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The Truth About Dairy: Setting the Record Straight Just in Time for Shavuos

By Miriam Herst

Walk into just about any coffee shop and you will be inundated with regular milk alternatives: almond, soy, oat, or even goat milk are among some of the most popular options. As we begin to discover more about our digestive systems and how our bodies react to different foods, we are adjusting our diets to meet our needs. And the food industry is adjusting with us – ergo the coffee shop barista juggling five different kinds of milk! And while we applaud this level of body awareness, we rarely recommend cutting out entire food groups unless you have a real aversion.

As Shavuos gets closer and we begin to bookmark recipes for everything from cheesecake to blintzes to quiche, we think it’s time to debunk the myths around dairy consumption and set the record straight once and for all. 

While dairy (and cow milk specifically) has been expertly marketed to promote an increase in bone health, there are many recent studies that prove otherwise. In fact, certain studies showed that increased consumption of milk actually had the opposite effect as it is an acidifying animal protein. Those who consumed the most calcium in each study were often found to be more at risk for bone fractures. So, if you have your bone health in mind as you pour regular milk into your smoothie, you may want to rethink your motivations.

Not only that, but with studies showing that 60% of people are lactose intolerant, meaning that the body is unable to digest the sugar typically found in milk products, it might make sense to reexamine your diet and see if dairy is adversely affecting your health. If dairy is having negative effects on your body and your digestion, it may be worth cutting it out. 

And if you do have a hard time digesting dairy, you can opt for dairy products that are low in lactose. Kefir, hard cheeses, or Greek yogurt are all great low-lactose options. Even if your body struggles to digest high-lactose foods, cutting out dairy completely may not be the answer for you! Low lactose alternatives may be enough to make all the difference. 

At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that moderate dairy consumption is a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D. So, if you aren’t averse, we wouldn’t necessarily suggest omitting it from your diet as it can provide you with a lot of added benefits. Especially with a holiday like Shavuos coming up, this is not the time to unnecessarily cut out dairy! Instead, determine if you require low-lactose options or if your body can handle high-lactose dairy products. Adjust your Yom Tov menu accordingly and enjoy the holiday! 

If you are looking for a summery dairy dish that contains less lactose, consider this Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta Salad:

Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten

Ingredients:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

1/4 cup minced shallots (1 large)

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup good olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry

1/8th seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes

12 ounces good feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced

1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, julienned

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the orange and lemon juices, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Add the olive oil slowly, stirring constantly. Keep covered in the refrigerator if not using within the hour. 
  1. Toss the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl and drizzle with dressing to coat the greens lightly. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

Sources:

https://www.pcrm.org

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/arugula-watermelon-and-feta-salad-recipe-1949660

Healthy Eating During Passover: How One Week Can Set the Tone for Your Year-Round Habits

By Miriam Herst

While every Jewish holiday has the potential to send even the most prepared hostess into a tizzy of planning and cooking, Passover is perhaps the most stressful of them all. This 8-day long holiday brings lots of family time, even more pressure than usual to have a meticulously clean home, and the added stress of menu planning when half of our go-to ingredients are off-limits. While healthy eating might feel like the last added stressor you want to engage with right now, Passover is actually the ideal time to practice mindful food habits. This springtime holiday easily allows for a lot of healthy approaches and is a great opportunity to get into a more conscious headspace when it comes to your food.

Healthy Eating During Passover: It’s Easier Than You Might Think

The truth is, it isn’t really that hard to eat healthfully on Passover because the restrictions force us to be mindful about what we’re putting into our bodies. Suddenly, grabbing a sugary candy bar at the drugstore isn’t an option and we have to plan our meals out in advance. Processed foods that are kosher for Passover are harder to come by and can get pricey fast. It’s much easier and affordable to depend on healthier, unprocessed foods to make up the bulk of our diet. And while there are some restaurants that offer kosher for Passover food, we spend most of our meals eating at home. That makes it easier to control the ingredients that go into each recipe. 

Healthy “Snacks on the Go”

String cheese, cut up fruits and vegetables, hard boiled eggs, and nuts are all healthy snack options to consider during Passover. And this is an ideal opportunity to get in the habit of opting for healthy snack options in general. Take note of how your body feels when you are fueling yourself with mostly whole foods and consider allowing your Passover eating habits to set the tone for the rest of the year.

Make Sure to Stay Hydrated!

While it’s important to stay hydrated year-round, make sure to be extra mindful with your water intake throughout Passover. A matzah-heavy diet can use as much help as it can get, and water will keep your food moving through your body at a healthy pace. 

Indulge in Your Bubbe’s Signature Passover Dessert

Choosing healthy snacks and making mindful eating choices is good practice in general. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge, too! Stock up on bars of dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep an eye out for berries, dried fruit, and sorbet at the grocery store. You can also allow for occasional indulgences like flourless chocolate cake, macaroons and anything your grandmother bakes once a year for the holiday. Breaking up protein and vegetable-heavy meals with sweet options will allow you to avoid food boredom. And when it comes to a holiday where matzah is the main food group, boredom can set in quickly!

Be Mindful of What You Are Eating:

Lastly, consider using this holiday as a chance to start taking note of what you are putting into your body. It can be easy to mindlessly snack and lose track of what you’re eating, not notice when you feel full, and keep on eating in an attempt to feel satisfied. By taking note of what you are eating and writing everything down, you can ascertain how certain foods make you feel. This will allow you to take what’s working from your Passover diet and apply it to your routine year-round. 

Quinoa “Hummus” Recipe 

from Naomi Nachman’s Perfect for Pesach Cookbook

Ingredients 

1 cup cooked quinoa 

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, crushed

juice of 1 lemon (2-3 Tablespoons)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup water

1 Tablespoon olive oil, for garnish

1 Tablespoon parsley, finely chopped, for garnish

paprika, for garnish 

Method

  1. Place quinoa and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Process until just blended.

2. Add remaining ingredients; continue to blend. Scrape down the sides and blend again, for approximately 30 seconds. Do not over-blend or the mixture will become gummy. 

3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with olive oil and chopped parsley; sprinkle with paprika. 

***Prepare ahead! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. 

Purchase Naomi’s cookbooks from:

https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Pesach-Passover-recipes-youll/dp/1422618676

https://www.artscroll.com/Books/9781422618677.html

Don’t Make These Mega Mistakes with Healthy Cooking Oils!

By Bluma Gordon

Because of the recent renewed enthusiasm for healthy fats, you can expect better alternatives for processed canola oil to be a hot topic in 2019. Here’s to extra virgin olive oil, unprocessed coconut oil, and unprocessed avocado oil—— 3 uber heart-healthy oils that reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, raise healthy cholesterol levels, and offer a myriad of other potent benefits.

So, chuck the canola oil, go for the healthier fats, and eat your baked or stir-fried goodies without guilt?

It’s actually not that simple.

Each oil has its own ideal cooking temperature. Once the oil reaches its “high smoke point,” the temperature at which it starts to smoke, beneficial nutrients are destroyed and free radicals—harmful chemicals that cause cell damage or death—are created.

How do these different oils differ? What are their unique health benefits? How should we include them in our diets, while getting the most out of their unique tastes and health perks?

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It’s for good reason that extra virgin olive oil has been crowned king of the healthy oils.

– Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, healthy fats that are vital for brain and heart health.

– Is rich in oleic acid, a fatty acid that reduces inflammation and lowers the risk of cancer.

– Lowers bad cholesterol levels.

– Contains antioxidants, which prevents cell damage and helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

– Protects the body against a host of illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, type-2 diabetes, bacterial infections, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Want tips to give your dishes an olive-oil tuneup?

To enjoy the pungent, slightly bitter taste while benefiting from its health perks:

– Add to salad dressings and dips, and drizzle it over hummus, pizza, and pasta salad.

– Use olive oil as a base for light sautéing.

Don’t make the mistake of: Frying or cooking with olive oil on high temperatures. Unprocessed olive oil has a smoke point of 325-375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Top-rated kosher olive oil:

Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2. Coconut oil

Here’s why you should be spooning this butter-like healthy fat:

– It contains medium-chain triglycerides, healthy saturated fats that go straight to the liver and are used as immediate sources of energy. These fats help promote weight loss and reduce calories.

– It contains fatty acids that fight viruses and bacteria.

– Coconut oil raises good cholesterol levels.

How to give your foods a coconut-oil tuneup:

– Eat your cake and have the health benefits, too! Its butter-like texture makes a great butter, margarine, or canola-oil alternative for baked goods. Try this Healthy Banana Bread recipe by Cookie + Kate!

– Toss it into smoothies and fruit salads.

Don’t make the mistake of: Using it for frying or cooking at high temperatures. Coconut oil has smoke point of 350 degrees.

Top-rated coconut oil:

Viva naturals organic extra-virgin

3. Avocado oil

Why dig into this unique fruit?

Avocado oil:

– Is high in oleic acid, a healthy fat that lowers cholesterol levels and reduces blood pressure.

– Contains lutein, an antioxidant important for eye health.

– Has antioxidants that helps enhance your body’s absorption of nutrients.

How to give your recipes an avocado-oil tuneup:

– Its buttery, nutty taste makes a choice additive to dips, salads, and smoothies.

– Don’t say goodbye to stir-fry! Avocado oil has a smoke point of approximately 500 degrees. So enjoy your fried rice and tofu noodles without worry.

Don’t make the mistake of: Deep-frying with this oil at very high temperatures.

Want to deep-fry wok-style? Use safflower, peanut, or soybean oil, which have even higher smoke points.

Top rated avocado oil:

Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

Is the extra virgin olive oil on your store shelf missing a kosher symbol?

Good news: According to the CRC, extra virgin olive oil does not require a kosher symbol. However, other extra virgin oils— such as extra virgin coconut oil and avocado oil—do require kosher supervision.

Sources:
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The Globe and Mail, Smoke point matters with your cooking oil,
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/smoke-point-matters-in-cooking-with-oil/article26569060/

Healthline, 11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil

Healthline, Top 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Oil,
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil

Healthline, 9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Avocado Oil
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-avocado-oil-benefits

The Spruce Eats, Smoking Points of Cooking Fats and Oils,
https://www.thespruceeats.com/smoking-points-of-fats-and-oils-1328753

Should You Follow These Top 3 Kosher Food Trends?

by Bluma Gordon

Welcome to 2019! Here are some kosher-trends that will experience a bigger upsurge this year. What do we need to know about them? Are they just a bunch of hype, or worth following?

1. The Techina Craze
Good news for techina lovers! Read More

The Perfect Shabbos Snack

By Miriam Herst

If you’re having trouble resisting gummy worms, know that you’re not alone. While most Shabbat tables are full of a range of foods that include healthy options, there are also often treats and desserts that you may feel hesitant about indulging in. Read More