kosher kitchen

Preparing for Yom Kippur fast and break-fast


After the feasting that is so much a part of a joyous Rosh Hashana, I almost welcome Yom Kippur as a day to NOT focus on food and to let my system have a very long rest.

The problem with fasting (for most people) is the thirst and tummy rumbling that often shows up mid-afternoon. Others get headaches ranging from annoying to severe. While some of these effects are hard to avoid, others can be dodged with some planning.

The most common cause of headache during fasting is caffeine withdrawal. If your daily coffee intake is significant, unless you began to wean yourself off of caffeine up to two weeks prior to the fast, you may not be able to escape that headache. As for thirst, some find it difficult to speak and even swallow as the fast day drags, so it’s best to begin cutting back on salt and salty foods (including chips, pretzels and cold cuts) about two weeks prior. About a week before, cut back on red meat (which will also make you thirsty). Also cut back on sugary treats (baked goods, ice cream and more). Yup, sugar makes you thirsty.

A few days before the fast, begin to consciously drink more water and stop all other fluids. Juices are too sweet and caffeinated beverages will contribute to that headache. Even soda with artificial sweeteners will make you thirsty. If you are fully hydrated at the time the fast begins, you will have an easier time making it through the 25 hours.

Yom Kippur is a day of complete immersion in one’s self and soul, as we look back on actions past with thoughts of how we can better ourselves in the future. Hunger pangs can get in the way of such deep reflection, so we must do our best to prepare. Be kind to your digestive tract before athe fast and you will be able to spend the day as it is meant to be spent: in contemplative reflection.

Some helpful hints:

•Avoid salty or spicy foods for a full 24 hours before the fast.

•Eat a good, complex carbohydrate-filled breakfast the day before the fast. Oatmeal with flaxseed, whole grain breads or muffins, fruit and nuts and decaf coffee are good.

•Drink water often throughout the day before Yom Kippur. In other words, really hydrate with water — about 20 to 30 percent above your normal intake.

•Avoid red meat and a very sweet dessert after the meal before the fast. It will make you thirsty and may cause tummy rumblings.

•Avoid chocolate for a few days before Yom Kippur. It makes you thirsty and may give you a headache while fasting. 

After the fast, remember that your digestive system has been in “sleep” mode for 25 hours, so don’t try to eat a whole day’s worth of calories in the post-fast meal. Drink several glasses of room temperature water, then eat lightly; some whole grain bread and some fruit are fine. You can add a little protein and then go for a short walk to help your sleepy digestive system wake up.

G’mar Chatima Tova!

Fusilli with Chicken, Broccoli

and Lemon Sauce (Meat)

This is a perfect one plate dinner that takes only about 30 minutes to prepare so it is ideal for a pre Kol Nidre meal. Kids love it. If you do not like lemon, leave it out and use low sodium or salt free chicken stock or bouillon and lots of fresh herbs and even more veggies like matchstick carrots, celery, zucchini and more.

1 lb. box fusilli (spiral) pasta

4 boneless chicken breast halves or about 1 per person, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup unbleached flour

2 heads broccoli crowns, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice from 2 to 3 lemons

1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock or salt-free bouillon.

1/2 stick pareve, trans-fat free margarine

Herbs and pepper to taste

OPTIONAL: 2 to 4 ounces sliced mushrooms

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. This is easily done when the chicken is still partially frozen. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the flour while tossing the pieces to evenly coat them. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the broccoli until just al dente. Use a slotted spoon and remove to a bowl. Cook the pasta as directed, timing the chicken to be cooked as the pasta finishes.

Heat a large skillet and when a drop of water sizzles and evaporates, add the olive oil. Add the chicken pieces and sauté until cooked through and bit browned. Stir often. If you like mushrooms, add them when the chicken is almost cooked and sauté until they release and reabsorb most of their juices. Lower the heat. Squeeze the lemons and add the juice to the pan. Add the margarine and deglaze the pan until the sauce thickens a bit. If the sauce is too thick, add the chicken stock or bouillon and stir to mix.

Add the broccoli and stir often until the broccoli is heated through. Turn off the heat. Season with herbs and pepper. If the sauce is too lemony, add a bit more stock. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the chicken, or, if the pan is too small, add the chicken to the pasta. Season with herbs such as snipped chives, fresh parsley, thyme, tarragon, etc. The key is to avoid salt. Mix well. Serves 4 to 6.

I love to continue using honey as a sweetener from Rosh Hasana to Yom Kippur and beyond. It carries the idea of sweetness throughout the holidays in a unique way, as most of us revert to sugar for our baked goods during the rest of the year. These are great for after the fast desserts.

Cantor Sokoloff’s Maple Infused Honey Cake (GF, Pareve)

This recipe is from a Sharon, Massachusetts native and former student of mine, Cantor Alan Sokoloff. We reconnected on Facebook a while back after several former students found me. Alan was a wonderful student in my early teaching years at the Maimonides School in Brookline. I was delighted to find out that Alan loves to cook and bake, and I was even more delighted that he writes so well! Alan shared several recipes with me last Passover and I am proud to present this one to you for Rosh Hashana. It is enhanced with both whiskey and Chai tea and infused with a warm maple syrup glaze that sounds amazing! Alan often makes this with GF flour and I look forward to making it for my GF friends on Rosh Hasana and beyond.

3-1/2 cups unbleached flour or measure for measure GF flour 

3 tsp. baking powder 

1 tsp. baking soda 

1/2 tsp. salt 

4 tsp. cinnamon 

1/2 tsp. cloves 

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. ginger 

1 cup vegetable oil 

1 cup honey 

1 cup granulated sugar 

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed 

3 eggs (large or extra-large)

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 

1 cup warm, strong tea (Cantor Sokoloff uses good quality chai tea)

1/2 cup orange juice 

1/3 cup whiskey (or Honey Whiskey) 

1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

1 cup raisins (mixed with 2 Tbsp. flour in a small bag. You can also plump the raisins first with 1/3 cup whiskey)

1/2 to 3/4 cup good quality maple syrup, warmed (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the pan(s). Line the bottoms of the pans with baking paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Make a well in the center, and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, tea, orange juice and whiskey. 

Using a strong wire whisk or electric mixer on slow, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter, scraping the bowl as needed. Finally, stir in the raisins.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and sprinkle the top of the cake(s) evenly with the almonds. Bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center. Or a cake tester comes out clean. For loaf cakes, bake 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet-style cakes, the baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. This is a liquid batter and, depending on your oven, it may need extra time. Also, to prevent messy spills, it is a good idea to place the baking pans on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. 

Remove the cake to a rack and let it stand for 10 minutes. With a toothpick or thin skewer, poke holes in the cake. Pour 1/4 cup of the warmed maple syrup over each cake (a little less for the loaf pans, a little more for the Bundt or sheet cake). Allow to cool an additional 15 to 20 minutes and then remove from pan to finish cooling. The cake will be sweet but not sticky. 

Rabbi/Cantor Sokoloff promises – “This is the best honey cake you’ve ever tasted.” Makes a Bundt cake, a 9 x13-inch sheet pan, or three 8 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pans. 

NOTE: The Honey Cake freezes well. Once cool, wrap each cake in plastic wrap, then foil. Finally put cake into a freezer bag and place in freezer.

Honey Chocolate Bundt Cake (Pareve)

Adapted from Miriam Pascal. I tried this last week, made a few tweaks and decided it was delicious. It has a rich chocolaty flavor, which the honey deepens. I added the coffee and more, which enhanced the chocolate flavor and the honey! 


4 extra-large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2/3 cup Canola oil

1 cup dark honey (Blueberry or Buckwheat is good)

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

Tiny pinch salt

1/2 cup Dutch Processed cocoa powder - I like a Dark cocoa powder

1 tbsp. instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp. hot water.

2 cups unbleached flour or GF measure for measure flour 

1/3 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a Bundt pan and set aside. Place the eggs, sugar, oil, honey, and vanilla, until creamy.

Mix the cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour in another bowl. Whisk to blend. Add the flour to the egg mixture in half, alternating with the milk, then flour and ending with the milk. Beat on low until just combined, scraping the bowl as needed. Remove the bowl from the stand and stir in the chocolate. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top so that the sides are a bit higher than the middle. Rotate the pan while it is tilted a bit. This will coat the sides with batter and keep the cake form forming a dome like top. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. 

Bake for about 40 to 55 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before adding glaze (see below), if using.


1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 Tbsp honey

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Almond milk to make the glaze thick enough to pour in a slow, thick ribbon

NOTE: For a chocolate glaze, add 2 tbsp. cocoa powder. You will need a bit more almond milk. 

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir vigorously to combine. Drizzle over the cake when cool.