Married, single, young mom or empty nester, at any stage, running a Jewish household involves a whole lot of cooking. Between weekday lunches and dinners, Shabbos meals, holiday prep and just general noshing, we spend some serious time in the kitchen. Some days, we’re like short order cooks, standing over a frying pan, serving up food until everyone is fed and happy (and then it’s time for lunch!). Other times, we see the reward in this gastronomical position. When we make delicious, wholesome food for ourselves and our families, we feel pretty awesome!
Okay, we know that making a healthy meal can be more time consuming. Throwing a bag of french fries in the oven is a lot quicker than cutting up vegetables. And yeah, most kids (and husbands!) prefer fries to broccoli. Then there’s Shabbos. Heavy dishes like potato kugel, kishke and cholent grace our tables every week. And who can blame us? Meat? Fried potatoes? Oil? Just tell us where to sign up! But did you know that, according to Dr. Anders Nerman, N.D.’s article, “Calories DO count on Shabbat” , we eat an average of 6,130 calories each Shabbos? Yikes.
If that fun fact isn’t reason enough to reassess your cooking habits, here are some other serious bonuses to eating healthy:
- Improves your mood (And don’t we all want to see the world through rose colored glasses?)
- Boosts energy so you can be more productive
- Combats diseases (Who has time to be sick?)
- Controls Weight Gain
So maybe you’ve got this whole cooking healthy thing figured out. Or, maybe you’re like us and you need some help figuring out how to make healthy meals that keep everyone in your family happy while spending less time in the kitchen and single-handedly saving the world! Most nutritionists will tell you that in order to succeed with any diet, you need to plan ahead. Make your meals and freeze them or plan out a menu each Sunday so you have a better chance of actually sticking to your diet during the week.
But don’t take our word for it. Rena Reiser, a Certified Health Coach based in Karmiel, Israel has been kind enough to share 10 easy tips for healthy eating. According to Rena, a few slight modifications in your cooking can help make your meals significantly more healthy (and keep those inches down!) The bottom line? Don’t banish that potato kugel from your Shabbos table just yet. With a few alterations, that kugel can become your new healthy staple!
- When I make potato kugel, I like to boost the flavor with healthy ingredients like extra onion and I leave the skin on the potatoes to get in some additional fiber. I use just six ingredients — potatoes (about 5), 4-5 large eggs, onions (at least 2 large ones), olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s delicious!
- For my chicken soup, I roast the chicken first. We eat part of it for dinner on Thursday and then use the rest as the starter for my soup. The roasting gives it so much flavor that you’ll never need to use soup mix again! Add a few cloves of garlic for an extra kick.
- I make a salad that I call “Bissli Salad”. The combination of toasted almonds and spicy paprika makes our palettes feel like we’re getting MSG, without all the extra side effects. It’s made from quinoa, green onions, toasted almond sticks, spicy paprika, and diced cucumber and carrots. The dressing is basically lots of lemon juice and some olive oil. Delicious.
- Instead of sugary salad dressings, experiment with using fresh fruit in your salads. I’ve used everything from apples to mangoes, and I even make a watermelon salad.
- I once read in a magazine — years ago! — that everyone should get their one slice of challah and then one more, because after all, it’s Shabbos and we should enjoy ourselves! Then, the challah should be taken off of the table for the rest of the meal so that we can have room for all the other Shabbos delicacies.
- Speaking of challah, when you want to put out lots of fun dips and salads, you can use vegetable sticks instead — carrots, peppers and cucumbers — which all go well with hummus, tehina and all of your other favorites.
- Consider having a salad course before you bring out the main course. When people are hungry, they are more likely to eat the salad if it’s the only thing on the table. That way, your family will fill up on the light foods and will be less likely to overeat the heavy foods.
- When I make egg salad for Shabbos, I put one third of the eggs in the food processor with some fresh onion. Then, I mash the rest of the eggs with the creamy eggs. It’s a great way to make egg salad without needing to add mayonnaise.
- When you can, try to “oven fry” your food instead of deep frying it. You’ll spend much less time standing over the stove flipping food, and it’s so much healthier for you. Turn the oven up to a high temperature and toss the food with a light layer of oil.
- We eat a lot of desserts — sometimes too many! One great way to cut down on the amount of cakes and cookies is to choose something that’s a combination of healthy and less healthy — dark chocolate covered fruits. Absolutely decadent.
Have a Frumtastic Shabbos!
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