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Purim is a fantastic time for fantasies, so I hope you won’t mind my fantasizing about how easy life would be if kids would prefer healthy cuisine over sweets.

Imagine waking up to the call of “Mommy, when will my oatmeal be ready?”…

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As you rush to ladle out the hot unsweetened cereal, you rub your eyes when you see the kid enjoying his porridge just like Goldilocks did. And the white sugar remains in its place on the kitchen shelf.

For lunch, you pack their boxes with homemade whole-wheat sandwiches filled with chickpea spread, sliced hard boiled eggs and leafy veggies exactly as they ordered the night before. For snack you add the fresh fruit each one desires, spelt crackers and natural bio yogurt –nonflavored of course.

With the children at school, you get busy in the kitchen preparing dinner – a labor you love as it’s the labor of love for your family. The menu includes a wholesome healthy meal of red lentil soup and carrots, steamed spinach with broccoli, stuffed peppers with ginger-spiced quinoa and bulgur meat burgers. You get such satisfaction just imagining your progeny happily consuming all you’ve made, without exception!

*****

“Mommy, what’re all those things in your pots?”

“Uch, what’s that icky smell?”

“Hey, what’s those funny pieces swarming around in my soup?!”

Your gang is home and your dream comes to an abrupt end. As you bump back to the realm of reality (ouch!), you realize that being a health-fanatic-mommy just won’t work for you or your kids. And you sigh cuz you know deep down that:

That’ll be the day when your family will say no to margarine (cream cakes and puff pastry included)…

That’ll be the day when your kids will beg you to stop buying sweets (or at least taffies and hard candy)…

That’ll be the day when your family will long for plain water instead of all those sugary soft drinks (and juices too)…

That’ll be the day when your kids will ban anything that contains artificial food coloring (or MSG)…

That’ll be the day when no processed food of any kind will pass your threshold (including soy franks and fish sticks)…

But now you must stop musing and start moving to get something edible on the table. Ideas anyone?

So here we are all back in the same boat, wondering how we’ll get our offspring to eat nutritious meals with the unhealthy ingredients they crave. We’d like them to eat wholesome, well-balanced meals but we must also be prepared to go easy for special occasions, like Purim.

Or maybe we just need to dress-up healthy edibles in order to appeal to little taste buds? I know, it’s the older ones we can’t fool but after they fly from your nest, they’ll eventually return to the healthful examples you’ve set while they were young. And you know why? Because they know deep down that it’s what they want for their kids too!

 

Q. Is there any hope my family will get used to whole-wheat flour?

A. Why not? Doing it gradually is what did the trick for us. Start by substituting only one cup of white flour with whole wheat in your bread, challah and cake recipes. Your family probably won’t even notice the slight change. Next time, add more whole wheat as you reduce more of the white flour and see how that goes over with them. This method is especially effective with cakes and cookies that are dark in color to begin with like chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookies. Just be sure to add more liquid as you add more whole-wheat flour to keep the baked product from becoming dry and crumbly. For each pound of flour, add about ¼ cup of water more than you would for white flour.

 

Q. I’d like to cut down on the fat intake in my household without compromising on taste or texture. Is this possible?

  1. Of course! Knowing how bad margarine is for your arteries, you’ll be taking a step in the right direction by banning it from your kitchen and using cooking oil instead. For 200 grams of margarine, use 180 cc of oil, meaning you subtract 10% of the amount of margarine called for in your recipe. Sometimes you’ll need even less, so it might take a try or two until you get it down pat. As for the taste and texture, whatever we’ve made meanwhile with oil as a substitute came out great.

 

  1. How can I incorporate more vegetables in our daily menu?
  2. Try making veggie patties or vegetable quiche. Cutting up fresh veggie wedgies and serving with a flavored cheese dip is another idea. Or try the recipe below to make any occasion a special one!

 

Vegetable Cocktail with Lemon Marinade

Here’s a great idea for anyone who’s looking for a sugar-free Purim (or anyone else for that matter). This cocktail in costume is a colorful “kid-friendly” salad that’ll tempt even picky eaters since they can easily pick out the veggies they like, leaving the rest (for you).

To dress-up the vegetables, use the lemon marinade dressing, it adds a pungent punch and serves as a refreshing balance to all the excess sugar.

So easy and impressive… just wait for the rave reviews!

 

Ingredients for the marinade:

(Serves 6-8)

2 small onions, sliced
½ cup lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt

 

For the layered veggies:

1 head purple cabbage, shredded
1 head white cabbage or watercress lettuce, shredded
1 yellow bell pepper, cut in strips
1 orange bell pepper, cut in strips
1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
1 green pepper, cut in strips
2 thin carrots, sliced to discs
3 cucumbers, sliced thinly
4 green scallions, sliced into “rings”
6-8 cherry tomatoes

 

To make the marinade, separate the slices of onions into rings and place in lemon juice. Add salt. Refrigerate overnight.

To prepare the cocktail, place layers of vegetables, starting with the cabbage, then layering in the following order: yellow bell pepper, lettuce, red bell pepper, carrots, green bell pepper, cucumber. If you have leftover vegetables, add more layers. Between each layer, sprinkle 1 or 2 teaspoons of the marinade.

For the top layer, arrange a few of the onion rings that soaked in the marinade overnight, then add a thin layer of scallions. Top with a cherry tomato.

TopTip: Lettuce beginning to wilt? Just place the leaves in a large bowl filled with water and refrigerate for several hours. They’ll be as crisp and fresh as the day you bought them.

 

A Happy Purim to everyone!

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Mindy Rafalowitz is a recipe developer and food columnist for over 15 years. She has published a best selling cookbook in Hebrew for Pesach and the gluten sensitive. Mindy is making progress on another specialty cookbbok for English readers. For kitchen questions or to purchase a sample recipe booklet at an introductory price, contact Mindy at mitbashelpo@gmail.com.