usually write down the name of the dish and below the ingredients, after that I refer to my favorite Servings per Person Cheatsheet (I use this amazing Cooking for a Crowd for Dummies Cheatsheet but you can also use your favorite recipes servings as guide) to make rough calculations on how much of each dish I need and how much people it will serve in total. Make sure to adjust quantities on the ones that may not be as popular, as I mentioned before. This will ensure you have enough food per person but also that you are not going to be wasting a lot.

After this process is finished I have pretty much built the recipes for each dish, so now I can go and make a shopping list.

5. Make a (pre-) Shopping List

Now it is time to start making your (pre-) shopping list. I say “pre” because it doesn’t have to be massive at this point but at least it is going to include the main ingredients of your dishes (like grains, meat, fish, some kind of veggies, pastas, baking supplies and other items like aluminum foil, disposable trays, baking paper, etc). After all, you cannot expect to just make one trip :-/ If I am working with a specific budget I like to include average prices for each ingredient and where can I find them. (I usually visit 2 to 3 stores depending what I am looking for). That way I can plan my shopping strategically within certain days and look for special offers. Once the “main shopping” has been done, I can revisit my shopping list to see if there is something missing and then, make a final list with those last items.

6. Time to Meal-Prep

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When you have a lot of stuff to do, planning is the key to success.
Did we miss something? How do you plan your cooking for major holidays? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow on pinterest and instagram!
Happy planning!