A Shiksa's attempt at the Passover diet
For those of you who are unaware of what a Shiksa is, it's Yiddish for a non-Jewish woman who attracts a Jewish man (Think Charlotte in Sex and the City).
There are a lot of stereotypes that go with being a Shiksa, but I'm not going to get into that. What I am going to do is attempt the Passover diet. If you're in the same boat as me, read on to find out the rules of what you can and cannot eat.
Passover falls around Easter in the springtime and commemorates the story of Exodus (the Jewish people's rise from slavery). Also known as the Festival of the Unleavened Bread. Basically, when the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, they were in such a hurry to leave that they couldn't wait for their dough to rise. This is why during the week of Passover, most Jews do not eat bread or anything with yeast in it that rises.
Depending on if the Jewish person is reform, conservative or orthodox, the rules on what you can and cannot eat vary.
Starting at sundown on April 6 to sundown April 13, I'll be abstaining from anything with yeast in it as well as anything with grains. Meaning I'm cutting down on the carbs! I'll be eating matzo, of course, which is flat, unleavened bread that tastes a bit like a cracker and indulging in many fruits and vegetables. Many of my Jewish friends who observe this holiday every year lose about five pounds in that week from not eating bread or really any carbohydrates.
Let's be honest, carbs are a girl's best friend and worst enemy. But this time around, I'm going to go with the old adage, "Food doesn't taste as good as skinny feels," or something like that.
The rules of Passover for Ashkenazi Jews, who come from Europe, avoid corn, rice, legumes and peanuts because they can be used to make bread and there's a chance that they could have other grains mixed in them. Some Jews even go through a cleaning process where they rid their kitchen, stove, oven and microwave of any type of food that is used to make bread, or that is bread.
If some are really strict about whether they consume any type of wheat or oil, they don't even eat certain raw vegetables for fear that the wax coatings on some may be made from soy protein and oils from grains.
Also, anything that contains gelatin is not allowed for Passover as it contains bones of potentially non-kosher animals. So Passover desserts can be tricky but still very delicious.
I'm sure you've heard of your friends attending Passover Seder -- I mean even President Obama went to a Passover Seder last year, so this is a widespread part of Passover. The Seder is held on the first night of Passover where, at least in my husband's family, we read through the story of Passover. There are certain things we eat that go along with the story such as a piece of horse radish, egg, potato, bitter herbs and we also drink wine at certain points during the story, which is kosher for Passover wine. My favorite part is when we open the front door to let Elijah the Prophet in. Then we eventually close it, of course.
Everyone typically reads a section the book (this gentile here included!) and my husband and his brothers sing in Hebrew. The first two days of Passover are solely for family. They don't include any type of work.
If you're sticking to no yeast or grains this Passover like I am, then you will be eating many fruits, vegetables and anything that has a "Kosher for Passover" label on it. Matzo ball soup is a delicious must when eating for Passover. I will be living off of it from my local Jewish deli down the street.
Matzo pizza is another must for Passover food. Granted, it's not the healthiest, but it's extremely yummy. You just get a square of matzo, smear on some pasta sauce, top with mozzarella cheese (all items kosher for Passover) and heat it up until the cheese is melted and the matzo is golden.
For breakfast, it can be hard to break away from your usual morning toast. To still get a hearty breakfast in, try making matzo brei. It's a tasty dish that's easy to make and can be served savory or sweet.
This Passover, I'll be indulging in a lot of potatoes, matzo, veggies and fruits while supporting and observing the religious holiday with my husband. I mean, I want to lose three pounds.