Take Very Good
Care of YourselvesDeuteronomy 4:15

Passover can be overwhelming whether at home or away from home---there are nutritional advantages and disadvantages to being at home and or to being in a hotel, wherever you are, you can make the correct choices that make your Passover a nutritional success or disaster


When away from home—all you have to do is control while your being served---see our section on eyeballing for portion size to help you get by.  If something is really tempting—have a taste and then forget about it—take advantage of the free time and walk and enjoy!


Whether staying at home, entertaining or preparing food to take along as a guest, healthy menu planning for Pesach (Passover)can sometimes seem as challenging as crossing the Red Sea! However equipped with leading-edge nutritional information, basic skills and a cache of Pesach (Passover) recipes from our newly released EnLITEned Kosher Cooking, this year we can really sail through.


Over twenty years ago, one day out of the blue, Nechama Cohen suddenly began to exhibit severe symptoms of diabetes. “Although I had to do some very rapid nutritional research and it was very hard in the beginning, I always say that my diabetes is a blessing.


“I was forced to confront the sheer reality that I was responsible for feeding myself properly. I had to confront my own ignorance, and I had to dodge the ignorance of the medical profession, who kept me in intensive care feeding me potatoes to raise my potassium level, while my blood sugars kept skyrocketing. That’s because we now know that potatoes translate into sugar faster than even regular table sugar!


“Diabetes totally changed my life, and as a result I founded an organization that has helped thousands of people. We cater to the specific needs of the Jewish population- we are a nation of highly traditional eaters. Every single celebration and landmark life cycle event, whether personal of historical, is established with festive meals.


“Our eating requirements are intimately bound up with our religion, culture, and ethnic identity. A Jewish person with diabetes needs to learn how to navigate their way through all these eating opportunities, and stay in control of their blood sugar levels. Go and try to explain to a doctor why you absolutely have to have 4 cups of wine at one meal and a given amount of matzah. I do not know if anybody knew the carbohydrate content of matzah balls until we came along!”


“Growing up in a wonderful warm Chassidic home of classic Jewish food, I was determined to learn how to create healthy gourmet food for the traditional Jewish lifestyle- cuisine for all occasions and Pesach is no exception.


We are living in a time when according to alarming new findings from the National Institute of Health, as many as a third of American adults with type 2 diabetes do not even know that they have the disease. There is increasing evidence that ethnic groups are at even higher risk than the general population. With the re-construction of the food pyramid guidelines, and the information available about the glycemic index, we are now in a much better position to upgrade our daily diets.


So how do we put this information to work for us on Pesach (Passover)?

The Following are Nechama’s Tips For an EnLITEned Healthy Pesach (Passover):





How do we eat erev (day of) Pesach (Passover)?


I consider this one of the most challenging days of the year.  My advice is to start the day early (before the time when we are no longer allowed to eat chametz (unleavened food not allowed on Passover)) with a good high fiber/complex carbohydrate like oat/wheat bran—psychologically it is important to eat something chametz and it will help you get through the rest of the day.  Continue your day with good quality proteins and vegetables (not a can of tuna); treat yourself to some of those yummy dishes that you worked so hard to prepare for the holiday


Good substitutes for High Carb potatoes:


Kohlrabi in soup and meat stews is great---in place of fried or mashed potatoes try zucchini strips either roasted in the oven with good seasonings, non-stick spray and/or in a non-stick pan. For a mashed potato effect without the high carb content, string beans or broccoli and cauliflower are great for those that use them on Pesach


Don't sacrifice Exercise time:


 One of the beautiful parts of holidays is the family quality time that it provides us with.  Make walks a part of that quality time---it is the beginning of spring---the flowers are blooming the birds are chirping---put your cell phones away and take walks—even 15-20 minute ones---with your kids or friends---you’ll come back invigorated and ready to continue working.

Never Eat Standing Up and Be Mindful About Mindless Eating: You grab a handful of whatever…. without taking it in to account.  While cooking you taste the cakes, dessert, sauce etc and/or dig into a few bites of your hubby's, children’s dessert. Unfortunately, these little, hidden indulgences add up to weighty matters on the scale.

Be A Healthy Mom and Set Good Examples: You love fish, veggies. Your hubby loves meat and potatoes. What gives? Your man wins, hands down. Always looking to please the kids with hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries and they win out every time – these habits are easy to fall in to especially during stressful times and when preparing for an important and busy holiday like Passover--unless you put on the brakes it can lead to trouble for everyone. Others around you will watch what your eating and take the example.  If they see you take the time out to have a normal meal and get in some exercise they will only respect you more.

Be Honest About what you are Eating: “Most people are oblivious, not realistic or totally and drastically underestimate the number of calories they eat," says Cohen. We downplay our intake and play up our cardio workout. Know what you are eating and how much you are really exercising.  There’s a lot of take out and restaurant eating during Passover preparation, especially the week prior to the Holiday, and with restaurant portion sizes on the rise, many of us have no concept of a "standard" USDA serving size. Eating out is OK just make wise choices and always go for a salad with dressing on the side or better yet a drizzle of oil and spritz of lemon is just fine.  Cut out the fried foods and end with fresh fruit and you’ll be happier and healthier.

Watch your Portion Sizes/Double up on Fresh Veggies and Low Glycemic Fruits: If you do nothing more than double your current intake of low glycemic fruits and vegetables, you'll be on your way to eating well. Go for smaller portions; if something is really calling you try a mint, some gum and sometimes just having a small amount will help you get by.  But keep an eye on the portion sizes and read labels.
Stock up on good quality ingredients—the better your food tastes the happier everyone will be (see eyeballing below)


Eyeballing Food for Portion Size


You may not have a scale for the holiday and/or the opportunity to weigh and measure your portions.  Here are some tips to help you get by:

Don’t Start Off Without a Plan: It's easy to overeat if you don't have a roadmap specifying your diet and exercise goals. Take the time to plan your menus—shopping lists and all.  Prior to the holiday make sure you have your healthy finger foods around and don’t skip meals.  We always advocate keeping a food diary, prior to the holiday when things get really hectic that might be the one thing you can give up on but don’t compromise on your determination.  Set measurable, attainable goals and reward yourself for sticking to them. Make sure you have really gourmet beautiful dishes that you can healthfully indulge in (that's what EnLITEned Kosher Cooking is all about).  Guaranteed most of your guests won’t believe they are healthy dishes and if you have something special for yourself, prepare extra because there will be more people at the table clambering for it.

I'm Moody -- Let's Eat: People tend to turn to food for comfort when they are tires and/or over extended (falling apart). Eating will not solve problems.  When you start getting cranky—head out of the kitchen—take a nap---go for a walk have a delicious herbal tea, maybe a few nuts and/or small fruit, some deep breadths and just relax, then go back to work

Give Me the Quick Fix, Now! We've all fallen prey to the latest fad diet, downing gallons of cabbage soup, eating nothing but grapefruit or loading up on eggs and bacon grease. The end result is always the same: We gain the weight back and then some.

Don’t be an All-or-Nothing Person: If you ate a plate of fries, you might feel like you've blown it. But don't let one setback completely derail you. Instead, focus on baby steps and reward yourself along the way.


Cut Simple Carbs & Fats Wherever You Can: If you have a craving for some simple sugars look at some of our suggestions above.  Any carbs you cut out is a penny earned. See a detailed list below of great ways to cut fats.  Go for the healthy satisfying fats like nuts, avocado etc they are satisfying for a longer time span…but watch the portion sizes.  Grape juice is one simple carb that really gets used over Passover.  Think about preparing a good quality dry or semi dry wine.  Try to get whole-wheat matzah---the fiber will help keep you satisfied and more. (For more about the wine, matzo and other Passover/diabetes related issues go to our magazine section on this website and check out our Passover magazine)


Excuses, Excuses, Excuses: Whether it's a sluggish metabolism, lack of time or a dysfunctional thyroid, we're masters of coming up with excuses. Change your outlook, believe you can watch yourself and get through this Holiday nutritionally sound (make the time, decompress, whatever) and set priorities accordingly.


WALK, WALK, WALK! If you encounter a mob at the supermarket, things are getting out of hand at home, your becoming overwhelmed……Whenever you can get in 10-15 minutes of brisk walking go for it---remember it’s spring the air is crisp, the birds are chirping, leave your cell phone at home or in the car and enjoy! Remember that this is one of the most monumental and important holidays, make it memorable for yourself and everyone around you, make it the best you can!




Excerpt from EnLITEned Kosher Cooking





Baking chocolate

A combination of cocoa and oil reduces the fat (1 oz. baking chocolate = 3 Tbsp. cocoa + 1 Tbsp. oil).

Butter, margarine, or oil for baking

Cut the fat and sugar called for in the recipe by1/3–1/2.  Try replacing all or part of the fat and sugar with sugar- free (well-blended) natural applesauce.

Butter, margarine, or oil for cooking

Combine monounsaturated oil with non-stick cooking spray and/or add broth or water for sautéing or stir-frying (you will see this in all our recipes).

Cream cheese for spreading

Whipped, light cream cheese

Cream cheese for baking

5%-fat smooth cheeses (drained), light or whipped cream cheese, farmer and/or low-fat cottage cheese (drained), Neufchâtel and/or part-skim or low-fat ricotta, yogurt cheese or low-fat drained yogurt.  These can be used separately or in combination.

Dressings — store-bought are high in fat and carbs.

Homemade vinaigrette, olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar, flavored vinegars.  Light or low-fat dressings (but keep an eye on the sodium).

Eggs (every yolk has 60 kcal)

Substitute with egg whites

Whole milk

Low-fat milk, skimmed milk, low-fat, low-carb soy milk.

Sour cream

low-fat or light sour cream, yogurt.

Yellow cheeses

Grated helps cut the amount: a small amount can go a long way.  Choose low-fat versions.



Cutting Calories and Fat


Believe it or not, you can sometimes have your chocolate and eat it too, even if you're watching your weight and/or fat intake. Here are a few ideas for shaving off calories and fat:


Chocoholics can get their “fix” — plus fiber, iron, and calcium — from a small handful of chocolate-covered nuts instead of a gooey chocolate bar.

Calories saved: 160.


Just love that egg yolk and can’t pass it up?  Swap fried eggs for poached and save a good 50 to 70 calories.


Love egg salad (a Jewish staple for Shabbos in many traditional homes)? Don’t take it out — just lighten it up. Using 4 eggs and 4 egg whites for 7 servings will give you a saving of 34 calories per serving (each egg yolk is 60 kcal).


You absolutely have to have the flavor of frying in oil? Start using oil sprays. One tablespoon of oil has a whopping 120 calories. A 5–7 second spray won’t have more than 3–5 calories. (1/3 second spray has 0 calories.)


Instead of a board of Matzo and cream cheese use low fat cheese with grated apples, cinnamon and vanilla and a touch of sweetener, Calories saved: Over 100; use cucumbers, radishes and/or celery sticks with some garlic, salt and pepper to taste, instead of the apple and you’ll knock off another 55 calories.



EnLITEned Kosher Cooking will enable you adorn your Pesach (Passover) table with the elegance of gourmet, and the warmth of tradition while keeping your family’s bodies and spirits lite. In addition to a beautiful Pesach section and wonderful tips throughout the book, there are more than 140 recipes that are usable for Pesach without any changes.  Click her for the detailed list with page numbers. To order the book and/or receive a faxed copy of the list, go to: www.feldheim.com or call the Feldheim office at: (800) 237-7149 and they will fax a copy.


As one very happy homemaker expressed, “I got this cookbook as a gift, and I must say, it's one of my favorites. The photographs are FABULOUS and the recipes presented very clearly. The ideas are original and really helped to enhance my family's Shabbos and Yom Tov (holiday) meals. I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone who wants to cook healthier yet absolutely delicious food. H L (Jerusalem, Israel)


Although Pesach (Passover) stands for the birth of our people as a nation, it is also a very appropriate time for personal renewal. Let us welcome the springtime this year with a more determined commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Considering the alarming medical facts, preventative health measures are absolutely critical for our own lives and the future of our families. JDA and the EnLITEned Kosher Cooking family would like to wish everyone a happy, kosher and very healthy Pesach!