What are your thoughts on processed food on Pesach?
I think it’s actually easier and pays off to avoid processed foods because traditionally Pesach was a time where we really went back to the basics. It’s only been in the last 15 years, much more recently, that we have so many processed food options. But if you talk to any Bubby they will tell you that Pesach cuisine was basically bare bones – chicken, eggs, potatoes, fish, and lots and lots of vegetables and matzo (matzo itself is not a very highly processed food, it’s just flour and water) and really sticking to a plant-based menu.
What are some of the main ingredients you personally use?
I pile up on lots of produce and proteins. In terms of seasoning I really stick to the basics: oil, vinegar and lots of spices and herbs. To sweeten things you can use natural sweeteners like honey and silan. Just adding some fresh lemon or orange or grapefruit can really give a nice, different taste. If you’re looking for something other than the typical roasted taste, using onions and garlic will add tons of flavors to any dish. I also recommend using either fresh or dried herbs whilst also adding wine or orange juice to your dish.
The way I cook all year round is what people are forced to cook over Pesach. Over Pesach you really are eliminating processed foods.
When it comes to baked goods, what are your thoughts?
There are many products out on the market, but most of them are filled with tons of potato starch and really processed, highly refined oils and sugars. So you’re really best off staying away from those aisles.
When baking for Pesach I tend to stick to natural sweeteners like honey or coconut sugar or maple syrup. Like throughout the year I also use oils like coconut oil, avocado oil or olive oil.
So again it’s staying away from premade packaged foods and making your own, whether it’s a meal from vegetables and proteins or sweet treats using better-for-you ingredients that are unprocessed.
This how you cook all year round, right?
Yes, this is the way I cook all year round. Pesach isn’t all that different. I just swap my sour dough or my gluten-free rolls for matzo and I eliminate a couple of the whole grains that I can have during the year. Cooking with wholesome ingredients, making foods from your own kitchen, will help you avoid processed foods both on Pesach and throughout the year.