Spring is the season of new beginnings. Rebirth and hope are common themes in nature, as well as in the unfolding of our lives post-winter. Every holiday celebrated in spring across various cultures and religions all echo this sentiment. In spring we view the world with fresh eyes and our lives with a renewed sense of purpose, urgency and vitality.
Springtime has always been my favorite season. More than I do on January 1st, I feel compelled in early April to take a strong look at my patterns, habits and tendencies–and shake out the dust, the gunk and the mold that has collected on those actions, weighing them down to the point of uselessness.
Example: Starting a movie at 9:30pm, falling asleep on the couch and not getting a good night sleep.
Instead, turn OFF the tv at 9:30pm and catch up on all those books piling up next to the bed (Hunger Games, I am coming for you).
This is just one of the many habits I’m redirecting this spring to reboot my life and energize this season. The plan is to shift my focus from having to handle the outcome of actions that don’t serve me and deplete my energy to creating healthy actions that feed my energy.
Which is why my mom wins “Mom of the Year” award this spring.
This year, my mom has been trying to reboot her eating habits and her overall health by learning how to cook leafy greens, adding more veggies to her diet, eating less processed/junky food, starting a couch to 5k running program and doing a yoga home practice. And I would be proud of her if she did only that…
But she also decided proclaimed our Passover meal this year to be 100% vegan.
Which is huge. Jewish meals are not known for their lightness and ease in digestion.
Plus, Passover features a shank bone prominently on the seder plate, which is both focal point and centerpiece to the Pesach table.
Her reasoning was one of love and fairnessShe said that usually at these meals, what I eat is sort of the afterthought. A welcome addition to the traditional foods that populate the yearly Passover meal, but an addition nonetheless. Rather than relegate the healthy food to side-dish status, my reboot-ing mom chose to make a seasonal, local, vegan meal the main event.
Creating the menu was like coming up with an edible mixtape. Collaborating with my momturned out really well. Trying to stay seasonally local was an opportunity to honor spring instead of feeding ourselves the winter that Passover food occasionally and accidentally suggests.
I even created a brand new shredded salad featuring an ingredient I’ve never used before and have been avoiding like the plague for too long. Turns out fennel isn’t so bad after all; especially when you shave it, soak it in lime/mint/basil juice and refrigerate for 3 hours. Reboot!
Wondering is the meal was a success?
Even my mother-in-law, who famously has said that she “doesn’t like vegetables” enjoyed every bite. My father went back for seconds. And thirds. My husband actually ate the beets. My own mother declared this to be our new Passover tradition. Reboot success!
We have a tendency to get stuck in traditional ruts because they evoke certain memories for us. It was tough for my mom NOT to make chicken soup this year because that part of the meal reminds her of Passover with her own mother.
And some traditions are important to keep, while others are acceptable to let pass as the years go by (no passover is complete without at least a mention of yul brynner’s ultra waxed chest, but we can do without the rabbi approved wine).
But the benefit of rebooting is that when you create new traditions, new patterns you don’t erase or replace the old ones, you simply add the new and have a timeline of history to share as you move forward.
How will you reboot this spring?
And enjoy the Menu as well as one of the Recipes, below!
Passover and Early Spring Celebration:
Miso-Ginger Broth with Shiitake Mushrooms, Spinach and Spring Onions
Shredded Beet, Fennel and Cucumber Salad with Lime, Basil and Mint Dressing
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Carmelized Onions and Pistachios
Tuscan White Beans with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Kale served over Quinoa
Shredded Beets, Cucumbers and Fennel with Lime, Basil and Mint Dressing
2-3 bunches of beets (mine were on the small side because it’s early spring; should be about 1.5 cups once grated)
1/2 head of fennel (or more if you really like fennel. it was my first time, so I had no idea what to expect, taste-wise, but next time, I think I’d go for more fennel)
juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 Tbs grapeseed oil
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
1/3 cup slivered almonds
extra mint leaves for garnish
Prepare the sauce first. Place lime juice, basil, mint and grapeseed oil in a small food processor or a blender. Blend thoroughly. Add a little salt and pepper, as needed and set aside.
Shred the fennel first. You’ll need a food processor or a lot of patience with a handheld grater. Run the fennel through a large food processor. Place in a medium size bowl and add half of the lime/basil/mint concoction. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to chill well.
Then, peel and slice the cucumber into smaller chunks and feed these through the food processor as well. Place the cuc shreds in a large bowl. Then peel and shred the beets. Add to the cucumbers and set aside.
Now go back to the other half of the mint sauce. Add the cumin, coriander and more salt/pepper if you like, as well as more mint and basil. Blend well. Pour this new mixture over the shredded beets and cucumbers. Stir well. Everything will be magenta colored. Place this mixture in the fridge for an hour or so, until fully chilled.
Once everything has sufficiently chilled, remove from the fridge and combine half of the fennel mixture with the beets and cucs. Stir well to combine the flavors. Reserve the remainder of the fennel for toping later on. Replace in the fridge and cool for as long as you like.
Once you’re ready to serve, you can go all fancy like I did and serve over the tops of the beets (the beet greens) OR just in a bowl. But add the almonds and mint as garnish and plop the remaining fennel on top. Serve chilled. This salad is best when cold.
Also great as leftovers on toast!