Rosh Hashanah

Welcome Back to My Blog!

The address is new and the look has changed, but the food and nutrition news that you’ve enjoyed for years is still here for you. You’ll find all of my previous posts, plus new ones with the latest nutrition news, food tips and healthy kosher recipes.

 A Happy and Healthy New Year to Everyone!

An Apple a Day …

A recent study suggests that women may be able to lower their blood cholesterol levels by eating apples daily. The study was small – only 100 post-menopausal women took part. Half of them ate 75 grams (2 ½ ounces) of dried apples (the equivalent of two average sized fresh apples) every day. The other women ate a similar amount of dried prunes every day. The study lasted for a year.

After six months, the dried apple eaters saw a drop of 13% in their total cholesterol levels. Their LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) dropped by 24%. Those who ate prunes saw no change in their total cholesterol. At the end of the year, both groups had similar reductions in LDL cholesterol while the apple eater’s total cholesterol remained lower.

Because the study did not include a control group and was very small, we can’t draw scientific conclusions quite yet. But we do know that apples contain pectin, a water-soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol. And they’re full of other delicious nutrients as well.

So, with apple season beginning, dip your apples in honey now to welcome a sweet new year. And then keep eating them all year round.

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Rosh Hashanah No-Knead Challah

Most of us have plenty of cooking and baking to do for Rosh Hashanah, so an easy-to-do Challah recipe is much appreciated.

Mix the dough with a spoon, form it into a loose ball with your hands, let it rise and then braid it.  Relatively high in eggs, sugar and oil (healthy olive oil!), this recipe produces a sweet, cake-like challah especially appropriate for the chagim. If you prefer honey to sugar, cut back on the amount of water in the recipe.

1 package (2 ½ teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup warm water
2 eggs
½ cup warm water
⅓ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
⅓ cup mild-flavored extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
Handful of raisins (optional)

Mix the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl to soften the yeast. After a few minutes, add the eggs, remaining ½ cup of water, sugar, salt and olive oil. Mix well, and start adding the flour, one cup at a time. When all of the flour is mixed in, add the raisins and mix with your hands to form a loose ball of dough.

Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until double in size.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and shape into equal parts to braid or twist. Make one large challah, two smaller ones or lots of rolls. This dough tends to spread rather than rise in the oven, so I like to bake it in a pan with sides. That way there’s less spreading space and there’s no where else for the dough to go than up!

Bake at 325 F (165 C) for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your challot.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy and quiet New Year.
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Seven Strategies for Better Health in the Coming New Year

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is a festive day of celebration and a serious day of judgment. It’s not about making resolutions. But with the start of a month filled with holiday meals, it’s a good time to think about improving your health. Here are seven strategies for eating healthier in 5771:

1. Use smart fats. Extra virgin olive oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and powerful antioxidants. Use it in cooking, baking and to dress salads. Canola oil is also good for baking. Stay away from margarine, which is highly processed and may contain trans fat.

2. Replace refined grains with whole grains. Adding whole grains to your diet may lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. Replace white flour with whole-wheat flour when you bake. Try whole grain pasta. Serve a whole grain for dinner – try brown rice, bulgur, kasha, quinoa, barley or wheat berries. They’re high in important vitamins, minerals and fiber and delicious too.

3. Cut out sodas. If you’re a big soda drinker, start off by drinking one less can of soda a day. Regular soda is high in sugar and calories with no nutritional value. Diet soda, with its array of additives, is not much better. Make your own refreshing (and economical) drink: Pour ⅓ cup pure fruit juice into a large glass and add sparkling water to the top. Try tea – hot or cold, black, green or herbal, for a refreshing beverage. Don’t forget plain unadulterated tap water – the budget-friendly beverage of choice.

4. Use sweeteners judiciously. Sugar, whether it’s white or brown, honey or maple syrup, adds calories to your diet with little nutritional value. Stay away from highly-sweetened store-bought baked goods. Cut back a little on the sugar in your favorite cookie or cake recipes and no one will know the difference. Make baked goods a special Shabbat treat, and stick with fruit for dessert during the week.

5. Cook more often. Did you know that obesity rates are highest among people who spend the least amount of time cooking? You don’t have to spend hours over a hot stove to cook “from scratch”. Keep a well-stocked pantry and plan menus in advance. Cook extra amounts and store leftovers in the freezer for those days when you don’t have time to cook. Pick up a cookbook to get some ideas. (My book has menu ideas and lots of easy-to-cook recipes!) Start off with the basics and go from there.

6. Go easy on salt. Most processed food is loaded with salt, and the more salt you eat, the greater your chances of developing high blood pressure. Check the label for sodium before you buy foods like soup powder, noodle cups, canned soup and pasta sauce. Even frozen waffles and breakfast cereal may be loaded with salt. In the kitchen, substitute fresh herbs and spices for salt. If you gradually reduce the amount of salt you use in cooking, it’s less likely to be missed.

7. Eat mindfully. Think through your food choices. Make a list before you shop and don’t be tempted to buy things that you know you shouldn’t eat. Learn about portion sizes. Eat when you’re hungry and not when you’re bored or feeling bad. Pay attention to when you feel full, so you won’t overeat. Most importantly, enjoy your food!

With best wishes for good health and happiness in the coming year!

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Apples and Honey

With Rosh Hashanah right around the corner, apples dipped in honey will soon be on our dinner tables – a traditional symbol for a sweet new year.

Even without honey, apples make a delicious snack any time. They’re a good source of healthy antioxidants and pectin – a form of fiber that’s good for lowering cholesterol.

As for honey, why not try something new this year and choose a dark flavorful variety, like eucalyptus, avocado, buckwheat or chestnut? These tend to be higher in antioxidants than the milder and more common clover and citrus honeys.

Is honey good for you?

Preliminary studies suggest that antioxidants in honey may help speed up metabolism and aid in weight loss. But don’t get too excited. The calories in honey (64 per tablespoon) add up quickly, so you can easily gain weight by eating too much.

Though there’s no clinical evidence that honey can help relieve allergy symptoms, it just might help soothe a cough. When tested against over-the-counter cough syrups, honey was more effective! Just don’t give honey to children younger than a year old, as it contains bacteria than can produce botulism poisoning in an infant’s immature immune system.

In ancient times, honey was used as a wound dressing. Research is now confirming its effectiveness.

Nutrition and medicine aside, I recommend eating more apples and trying at least one new variety of honey this year, just because they taste so good!

שנה טובה ומתוקה

A Happy and Sweet New Year to Everyone

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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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