Kosher Kitchen

Let’s resolve to eat heathier in the new year


When I began writing about food, I was in the midst of feeding three children who ranged in age from infancy to pre-teen. Their needs ran the gamut. One required a quiet place to nurse, the middle child wanted nothing but plain pasta with butter, and the oldest was beginning to think about nutrition. My kitchen was chaotic to say the least.

One day, I was sitting with a friend and we began to talk about our kids’ food quirks. I posed a question. What foods were available in the Garden of Eden and if, after the eviction, did Eve have such trouble feeding her boys?

We both laughed, but then talked about how simple it must have been to eat in that bountiful Garden. In Genesis 1:29 there is a quote which tells Adam and Eve that any food they could ever need has been provided for them.

And G-d said: “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed — to you it shall be for food.”

All healthful, all delicious and all vegetarian! But that is another story. There is nothing about chips, and cookies, buttered pasta and more. 

Eve never battled TV commercials and the thousands of new “foods” that arrive at the markets every year. In 2020, according to the FDA, over 20,000 new food products were introduced. While many — if not most — are considered snack or fast (junk!) food, some are new vegetables or fruits and some are healthful.

People are demanding healthier choices, fewer chemicals in their foods and more organic produce. So the proportion of processed foods is decreasing, as manufacturers look to healthier foods, more gluten-free options and better labeling. Still, I hear from young mothers all the time that they try to give their kids healthful nutritious food but that the kids want the latest advertised treat, won’t eat the healthful meals, and ask for pasta and butter or pizza all the time! The battles rage on.

So, for good health in the new year, it is back to the Garden of Eden and those foods that might have given Adam and Eve all kinds of health secrets, much of them in the form of seeds and nuts and fruit.

Today, seeds like chia, hemp, sunflower, flaxseeds and more top the list of superfoods to eat every day. In addition, organic greens and berries are also among the healthiest foods that we can eat.

Michael Pollen, acclaimed cookbook author and food guru has, as his mantra, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” As we exit the land of latkes and brisket and look to the new year, this sounds like a good plan.

Nuts and Seeds Snack Bars (Pareve)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

2 Tbsp. chia seeds

2 Tbsp. flaxseeds

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1 cup cereal, such as unsweetened puffed rice or wheat flakes or your choice

1/4 cup oatmeal

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios or hazelnuts, or a mix

1/2 cup snipped apricots

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup dried cranberries, blueberries or raspberries

1/3 cup creamy almond butter

1/3 cup honey or pure maple syrup, dark or grade B

2 Tbsp. Turbinado or raw sugar

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking dish with waxed paper. Lightly grease the paper. Set aside.

Place the first 7 ingredients, up to and including the nuts, on the rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 4 to 8 minutes, until just fragrant. Remove to cool. When cool, pour into a large bowl.

Place the almond butter, honey, sugar and vanilla in a small pot and heat until it just begins to bubble. Mix well.

Add the apricots, raisins, cranberries to the bowl with the seeds and nuts, and toss to mix. Pour the almond butter/honey mixture over the nuts and fruit and mix well. Scrape into the prepared 8-inch pan and smooth with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Makes 16, 2-inch bars or 8, 2x4-inch bars.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies That Are Good
For You (Pareve)

2 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup unbleached flour

2 Tbsp. flaxseeds

2 Tbsp. chia seeds

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground allspice

1/8 tsp. ground cloves (optional)

2/3 cup unsweetened smooth applesauce

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3-1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil melted and cooled

1 cup raisins, chopped apricots, or dried cranberries

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1/2 to 2/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks, your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Place the oats, sugar, flours, seeds, baking soda, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Use a whisk to blend.

In another bowl, mix the applesauce, vanilla and coconut oil. Whisk to blend. Scrape into dry ingredients and mix well. Add the fruit, coconut and chips and mix evenly.

Drop by rounded spoons onto the prepared pan. Place both pans into the oven and rotate and turn halfway through the baking time. Bake until golden around the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on the pans.

Makes about 12 large or 24 smaller cookies.

Super to Simple Glazed  Carrot Medallions (Pareve)

These are carrots that even kids will love. My kids used to eat them for after school snacks and I often packed them in lunch boxes to eat at room temperature.

1 large onion, cut in quarters and thinly sliced

2 to 3 tsp. Canola or extra-virgin olive oil

1-1/2 to 2 pounds carrots, peeled, sliced on the diagonal, 1/8-inch thick

1 to 2 Tbsp. pure dark amber maple syrup, more or less to taste

1 to 2 tsp. water

Salt and pepper, to taste

OPTIONAL: A pinch of cayenne pepper

Fresh parsley for garnish

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, peel the carrots and thinly slice them on the diagonal. Pat the carrots dry and add them to the onions. Add the maple syrup and mix well. Add 1 to 2 tsp. water and mix. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes over medium to low heat. If you like, add a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper and mix.

Check to make sure that there is some liquid in the pan (this should come from the carrots). If there is none, add a teaspoon of water. If there is too much liquid, uncover the pan and continue to cook until the carrots are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Serves 8 to 10. 

Papa’s Granny Smith Cranberry Sauce (Pareve)

Reprinted with permission from the just-published “The Giving Table” by Naomi Ross (released by Menucha Publishers).

My father-in-law does everything with extra flair … including his homemade cranberry sauce! Flavors are deepened and intensified with hints of extra citrus and the use of special liqueurs. Wonderful as an accompaniment to turkey or veal or as a filling for baked goods.

1 cup water

1 cup orange juice

1 cup sugar, plus more as needed

2 (12-oz.) bags cranberries, rinsed and picked over

1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced (not larger than 1/2 inch)

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1/2 large lemon (about 1 Tbsp.)

1/4 cup raspberry liqueur

2 Tbsp. cognac or brandy

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup toasted pecans, broken up into pieces (optional)

Combine water, orange juice, and sugar in large saucepan; whisk to dissolve. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add all remaining ingredients except for pecans.

Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When cranberries begin to pop, add pecans and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until mixture reaches desired thickened consistency (note that sauce will thicken further once cooled and chilled).

Season to taste for sweetness, adding more sugar as needed. Remove from heat. Cool and transfer to a storage container. Chill until serving time.

Joni’s note: This makes a great hostess gift spooned into a pretty Mason jar and tied with a ribbon.