Passover, a Jewish holiday rich in history and tradition, is here once again. Starting next week, Jewish people around the world will sit down for a traditional Seder where the story of Passover is recited using the Passover Haggadah and then continue to gorge on matzo (unleavened bread), egg and oil-filled recipes for a good eight days. You can imagine the stomach and bowel issues that may ensue.
With that said, I’d like to take this moment and rewrite the most well-know quote in the Haggadah – “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Instead, I’d like it to say “why should this diet be different than all other diets?” Answer: it shouldn’t. I once had a conversation with my friend that this is an opportunity to ditch the processed foods and carb heavy diets, and eat fresh! Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry, fish and a bit of matzo here and there. Why must everything we eat over this holiday have to include oil, eggs and matzo?!
Oh, but it is so fun to walk the Passover aisles and experiment in the kitchen with recipes you wouldn’t have otherwise – matzo pancakes, fried eggs and matzo, matzo muffins and any dessert is a fun cooking challenge when you can’t use flour. Sounds, well….heavy.
Registered Dietitian Bonnie Giller, author of Passover the Healthy Way, offers great recipes and tips on ways to lighten up the holiday in both her cookbook and on her Facebook page. Some of her tips include decreasing the sugar in recipes by 1/3, substituting some whole eggs with egg whites (1 egg = 2 egg whites), using applesauce instead of oil in recipes and buying whole wheat matzo and matzo meal to use for eating and cooking.
In my house, we try to eat fresh, whole foods but we also tend to eat a lot of matzo since it’s just that time of year and there are so many ways to have it. But will your kids enjoy the “Passover foods” you serve them? I queried my friends for their favorite kid-friendly Passover recipes. I quote one friend who wrote back “Passover=kid friendly? Tough.” Others responded with mostly matzo and butter and lots of dessert recipes. Though, as one friend pointed out, I forgot to ask for “healthy” recipes. But it can be done.
Below are 10 of my favorite, healthy recipe ideas.
1. Matzo Pizza – no recipe required! Spoon some Passover pizza sauce on top of a piece of matzo, top with cheese, some Italian seasoning if desired, and chopped vegetables or even pineapple or chicken. Bake or broil until cheese is bubbly. Be sure to get the kids involved in this one by having them make their own.
2. Turkey Roll- Ups – no matzo needed. Roll up turkey deli meat with lettuce, tomato or other favorite toppings and secure with a toothpick.
4. Kid favorite, Matzo Meal Pancakes made with whole wheat matzo.
6. Make a healthier version of Matzo Brei with fresh fruit and fiber. Try reducing the sugar by 3 tablespoons and use whole wheat matzo instead.
7. Kids usually enjoy potato kugel. Kick up yours a notch by making nutrient-rich sweet potato kugel instead. The added sweetness from the sweet potatoes will be something your kids will hopefully enjoy.
8. Desserts abound on Passover. A lighter option is meringue cookies where the main ingredient is egg whites. Smitten Kitchen has a fantastic Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookie recipe that is sure to please a child’s sweet tooth. Take her suggestion and reduce the sugar.
9. Passover meatloaf is a family favorite in my house. Substitute whole matzo meal, Kosher for Passover onion soup mix and ketchup in this recipe from Lipton.
10. Muffins can be a easy, quick breakfast that kids enjoy. Try the below recipe, courtesy of my friend Leatte (with a couple healthy modifications).