When I first went gluten-free two years ago, people regularly asked me: “What on Earth do you eat?” In general, the diets of most people I know are centered around items like bread and pasta, so they couldn’t fathom how I could eat enough to stay alive without eating those staples.
The funny thing is that I eat a more varied diet than I did before I went gluten-free. I started using more whole, fresh ingredients like fruits, vegetables and proteins. I started thinking outside the box — literally. I can’t remember the last time I cooked something that wasn’t almost entirely from scratch.
Having food allergies, I am vigilant about what I eat, and that has made me think more broadly about what I put into my body. When was the last time you looked at that box of microwave mac-n-cheese to see what was actually in it?
Over the last few years there has been a growing movement to cook “whole” or “real” food that is not processed. But for Jews, this may not be such a new concept. Fifty years ago, you couldn’t buy virtually any processed or packaged items for Pesach because they didn’t exist. You had to buy and make do with fresh, whole ingredients. So take a page out of your Bubbe’s cookbook and leave those Pesach noodles, cereals, and cakes on the shelf (admit it, they are pretty gross anyway) and buy sweet potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips and sage instead.
When I started my food blog a few years ago, I discovered the robust online community of whole food and allergy sensitive food bloggers. Like me, these food bloggers utilize fresh, whole ingredients that are often naturally Pesach-friendly. So this year, check out the wealth of resources from wonderful food bloggers. Not only will you find recipes like almond flour brownies, you’ll also find fun and innovative (and Pesach-friendly!) recipes like raw cashew hummus (see recipes below).
So step outside of your comfort zone this Pesach and cook whole food. You might just find that you want to cook like it’s Pesach all year long. For a little inspiration, here are just a few of my favorite whole food and allergy sensitive food bloggers:
Adapted from Gluten Free Goddess’s Raw Cashew Humus
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup blanched almonds
cold filtered water
Juice of 2 lemons
1 garlic clove
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch of sea salt, plus more to taste
1) Place nuts in a bowl and add enough cold water so they are fully submerged. Cover with a clean towel and allow the nuts to soak for 2 hours. Drain nuts, reserving 1/4 cup of soaking liquid.
2) Combine nuts, 3 tablespoons reserved soaking liquid, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add additional reserved soaking liquid as necessary to achieve desired texture. Add additional lemon juice and salt to taste. Store in the fridge.
Almond Flour Double Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill’s Almond Brownies
1/2 cup melted margarine or applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher for Passover baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons potato starch
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1) Stir together margarine/applesauce, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
2) In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, salt, cocoa, potato starch, and almond meal. Add to wet ingredients and stir until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (optional).
3) Pour batter into greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
Rella Kaplowitz blogs gluten-free and dairy-free as the Penny Pinching Epicure. She resides in Washington, DC.