Archives for: September 2012
Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is almost upon us. This holiday is celebrated with special prayers and the blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn) in the synagogue. Equally important are the observances that take place at home, around the dinner table. Blessings are made over wine and bread, like we do on Shabbos. But we also eat a number of symbolic foods.
Apples are dipped into honey to represent our wish for a sweet new year. Pomegranate, with its many small seeds, symbolizes the numerous blessings we hope to receive in the coming year, along with the good deeds we hope to perform. Carrots are cut into circles to represent coins, to show our hope for prosperity in the coming year. Many other symbolic foods are used, many of them puns in Hebrew or Yiddish. The foods used vary, as some add in new symbols that are puns in English, while others use puns from other languages. A new one we started a few years ago is to eat raisins with celery for “a raise in salary.”
We’re supposed to eat lots of sweet foods and no bitter ones. Many traditional Rosh Hashana recipes use lots of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Over the past few years, I’ve developed healthier, more compliant versions of these foods. I make a honey cake that uses only honey for sweetness, not a mixture of honey and white sugar, and it uses rice flour instead of wheat. My daughters may or may not also make one with spelt flour.
As an O nonnie, many of my “sweet” food choices are limited. I’m fine with the sweeter vegetables, but I’m not supposed to have apples or honey. I’m sure I could make a “honey cake” using just molasses and agave, and dip pears in agave to symbolize a sweet new year, but I don’t plan to do either one. I’ll have one or two apple slices each night of Rosh Hashana, and eat the honey cake made with real honey. I will serve pomegranates to my type B son, even though they’re an avoid for him. The holiday symbols are important to me, and we only have a few bites of each one.
Over the summer, I didn’t worry too much about my 10 year old son’s diet. I let him go to sleep away camp and eat whatever they served at camp, even though I know it means non-compliant foods and way too much sugar. I also didn’t send him with elderberry or cod liver oil, two supplements that have helped him stay healthy, and because I thought it would be too much of an inconvenience for him. I regret that now, and plan to send him to camp with elderberry and cod liver oil capsules next year.
He got pneumonia while at camp, and ended up on antibiotics. Had he started getting sick at home, I would have increased his supplements, made sure he was compliant and completely sugar-free, and emphasized fruits and vegetables in his diet. This is only the third time in his life he’s ever been on antibiotics- normally I’m able to treat him naturally before it reaches this point.
When he came home, I vowed to make him eat healthy and get his little body back on track. That proved to be much more challenging than I’d anticipated, in part because our refrigerator broke, and in part because I was out of practice. All summer I’d had only one or two of the kids home, and I even had some days completely to myself. Getting back into the routine of cooking for all 3 of them was much harder than I’d expected.
So now he’s been home from camp for 3 weeks, and back to school for half a week. I’m not doing so well on getting him to eat fruits, veggies, and meats; he’d be quite happy to live on grains (preferably refined) and dairy products. He still has that cough and his endurance is much lower than it should be. He’s still carrying around extra fat on his body, as confirmed by the pediatrician. He gained much more weight this past year than he should have; based on how many inches he grew. It’s hard to get him to exercise when he’s not feeling well, and I’m afraid to push him too far. He got out of the habit of being active when he broke his arm in June, and I’m not sure how to get him back on track.
I’d like to be able to say that I put my kids on the BTD and they’re glowing examples of health. The reality is much more complex than that. I know what I’m supposed to do: offer lots of fruits, veggies, and compliant protein sources, and let him fill up on grains only after he’s eaten reasonable amounts of other foods, and encourage physical activity. But actually implementing this plan hasn’t been so easy.
Yesterday we went to visit some relatives. An aunt from Baltimore came to visit another aunt in NYC. Her decision to come up was made at the last minute, leaving us very little time to work out the details before the visit itself. It’s a 50 minute drive to the NYC aunt’s home, and it’s been a hectic week already with school coming up.
Sunday morning, we had breakfast then got on the road. When we arrived, we started to discuss lunch plans. There are several kosher restaurants in the area, but it’s hard to find safe foods for me in restaurants. My kids are healthy enough to have the occasional “cheat meal” but I can get very sick from even trace amounts of wheat, corn, or potato. I didn’t relish the thought of being run down and out of sorts for the next several weeks from one meal out.
We finally decided to go to her co-op and do some grocery shopping instead. Going shopping with 7 people was rather chaotic, but we put together a nice meal. We bought two HUGE heads of lettuce, scallions, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, avocado, baby carrots, hummus, avocado, canned tuna, lemons, cottage cheese, and rice cakes. We came home and started making a salad, with hummus and baby carrots put out for an appetizer. Salad dressing was made with fresh lemon juice plus olive oil and salt that she already had in the house. We made a tuna salad with the canned tuna plus lemon juice and mayonnaise she already had. She sliced the avocado and put it out on its own plate.
Unlike many other social meals I’ve experienced in the past few years, I walked away from the table completely satisfied. I didn’t get sick from the meal because there wasn’t anything in the meal that was bad for me, except for the cherry tomatoes that I easily avoided. All in all, it was a very pleasant family get-together. Not only did I enjoy time with my relatives, but I didn’t even have to worry about getting sick from the food I ate or getting sick from not eating enough.
Before leaving, I told my hostess that we need to do this more often, and that next time, we should prepare the exact same meal- only she should do the food shopping before we get there!