By Miriam Alter, RDN
As a nutritionist, I would guess that I am more sensitive about my own nutritional intake and what I feed my family than the general population. And going into Purim, I try to plan a Mishloach Manot that I myself would appreciate receiving- which I am sure is pretty typical. However, I have listened into enough pre-Purim planning sessions and post-Purim analyses to conclude that most recipients are happy to receive at least one or two packages that are healthy, wholesome and can be eaten as a pre-prepared lunch on a very hectic Purim day. Thus, I actually feel happy to be the one to provide that Mishloach Manot, and am happy to share a few ideas that have worked for me in the past:
• The Veggie Mishloach Manot:
This is the most obvious in the healthy category. The drawbacks, of course, are that it has to be prepared fresh and takes up a whole lot of refrigerator real estate. However, veggie Mishloach Manot are relatively simple to prepare, and brightly colored veggies are easy to present well. When I handed out layered veggies in a mason jar, together with a dip, I got great reviews!
• The Muffin Sampler:
Healthy is a continuum, meaning that a so-called healthy muffin will fall somewhere along that range! If you enjoy baking, bake a selection of different healthy muffins as an alternative to that typical crumb muffin! My favorites are a breakfast muffin, banana muffin, and a date and oat muffin that are somewhat lower in sugar.
• The Condiment Tray:
Package 2-3 different homemade condiments together with flatbread crackers or the like. The condiments that I tend to prepare are matbucha, olive dip and grilled eggplant. The colors complement each other, as do the tastes. Tahini is another super-healthy, easy to prepare dip. Pickled turnips are yet another delicious, super healthy condiment to send out – and the beautiful purple color really enhances a package!
• The Dairy Café:
I’ll be honest and say I have never sent this yet, but as I write this article it popped into my mind, and I love the idea so much that I have to include it! Prepare small crustless quiches or frittatas in oven-to-table paper liners. Flavors can range from mushroom, spinach, roasted pepper, or sundried tomato. Delicious, very lunch-worthy, and best of all, the packaging is taken care of in that classy ramekin that you baked it in! Choose one with a cover, so that you truly are good to go! And make sure to keep one for yourself too, for your own Purim lunch.
• The Soup-to-Go:
I like this idea because it is super easy to prepare in advance in large batches. Many of the recipients of my Mishloach Manot live right near me, and so I can actually serve up the soup warm in a takeout container, however a labeled bottle can be a nice way to package it as well. Paired with a whole-grain roll, I guarantee that you will have to make enough for those good friends who come in for doubles!
• The All-in-One
With macros being basically a byword at this point, incorporate all three into a delicious grain bowl. A layered mason jar is an easy way to pull this off. Some dressing on the bottom, a grain such as brown rice, quinoa, or bulgur, and a leafy green. Then get as adventurous as you want! Can be as simple as canned chickpeas, corn, and craisins to the more labor-intensive grilled veggies and shredded feta.
• The Antioxidant Boost:
Once we’re being nutritionally on trend, an antioxidant Mishloach Manot is the way to go! (I won’t go so far as to recommend a keto package, though). Some 70% dark chocolate, red wine (that’s for the resveratrol), and some dried fruits – think berries, perhaps. A big benefit to this package is that it is all store-bought and non-perishable. Can’t beat that, can you?