Passover is probably the most challenging time of the year for anyone watching their calories! It is comparable to having Thanksgiving for eight days in a row! It is a holiday that is high in fat and high in emotions. There are so many comfort foods and traditions associated with the holiday, it can make you meshuggenah!
Passover attacks us by throwing rich and delicious foods our way while weakening our emotional and psychological defenses. Knowing you “can’t” eat certain foods and feeling deprived are all a part of the formula. And G-d forbid, you should go hungry!
Then there is the novelty of the special foods we eat during Pesach … the macaroons, the whipped butter, the special chocolates, the list goes on and on. Fortunately, cooking with schmaltz is no longer common place. With all of these life-long traditions, our will power and ability to just say “no” tend to go out the window.
Many people believe that if you modify recipes to be low-fat and low-calorie, they will not taste good. Of course, that’s a broad stereotype, and most people today are more conscious of fat and cholesterol. But on Pesach, that awareness needs to be stored away with the chumetzdik dishes.
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Since we change the dishes and the way we eat over Passover, maybe it would be a good time to change your exercise, as well. Try going on the elliptical instead of the treadmill! Walking north instead of south, take yoga instead of Pilates. Whatever you do, be sure to exercise regularly throughout this holiday.
1. The ritual requirements of Seder make a high-calorie night inevitable. Have a plan for the Seder dinners and make smart choices. It is okay to enjoy these two traditional dinners, and be careful the rest of the holiday.
2. Eat fresh, simple foods instead of all the prepared, packaged stuff. Indulge in seasonal fruits and vegetables, make interesting salads. Passover is the “Festival of Spring,” and both tradition and the season provide us with an opportunity for a nutritious Seder menu that includes delicious favorites and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
3. Don’t try to totally deprive yourself of the traditional comfort foods of Pesach. Just eat them in small portions. Give yourself permission to indulge a little bit, it is all about portion control.
4. Don’t be upset if you don’t lose weight during Pesach, just concentrate on maintaining and be sure to eat fruit and high fiber foods since matzo can be very ‘binding.’
5. Try lower-calorie versions of your favorite foods. Use egg whites instead of whole eggs, and cooking spray instead of oil to cut the fat in most recipes.
6. Drink lots of water and schedule lots of exercise.
7. Remember to focus on your family and friends, instead of the food!
8. Get lots of rest. Sleep helps you stay on top of your game and therefore you will make smart food choices!
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Now let’s talk calories – here are the counts for the usual suspects:
- Lean Beef brisket – 4 oz = 329 calories
- Roasted Chicken without the skin – 4 oz = 186 calories
- 2 small or one large matzo ball = 90 calories
- Chicken soup – 1 cup homemade = 86 calories
- One plain board of matzo = 110 calories
- One whole wheat board of matzo = 100 calories
- Charoset = 1 tablespoon = 35 calories (there are endless ways to make this so the calorie count is an average)
- Hard boiled egg = 76 calories (lose the yolk and it is only 17 calories)
- Tzimmes = approximately 200 calories for a ½ cup serving….again this will depend on the recipe since there are so many variations.
- Manischewitz’s Macaroons = average 50 calories each unless they are coated in chocolate and then they go up to 110 per piece; the bakery type of macaroons are larger and probably about 110 to 140 each.
Wishing you a happy and healthy Passover!
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