Food Substitutes to Keep Your Recipe in Line with Kosher Practice
I’m sure you’ve had the experience of assembling ingredients for a recipe you really wanted to use but had to put it aside because it included items that would make the meal unkosher. When you cooking from scratch, it can be a challenge to find substitute ingredients, particularly if you don’t have time to run out to the store for an item you don’t normally stock.
I turned to Pinterest to investigate common substitutes that can save the meal without making a trip to Metro or Loblaw’s. Here’s my list of substitute ingredients that can make a dairy dish pareve to tape to the inside of your cabinet for quick referencing:
|Butter, or shorteningButter||Oil or applesauceMashed banana|
|Cream soup||Mash potato flakes or pureed carrots|
|Chocolate chips||Carob chips|
|Yogurt||Canola oil or soy-based yogurt|
|Milk||Almond or soy milk|
As more people have embraced vegetarian or vegan foods, you’ll also find a lot of tofu and soy options out there as well. Many dairy products like cream are available in nondairy options but the taste may not be as creamy.
I found this easy recipe for pareve “yogurt” on Chowhound from someone who posted as KosherMasterChef and loves Indian food:
½ c nondairy creamer
1 t lemon juice
2 T nondairy mayo
This makes five ounces. The Chef reminded someone who kvetched about the calorie content that nondairy creamers and mayo come in low-fat options.
Also check out Sol™ Cuisine, which makes products that pretty much cover everyone’s specifics: dairy-free, vegan, organic, kosher, wheat/gluten-free, and halal.
Is Kosher Healthier Than Non-Kosher?
I wish I could give an unequivocal “yes” to this but if you’re thinking of the traditional foods your great-grandparents ate in the old country, this is not necessarily accurate.
Back in The Day, most people needed high-fat food to get through those days, particularly if they were working the land. They needed food like chopped liver and hearty breads. Today, few of us need high-calorie diets because we’re sitting at our desks or using heavy equipment that does the hardest work for us.
However, you will probably find that people who keep kosher are eating healthier than those who don’t because they have to think about how they will prepare their meals or what to eat if they go out. They can’t just grab anything from the freezer department and stick it in the microwave. I don’t think it’s a huge coincidence that vegetarian practices are popular among Jews. As Jewishveg.org observes, “The Torah is full of commandments demanding humane treatment of animals.” And as my friend Esther, who’s been a vegetarian since the 1980s says, “I never have to worry that what I make isn’t kosher.”
Kosher rules about animals that should not be eaten more or less jibe with regional taboos common at the time the rules were established. Animals with cloven hooves and chew their cud that may be slaughtered (according to kosher laws) also happened to be more plentiful in the region and easier to raise.
Look at pigs, the best-known example of a nonkosher animal. They’re high-maintenance and need a lot of water, which never was plentiful in the Middle East, so few people bothered to raise them. Their relative rarity may be why they were worshipped in Mesopatamia, itself a pretty powerful nation; it’s no coincidence that the Jews built that golden pig near Mt. Sinai and abstained from raising and eating pigs.
Rabbi Avi Weiss offers another thought: animals permitted for slaughter tend to be less aggressive. They eat slowly, as we should (these animals have two stomachs). Their cloven hoofs let them stand for long periods of time, as if in contemplation. I would add that this made them easier to capture. Rabbi Weiss also notes that fish with scales and fins are less aggressive and don’t normally eat other fish. Birds of prey (such as hawks, not Klingon ships!) and scavengers are also shunned; birds accepted for consumption like chicken and geese can be caught with some effort. They may try to fight back but they aren’t generally aggressive animals.
Veg, or not, everyone will love this easy-to-make hummus recipe that’s completely pareve rom RealSimple.com.
1 15-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove
¼ c olive oil
2 T lemon juice
2 T tahini (sesame paste)
1 t ground cumin
Up to ¾ t salt
¼ t paprika
Puree the chickpeas and garlic in a food processor.
Add and continue to puree the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, and salt
Add a tablespoon or two of water to get desired consistency
Transfer to a bowl.
Drizzle with paprika and olive oil before serving with warm slices of pita bread