Well the past week was another of scurrying around. This is holiday month and if you haven’t said Tashlikh (throwing away your sins at a running body of water), Friday is the last day!
Needless to say, cooks are trying to figure out the pre-and post-fast Yom Kippur menus so the shopping and cooking can get done with efficiency. Here are some tips. Understand that nothing is written in stone, this is what I do, and each of us must cater to the tastes of our family.
Yom Kippur falls on Friday, so my pre-fast meal is similar to a typical Friday night menu, with an emphasis on protein and carbs. In my house we begin eating two hours before the holiday starts, so we do not stuff ourselves. This allows us to digest our food in between courses and at the same time, manage showers and other holiday preparations.
I like to begin with chicken soup with matza balls as a midafternoon snack around 4-ish. The soup is filling, has a good balance of nutrients and liquid, and helps avoid dehydration. Around 4:30 -4:45 pm, I call everyone to the kitchen for an appetizer – usually meat based because I am building up the protein. I break out the lahamagene or kibbeh. I avoid gefilte fish at this meal because my family likes it with horseradish and I want to avoid the heat.
Since we need to stop eating by about 6:30 for everyone to get where they need to be and park before candle lighting, I serve the main dinner at 5:30. My Yom Kippur meal will have a combination of chicken, beef, potatoes or rice, salad and a vegetable. The idea is to have a balanced and flavorful meal rich in protein and carbs but light on the spices. We like our foods tasty, not bland. Still we want to avoid foods that are so spicy you reach for a drink of water.
So what to serve? Chicken can be served in a million different ways. For this meal, I prefer using chicken pieces, marinated in a mix of 1 C apricot preserves and 1 pkg onion soup mix. Toss some dried apricots on top and bake uncovered for an hour on 350 degrees. I serve 8 adults, so I double this recipe, a tried and true favorite that results in a BBQ like chicken baked in the oven.
For the starch, toss 3 lbs of fingerling potatoes (or potatoes of your choice) with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme. Bake on a tray in the oven for 45 minutes, shaking slightly to keep loose every 15 minutes. The herbs make the potatoes flavorful yet healthy to eat and fill the stomach.
A vegetable is needed for a balanced meal. In olive oil, stir fry a mix of vegetables – 2 chopped onions, 3 cloves chopped garlic, 3 carrots sliced, 1 red and 1 green pepper in wedges. Add broccoli florets and/or sliced squash for a colorful mix. Flavor the veggies with salt, pepper and some herbs. Serve over rice.
So the plate has a tossed salad, the stir fry vegetables with rice, the chicken and potatoes. My family drinks plenty of water with the meal. The meal is not fancy but it has the balance needed to sustain a 25 hours fast. They dove into the food as if it was their last meal. It is about 6 pm and my family disburses to finish dressing.
By 6:15 they are back at the table for dessert. Dessert is not leisurely, filled with conversation. It is one filled with the need to rush out the door, so I serve a simple dessert of fruit and honey cake, topped with parve sherbet. And of course, herbal mint tea (no caffeine). The tea is imperative as it is the last liquid and they must have it to avoid dehydration for the fast.
There are no magical answers for pre-fast menus. The main idea is to have a balance of nutrients, go heavy on the protein and carbs, and make sure everyone is fully hydrated before the fast starts.
Ok, so for the past two days I have laid off the caffeine and I am craving coffee. Deleting coffee from my diet for a few days is definitely worth it to get through the fast without a headache. I will enjoy my cherished coffee again on Sunday morning!
Tomorrow, the post fast menu!