Eden Grinshpan, Top Chef Canada Judge, Shares Her Healthier Takes on Classic Rosh Hashanah Foods
It's no secret that Rosh Hashanah is all about the food. Honey cake and challah are musts, of course. "Challah challah challah. I could live off of the stuff, and quite frankly, I do," says Eden Grinshpan, Top Chef Canada host, cookbook author, and mom. Symbolic, comforting, and so delicious, Rosh Hashanah foods are also often rich and decadent. Here, Grinshpan offers up some tips for making High Holiday dishes healthier, shares what's on her table, and explains how she gets her children involved in cooking.
Grinshpan Tips for Making High Holiday Food Healthier
First, ramp up the flavor, not the fat: "Spices and seasoning are great ways to pump up flavor without having to use too much fat, so make sure to really play up your spices and finally dig into that spice drawer." Grinshpan also recommends swapping your cooking oil. "I always prefer to use a healthier fat to cook with like extra virgin olive oil but if you have to use a flavorless oil I would look into an avocado oil, instead of canola or vegetable."
Next, amp up the servings of produce in each recipe. "I would focus on putting out more 'healthy' options so you can load up your plate with all your vegetable dishes and then enjoy the heavier options but just less of them," she says. Last but not least, remember to enjoy what you're eating—especially during the holidays "I would never forego a dish, especially since each holiday happens once a year and the food you eat during that time is what people look forward to," she explains. "I recommend making less of the heavier dishes so you don't have too many leftovers."
How to Make Cooking for Rosh Hashanah (and Any Day) Easier
Cooking for Rosh Hashanah can be a lot of work. If you're feeling overwhelmed, Grinshpan recommends making everything that you can in advance, such as chicken soup, marinating any meats, cleaning and cutting vegetables, and preparing any desserts that you can chill before baking. "I also would shamelessly ask someone else in the family to take care of dessert or appetizer if it felt like too much. It is totally OK to delegate," she says.
And yes, you can delegate to your kids. While Grinshpan's youngest, a newborn, is too little for cooking, she loves regularly involving her four-year-old daughter, starting with the shopping. "I let her pick out vegetables and fruit," says Grinshpan. "I make it a point to eat them with her and to cook with them. I also love including her in the cooking process. She cracks eggs, whisks, brings me ingredients and while we cook or bake she tries everything and we talk about the ingredients. I find that when she gets involved she is more likely to eat it and I have to say she is a pretty adventurous eater now. She ate an oyster the other week and it brought tears to my eyes,"
What's on Her Rosh Hashanah Table
First, there's challah: "This fluffy, sweet, eggy bread is perfect with anything or on it's own," she says. "I love to cover it with honey for Rosh Hashanah." Another must-have baked good? Honey cake. "I love honey cake for Rosh Hashanah, I think it's one of the only desserts from any Jewish Holiday that I really look forward to," she explains.
Then there's chicken soup, which Grinshpan says she "can't live without for an Jewish holiday." "It feels wrong to not have a big bowl of it to start any holiday meal, so it is always a must in our house. We load ours up with carrots, parsnips, celery and lots of fresh dill and parsley."