This weekend, chances are you’ll be celebrating Easter, Passover or possibly both. While Passover started Monday evening and ends at sundown this coming Tuesday, Easter is, of course, this Sunday. Food is an important part of both holidays. Passover begins and sometimes ends with the traditional Passover Seder meal. Depending on your choice to celebrate Easter with a breakfast, brunch or dinner, traditional foods include ham, lamb, deviled eggs, Hot cross buns and scalloped potatoes.
During Passover, observant Jews do not eat any bread products or grains to honor the Israelites who fled Egypt without having time to let their dough rise. So instead of bread, Jews eat matzah, an unleavened bread. Without flour, pasta, bread, chips, cereal etc., keeping Passover often means eating healthier. Often, but not always, as other traditional foods include beef brisket, chopped liver and flourless chocolate cake.
Easter Brunch or dinner can be a landmine if you’re trying to lose weight. From breakfast casseroles to Easter breads, to all that candy. Then there’s the sodium. A 3 oz. serving of a prepared supermarket or specialty store ham may have as much as 1050 mg of sodium, or more than 40% of the daily recommended sodium intake. Add a side of green bean casserole and potatoes, and you’ve hit the salt wall.
Just like Thanksgiving, these holidays are rich in tradition, so you might be a bit hesitant to experiment even though you know drowning a ham in Dr. Pepper every year is not the healthiest choice. Hang on to a tradition or two but consider these highly-rated recipes that are lower in salt and fat, but high in flavor, for your holiday table.
Orange Glaze for Ham
Fixing your own ham with a citrus glaze cuts the sodium and cuts out the soda, and gives your Easter a Florida flair.
1 cup orange marmalade
1 cup fresh or 100% orange juice
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsps. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. ground ginger
Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan over low heat until combined. Use as glaze with your favorite ham recipe and/or serve as sauce with ham at table.
Tangy Asian Citrus Salmon
Here’s another citrus-inspired recipe for Passover week or dinner on Good Friday.
4 Salmon fillets
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsps. balsamic vinegar
Juice from two lemons
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 ½ tbsps. brown sugar
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
Combine soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, brown sugar and black pepper and stir until brown sugar is dissolved. Place salmon filets in a baking dish and pour sauce over. Marinate in the refrigerator for one hour.
Bake salmon at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until it flakes with a fork. Baste at least once with sauce while baking. Boil leftover marinade (you may want to sweeten with more sugar or orange juice) and pour over cooked fish.
Sweet Spaghetti Squash Kugel with Apples and Raisins
This kugel swaps the typical egg noodles for healthy spaghetti squash, so it’s not only lower-calorie, but also gluten-free and dairy free. Serve this as a side dish or even for breakfast.
4 cups cooked spaghetti squash
(two medium squash)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 apples,(use Granny Smith if you prefer a less sweet kugel) peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/3 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds (You might want to soften in microwave first, pierce the squash and microwave for about three minutes on medium-high and let cool). Brush with vegetable oil or coconut oil. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet and cook for about 35 minutes until tender. Let cool and shred into “spaghetti” with fork.
Spray an 8x8” baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut sugar, and cinnamon. Add spaghetti squash and toss to coat. Mix in apples and raisins. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden and set. Cool before slicing. (Optional: Top with Greek yogurt, a low-fat alternative to sour cream.)
“Carrot Cake” Cheese Ball
Add this unusual, low-fat and eye-catching Easter dish to your dessert table.
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
(not fat free), softened
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup shredded carrot plus ¼ cup, divided
½ cup diced fresh pineapple
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
¼ cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
Carrot greens for garnish
(buy individual carrots)
Salt to taste
Whisk cream cheese, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Stir in 1 cup carrot, pineapple and raisins. Coat a large piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray. Scoop the cheese mixture onto it. Form the cheese mixture into a ball, then wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Just before serving, combine pecans, coconut and the remaining ¼ cup carrot in a small bowl. Place cheese ball on a serving plate and form into a carrot shape. Coat with the pecan mixture. Garnish with carrot greens. Serve with graham crackers
Sharyn Lonsdale is an experienced food writer and restaurant critic and a former professional caterer who has lived in Englewood for more than 20 years. Sharyn Lonsdale is director of marketing for The Venice Symphony and is a freelance writer, editor and trivia emcee. To contact her, visit her Facebook page or email her at email@example.com.