Are there any traditional Shabbos foods that are healthy? I can definitely relate with someone who finds Shabbos and yomtov challenging. By the time we get to shalosh seudos late Shabbos afternoon we sometimes feel ten pounds heavier. But the good news is that – yes, there are healthy foods. (I’m not talking about making the unhealthy foods we eat healthier. That is definitely possible. In fact most Shabbos foods can be made healthier and taste as good as the original [except kishka – STAY AWAY.] I’m talking about foods that people assume to be unhealthy but are actually healthy!)
One food specifically is…P’TCHA. I know many of you are thinking that this cannot possibly be true, “how can a food that looks, tastes, and feels like pure fat be healthy?!” But it’s true. Not only is it healthy, it’s also good for weight loss. P’tcha (a.k.a. galeh) is made up of basically two ingredients: gelatin and water. Water is well, water, nothing more need be said. Gelatin is a lean protein made from bones which is not fattening at all. Any fat contained in the bones floats up to the top when the p’tcha is boiled and then scooped out and disposed of (like most of you do with chicken soup).
Health benefits associated with gelatin are increased metabolism, healthier skin nails and hair, and improved joint health. Even the spices that are added to it are healthy, garlic being the main one. In secular nutrition journals, p’tcha (cows foot jello) is touted as being extremely healthy, dietetic, and even used as a medicine. These journals offer a disclaimer that although healthy, you may not like the way it tastes! Fortunately for most of us who grew up with it, that is not a problem. Which leaves p’tcha as a healthy, dietetic, and delicious food to enjoy on Friday afternoon, Friday night, Shabbos morning, shalosh seudos, melave malka, Sunday… you get the point.
Now some of you, who do not like p’tcha, may think that this article is a waste of your time. It’s not. Understand that just like p’tcha is a food that is widely considered to be unhealthy but is in fact healthy, there are also many other foods that you would be able to eat if only you knew the facts. People think that losing weight is about self-control and depriving yourself but in truth the most important thing for your diet is an education. It’s not enough to know that too many calories are bad! You need to educate yourself about the ingredients in your food and you need to educate yourself about the fat content in your ingredients. You need to learn which supposedly bad foods are actually good for you and which supposedly good foods are actually bad. Once you learn that, you have to learn the science of metabolism and how to make weight loss permanent.
Education could mean the difference between a diet full of deprivation and a diet that you can actually find manageable. Education can mean keeping your weight off permanently after working so hard to lose it. And education will allow you to eat foods on a diet that you thought you never could.