Purim Things

Treats to Put In Purim Shaloch Manos (Gift Baskets):

My Purim plan this year called for posting this last week so you’d have plenty of time to sprout the rye for the sprouted rye and raisin flat bread. I didn’t end up having time, which means if you want to make them, you’ve got to hustle. Pack them in a pretty bowl or plate, with attractively wrapped jars of Artisana  raw almond or walnut butter, homemade gluten-free granola, containers of almond or rice milk, and fresh or dried fruit. And remember, sprouted grains do contain gluten, but may be easier to digest for people who find it hard to digest flour-based products. (If you are gluten intolerant or have celiac, do not eat sprouted grains.)

HJC Sprouted Rye and Raisin Flat Bread

True or False

Q. Ergot, a bacteria which grows on rye, contains a precursor to the hallucinogenic LSD.

A. False. Ergot is a fungus, not a bacteria. (The rest is true).


Soak a 28 oz. bag of whole rye berries, preferably organic, in plenty of room temperature or even slightly warm water in a large bowl, 8 hours or overnight. (Be sure to check the berries for ergot—large, black fungal berries, and chipped or broken grains which may contain bugs and rinse well in cold water before soaking.) Drain, rinse, and lightly cover bowl with clean dishtowel. Every few hours, cover with water and drain. You should see sprouts after 16-18 hours. Sprout for 24 to 48 hours. I prefer longer sprouts, but it’s okay to use 24 hour sprouts.

Rinse 2 cups raisins and drain. Add sprouts and raisins to food processor or grinder. You may have to work in batches. Coarsely grind until textured paste is formed.  This is your dough. Add 1 tablespoon Braggs liquid aminos (optional) and 1/2 cup rinsed sesame seeds (optional). If you like, add 1 tablespoon cinnamon or other spice.

Preheat oven to 275 and prepare two large cookie sheets or baking pans. Line with parchment paper and grease very lightly with virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Spread dough a scant 1/3 inch thick over entire pan. Repeat with other pan. Bake at 275 for 45 minutes, then turn to lowest temperature (125 or less if possible or 150 and keep oven door slightly ajar). Dehydrate for 10-12 hours. Remove from oven and flip onto new prepared pans lined with greased parchment paper. Peel used parchment paper from top of flat bread and discard.

Dehydrate for another 8-10 hours until dry. We like it slightly soft, but you may make it crispy if you prefer. Alternately, you may use a dehydrator instead of an oven.

Break into large pieces and wrap with parchment paper. Refrigerate in plastic bags until ready to use. This is very sweet and delicious and can be made with wheat or spelt sprouts if you prefer.

HJC Homemade Gluten-free Granola

Q. Did Queen Esther break her fast with a type of Persian granola?

A. I have no idea. But my guess is no.

For past Purims, my husband and I spent the night making batches of homemade granola which we packaged in plastic bags tied with ribbons and silly homemade labels. We attached a container of either homemade or bought almond milk. Like most granola, this granola is best as a  snack or dessert. It contains a lot of fat and added sweetener (still better for you than most of the stuff they sell in stores).

Recipe: To a 2 pound bag of gluten free rolled oats (I generally use Bob’s Red Mill) add 3 cups of melted virgin coconut oil and 1 cup (more or less to taste), honey or maple syrup or agave. Add 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, and 3 cups favorite variety nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans).

Spread thinly and evenly onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, stirring often until golden. If you’re using walnuts or pecans, add during the last 20 minutes so they don’t burn.

Variations (add any combination of the following): 2 cups freshly grated (or bought) coconut; 1 cup chia seeds; 3-4 cups sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds; 3 cups organic raisins; 3 cups chopped, pitted dates; 2 cups finely chopped dried pineapple or apple.

Makes 8-10 nice sized gift bags.

And, In The Spirit Of Purim, A Few Of My Not-Favorite Things:

1. “Toy food”. I don’t mind nori wraps or empanadas or other foods that require a lot of handling because it’s intrinsically necessary to the texture and taste. And I overlook the occasional really well-done marzipan because after all, isn’t that the point of marzipan?

But toy-food is, well, not quite food, not quite toy. Overly-decorated “miniatures” and other preternaturally fussy, über-ungapotchkeh bites painted with vanillin-laced chocolate (vanilliin’s another pet-peeve) and wrapped in phony fondant. One caveat: Toy food is totally appropriate when made by children and even if it looks and tastes like Play-doh, it’s adorable.

2. Unless it’s squishy, crunchy, swirly, garishly packaged trash candy, food that contains vanillin is also a pet peeve of mine, and no, I’m not being a snob. Vanilla has a glorious fragrance. Vanillin is made from petroleum or wood pulp and smells like it. Vanillin is not a food and no self-respecting baker or chocolatier uses the stuff.

This is just another example of where having too much information can make for a lot of petty annoyance. (I am poking fun at myself). But it happens to be true. I rarely buy chocolate except for pure cocoa powder or ground cacao. But when I do (for example when baking with chocolate chips for the weekly Torah class we host-for more information email me at healthyblog@optimum.net), I go out of my way to buy the brand without the vanillin. And yes, you can taste the difference.

Either use vanilla beans (aka pods) or pure vanilla extract. Note: The beans are cured with alcohol and they must have a hechsher (kosher supervision).

Some Shaloch Manos Thoughts:

This year Purim falls on Thursday which means after partying all day, you have to wake up Friday and prepare for Shabbos. How about sending Shabbos foods in your shaloch manos (challahs, wine, chicken soup)?

I never met anyone who didn’t like receiving homemade Hamentaschen. Internet recipes abound.

On Purim the mitzvah (commandment) is to give shaloch manos and matanos levyonim (gifts to the poor, with a meaningful amount of money being the recommended gift). I like to combine the mitzvahs. Putting the money in an envelope in a nutritious and appealing food basket is usually appreciated. If you can’t afford to do both mitzvahs, it is far better to give only one or two basic shaloch manos but as much money as you can afford to at least two people who really need it. Also, on Purim you must give tzedaka (charity) to anyone who asks—if you live in a Jewish community children and adults usually go around collecting money for various charities on Purim as well as other times, so you’ll be sure to have an opportunity to give.

If you have shaloch manos anxiety disorder (I think I do) and feel enormous pressure to outdo yourself, make a pact with your friends that you’ll just give each other hugs and give the shaloch manos and/or money to tzedakah (charity) instead. You probably don’t want to try this with your in-laws.

Photo of Vanilla Beans in Tahiti by Zak Ruvalcaba

3 responses to “Purim Things

    • Yes,vanillin is artificial vanilla flavor. You can buy it in extract form (read the label, many people buy this without realizing it). It also has insidiously sneaked it’s way into just about every chocolate with a hechsher except Pesach chocolate.

  1. Pingback: The Travesty That Is Parve Ice Cream | healthyjewishcooking·

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