Monday, November 15, 2010

Money and Health

Budgeting is a word on a lot of people's lips. They know that they need to be able to account for where their money is supposed to go. Many of those who are tightening their belts are looking to the area of grocery shopping and meal preparation as a place to save some money. Granted, there are certainly ways to save in this area. But along with the monetary aspect of meal preparation and food ingestion has to come another consideration: nutrition.

A lot of Americans are not getting proper nutrition or anything close to it. Can that all be blamed on not being able to afford sufficient food to eat? Nope. It can be blamed on not knowing what it is that we are supposed to eat daily/weekly, on not knowing how much of a food constitutes a portion, and on not knowing which foods provide which nutrients. Even where money to buy food is not problematic, nutritional needs may not be being met. And no, simply switching to vegetarianism instead of being a meat eater--often touted as a budget helper--will not guarantee that you are getting all the nutrients you need. All this is further complicated by the fact that different people require different nutrients under different circumstances. A two-year-old does not have the same nutritional requirements that an eighteen-year old has. So, add in age differences across the spectrum. Now add in gender differences as regards nutritional requirements. Add in that how much exercise you get can change your nutritional requirements. Add in that your physical condition can change the requirements--e.g., pregnant women have different requirements from non-pregnant women, those with certain physical ailments require different nutrients etc..

So yes, before you tinker around with the money in the budget for buying food, first educate yourself on what you should be eating and in what quantities. Educate yourself on what nutrients are needed, and how you can provide those nutrients. When you have this knowledge you are going to be more knowledgeable about what can and can't be trimmed from your food budget.

To get you started, the following links are useful:

How to read the nutrtional info on a food label:

2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

Information on the Food Pyramid:

The Healthy eating Pyramid:

Eating for nutritional health:


Tamar said...

Up until last year I wouldn't have agreed with you. We decided on the food budget first and bought what fit the budget. Then one of the kids got very allergic to some foods and the pediatrician sent me to a nutritionist/dietician.

Turns out that none of us was eating enough of what we needed to eat as far as vitamins and minerals.

Example--for my family of 7, kids 8-19, I would need to buy just for one day 1 gallon of milk, 7 yoghurts, 10.5 ounces of a high calcium cheese and that's not american cheese, 2 heads of broccoli and 1-1/2 pounds of salmon, canned or fresh. And that's just taking calcium requirements.

That doesn't cover all meals and all foods I need to buy.

I worked with that nutritionist for weeks to get my meals to fit what we should be eating. We had to cut the budget in a couple of other places.

The nutritionist's favorite saying is that it's not about feeding people, it's about nourishing them. And that can cost real money.

Anonymous said...

A little off the topic but related. My kids schools don't allow food from home for lunch. All parents have to pay for school lunch. So is that part of my food budget or is that part of the education budget?

And nutrition? Have you seen what the schools pass off as healthy lunches? Twice a week they bring in crap from the local pizza stores. I know they are not getting what they should at lunch and don't always eat all of what they get. So I try to make up for it at home but I can't make up for all of it. Maybe a topic for a future posting?

Rae said...

I think Anon is right about the food served in our schools. You can try and be as healthy as possible in what you cook and serve at home and it's all torpedoed by what the schools serve. And you pay for the privilege of having your kids eat pretty much junk for lunch. And some of it is not cheap junk either. WEhy should any school be offering pizza as a meal to our kids? Or whole milk instead of reduced fat milk? Or fried anything? Ever see anything but white bread and plain macaroni doused in high fat cheese on the menus?

Okay, you're right that you need to keep nutrition in mind when budgeting for meals in the home, but I think that the school food problem needs to looked at as just as important.

Anonymous said...

It is very expensive to eat a healthy diet. Fresh produce for two people runs me about $45 a week. Chicken breasts and fish -- the only meat we eat -- is also expensive. Whole wheat pasta is almost twice as much as regular pasta. A small box of Quinoa set me back $4.59. A loaf of whole wheat bread is $3.00. Peanut butter without salt and sugar is more expensive than when they throw in the salt and sugar. Same for getting anything else without added salt or sugar. I don't know how large families make it if they want a healthy diet.

Debbie said...

You might want to take a look over here

The government sets standards for the meals that the kids get in school for breakfast and for lunch. Want to bet that the yeshivas aren't meeting those standards in most ways? Seen many yeshivas serving fresh fruit, whole grain breads and non-sugared cereals for breakfast to the boys? Look at the fat content of those heimishe products they buy and the type of fats they use.

Chana said...

I can tell you anonymous how my family of six makes it eating healthy--we cut from a lot of other places and put healthy eating first. We never eat out and we don't bring in. My version of pizza uses whole wheat dough, lower fat cheese and salt and sugar free tomato sauce, and the portions are in line with what is healthy. I'm a nut for finding coupons, reading all the circulars and buying in bulk on sale. I keep junk food out of the house. Our snacks are usually fresh fruit and sometimes a whole wheat salt free pretzel. The only time cake appears in our house is for a birthday or for a yom tov, and even there I've exchanged some of the unhealthy ingredients for healthier ones. We never buy soda or flavored drinks.

I mostly keep away from those living on a budget sites that post menus that are inexpensive because most of those dishes and menus don't provide a daily amount of the nutrition you need. Instead, I borrow recipes from every country and culture that has something that is healthy or can be made healthily so it isn't like our food is boring or doesn't taste good. And no it isn't cheap to eat this way and requires some work. So?

JS said...

Not to throw a wrench into things, but I have to admit I'm confused since I recall reading an article in a reputable source (forget where) that buying multivitamins is a waste of money because the average person gets more than their share of vitamins from their diet. Now, I know there's more to nutrition and healthy eating than just vitamins, but I wonder if our diets aren't really all that bad after all. I've heard repeatedly the greater danger isn't so much in what we eat, but in how much.


Miami Al said...


Our diets are pretty decent. People are taller, heavier, more muscular, and more intelligent than at any time in human evolution. Multi-vitamins get slammed because most American diets are pretty decent, and it's better to get vitamins from food than the engineered equivalents.

When we didn't have white bread in the house, my wife and I noticed that we were in better moods (well, we noticed in each other) with a Vitamin B supplement, so perhaps the B fortification of white breads is pretty on target.

But feeding your families from the Heimish brands is the nutritional equivalent of taking your kids to McDonalds every day, low nutrient disasters filled with sodium and fat for taste.

Load people up on vegetables and you'll do well. Most of your food should come from the ground. Those keeping Kosher should be VERY careful about one aspect of the diet:

Children need calcium, depending on growth patterns, they may need a LOT of it.

You need very little iron (which meat supplies in great quantity).

Adults don't need as much Calcium, though most American women are deficient.

Families that eat meat for most meals may inadvertently be denying their children sufficient levels of calcium based upon parental preferences.

If you believe that children should keep the same 6 hour stringency as adults (not paskening here, I don't care what your family does), then I think parents should reconsider the amount of meat they eat so that their kids aren't denied the milk that their bodies may need.

In Eastern Europe, where 6 hours was the norm, meat was almost unheard of because that area was so poor. They could have kept 72 hours between meat and dairy and had very little impact on their life. Small Children and children going through puberty need milk more than their parents need ground beef.

JS said...


Really an excellent point on the calcium and meat/milk problem. My wife was recently having a conversation with some of her coworkers which turned to kids and menu planning for family dinners. Every non-Jewish coworker said their kids all have at least one glass of milk at dinner every night. It took a while for those having the conversation to figure out that the reason the Jewish kids don't have as much milk is because nearly every meal in the household (or through the school's lunch program) is fleishigs and they wait 6 hours.

Complete speculation here, but I wonder if that's why it seems Jewish yeshiva kids are shorter than their public school counterparts.

A Fan said...

2 thoughts- healthy food costs. Period. We grit our teeth and spend the money, but I can see why so many others don't. Maybe if the government stopped subsidizing corn (read: high fructose corn syrup etc) and put those subsidies to fruits and other vegetables instead, people would actually follow their guidelines.
My other thought- when Rabbis keep assur-ing this vegetable and that fruit because of bugs, how the heck are their followers supposed to eat any fruits and veggies?

Miami Al said...


When I went through puberty, I drank about half a gallon of milk a day.

I think that the short Jews thing comes from bad diet... Growing up in Miami, I had no idea that Jews were short... then again, Miami "White" Jews are predominately secular Jews of German extraction, and the Latin American Jews are definitely Ashkenazi, but of clearly more interesting backgrounds than up North.

The Yeshiva kids all look 3 years younger than their non-Yeshiva counterparts, including their secular Jewish counterparts.

tesyaa said...

Sorry - not everyone is convinced that milk and dairy products are so great. We do consume dairy, but we have one son who is milk allergic and there are plenty of decent substitutes (not that he eats them, alas). Soy products and orange juice are fortified with calcium. Milk is actually an important source of Vitamin D, which is added to milk; if your kids don't drink milk and don't get much sunlight (especially in summer), consider a supplement.

So I wouldn't blame the restrictions of kashrus for people not getting enough calcium. If you and your kids are eating flaishiks twice a day and having a muffin and juice for breakfast, though, you might want to make more of an effort to get calcium.

Michael Pollan and the late Dr. Spock are big proponents of a plant based diet, which does NOT include dairy. I am far from a fanatic, but there are good reasons to add plants to your diet.

tesyaa said...

and don't get much sunlight (especially in summer), consider a supplement.

I meant especially in WINTER. And I guess in summer if they are so slathered in sunscreen and/or tzanua clothes that sunlight can't reach their skin :)

JS said...

I didn't mean to imply milk was the be all and end all of nutrition. I only meant drinking milk in terms of calcium. I don't think many people get calcium through other sources (calcium fortified OJ, yogurt, cheese, etc.). In American diets today it's common to have meat at almost every single lunch and dinner meal. Not a big deal for non-Jews who can have milk, but if you're Orthodox, that means you have to work extra hard to get calcium (or have more non-meat meals). I don't see too many families doing that.

Anonymous said...

KActually tesyaa all those involved in the scientific end of nutrition believe that milk and milk products are great for you. There are some other types of products that contain calcium naturally but nowhere near the amount in a glass of milk. For a person to get the equivalent of a glass of milk in calcium he would have to eat 12-15 cups of broccoli a day or a pound of salmon. And those fortified juices aren't at 100% calcium--most run at about 10-20% of the daily required amount. So that's 5-10 8 oz. glasses of juice to equal two cups of milk.

If a kid is truly allergic to milk that's a real problem. If it's lactose intolerance, there are lactose-free milk and milk products out there and some are calcium fortified so they almost equal a cup of regular milk. Unfortunately I've never seen this in the frummier brands so those people are really in trouble.

Yeah, Dr. Spock had quite a following way back when, but there is so much more knowledge now about nutrition that I'd go with someone more up to date and knowledgable about today's findings.

tesyaa said...

Anon, Dr. Spock came to these conclusions late in his life - not much more than a decade ago. He became fanatical about avoiding animal based foods. I am not a fanatic, but milk is not great for everyone. A glass of fortified orange juice has just as much calcium as a glass of milk - check the label.

tesyaa said...

Handy dandy reference site: "How Much Calcium is in That?"

Food Amount of Calcium in milligrams (mg)
1 cup of milk 300
6 oz of yogurt 350
1 oz hard cheese (cheddar) 240
2 slices processed cheese 265
1/4 cup cottage cheese 120
1/2 cup soft serve frozen yogurt 100
1/2 cup ice cream 85
1/2 cup tofu 258
1/2 cup pinto beans or chick peas 40
1/4 cup almonds 95
1 Tbsp almond butter 43

Want to see what other foods contain calcium? Then read more

Food Amount of Calcium in milligrams (mg)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds 90
1 Tbsp Tahini 63
1/4 cup Brazil nuts or hazelnuts 55
8 medium sardines (canned) 370
3 oz salmon 180
1/2 cup oysters (canned) 60
1/2 cup shrimp (canned) 40
1/2 cup bok choy 75
1 cup kale 94
1 cup broccoli 178
1 cup celery 54
1 cup cooked green beans 58
1 cup cooked butternut squash 84
1 cup cooked sweet potato 70
1 medium naval orange 56
2/3 cup raisins 53
10 medium dried figs 269
1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice 300
1 cup enriched soy milk 300
1 cup enriched rice milk 300

Anonymous said...

That site may be handy and dandy but it's not an authoratative site, not run by experts in nutrition. Look at their numbers for the calcium content and then go to

In some cases there is a huge difference between what the .com site says and the government, which sets the standards based on solid scientific research says. According to the government site a cup of raw broccoli has 42 mg. of calcium, a huge difference from the 178 mg. the .com site gives. And there are plenty of other differences also.

This is one case where you should be trusting the government more than some random .com. Anyone can put up anything they want on the Internet. Accuracy is not a requirement.

tesyaa said...

Anon - true, I did not fact check, but I do read labels on the foods I buy. I'll defer to you here, but the irony of telling frum readers to trust the government! LOL!

Miami Al said...


Milk is the strongest example because it is:
1. Very healthy source of vitamins and essential nutrients
2. Very popular with children when flavored
3. Naturally consumed by the VERY young -- human milk -- our closest animal relatives nurse until the bio-equivalent of age 4-6 (depending on which milestones you are evaluating)

and most important:

4. Heavily impacted by Kashrut

Obviously, Kashrut is NOT the issue. Kashrut combined with American's heavy consumption of meat is the issue.

JS's example of a glass of milk with dinner is a very real one, and not really a Kashrut issue. If you are having a meat dinner, no biggie, the kids should have a glass of milk before dinner. :)

Abba's Rantings said...


"I recall reading an article in a reputable source (forget where) that buying multivitamins is a waste of money"

for most people vitamins in general (as well as herbs and other non-prescription supplements) are a waste of money

"I wonder if that's why it seems Jewish yeshiva kids are shorter than their public school counterparts"

no way. i'll bet that the typical black diet is just as bad (if not worse) than the typical jewish diet.

i'm not saying diet isn't important in promoting body growth, but genetics is a big part too.


"And I guess in summer if they are so slathered in sunscreen and/or tzanua clothes that sunlight can't reach their skin"

there have been studies of vit d levels in women who always cover up

it's an interesting subject because there is a lot of research going on on the importance of vit d aside from aiding in calcium absorobtion

Abba's Rantings said...

as long as we're blaming frumkeit and kashrus for calcium deficiency in frum jews, let's also blame the OU for doing away with the DE designation. now there are all these parve OU products that are marked as dairy, misleading people into thinking they're consuming more calcium than they really are :)

but seriously, one of my pet peeves with my son's school was that the lunch plan was mandatory even though because of allergies my son couldn't eat half the week and the other half they generally served food i didn't want him eating. i went to the kitchen a few times to check for stuff he is allergic to and i was horrified by what i saw. of course the complaints fell on deaf ears.

Miami Al said...

Abba's Ranting,

We're blaming frumkeit, nobody is blaming Kashrut. Don't pretend that there is THAT much of an overlap... unless you can find me a ruling in the Gemara that says Shabbat requires eating enough oil and sodium to stop your heart. :)

Regarding Yeshiva kids... seriously, compare the kids at the local Yeshiva to the local secular Jewish kids in the neighborhood, there is a WORLD of difference.

tesyaa said...

Abba, I was going to bring up the OU/(no)DE problem. I think it's a racket to get people to buy heimishe brand sandwich cookies instead of Oreos - which we do, alas, when we're eating them on Shabbos. I'm told you can call the OU and they will tell you at any point in time whether an item actually is milchik, but that's a lot of work.

But seriously, I let my milk-allergic son eat Oreos with an OUD, because I go by ingredients and allergen information listed on the package, not by the OU designation. (National brands are the safest when there are allergy issues; their allergen information is much more likely to be correct than small or regional brands, including heimishe brands).

Abba's Rantings said...


"seriously, compare the kids at the local Yeshiva to the local secular Jewish kids in the neighborhood, there is a WORLD of difference"

yes, but

a) then compare the local secular kids to the local black kids. you think they're the same? (and btw, in general the black kids in my son's class tower over him--even though we've always been pretty careful with his diet--as well as the other (secular) jewish kids)

b) of course i wouldn't deny there is a difference in the physiques of the different groups, but i don't believe that the typical inner city black kid is growing up on a worse diet than the typical frum kid. if i had to guess, i'd say the difference is due more to levels (and types) of physical activity. (related, i recently wondered if so many frum kids get pt/ot because they aren't active enough:

Abba's Rantings said...


the OU dropped DE because they don't think the average frum jew can be trusted to understand the implications of parve vs. dairy equipment vs. real dairy. (and the OU is in direct competition with the heimish brands, so i don't think they did it to get people to buy the heimish brands.)

i've called the OU's kashruth division a number of times to inquire about whether a product is really DE or D (e.g., ludens cough drops, soy milk, etc.). they'll tell you right away. can also email them.

it's funny because i just had this converstion friday night with our hostess who refused to believe that oreas really aren't dairy (they're actually just DE)

ProfK said...

Yesterday was a bit crazy for me and I didn't get to join in the conversation--where to begin? In no specific order,

The argument about taking vitamin supplements is not a new one. While the counter argument that we get everything we need from what we eat is used, and not correctly as a general case, it's not the main point that those who argue against the supplements use. The main point is that with more scientific study and research available every day we've found that there is a lot more in food than just the well-known vitamins and minerals, and that these lesser known substances in the food are themselves necessary for a variety of bodily functions or that they contribute to body functioning. The supplements don't have these things in them, so food is better than supplements to get everything we need.

School Lunches,
Definitely going to be a topic of a future posting

Abba and Al,
While nutrition and diet can effect changes in eventual height, particularly if the diet is very poor during times of intense growth, such as puberty for boys, it's genetics that determines height. And no, as an across the board factual statement, all yeshiva kids are not smaller than students in the public schools by virtue of being yeshiva kids. What you can say is that two parents with "short" genes are likely to produce short children, and their children will carry that "short" gene and pass it on as well.

My husband is 6'3-1/2" tall. Our son is 6'1" tall and our daughters are 5"9-1/2" and 5'8." I'm 5'7." I had a 6'5" tall bil, married to a 5'9" sister--not a short kid among the boys or girls, with one nephew topping over 6'5. My brother, at 5'11" has sons also at the 6' mark. All this, by the way, with a 5'2" mom. My first cousins? With only a couple of exceptions, all way above average height. My husband's family? Again, with only a couple of exceptions, they are all tall. Are we an anomaly? Nope, we have "tall" genes. And yes, everyone went to yeshiva and is "frum."

I'm doing a research unit with my students in school and your posted list is an example of what I tell them to avoid. In some ways the Internet is a great wasteland. If you are going to use material from the Internet to support an argument, make sure to fact check before you use that material. Just by virtue of the fact that your list got posted in a comment here some reader might look at that list and make decisions based on the information in that list. What if they missed the comment that said that the info in the list was wrong?

What irony in someone frum's trusting the government? Where they know what they are doing I trust them. Otherwise it's a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

If calcium consumption is a problem re no milk drunk with dinner because dinner is fleishigs, give the kids a glass of milk or a fortified yoghurt when they arrive home from school and before dinner. Make sure they are getting at least 1 cup of milk with the breakfast they eat at home

As I mentioned in the posting, first find out what nutritional elements you need and in what amounts and then figure out your menus.

Abba's Rantings said...


i agree about the contriobution of genetics, which i mentioned above

of course there are tall jews. no one denies that. the question is of averages, and from down here it seems that we're on the smaller range. maybe you don't realize this because when you and your husband look strait, all you see are the other tall jews. but the rest of us down here can look strait and see a masses of short jews among smaller clusters of taller jews :)

in any case, even if height is determined solely by genetics, we still have the girth problem (and its associated consequences) and just general build/physique.

Anonymous said...

Genetics sets the limits on what height you can reach with proper nutrition at the key stages of physicial development. Nutrition determines whether or not you will reach those limits. Based on my unscientific observations, I suspect that on average, ashkenazi jews are a little shorter than the general u.s. population. Likely, due to genes and somewhat less influx of variety in the genetic makeup.

Anonymous said...

With the discussion of school lunches, I'm curious if any yeshivot teach proper nutrition. What about girl's seminaries? I am amazed at how many people think that low sodium means not adding salt to their recipes, but continue to heavily use things like soy sauce, onion soup mix, ketchup and pickle relish and olives in their dishes.

ProfK said...

Agreed Abba that my family are outliers in the height department, but we're that outlier among all Americans as well. According to a study done by the CDC covering 2003-2006, the average height of males in the US is 5"9-1/2 and of women it's 5'3-3/4. Those would be the figures to compare against if you are trying to see how Jews compare in height against the general population. Actually, make that frum Jews. Non-religious Jews have a higher rate of inter-population marriage, bringing in height genes that may not be present, as Anon pointed out, because of less variety in the frum genetic makeup.

On the other hand, if you want to increase the average height of frum Jews, let's really screw up the already screwed up shidduch process and "insist" that two short people cannot marry each other--one party to the shidduch must be at least at the statistical level for US tallness or far above it. This would statistically allow for a greater spread of the tall genes across the frum population.

Anon 10:05--
Yeshivas and seminaries teaching nutrition courses? Surely you jest. In 1997, while teaching in a girls high school, I developed a curriculum for a nutrition course, which was then taught by one of the science teachers. Well, when I left the school, and the science teacher shortly thereafter, the course disappeared.

None of my kids' schools specifically taught nutrition, and neither did any of the schools my nieces and nephews attended.

I can give you two possible reasons the schools don't do this teaching: 1)their own school food offerings would come under fire and 2)"heimishe" food company offerings would also come under fire.

JS said...

We were never taught anything about nutrition in yeshiva. I vaguely recall a brief lesson on the food pyramid, but I don't think it was anything beyond "this is the food pyramid." There weren't any lessons on are we eating the right foods, do we get enough calcium, enough fruits and veggies, etc.

I think the problem for frum Jews is a combination of poor eating habits from the past before much about nutrition was known, nostalgia, lack of education, modern conveniences, and over-abundance of food in this country.

So, on Shabbos, people will make a fried schnitzel, a potato kugel drenched in oil, and a chulent with kishka (animal fat) - it's nostalgic, having these foods is Shabbos for many people. But, the era it harkens back to is one in which people didn't know anything about arteriosclerosis or heart disease. They also likely only had 1 meat a week and/or were far more physically active. Then you have things like chicken soup, which should be healthful, but people throw in cube after cube of "chicken soup flavoring" to get the flavor just right. Or, they want to make matzah balls so they buy the mixes which are loaded with chemicals. Or, you don't have time so you buy from the local restaurant or deli counter and get food loaded with oil, salt, and God knows what else. And, to top it off every meal has multiple main dishes and side dishes because, as much as people complain about kosher food prices, $5 or so per lb for chicken breast or meat isn't make or break, and you have to eat better on Shabbos than the rest of the week (during which you already ate lots of meat).

ProfK said...

I'll agree that nostalgia and lack of knowledge can contribute to some of the problems in frum eating. But the nostalgia alone is not the problem, as I've pointed out in postings before.

Kugel does not have to be drenched in oil--that's what spray oil bottles are for. And also, just what oil are you using? Some oils are actually good for you, used in proper amounts.

Yes, there is too much frying going on, good oil or not. Breaded fried chicken cutlets appear on my menu only on acharon shel Pesach. If I'm in the mood maybe, maybe I might make those fried cutlets for my hubby's birthday or our anniversary, but that's it.

Re the cholent, keep in mind that the mix of beans in a cholent are actually healthy for you. Among other things, those beans contain a lot of non-heme iron. But that's also a problem. The iron in non-heme iron sources--which accounts for 85% of of iron in our diets--is only absorbed at slightly less than 20%. Heme iron is found in animal sources. The heme iron is absorbed at almost 100%. One recommendation given by the government and nutritional experts is to mix heme and non-heme sources, since having heme iron present increases the amount of iron that can be absorbed from non-heme sources. In plain English, putting a beef bone or a small amount of beef into the cholent means that you are going to get more iron and be able to absorb the iron from the beans in greater amounts. And yes, iron deficiency is alive and well, particularly among females in the 12 to 55 age range, who require greater amounts of iron than males do.

I have no problem with multiple side dishes as long as those side dishes each contributes something to the nutrition mix and are made in a healthy way.

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention that eating vitamin C with those non heme iron foods also increases the amount of iron you get from the foods. So it doesn't just have to be animal foods eaten with them to increase the iron you are getting.

A food like broccoli has both the iron and the vitamin C so it's a great source. So of course the rabbis have to make a problem with eating this food.

JS said...


Well, of COURSE you could make a potato kugel with far less oil. I recall your previous post on the issue. But, there's no denying that the people who try to limit the oil are few and far between. If you look at any "standard" recipe for potato or noodle kugel, for example, the amount of oil and eggs and salt is astonishing. And for noodle kugel, of course you're using the unhealthiest egg noodles you can find. Plus, it would seem that a kosher caterer has never seen a recipe that doesn't include obscene amounts of oil and salt. Try finding a piece of kugel at a shabbos kiddush that isn't drenched in oil. And all those healthy beans in the cholent are far outweighed by the kishka and other oils and fats people add (e.g., fried onions).

And yet, even on short Shabboses, you will see people stuff themselves at kiddush, come home and eat a huge meal 30 minutes later, take a brief nap, and go back to shul for more food at shalashudis. And, of course, since Shabbos ended early, they then have dinner a bit later - maybe at one of the restaurants that's now open due to the early Shabboses!

JS said...

Oh, and let's not forget that it's the rare Shabbos meal I've ever been to where the drinks on the table aren't sugar-laden sodas (a special Shabbos treat).

JS said...

Sorry, on a roll...

And many of the side dishes that actually could be healthy are drenched in sauces or dressings that are VERY unhealthy. It would seem that the standard salad at many meals is basically just lettuce tosses with a pareve ranch/caesar salad dressing with croutons.

ProfK said...

I agree JS that sometimes eating habits are the big problem, even more than what is being eaten. The big kiddush straight to lunch syndrome I truly don't understand.

Re the cholent, what added oil and fried onions? I use neither in my cholent. That's what raw onions and garlic and long cooking is for. I haven't made kishka in decades but there should be zero problem in substituting whole wheat flour for the white flour since the kishka browns in the cholent and who would know the difference? And egg substitute will work fine instead of whole eggs. Oil can be reduced to the absolute minimum and there's plenty of liquid in the cholent itself to keep the kishka moist.

Re the meat in the cholent, one beef bone will lend sufficient flavor to the cholent without destroying the calorie/fat count per person. Or I cut up a middle chuck steak into very small cubes, getting about 8-10 bags of meat from one steak. One bag of the meat cubes, about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 ounces of beef depending on the size of the steak, lends a very nice flavor to the cholent while providing minimal calories when taking the number of people eating that cholent into account. And it does add iron.

ProfK said...

Re those salads swimming in dressing, yes a pet peeve of mine. My mom never served salad with dressing and I don't either. When I'm having company I put a small bowl of low calorie dressing on the table for those who want it, but no one in my family touches it. And plain lettuce, iceburg alone? Not a salad in my house. Even a basic salad has romaine, cucumbers,shredded carrots, scallions, radishes and tomatoes, and raw sugar snap peas cut up when they are in season. Sometimes, if I have the time to do the checking, I use baby spinach leaves as well or some of the dark specialty lettuces or greens, like bok choy, or the specialty cabbages.

JS said...

I once competed at the shul's "cholent cookoff" which entailed making your cholent in the shul's kitchen for kashrut reasons. I hope you won't be surprised to know that your cholent recipe is a far, far, far outlier in what I saw people putting together. Many of the people diced a few onions and fried them in a ton of vegetable oil until soft and poured the mixture into the crock pot. Most had a store-bought kishka (orange wrapper, kinda looks like a big salami from the outside). If they didn't fry the onions, most added vegetable oil in. Some added a bottle or so of ketchup or BBQ sauce. The crock pots we each used were maybe 4 quarts and I think on average people added around 1.5-3 pounds of various meats and hotdogs. Kinda gross watching all of this, I must admit. But, they knew their audience. The ones who got the most votes were the ones with the most meat and the most kishka.

We're pretty much the same as you when it comes to salads. But, I really haven't been to too many meals where the salad comprised ingredients outside of just lettuce, dressing, croutons or ramen noodles, and maybe some cherry tomatoes.

ProfK said...

I'm aware that I'm that outlier--I once did a posting on "By your cholent you'll be known" and the contents of some of those cholents made those at your shul cookoff seem tame by comparison. And then there is my friend who adds into her cholent a small whole salami in addition to all the oil and salt she puts in. And oh yes, she puts in a few handfuls of mushrooms, in case the gas factor is not high enough as it is.

Honestly? My family members don't touch the cholent at shul or at almost any homes we're invited to for a Shabbos lunch meal--not what they are used to or what they prefer. But I guess to each their own.

Abba's Rantings said...


"heavily use things like soy sauce, onion soup mix"

i didn't understand why the menu in my son's school listed chicken soup on dairy days. i went to the kitchen and found out they were serving parve chicken broth made from msg-laden mix. i tried to explain to a few people in the school that there is no purpose in serving a soup just for the sake of being able to put a soup on the menu if there is no (or negative) nutriotional value. they simply didn't understand my point.

Abba's Rantings said...

schools don't teach or practice good nutrition because administrators and staff themselves don't care and/or are ignorant about these issues

furthermore, as with everything else that is wrong with the schools, they get away with it because parents themselves don't care enough

the truth is that i'm not sure if you can really teach good nutrition to kids and it's probably more important just to practice it and let them learn good habits.

and i happen to love kishka, so if if profk or js post one more time about its ill effects i will bow out here!

ProfK said...

I didn't say I didn't like kishka, just that I don't make it any longer. And yes, there are some more healthful ways to tweak the recipe.

Re the school lunches, yet one more area that the schools have taken over what used to be parental responsibility and choice. When my kids went to school, school lunch was optional, and mine brought their lunch from home. Wasn't just a money issue--it was a what do I want them to be eating issue.

Yes, I'd imagine that a whole lot of school administrators have no idea about nutrition and what school meals should be providing. And yes, I'd guess they don't want what they see as another headache. But that really does not excuse parents from complaining and complaining a lot. Know many restaurants that tell you what you are going to be eating for the money you are paying? Parents pay for those lunches and ought to be having a say in what is provided. Or at least that's how my dreams go.

At a minimum schools should be providing an alternate eating area, a classroom or some such thing, where parents who want their kids eating home lunch can eat. I imagine that some parents wouldn't even care if they had to sign a statement to the affect that they know that the school cannot guarantee the kashrut of any lunches brought from home and parents, therefore, cannot blame the school if their child is exposed to food they don't want their child eating.

Miami Al said...

We once went to a friend's house, where the food was so salt filled, that I was concerned about my heart for the rest of the night... I might not have been the healthiest of 20-somethings at the time, but my heart was RACING the rest of the night... I sat up drinking water and trying to flush my system until 1 AM last night....

And yes, most Chullents that I see have more meat in them than my family eats in a week.

Regarding kids, kids need to learn to eat vegetables as part of the meal. The sodium/oil issues matter less for them if they are physically active, but if kids learn that a plate should be 50% vegetable, 25% starch, and 25% protein, they'll be fine. The details re: oil/sugar/salt, etc., they can worry about when they are older.

I am always grossed out when we attend a Shabbos table where all the food is brown, there is no excuse for that.

Anonymous said...

I may not make the healthiest cholent, but it is the ONLY thing I make for Shabbos lunch. Meat, beans and potatoes constitutes a full meal, no reason to knock myself out over sides. Cholent is followed by fruit for dessert. Also, we don't eat meat during the week.