How to Find a Healthy Balance on Shavuot
By Mussy Raitman, Lubicom Staff
In today’s high speed and high-pressure world, it’s a constant struggle to find balance. People naturally have a hard time finding any kind of equilibrium, whether with work, family, religion or something as simple as maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
I find it most when Shavuot comes around; it’s a struggle to find the balance of eating healthy while enjoying the dairy-filled Yom Tov.
I sat down with Rorie Weisberg to discuss the challenge we all face over Shavuot.
What do you define as a balanced meal?
I define a balanced meal as a macro meal. Most people think of a balanced meal as a meal where you have some starch, some fat, and some protein. The difference between that model and a macro meal is that I don’t only look at those basic categories but also at the quality and the types of fats, carbs, and proteins that are being incorporated in the meal.
What does a macro meal incorporate?
For me, a macro meal would include a low-to-moderate glycemic carbohydrate with something that has some fiber in it. I also look to add additional fibers from low-carb vegetables and sometimes even fruit, nuts or avocado.
Healthy fats are also an important element of a macro meal. They usually come from avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, and coconut – as oils/butter or in their natural form.
The meal would also include a good-quality protein that is prepared in healthy, less processed ways without extra chemicals and sugars.
With Shavuot coming up, is there a specific type of cheese you prefer cooking with?
In terms of hard cheeses, I don't have a preference other than not using processed cheeses. In general, I try to use more of the higher protein cheeses like Greek yogurt, farmer cheese, and cottage cheese. I find that in general they are more filling.
Carbs also help us get full quicker. How would you recommend including healthy carbs?
The way I include healthy carbs is by swapping out less healthy carbs with healthy carbs. So when you're thinking of a balanced meal, instead of having your white flour pasta, bread, white potatoes, and even your puffed grains, I would incorporate more sweet potatoes, squashes (which are low carb vegetables), and whole grains. My favorites are kasha (buckwheat), quinoa, or millet, but it depends on a person's health situation as to which carbohydrates they would choose.
I know quite a lot of people who can’t eat dairy on Shavuot, what tips would you give them?
Some people recommend replacing dairy with either nut or coconut products. They are widespread replacement ingredients in ice creams and cheesecake recipes. I've also seen a bunch of vegan recipes using cashews nuts and butters.
Tofu is also recommended as a substitution.
Tofu is made out of soy proteins. I personally don't love using soy. If you are going to use soy, you have to make sure it’s non-GMO soy. In general soy can affect our hormones so I stay away from it as much as I can.
Is the same with soy milk?
Yes, I don’t recommend soy milk for the reasons I said above. But there are so many options, and some are actually easy to make at home. If someone cannot tolerate cow milk, they can try using goat or sheep milk, which are easier to digest. People who get congested from dairy often are often fine with goat or sheep milk. If you want to stay away from dairy altogether. There's coconut milk, almond milk, flax milk or cashew milk.
We all have that one item we can’t help but indulge in.
Yes, I am no exception! Mine is cheesecake. I love cheesecake; it is probably one of my favorite foods in general. This is why I created three different cheesecake recipes.
The first one came out in Family Table three years ago and it was just a standard delicious cheesecake with a really easy grain-free crust. That was a huge hit. Last year I did cheese tarts, little mini cheese tarts. And this year for I made a cheesecake with a chocolate brownie crust which is yum.
My cheesecakes are great because they are all grain-free and use honey. I use raw honey, which has many health benefits. Instead of using standard cream cheese, I use a combination of farmer cheese and unsweetened Greek yogurt. This makes it really high in protein, and it's filling but very light. I've had so many rave reviews even from non-healthy eaters who really couldn't get over how delicious it was and how light they felt after eating it.
You have probably started planning your Shavuot menu.
Yes, I have! When I create a meal full of Shavuot foods and I'm going to be serving dairy I always keep in mind the people who can’t eat dairy. So I always try to have a fish or like I said a casserole of some kind with eggs.
Do you have a favorite dish you make for Shavuot?
I always like to have an option that can be made dairy or parve. I love my stuffed portobello mushroom recipe; you can top some with cheese and leave some without cheese for those that can’t eat dairy. That’s definitely a winner dish.
That sounds so good I might just have to make that recipe myself!