Sunday, March 11, 2012

New and Noteworthy for Passover


Given that this is an extremely busy time of year, I like to look for "shortcuts". We had a family emergency this year that took me away from home and Passover preparations for almost a week, up until 2 days before the holiday. I most appreciate shortcuts and easy dishes this year.

Some new finds that helped me along the way are some wonderful new products and a new,healthy passover cookbook. Although you may not always associate healthy with all the traditional holiday fare-- it can be done. Preparing lighter dishes gives you balance so you can have 1 or 2 heavier dishes. It is also great to prepare the lighter meals during chol hamoed so you are not overindulgent the entire 8 days of Passover.

Bonnie R. Giller, MS, RD, CDN, CDE is a nutritionist who decided to show the world that you can put a healthy spin on tradition. In Passover The Healthy Way, she presents soups, meats, kugels and dairy dishes that are lightened up from what we usually expect for the holiday. The addition of more fruits and veggies, like her delicious Acorn Squash with Apple Filling, makes it easy to work our "5 a day" into holiday meals. Ms. Giller opts for egg whites, healthier oils, like olive, and lower sodium broth in more traditional dishes like kugels. These simple changes preserve the flavors we grew up with, at the same time they preserve our waistline!

She presents many gluten free choices such as Potato Onion Pie, Salmon Cakes with Yogurt Dill sauce, and Grilled Orange Chicken Salad---just to name a few that appeal to my tastes. Passover the Healthy Way is worth a look to bring some fresh ideas into your holiday repertoire.

As for new products, many of you may have tried and loved the Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo Style Squares last year. They are made with potato starch, so you do not make the blessing of Hamotzi on them, as you would do for oat matzo. As such, they should not be used for matzo during the seders or Sabbath/yom tov meals. However, in between they are great! This year Yehuda launched onion flavor squares, and they are really good! Stock up because these fly off the shelves. If they are not available in your local stores, they can be found online at a number of gluten free retailers.

Manischewitz threw its hat into the gluten free ring this year with a number of gluten free products, including GF cake mixes, both yellow and chocolate cakes. Having grown up with the Manischewitz cake mixes being a constant presence in my home this time of year, I am excited that I can now make them for my kids with the new gluten-free variety. Warning: they still make mixes with matzo meal, so check to make sure you are buying the gluten-free variety made with potato starch.

The Manischewitz spiral and shell shaped pasta adds a new twist, literally, to your Passover meals. You can now have favorites like shells and cheese or a nice veggie pasta salad with these products. As always, the wide variety of flavors of Manischewitz macaroons are gluten free.

Last but not least, you cannot miss out on Guiltless Gourmet Crunches. I tried the Toasted Almond Crunch. Somehow they managed to make a non-dairy nut and caramel crunch candy taste like it was made with real butter. The flavor was nutty and buttery yet--guiltless! Providing you are not nut allergic, the Guiltless Gourmet Crunches fit well into a gluten-free and casein-free diet.

Potato Onion Pie

from Passover the Healthy Way by Bonnie R. Giller, p. 107

3 onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. potatoes, peeled, just boiled and still warm
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
3 Tbsp. potato starch
1 egg
4 egg whites
2 cups plain yogurt, nonfat
1/4 cup parsley, minced

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Saute the onions in the olive oil until softened and sweet, about 20 minutes.

3. While the onions cook, mash the still-warm potatoes with a potato masher or a fork. Add the potatoes to the onions, combining well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the potato starch, stirring well to incorporate it completely. Add the eggs, egg whites, yogurt, and parsley.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 10 servings

Note: When it is not Passover, you may substitute soy yogurt or silken tofu for the yogurt in the recipe.

Along with the idea of "all in moderation", here is a sweet treat to cap off your meal. I suggest using the Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo Style Squares for this, as oat matzoh is very soft and crumbly.

Matzoh Brown Sugar Buttercrunch
from Holiday Candy and Confections by Dede Wilson, p. 78

5 whole lightly salted matzohs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (or Passover margarine), cut into pieces
1 cup light brown sugar
8-ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Coat a jelly-roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place matzohs side by side in pan, breaking them to fit so that the entire surface of the pan is covered.

2. Cook butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Bring to a simmer, and simmer mixture for 5 minutes.

2. Immediately pour brown sugar mixture over matzohs, covering them completely. Spread mixture around with an offset spatula if necessary.

4. Bake for about 12 minutes or until bubbly and edges are starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

5. Immediately sprinkle chocolate over surface of matzohs. Let sit for about 3 minutes or until chocolate has softened, then spread chocolate all over the surface with an offset spatula. Chill until chocolate firms, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces.

You can sprinkle wet chocolate with chopped nuts or coconut.