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Focus on Elevation

Styling and photography by Sara Goldstein

Health coaches look at food as a vehicle for health, which it is. But as a frum health coach, I look at food as a vehicle for spiritual growth as well.

We’re just weeks away from Purim, a day of mishteh v’simchah, feasting and rejoicing. It’s no coincidence that the two go hand in hand, because from the Torah perspective, food isn’t just about keeping us alive. It’s about something more. Something joyful, pleasurable, and elevated.

Focus on Food

If you think about it, food is something we’re busy with for a huge part of our lives. Besides having to eat it at least three times a day, we also spend hours every week shopping and preparing it.

If Hashem designed us to interact with food so much, there must be a purpose to all that interaction. A purpose that can help us make the most of our lives.

Purposeful Pleasure

When Moshe Rabbeinu introduced the mahn  to Bnei Yisrael, he said, “This is the food that you’ve eaten in the past.” Rashi explains that Moshe was highlighting how mahn could taste like anything they wanted it to. In other words, says the Nefesh Shimshon, Moshe was assuring Bnei Yisrael that their food would still give them pleasure.

Why would a nation on such a lofty spiritual level, surrounded by the Clouds of Glory, be concerned about whether their food would taste good? Wasn’t it enough that Hashem was miraculously sustaining them in the desert?

According to the Torah perspective, the fact that food gives us pleasure is no coincidence. It’s a critical part of its function.

Elevating Ourselves

The world is full of physical pleasure. As Torah Jews, we know that physical pleasure isn’t an end in and of itself. It’s a means to becoming more spiritually elevated.

We elevate physical pleasure by first wanting it and then channeling that want by enjoying it when, where, and how the Torah allows us to. That’s how we approach physical pleasure with an attitude of composed dignity instead of rash indulgence.

Back to Basics

As the most basic and frequent of physical pleasures, food — delicious food — is the training ground for our approach to the entire physical world.

Every time we eat, we have a special opportunity to want something pleasurable and approach it with a mindset of dignity. To elevate something mundane to an act of serving Hashem.

Dignified Decisions

Health coaches like to harp on the power of willpower and commitment to help people make health-promoting food choices. But as frum women, we can tap into so much more.

Every time we sit down to eat, we have an opportunity to appreciate the pleasure Hashem has given us to enjoy and the body He has given us to care for. We take it all in — the colors, the aromas, the wanting. Then we make the choices that will nourish and care for the body He entrusted us with and enjoy them with dignity.

In the food-filled season ahead, let’s use the joyful opportunities that await us to appreciate the delights of Hashem’s bounty. In doing so, we can start shifting our focus away from the dos and don’ts of health food and toward an increased appreciation of our responsibility as ovdei Hashem.

Rorie Recommends: Mindfulness Around Meals

Being fully present and aware of the act of eating you’re involved in is called “mindful eating,” and it’s all the rage now. Mindful eating helps you appreciate and savor your food, increasing your enjoyment and satisfaction. As frum women, we have a built-in opportunity for mindfulness at the start and end of each meal: brachos!

Next time you’re about to make a brachah, pause for a few seconds to take a good look at the food in front of you. Consider its beautiful color and texture and the miracle of the nourishment that’s packed inside it, ready to support your body’s functioning. Begin your brachah with a sense of gratitude to Hashem for sustaining and believing in you. You’ll be amazed at how elevated your entire eating experience becomes.

Rainbow Roasted Veggies

In Hashem’s love for us, He not only makes food taste good, He makes it look good too! This recipe’s bright colors engage our senses so we can fully appreciate the pleasure He gifts us. Serve at room temperature for any meal, including your Purim seudah, or swap out the haricot verts for portobello mushrooms and save this recipe for Pesach.

  • 1 1-lb (450-g) bag tricolor baby peppers
  • 2 large beets, peeled and sliced
  • 1 lb (450 g) rainbow baby carrots
  • 3 medium red onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 lb (450 g) haricot verts
  • 1 1-lb (450-g) bag frozen cauliflower
  • 1 1-lb (450-g) bag frozen brussels sprouts
  • 31/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt, to taste
  • coarse black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Everything but the Bagel spice
  • 1–2 tsp turmeric

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line metal baking sheets with parchment paper.

Toss peppers with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Toss sliced beets with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Gently toss red onion wedges with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. (Add herbs, if desired.)

Toss carrots with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, cinnamon, and salt.

Toss haricot verts with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and Everything but the Bagel spice.

Place each vegetable on its own baking sheet. Bake each tray for 20–25 minutes until veggies are cooked but crisp.

Place cauliflower and brussels sprouts directly on a baking pan. Roast for 15 minutes to allow water to evaporate. Remove from oven. Drain any excess water.

Toss brussels sprouts with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and salt.

Toss cauliflower with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, 1–2 tsp turmeric, and salt.

Return pans to oven; roast for an additional 15–20 minutes.

Once all the veggies are cooked (they will shrink a lot!), arrange them on a large platter or board as pictured.


Rorie Weisberg, CHC, is the author of the newly released cookbook Food You Love: That Loves You Back. Her passion? Making a healthy lifestyle doable and delicious, favorite foods included. Rorie is the health ambassador of Kosher.com, a popular health columnist and lecturer, and founder and CEO of Full `N Free, LLC, an exclusive line of better-for-you baking essentials. To learn more about Rorie's story, product line, courses, and live demos, visit www.fullnfree.com.

All statements are suggestive only. Please consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 885)

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