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A reduced-carb Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana is a joyous occasion when families sit down to a festive meal of symbolic foods. The traditional sweet foods of this time can be a challenge for a low-carb diet, but there are ways around it.

Braised beef brisekt

Rosh Hashana history and customs

Rosh Hashanah, means literally “Head of the Year.” By tradition, the Jewish New Year is the world’s birthday. This is a special time for prayer, forgiveness, introspection and casting away your earthly cares and concerns. It’s also a time to evaluate the past year and look forward to a new one. It is traditional for Jewish people to visit bodies of water filled with fish to cast their sins away. In synagogues, people listen to the ram’s horn that speaks to their souls and greet each other with wishes for a prosperous new year.

It’s also a time to feast. Placed at the head of the table is a fish head, representing prosperity and the start of a new year. Exotic fruits such as pomegranates are consumed this time of year as well.

Low-carb alternatives

While celebrations are certainly in order, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo your low-carb diet. Instead of eating a baked apple dipped in honey, try a symbolic slice of uncooked apple dipped in Splenda. Or try pomegranates that are rich in symbolism of prosperity and fertility with their numerous seeds.

It is a religious requirement to eat bread on Rosh Hashana, so try a whole wheat flat bread recipe. As an alternative to the fluffy white Eastern European Challah, this is a complex carbohydrate bread within the Middle Eastern tradition. Dip it in Splenda instead of honey.

Braised beef brisket

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe adapted from World of Jewish Cooking, by Gil Marks.


  • 1 (5 pound) first-cut beef brisket
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced (optional)
  • About 4 cups water


  1. Rub brisket with garlic, salt and pepper. Heat oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven pan or roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add brisket and brown on both sides. Remove.
  2. Scatter onions and bay leaves in roasting pan and place brisket over top. If desired, add celery. Add water to just cover meat.
  3. Cover and simmer over a low heat or bake in a 350-degree F (175 C) oven until meat is fork-tender (2-1/2 to 3 hours). (Brisket can be prepared ahead to this point, cooled and stored in refrigerator for up to two days. Skim off fat before reheating or slicing.)
  4. Slice brisket across the grain (muscle line) about 1/8- inch thick. (For chilled brisket, place meat slices in a roasting pan, reheat brisket gravy, pour hot gravy over meat, cover, and bake in a 350-degree-F oven for about 45 minutes.)

Per serving: 4.29g carbohydrates; .87g fiber, 42.27g protein; 46.09g fat; 637.63mg sodium; 154.22mg cholesterol; 611.47 calories

Fish latkes

Yields 8 to 10

Recipe adapted from World of Jewish Cooking, by Gil Marks.


  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 pound white-fleshed fish fillets such as cod or haddock, cubed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon prepared white horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 tablespoons additional horseradish


  1. In a food processor, finely chop onion, celery and parsley. Add fish, eggs, horseradish, salt and pepper and process until smooth. Add enough whole wheat flour to make a soft batter.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop batter by tablespoons and fry until golden on both sides (about three minutes per side). Serve with additional horseradish. (2 tablespoons horseradish per serving).

Per serving: 2.49g carbohydrates; .47g fiber; 9.73g protein; 6.96g fat; 109.59mg sodium; 61.80mg cholesterol; 86.13 calories

Whole wheat flat bread

Serves 6


  • 2 cup whole wheat flour, well sifted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot water


  1. Stir and then knead the dough until smooth. Let it rest for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough and then cut out with glass or cookie cutter circles or pat the circles into shape about 1/4-inch thick. Fry in olive oil.

Per serving: 32g carbohydrate; 5.33g fiber; 6.67g protein; 2.92g fat; 387.65mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 179.89 calories

Editor’s note: This recipe is very high in carbs, though the carbs come from whole wheat. To cut down on carbs, consume one-half or one-quarter of a serving.

Chicken and celery soup

Serves 8


  • 1 chicken cooked (or use leftover bones and chicken diced)
  • 4 large onions, chopped
  • 5 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 5 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon ThickenThin Not/Starch Thickener
  • 2 packages of Splenda


  1. Boil chicken bones in a large pot. Peel and chop onions. Take out celery strings and chop. Dice parsley. Chop tomatoes (my mother and I always leave the skin on for more nutrients and flavor).
  2. Once the bones come to a boil put on simmer. Put in spices, onions, parsley and tomatoes. Add the ThickenThin and Splenda. Simmer for two hours. Take out all the vegetables and put in a food processor until vegetables are pureed. Put in soup base and diced chicken bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 13.88g carbohydrates; 4.39g fiber; 23.3g protein; 17.69g fat; 271.38mg sodium; 86.25mg cholesterol; 306.38 calories

Pomegranate salad

Serves 4



  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 cups salad greens
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1 cup black olives sliced
  • 1 cup canned waxed green beans
  • 2 green onions


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed


  1. Take one pomegranate and cut in half.
  2. Put half the pomegranate seeds in a food processor and chop until it makes a paste.
  3. Mix pomegranate paste with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dill weed to make dressing.
  4. On a large plate spread out salad greens. Garnish with black olives, green beans, parsley, green onions and half the pomegranate seeds. Serve with pomegranate salad dressing.

Per serving: 14.73g carbohydrate; 3.92g fiber; 2.47g protein; 17.46g fat; ; 477.07mg sodium; 214.31 calories

More Rosh Hashana related articles

Learn about the Jewish New Year
Rosh Hashana traditions and meals
Rosh Hashana food customs

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