Styling and photography by Sara Goldstein
Succos is such a beautiful time! There are so many opportunities to connect with our families, connect with Hashem, and create beautiful memories.
For me, one of the highlights of Yom Tov is Chol Hamoed trips. The thing is, long, extended family outings mean lots of food prep. Everyone gets hungry and needs to be fed throughout the trip — and then when we come home, they’re hungry all over again! So on the one hand, sharing these trips with my family is important to me; on the other hand, even if I bring the healthiest, most filling snacks, starting dinner when we pull in after a long day just isn’t smart. But I can’t be in two places at the same time!
After years of trying to do it all, I worked out a three-step approach that allows me to share in the family fun and still have food on the way and on the table.
Step One: Breakfast Buffet
Get the day started with a macro breakfast everyone will enjoy. Kids and adults will be much slower to complain about being hungry if they’ve eaten well before leaving the house.
For a savory breakfast, try shakshuka, eggs Florentine, frittata, or any egg variation you all enjoy with whole-grain or grain-free bread or crackers. Round it out with avocado and veggies. If your family likes sweet breakfasts, try some of my sweet macro breakfast options like macro smoothies, ice dreams, or protein-packed pancakes topped with nut butter and fruit.
Starting out with a filling macro breakfast helps prevent everyone from starting the day on the blood sugar roller coaster — not a fun ride for moms to be on all day.
Step Two: Pack Smart
As frum mommies, we naturally pack food along with us wherever we go. If you know you’ll be out for a long time, think in terms of macro meals rather than just snacks. Your kids will be able to go for longer periods of time without asking for food, and you’ll notice fewer meltdowns. (That goes for moms, too!)
Macro salads are great for Succos, especially if you don’t have access to a succah. Pack them with a fork and a two-ounce dressing container for easy access. A great bonus is that they can be prepped the night before to free up your time in the morning.
If your crew isn’t into salads, consider sliced chicken cutlets, hard-boiled eggs, guacamole packs, cut-up veggies, and rice cakes. Even with a healthy, balanced macro breakfast and lunch, you’ll still want to bring some wholesome, healthy snacks like fruits, veggies, nuts, cheese, and trail mix. And yes, bring along a few bags of popcorn or potato chips. The goal is balance!
Step Three: Dinner Is Served
It took me years to get this final step right. But when I finally did, it was a game-changer.
Do you find that no matter how well you plan, you always get home later than you thought you would? That’s what happened to us every year, too. And even though I always brought healthy, filling food along with us, as soon as we walked in the door everyone wanted dinner now.
After a lot of trial and error, I learned to prep dinner ahead of time. The result? Everyone, including me, was finally able to enjoy a calm, festive Chol Hamoed dinner even if we were out all day.
One of the easiest ways to get dinner done ahead of time is to use a Crock-Pot. Just put everything in before you leave, turn it on, and you’ll come home to a delicious Chol Hamoed seudah. Another option is to prep and freeze a meal that can be made in advance and then leave it in the oven all day, covered, on low heat.
If your make-ahead or Crock-Pot meal needs some extra sides, a rice maker is my go-to for any kind of grain. Like steamed veggies? They literally take five minutes to prepare, so you can put them up while you’re setting the table and getting the rest of the food out.
Succos is zeman simchaseinu, a time for rejoicing. As mothers, we put in a lot of hard work to create the backdrop that fuels that joy. When we prep ahead of time, we’re putting in more of the work on the front end so we can enjoy those special moments with the people we love.
Wishing you a beautiful, joyous Yom Tov,
Rorie Recommends: Tourit Cooler Backpack
Packing and carrying food on day trips is tricky, and this backpack is my favorite solution. The opening is large, so it’s easy to put in and take out food — plus it fits those disposable 38-ounce salad containers perfectly. It’s leak-proof and keeps food cold and fresh for 16 hours. I pack everything up, add ice or ice packs, and we have delicious, fresh food all day long. And wearing it on your back is so much easier than carrying a cooler!
There are so many reasons why I love this recipe. It’s a delicious, filling, and pareve macro meal, so it’s a nice change from all the meat-eating we do. It has a stovetop and Crock-Pot option, so you can either make it ahead of time and leave it in a warming drawer, or prep it before you head out, set it on low, and come home to a piping hot dinner (and a house that smells amazing!). This one’s so good, you’ll want to save it to enjoy all winter long.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 cubes frozen garlic)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1½ Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3 15-oz (425-g) cans beans (any combination of black, pinto, cannelloni, or kidney will do)
- 1 28-oz (790-g) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1–2 cups vegetable broth (depends how thick you like it)
- chopped scallions, chopped parsley, or any other toppings of your choice
For stove top: Heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and green peppers and sauté for 7–10 minutes. Add the spices and mix well to coat all the vegetables. Add the beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring the chili to a boil, then simmer for 30–40 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
For a Crock-Pot: Follow the directions for stovetop. Instead of bringing to a boil, pour into a Crock-Pot. Cook on low for 4–6 hours.
(If you’ll be out longer, set your Crock-Pot on a Shabbos clock so you won’t need to rush home!)
To serve: Divide the chili into bowls and top with desired toppings — chopped scallions, parsley, shredded cheese, or anything else you like. Serve with a slice of your favorite bread, over spaghetti squash, or stuffed in a potato or sweet potato as shown here. This pairs well with a fresh green salad or roasted cauliflower.
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 862)
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