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Passover 2014: My reliable go to diet for the summer!

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Does anyone else besides me feel that there is nothing like religious guilt to get you motivated for a change in diet? For the past almost forty odd years, ever since I graduated from Hebrew High School, I realized that I had a personal responsibility, to follow the dietary restrictions imposed on Hebrew slaves who were fleeing Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, during this week known as Passover. The story tells that when King Pharaoh finally allowed the Hebrew slaves their freedom there was no time for the bread to raise and so the dough was thrown over the backs of the slaves and baked in the sun as they were running out of Egypt to wander in the desert for another forty days and nights. Eventually, Joshua led them to the land of Milk and Honey, today known as the State of Israel.

Every year since this time, Jews have told the story of the freedom of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt in a ceremony which takes place, not in a synagogue, but at a meal called a Seder, at home around the family dinner table. The word Seder means order and every year for the past 5000 years this story has been told in the same order from start to finish at the same time of year in the Hebrew month of Nissan. The theme of freedom is still relevant for many people in many parts of the world who go hungry and are not free, including in our blessed, United States of America. . I am blessed to live in a country that allows its citizens freedom of speech and religion. This is where the guilt comes in. I do not have to follow the laws of Passover but I choose to because a change in my regular diet routine provides benefits to my health.

I find it interesting that food and its significance is mentioned often in the Bible. For example, the idea that Matzo, a thin dry cracker, made of wheat, barley, spelt, rye or oats- one of the five grains mentioned in the Torah, is the mainstay of this week of Passover. Literally, everything we make has some form of Matzo in it whether it is in cakes or cookies, pastas or kugels. There are some people who love Matzo and can eat it anytime but I find that I am not one of them. I usually am tired of Matzo by the third or fourth day so it then becomes a challenge in kitchen cooking creativity to find foods that are available to eat while keeping the week of Passover.

This is where the healthy diet part comes in, since I have cut out my carbohydrates from breads and snacks that are not kosher for Passover I am stuck being creative with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and proteins like dairy, eggs, chicken, beef or fish. Sound like a Mediterranean Diet or DASH diet to you? Probably, because it is close enough, after all the Hebrew slaves were living in Egypt, duh!

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