Rosh Hashanah Guest Post: Raw Jewish Foods—What's That All About?
Everyone understands the Jewish vegetarian. In the '70s and '80s, many of us went to potlucks and seders, and we brought with us those dishes that we knew we wanted to eat. Those food experiments were precarious, at best, putting our digestive systems on a roulette wheel, and hoping for the best outcome. Through a progressive change in the way I ate over the years, my vegetarian past became my vegan future. And I made the change again to Raw/Living foods when I studied with Ann Wigmore, the grandmother of the modern Living Foods Lifestyle movement. Through “Dr. Ann” I learned the basics of Living Foods: wheatgrass juice for detoxing, cleansing, and building the immune system; eating sprouts for easy-to-digest nutrition; and combining foods in order to improve digestion and metabolism – everything I needed to do for myself in order to make my body work better.
But with Living Foods I was left with a gap in eating a culturally rich diet. What was I to eat at a seder? A simple green salad if I could find it on the table, in the midst of kugel, gefilte fish, and tsimmes. Even matzah made “the old fashioned way” was off limits as a Living Foods practitioner. In 2002, after 2 years of researching Haggadot for Passover, I published L’Chaim To Life: A Living Foods Passover Haggadah with Recipes for the Seder. I now had a way to eat for Passover.
The High Holidays – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – also represent a very social time for Jews. It’s the New Year. It’s the time when Jews think about change and renewal, facing their past with mistakes and failed expectations, and moving forward to the future. During this period of time, people make decisions about all aspects of their lives. Choosing to become a more thoughtful consumer by conscientiously eating is a big change for people. If being a vegetarian doesn’t meet all of your expectations – either from a humane, biblical, eco-friendly, or health perspective – think about small improvements you can make that will really make a difference from a personal point of reference.
Eating is a big deal, and to Jews, eating is a very big deal in a social and familial setting. Because Jewish culture is represented prominently with food from all over the world, it is next to impossible to sit down for a traditional meal without some dish we recognize from our past. The joy of being Jewish and taking my food culture to the next level is invigorating. Whether you are Ashkenazi, Sephardi, or Mizrachi, there are Jewish recipes that can be tweaked to represent the vegetarian, vegan, and living foods practitioner in all of us. Because Rosh Hashanah represents renewal, I love making sprout dishes, with my favorite being Sprouted Lentil Salad. It’s made with green, red, and black lentils that have been soaked and sprouted, which I serve at most raw potlucks. I love this salad because it is nutritious and easy to make, and you can add various vegetables to the mix without changing the character of the salad. The colors of this salad make it very inviting to eat. At this time of year, I also love making bitter green salads, using dandelion greens, arugula, turnip greens, beet greens, cilantro, parsley, kale, mustard, and sprouted sunflower seed greens. I add finely grated carrots for color, and I make a lemon/avocado/olive oil dressing and add dulse seaweed for a salty taste. This salad packs a lot of nutrition given the chlorophyll content of all the greens.
Although I have spent several years experimenting with recipes, and giving public demos, I haven’t finished yet – and certainly not with Jewish recipes. I am currently working on other traditional Jewish recipes, and my particular interest – ethnic recipes from a Living Foods perspective. My next book, Robin’s Raw Recipes, will incorporate all of my Jewish recipes, and those global ethnic recipes as well. I believe that people will eat healthier food when that food represents their cultural heritage. From a Raw and Living Foods perspective, there is much work that needs to be done. Understanding cultural foods and how they can be combined into authentic cuisine is still an unknown path to be tapped – from a “food book” perspective.
My Mock Gefilte Fish recipe can be used for Rosh Hashanah and for other Jewish holidays, including Passover.
As an added resource, there are a few other people recognized in the Raw Jewish community who are working on Raw Jewish recipes. You can find them on the Yahoo Group site Raw Jewish Food.
Both of the following recipes are copyrighted (2002) and are not to be copied or used on other Web sites or blogs or in books without permission from Robin Silberman.
Mock 'Gefilte Fish'
Traditional Gefilte Fish is a standard part of any Ashkenazi holiday meal. As children, generations past would always watch as Grandmothers would spend the day preparing the four kinds of minced-fish and boiling it for hours until all the flavors would blend together. As Living Fooders, we do not need to sit on the sidelines watching others eat. Here is one contribution that will make a very welcomed entrance for all vegetarians.
½ cup cashews, soaked overnight
½ cup almonds, soaked overnight
½ cup pine nuts, soaked overnight
½ cup green onion /scallions, chopped
½ bunch parsley, chopped
¼ cup water
2 tsp Braggs Amino’s, Dr. Bronners Bullion, Nama Shoyu or another “salty” liquid
¼ - ½ cup lemon juice
1 clove or more fresh garlic
½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp – 1 TBS or more of kelp granules (this creates the “fishy” flavor)
In a Champion juicer, run the soaked cashews, almonds, and pine nuts through with the ‘solid’ blank attached. The mixture will come out very thick. Turn into a bowl and add the lemon juice, aminos, and a small amount of the water until it is a wet paté consistency, adding more water if needed. Mix. Add the onions, parsley, and other seasonings. Taste for flavor and “fishiness.” Form into patties, and let seasonings continue to flavor the paté. Serve on a bed of lettuce with a small amount of fresh grated horseradish on the side. Serves 4 – 8 or more depending on the size of the patties.
Sprouted Lentil Salad
¼ cup red lentils
¼ cup green lentils
¼ cup black lentils (or French lentils)
chopped green onions
chopped red cabbage
1 red bell pepper, or ½ red and ½ green pepper
½ sweet red or yellow onion
grated zucchini (optional)
diced cucumber (optional)
extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil
dulse seaweed, kelp seaweed, or sea salt
Nama Shoyu or Soy sauce
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic or more
Wash the lentils in water separately, making sure that there are no stones or other matter in the lentils. Soak the lentils in tepid water in a glass jar or in a bowl overnight. They will expand by at least a ½ if not more, so make sure there is enough water for them to expand without going dry. Drain the water in the morning, rinse them in cold water under the faucet and put them in a colander or other container where they can germinate for at least 4-6 hours. You will know they have germinated by a tiny growth tail, and they will be soft to eat.
Chop and grate your vegetables, adding or subtracting the vegetables you want to eat. Those in the list are some of the choices you have. Add your own favorites. Put all of these vegetables in a different bowl from the sprouted lentils.
Mix the lemon juice, oil, and spices in a bowl or container.
Putting your salad together
The amount of lentils in your salad should be about 1/2 of the ingredients. Add handfuls of your chopped and grated vegetables and mix thoroughly. Add the dressing and taste the salad. Let the salad “marinate” for at least an hour, so that the flavors soak into everything. Taste again and add more dressing if needed. This salad can be served with other vegetable dishes or green salads. For optimum digestion, do not eat this salad with fruit dishes.