kosher kitchen

Eating for health as we age


We are always learning new things about nutrition and ways food can help us stay healthy far longer than ever before. There is even a new school of thought that looks at food as if it actually is medicine. Everyone is all excited about this idea, and there is a doctor who has written a book about food as medicine. Others are already on the market.

But is this actually a new idea? For decades, doctors have known that some foods are more beneficial than others. They have advised a low-fat diet for a very long time. Now they prescribe a healthy fat, low-sugar diet.

But the ideas of food as medicine, and as life-preserving and disease-preventing, goes back even further. Centuries ago, Moses Maimonides, a Spanish rabbi, philosopher, scholar, and, of course, physician, wrote extensively about health, exercise and nutrition. He taught and wrote about the kinds of foods needed for good health and the kinds of foods that should be left out of the diet. Maimonides believed that to be healthy, one should eat mostly plants and grains for most of the week, should not overeat, and must exercise often. Very modern advice, still given by people like Michael Pollan, and probably most doctors!

Maimonides said, “No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated by any other means.”  There are a lot of diseases out there that can be treated, and in some cases prevented, by proper diet.

Type II diabetes comes to mind. It is one of the most preventable diseases, yet it is on the rise and is showing up in younger people, even children. In addition, other illnesses, such as some cancers, might be prevented by a healthier diet. Some foods, like processed meats with chemical nitrites and nitrates in them, might actually cause some cancers.

As people get older, eating optimal foods for good health is even more important. As caloric needs decrease, the need to choose calories wisely becomes more important. Eating a filling diet of foods that are loaded with water, such as fruits and vegetables, is so important to keep us full and satiated while providing lots of healthful nutrients. Lean meats and lots of fish are also important for protein.

Live long, eat well and remember, everything in moderation. One piece of babka or an ice cream won’t hurt you. While food is for life, it is also for fun!

Chicken Breasts with Shallots and White Wine (Meat) 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 large shallots, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Pound the chicken breasts so that they are equally thick throughout. Set aside.

Mix the chicken broth, wine and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk to blend. 

Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until golden brown. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked about halfway up the thickness of the cutlet, 2 to 4 minutes.

Pour the liquid over the chicken and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the chicken reaches 165 degrees in the middle (so don’t place the thermometer too far down).

Remove the chicken to a platter and raise the heat to medium high. Cook until the liquid is reduced and thickened a bit. Pour over the chicken. Serve with whole-grain side dish, such as brown rice, faro, or wheat berries. Serves 4.

Salad Greens with Roasted Carrots, Yams, Avocado and More (Pareve)

6 cups salad greens (whatever you like)

1 lb. carrots, thin part cut off, about 3 to 4 inches and thick part cut in half lengthwise 

2 yams, peeled and cut into spears about the same size as the carrots

4 to 5 garlic cloves

OPTIONAL: 1/2 to 1 tsp. cumin

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 to 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

OPTIONAL: A drizzle of honey or agave nectar

2 avocados, chilled

2 oranges (I like Satsumo — no pits), peeled and broken into segments

Good-quality salt, such as Maldon, and/or freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside. 

Smash the garlic and make a paste with the a few inches of salt. Place in a large bowl and add the olive oil, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and add a pinch of flaky salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to mix well and set aside.

Peel the yams and cut them in long spears. Set aside. Wash and peel the carrots. Pat dry. Add the carrots and yams to the garlic oil mixture and toss to coat evenly. 

Add 1/4 cup of water to the rimmed baking sheet and spread the carrots/yam mixture evenly over the pan. Scrape out any extra oil mixture over the veggies. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Cook for 25 minutes. Uncover, lower the temperature to 375 and roast for an additional 25 to 35 minutes, until golden and soft. If the veggies get too dark, remove the tray from the oven and take off the ones that are cooking faster. The veggies should be very soft, but not burned. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Place washed greens evenly in 4 large, shallow bowls. Set aside. Peel the oranges and break into segments, place in a bowl and set aside. Place the orange juice, lemon juice, and the 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in the large bowl and whisk to blend.

Remove the avocado from the refrigerator. Cut in half, remove the pit and peel the skin away.  Cut the avocado in slices and add to the large bowl. Mix gently to coat. Push them to one side, add the carrots and yams to the bowl, and mix to coat in the dressing.

Distribute the veggies evenly over the greens and add the orange segments. Divide any remaining dressing over the greens. Serves 4.

Cauliflower Parmesan (Dairy)

1 large head cauliflower

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. parsley

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 jar (28 to 32 ounces) marinara sauce or tomato sauce

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle half the oregano, parsley, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper evenly over the oil. 

Cut the cauliflower into half-inch “steaks” by cutting down from the crown. Place the steaks over the oil and brush generously with the remainder of the olive oil. Sprinkle the remaining herbs and spices over the cauliflower.  

Place in the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes until lightly golden and softened, but not mushy.  Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees.

Take a 2-qt. glass casserole dish and lightly coat with olive oil. Place 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan. Place the cauliflower over the sauce, fitting in as needed. Top with the remainder of the sauce and the cheese and place back in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes to heat through. Serves 3 to 4, depending on size of cauliflower.