When I was younger, I loved Passover. Sure there was envy when the other kids at school would pull out gooey looking brownies or yummy sandwiches and I was stuck with matzah and some fruit or cheese, but there was no other holiday (not even birthdays) when I was allowed to eat cake for breakfast and often lunch. The boxed mixes of Passover cakes usually provided our main source of sustenance during Passover, supplemented by salads topped with bland kosher-for-Passover salad dressing and an entree of either meat or cheese. Passover was never the healthiest holiday, but I sure did love the excuse for eating cakes all the time, especially the cakes topped with frosting that amounted to little more than cocoa and butter.
I still love Passover, but for other aspects, and the limited diet and multiple restrictions were frustrating when I was cooking for myself and attempting to eat healthily. For those of you who don’t know, the restricted diet for Passover says no grains, beans, or legumes during the seven days of Passover. Corn counts as a grain, so that means no corn syrup or corn starch, which appear in many more products than I ever imagined (I feel a whole new level of sympathy for those with corn allergies), and no soy.
This year, Passover falls during a work week for both my husband and I, so I wanted to make sure we would be able to pack filling and healthy lunches to take with us to work, which meant I had to get beyond the cake-eating, “use matzah as a carrier for either cheese or butter” dependency that got me through college keeping kosher for Passover. I looked to some of my favorite healthy recipes and was pleasantly surprised to find a few that included no grains at all. For example, my slow-cooker ratatouille recipe was perfect for Passover and made a great partner for the ubiquitous matzah. I also checked out some Jewish Cookbooks and found some recipes that I could adapt so they no longer required nuts. For example, I adapted a recipe for Double Nut Torte from Marlene Sorosky’s Fast and Festive Meals for the Jewish Holidays by replacing the half cup of toasted almonds and half cup of walnuts with one cup of cocoa nibs from Scharffen Berger Chocolates. The substitution worked out perfectly and made the recipe nut-free while letting it remain kosher. I also had to sub in bittersweet chocolate for the semisweet since all of the chocolate available at Safeway, save one type of bittersweet chocolate bar, included soy lecithin as an emulsifier, making it all un-kosher for Passover. It did not require any additional sugar to balance though, and created a rich, creamy dessert. I chose not to glaze the cake, instead topping it with fresh rasberries with a berry sauce I made from frozen mixed berries, 2 TB orange juice, 2 TB blueberry juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and some potato starch offered on the side.
So here are my kosher-for-Passover, easy to take to work, meals so far:
Breakfast: non-fat Greek yogurt topped with some berry sauce
Lunch: Tuna with diced zucchini, bell pepper and onion and some dried parsley, slice of muenster cheese, matzah, mini-wedge of chocolate torte with sauce. When it was time for lunch, I nuked the cheese and tuna mixture then used the gooey tuna melt to top my matzah.
Lunch (actually fit perfectly in my bento container):
Bottom tier: Matzah
Top Tier: Ratatouille
Under the lid: broken pieces from a slice of muenster cheese