I am lucky to have a lot of wonderful things on my calendar in the coming weeks and that the countdown to Passover (and a highly anticipated trip home to Dallas) is on!
I’m really excited to be heading home for a visit and not surprisingly, my mind has turned to food in preparation of Passover.
I always like to think of this prep as 2-pronged: cleaning out the pantry and freezer and stocking up / planning for 8 days of Kosher for Passover (aka safe to eat for the holiday) foods. I won’t eat out during that stretch for the most part so I like to get a little bit creative with the meals I prepare.
That gives me a couple of weeks to use up beans, corn (and corn-based goods), soy (and soy-based goods), grains, chips, and more!
Luckily, there is a clause in Jewish law that allows one to sell off any food to a non-Jew that is not Kosher for Passover (called chametz in Hebrew), store it out of sight (and mind) for the week as to avoid binging or waste. I usually do a combination of cleaning out and selling things and luckily the selling can be done pretty close to the start of the holiday.
Then there are the Passover-friendly meals beyond the 2 big Seders where the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told. This is really what I have to figure out as I’ll be home and not have to cook for seders.
There are 2 camps of eating on Passover – those who eat beans / legumes (which rise or grow in size when cooked, usually they are Sephardic or from the Middle East / North Africa) and those who do not (those who are Ashkenazi or of Eastern European, Russian, etc. decent).
For gluten free folks, there are also 2 schools of thought. There are those who will eat beans / legumes because they cannot eat a vast majority of things during the holiday and those who do not. Even if you are of Ashkenazi decent, the rabbis usually rule that you can eat beans / legumes as Judaism is a religion that values health and life above all other Jewish laws.
Since I fall into the camp that doesn’t eat legumes the following are foods that I avoid during Passover, plus this extensive list:
- Wheat, barley, oats, rye
- Green beans
So, what does that leave me to eat? Well, for starters:
- Fruits (except those on the extensive list above)
- Vegetables (except those on the extensive list above)
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Chicken, beef, and turkey
- Certified Kosher for Passover products that are gluten free such as spices, potato chips, salad dressing,
- Nuts (except for peanuts)
When it comes to meal planning, I use the foods served at our seders as inspiration – meats, potatoes, lots of vegetables, charoset which is a mixture of apples, pecans, cinnamon and more deliciousness, fruits and other goodies for desserts. I also browse the Passover food sections at grocery stores to help me get creative and also to help me think through what I’ll need for ~1 week of cooking (including tea/juice, spices, and condiments.)
I am excited to try gluten free matzah for the first time ever!
While the laws vary, in recent years I’ve started purchasing products made from foods that are safe for Passover but potentially not labeled as such or buying something if the ingredient list checks out. It’s how I make the week a little less restrictive for myself. Things like almond flour and almond butter, dried fruit and nuts, etc. help me eat during the week without losing too much nutrition.
As you can see from the length of this post, there are lots of things to consider in preparing for Passover. It’s kind of like a deep spring clean of your kitchen and for me, a chance to eat super clean for a week. I’m not an expert by any means and refer to sources through Google to make sure what I’m doing is okay or kosher for the holiday.
Still to come: what I’m stocking in my pantry for Passover and my meal plan for the holiday week!