Strict Diet on Passover - Need Help
March 24, 2021 9:04 PM   Subscribe

So due to impaired fasting glucose, fatty liver and kidney issues I've found myself this year having to avoid carbs - particular starches and sugars. I used to rely on potatoes and matzah for my mainstay. I do eat kitnyot but I have to be careful with those as well - definitely no rice. I don't eat beef and am really forcing myself to eat chicken and fish. Eggs are ok, but how many eggs can I eat with high cholesterol? I also have the issue of not being satiated easily, ergo I need a larger volume of food than normal till my body stabilizes. I've been on this diet for a few weeks now and my numbers are improving. I seriously don't want to jeopardize my health at this junction. What are my options?
posted by watercarrier to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What have you been able to eat and find satisfying for the last few weeks? And is your goal to find traditional-ish Passover food that meets your needs, or is it more to find anything you can handle eating for a week that's kosher for Passover?
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:33 PM on March 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Vegetables! Here’s a list of 10 recipes as a starting point. If you take it light on the starchier ingredients like carrots, quinoa, and matzo meal you should be able to make a filling and low-carb feast. Did your doctor give you a limit on eggs? Dietary cholesterol in eggs isn’t necessarily tied to the cholesterol levels in your blood, but I know opinions vary. Generally you can use just the whites or mix more whites in with a few whole eggs for something uncontroversially healthy. Here’s a low-carb matzo recipe you could try if you wanted. Cauliflower can be a good substitute for potatoes or rice in some circumstances. Good luck!
posted by music for skeletons at 9:40 PM on March 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: My diet has been problematic anyway because I have a huge history with eating disorders. I basically just eat to avoid sugar spikes and to alleviate hunger, so whatever I have - avocados, eggs, sprouts, nuts, leafy vegetables, some carrots, cucumbers. It's more to do with Passover - like what am I able to consume at the Seder - and then during the meals - when eating Matzah is mandatory ( I keep Kosher and the laws) - also Charoset will be a challenge especially when it's been such a huge part of my holiday meals. I basically need something akin to raw vegan or low carb vegetarian with a Passover vibe.
posted by watercarrier at 9:42 PM on March 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Debra Klein's plant-based recipes:
Grain-Free Cauliflower Onion Rolls
Vegan Creamy Asparagus Soup Recipe
Cauliflower Kugel

More Kosher for Passover recipes. Other ways to browse recipes on Klein's website: raw, vegan, no oil, grain-free, etc., which you may be able to use after Passover. This site was the fourth result when I looked for "paleo vegetarian Passover recipes" on Chrome; it seems easiest to navigate given your specific needs, there's a Passover cookbook (e-book), and the creamy soup recipes look really filling. (Also turned up The 50+ BEST Vegan Kosher For Passover Recipes & 49 Amazing Vegetarian Passover Recipes You'll Want To Make All Year Round, but watch for carb and grain elements.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:39 PM on March 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but are you not allowed to set aside kosher if it is necessary not to jeopardize your health?
posted by praemunire at 11:37 PM on March 24, 2021 [12 favorites]

Can you make the charoset very nut heavy with only a bit of minced fresh fruit? I have also made faux chopped liver with sautéed mushrooms and onions with toasted walnuts and hard boiled eggs all ground up into a fantastic spread, very successful, looks just like chopped liver but only tastes really delicious and not at all meaty. It would be a pretty great filling for a lettuce wrap. Salmon is a great fish that goes with early spring vegetables and is nice at any temperature, and would be a very fancy sub for gefilte fish.

However I would like to gently remind you that life, and survival, are the key things to think about for Passover, and Judaism in general really. If you need to deviate somewhat from your previous tradition for your health, it’s very much in line with the values I’ve learned. Especially because you say you have a history with ED, making room for flexibility in this might be the best way to choose life in the long run.

Sorry if this comes off as condescending, I really don’t mean it to be. I’m having to make significant changes to my diet right now too, and am conflicted about Passover food plans, and have been doing a lot of thinking about this for the past couple weeks. I’m coming to the conclusion that for me and religion, intent matters the most, far more than tradition, though tradition can form guidelines for that intention. So, definitely eating beans for me. Definitely not doing my typical unctuous chicken feet matzah ball soup. Definitely making Passover salads a thing, and going way easier on the salt, and a bunch of other things that are for my health and ability to maintain momentum. It will keep my heart beating and my brain functioning and that’s what’s right for me. My situation isn’t yours and you make your own choices but know that you’re not alone in this kind of struggle.
posted by Mizu at 12:04 AM on March 25, 2021 [8 favorites]

are you not allowed to set aside kosher if it is necessary not to jeopardize your health?

The answer to this is that you absolutely are. If you feel bad about it, you could talk with your rabbi and get their approval (or their recommendations for how to replace the problematic foods).

Alternatively, if you're okay eating tiny amounts, then just take a minuscule nibble of matzah, charoset, etc. That counts.

Does quinoa work for you diet-wise?
posted by trig at 2:52 AM on March 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: @praemunire - the diet is beneficial, not detrimental
posted by watercarrier at 4:04 AM on March 25, 2021

Yeah, I vote you talk with your rabbi about maybe not adhering to the rules this year. I don’t know how observant you are, but I have noticed that a lot of not-very-observant Jews for some reason feel compelled to be very scrupulous about Passover, in ways that they aren’t scrupulous about other aspects of Jewish ritual. And maybe this is the year to ditch the Passover food restrictions and instead decide to do something else: observe Shabbat every week, maybe. It sounds like you’re in the early stages of making some changes that are working for you, and it might not make sense to mess with it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:26 AM on March 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Mashed potatoes made with chicken broth and plenty of vegan butter (Earth Balance is labeled Parve) are delicious and filling. Roast some vegetables, asparagus is fantastic roasted, or cauliflower with lots of seasoning. I've seen some recipes for vegan chopped liver that look really good. Avocado with grapefruit sections and walnuts is delicious. You can make cauliflower kugel that sounds filling. Charoset is required to be sweet, use apples, beets, a little dried fruit, nuts, and maybe stevia if it's not sweet enough.

Many diets that manage blood sugar recommend fiber as an aid to managing blood sugar, so plenty of veg. will help.

Of course the rules require you to preserve your health, but you may want to bend them as little as possible, i.e., use a little stevia. On a restricted diet, the Don'ts tend to dominate, but focus on what you can and will eat. Tons of websites have seder recipes for diabetics or people eating a keto diet and many of them will match your requirements.
posted by theora55 at 6:56 AM on March 25, 2021

There are some great charoset recipes that use dates instead of apples. Dates are pretty low GI so this would be a good substitute for you.
posted by bq at 7:39 AM on March 25, 2021

@praemunire - the diet is beneficial, not detrimental

Right, which is why abandoning the diet to observe Passover would be detrimental. The poster is suggesting that it may be permissible for you to bend the dietary passover rules (including the mandatory consumption of matzoh etc.)

But your follow-up sounds like you are more interesting in finding ways to continue your traditions and particularly Seder traditions within the new diet, where the original post sounded more like a general how to keep kosher-for-passover within restrictions.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:41 AM on March 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Another vote to talk to your rabbi. Plenty of people who are I'll do not fast on yom kippur, considered the holiest day in the jewish calendar. I can't imagine that your rabbi won't prioritize your health during passover.
posted by jazh at 8:17 AM on March 25, 2021

Are you in control of the food for your seder? The seder food requirements are few, religiously speaking, but there's a lot more when you bring in customs and family dishes. I just want to check if you are going to be at someone else's table trying to figure out how to not carb-load on their matzo soup, or if you can just decide to make a chicken-beans-kale soup instead or just buy chicken broth and put in a few carrots.

If you are in control, the good news here is that low carb during passover looks a lot like low carb every other time. All those foods you listed eating, you can still eat. I've used passover as a way to test out low carb eating in the past.

If you want a way for it to feel passover-y, maybe make a special dish - pan-grill some salmon or roast it in the oven. Make deviled eggs, or a big pot of soup. One year I was traveling at passover and subsisted entirely on grocery store salads and tuna, and it was actually pretty good and refreshing. Vegetarian tsimmes is also entirely possible and delicious. A friend makes an egg spinach frittata for her vegetarian passover seder every year, which is great.

Maybe someone would split a box of matzah with you, if you just want the traditional 3 pieces to lift at the seder and then eat a coin-sized piece?
posted by Lady Li at 8:54 AM on March 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

My mother has been on a similar low-carb and low-fat diet. Her mainstay for feeling full was egg whites (no cholesterol, available in cartons already separated), skinless chicken breasts, and low-carb vegetables, like leafy greens, celery, tomatoes, sweet peppers (so many tasty sweet peppers - and the sugar level isn't that high). She did a lot of stir-fries and omelets in a non-stick pan with minimal oil (vegetable oil spray only). There are also replacements for classic carbs like cauliflower rice - some people make it themselves, it may be available commercially.

In terms of the mitzvot: I have it on authority from my (slightly matzah-avoidant) rabbi that the only time that you are required to eat matzah is at the Seder - and even then, you're not obliged to eat a whole square, just a taste, as with the maror and charoset. Even from the afikoman, I generally save a dime-sized piece for that last taste of affliction at the end of the night. Everything else - matzah balls, matzah meal cakes, my special vegetarian matzagna (we do a dairy-passover dinner) - that's optional. After the seder(s), you don't need to have matzah until the next year.

Also: my rabbi advocates a nice vegetable platter to nibble on immediately after the karpas blessing.
posted by jb at 9:38 AM on March 25, 2021

I eat low carb year round, hate matzah and never eat it, and keep strict Passover. We eat:

Lots of scrambles. Every morning is a delicious morning with a veg-heavy scramble: fry up any combination of peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, some onion (you can do green if it's better for your carbs); spinach. Add some garlic salt. Make it delicious. Cheese? For sure. Cook with as many eggs as you want. Filling, tasty, low carb, in no way abstemious.

Low carb meatballs: for each lb of ground turkey, add 1 grated & drained zucchini, half a grated onion (drained), one egg, 1 big tsp salt. You can add whatever herbs you want, but it's not necessary. Fry in grapeseed oil. Make a bunch and keep in the fridge for meals and snacks.

frittata: eggs + spinach + cheese baked in casserole dish and cut up for snacks.

Chicken or hard boiled egg curry -- see the butter chicken recipe on Serve over roasted cauliflower.

Roasted or air-fried cauliflower -- lots of this.


Mozz cheese sticks.

Easy low carb things to grab: cherry tomatoes; cut up bell peppers.

TBH I barely notice Passover restrictions anymore.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:53 AM on March 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

oh, and for haroset, are apples too carby? I never add any extra sugar to my apple/nut one anyway. That said, I have not tried this but something to consider: jicama instead of apple. Supposed to be great for blood sugar.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:56 AM on March 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

A third suggestion to talk to your rabbi about this, from an unlikely source - I'm not Jewish. But I have a story of another religion that was able to bridge the gap between "traditional dictates" and "observer with food sensitivities".

I'm assuming you're familiar with the Communion Wafers that are part of the Catholic mass. Well - the Vatican has a rule saying that wafers have to be made with at least some wheat in them to count. Unfortunately, this screws over practicing Catholics with Celiac disease, for whom even the trace amount of gluten in a regular Communion wafer would be too much. And when the gluten-free movement started up, they spoke up about how "y'know, this is one place where a gluten-free option would be cool if we can do that somehow." And that prompted a bunch of nuns in Missouri to develop an almost-gluten-free Communion wafer in response - they figured out how to make a gluten-free wafer, then figured out the barest minimum amount of wheat they could add to keep the Vatican happy while still avoiding triggering celiac Catholics.

My point being - there are religious leaders who are eager and willing to help brainstorm ways for people with unique challenges to practice their faith in a way that doesn't endanger their own health and well-being.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on March 25, 2021


My point being - there are religious leaders who are eager and willing to help brainstorm ways for people with unique challenges to practice their faith in a way that doesn't endanger their own health and well-being. God probably doesn't want His people to be making themselves ill just for His own sake, I'd wager.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on March 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can’t eat apples and my friend made Jicama charoset for me at her Seder and it was delicious.
posted by mai at 12:23 PM on March 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

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