5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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Start your Healthy New Year with a Healthy Holiday!

At Rosh Hashanah we wish one another a happy, healthy and sweet new year. Unfortunately, sometimes the sweet is a bit too much of the focus! Heavy, calorie and meat-laden meals are not the best way to start a happy and healthy New Year! We think that tons of sweets and big meals will make us happy, but in the end they don’t…not in a physical or mental way.

Nothing makes me happier than when holiday and Shabbat guests leave my a meal at my house and tell me they are satiated, but marveling at this new feeling of being full, but not feeling physically disgusting or mentally guilty. There is a way to entertain and eat at holidays that is celebratory and special, without feeling gluttonous.

In order to have a healthy holiday and put yourself on a path to a healthy year, I suggest putting the same amount of thought and planning into the physical as you do the spiritual. In fact, I think you’ll find that taking care of yourself physically will spill over to how you feel spiritually about the holiday and the year.

Wouldn’t you rather feel light and positive than heavy and guilty?

Here are some suggestions for how to do just that!

Three tips for a happy and healthy New Year – both the two day holiday, the rest of the upcoming chaggim and the entire year!

1. Bring healthy snacks to shul! Give your kids an apple before they start in on all the lolly pops and laffy taffys they’ll be fed at shul. Also make sure they have some protein at breakfast. Otherwise they’ll be melting down before lunch and so will you. You also need to bring a snack. It’s not Yom Kippur. Don’t fast for 6 hours and then show up to lunch feeling cranky and famished. You’ll enjoy your meal and your company more if you’re not passing out from hunger when you get there. For breakfast and/or snacks, try these homemade granola bars. At that link you’ll also find recipes for trail mix you and the kids can bring to shul and a green smoothie you can make on yuntov, sans blender.

Travelin Green Smoothie Grain free Granola and Trail Mix granola bars and chocolate chip cookies

2. Skip the formal, four-course dinner! Rosh Hashanah lunches tend to be later because morning services can last into the afternoon. If you eat a three hour late lunch, you don’t need to eat dinner! Of course you will want to come home from shul and make kiddush and motzi (blessings over wine and challah) but you don’t need to sit down to another four-course meal. Have soup and salad and be done with it. If you want to spend more time with your family, have some tea in the family room. You don’t have to spend the time at a table filled with food you aren’t even hungry for but feel like you should eat. In fact, if you’re in DC, save yourself the cooking and buy soup and salad from Soupergirl.

3. For lunch, serve your guests a lot of food, but choose it wisely. When you’re making a menu, consider what is and isn’t necessary. I don’t mean to starve your guests. I mean, notice if all of your “salads” call for a cup of oil and a cup of sugar. For instance, I dare you to try my Asian Coleslaw and find that you miss all the oil and sugar of the usual recipe! You don’t need to serve a fat free meal either. That won’t be satisfying for anyone. Instead, use healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut. The link to the Asian Coleslaw recipe will take you to a menu for a full vegetarian meal that you can also use for a healthy Rosh Hashanah or other holiday meal.

healthy asian coleslaw

For Israeli recipes (vegetarian and not), click here to download a free chaggim cookbook from the Israel Forever Foundation! In the cookbook, you’ll also find information to make a Sephardi Simanim (signs of the New Year) seder. Enjoy and please let me know if you have any specific recipe or menu requests before Succot!

Gmar Chatima Tova!

May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good!

Quick! Make this while the watermelon lasts!

The last few days I’ve noticed that the wind is picking up and each time the wind blows, leaves are raining down on the street. It may be September 4, but it is still summer and we’re enjoying the last days of its bounty.

With this bounty, my daughter invented an incredible dessert!

Frozen Watermelon Cupcakes!

Avital's frozen watermelon cupcakes 1

This works for a large crowd of kids begging for popsicles. Yes, you have to plan ahead to freeze them first, but making the “cupcakes” only takes a minute. You can feel good about doing this before the next playdate at your house. That way you can skip the corn syrup and food coloring!


Watermelon Chunks from 1/2 a personal watermelon or 1/4 of a large watermelon [Make sure it is seedless!]

1/4 cup water

1 Tb agave nectar

Avital's Frozen Watermelon Cupcakes 3


Use an immersion or regular blender to liquify the watermelon in the water. Strain the mixture.

Pour into silicone baking cups and freeze.

It will be easiest if you first place the cups on a cookie sheet.

Avital's Frozen watermelon cupcakes 2

10 Lessons Learned from Days 1-5 of 15 Day Reboot!

10 Lessons Learned, Days 1-5 of 15 Day Reboot with Joe

plus pictures!

(See Cleanse 101 and Day 1 Report posts if you haven’t already)

1. I do like to chew food and when I chew a gigantic salad, I cannot put on a measly 1 Tablespoon of salad dressing!

Reboot Green Salad

2. When I’m not eating any grains and barely any protein, I need at least 1/2 an avocado a day to stay satiated.

3. Even the first 5 days, which do incorporate some chewable food, were enough to feel “rebooted.” My husband said it best. “When a bowl of cheerios seems like an indiscretion, where before it would have been a box of cookies, you know you’ve rebooted.”

Island Green Smoothie

4. I lost 4 pounds in the first 5 days, but I needed a break. After 5 days I was hitting a wall. Rather than go into the full on liquid-only stage for days 6-15, we took a little break for Shabbat. Our Friday night dinner was pretty darn healthy, but it felt like a feast, after the week on the Reboot. We had lentil soup, salad and the Reboot recipe of acorn squash with sauteed onions and mushrooms. Wow. 3 items in 1 meal? Such pigs! Lol…

Acorn Squash with Mushrooms and Onions

5. I like to enjoy my food. There is a difference between getting high on sugar and flour, and simply enjoying your food because it tastes good. Some of the juice recipes were incredibly bitter. I had to doctor them to make them even remotely palatable. To give Reboot credit, some of the recipes would probably have tasted better as juices. However, I’m vitamixing them. See Cleanse 101 post for more info.

carrot Apple Ginger

6. I liked having my meals ready made and planned for me. Then, when I was busy (especially as this week was Mommy Camp!), I had a smart choice waiting for me in the fridge.

Sauteed Greens with Garlic

7. This does not work traveling unless you’re able to hit a local juice bar, and sometimes there isn’t one.

8. When in doubt, eat a green vegetable! I am so focused on vegetables right now, having protein in the form of beans, nuts or tofu seems extravagant. I have started to do that though because I do need protein and don’t have a need to go 15 days without it.

Celery Pear Cucumber

9. Instead of doing the extreme 15 days first, it’s going to work better for me to simply incorporate the smoothies/juices for breakfast and lunch each day and then eat a real dinner: a salad, cooked vegetable and some form of vegan protein. For instance, I added black beans to the acorn squash reboot recipe and it was amazing. I can also eat lentil soup or have tofu and sauteed or steamed greens, for just a few examples. I’m hoping I can continue to lose weight with this modified plan.

Berry Apple Cinnamon Bake

10. I have a lot of menu planning and grocery shopping to do! The 15 day Reboot plan has a number of juices that are options for the liquid days 6-15, that weren’t in the first 5 days. I’m keeping an open mind and plan to try most of them this week. The Reboot website also has lots of recipes for actual meals where one chews food! I don’t normally advocate focusing on calories. However, since I know I’ll be eating all good food, and I’m busting through a weight-loss plateau, I think I will use the Reboot website to help me create menus that are 1200 calories per day.

Someone asked me if I felt very different on the cleanse, since I do already eat so well. I do. It’s similar to when I went from vegetarian to vegan. I just feel cleaner inside. I definitely have more energy and a clearer head. I’m not leaping off of tall buildings in a single bound, but I feel good. I feel like I’ve just been throwing every nutrient possible at my body and that’s always a good thing.

I’ve been drinking the smoothies and soups, etc. from the plan this weekend but not following it exactly. I’m eager to see how this week goes if I follow it exactly during the day and then eat a ridiculously healthy and clean dinner. Simply skipping grains and sugar will add up quickly in my weight loss efforts. I am all for moderation. I’m just trying to accomplish a specific weight loss goal right now (you know, lose all the baby weight before my son turns 3!). I think even though I am cutting out food groups, like grains, a diet of fruits, vegetables, tofu and beans is about the healthiest way a person could lose weight.

I look forward to hearing from you. What are your juice fast/cleanse experiences? What do you think the healthiest way to lose weight is?

 Acorn Squash Flower Bouquet