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PEREG NATURAL FOODS INTRODUCES KOSHER FOR PASSOVER BABY QUINOA

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With Passover approaching (April 10-18, 2017), if you are like me you are already planning the menu. Pereg Natural Foods offers a variety of new, all natural, vegan, Non-GMO and Kosher for Passover (OU-P) products that offer versatility and great taste just in time for Passover 2017.

New from Pereg this year is Baby Quinoa (Kañiwa) – Dark reddish-brown in color and about half the size of a tiny quinoa seed, Baby Quinoa cooks up quickly to resemble a smaller version of red quinoa.  Unlike regular quinoa, Baby Quinoa doesn’t have saponins, the coating that gives quinoa a somewhat slightly bitter flavor if not rinsed properly. Baby Quinoa is a great source of iron and other important nutrients. 

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Also available new for Passover is Pereg’s White Quinoa, Quinoa with Mushrooms and Quinoa with Vegetables. White quinoa is great for cold salads such as kale and quinoa with a lemon vinaigrette or quinoa with strawberries and pecans. Experiment as you would with rice and substitute quinoa in stuffed peppers, quinoa cheese casserole and quinoa meatballs.  

I always like to bake something for Seder and thanks to Pereg’s new  Kosher for Passover flour, available in quinoabananacoconut and almond meal gluten free varieties, it’s easier than ever to bake something that everyone will actually enjoy! From cakes and cookies, to pancakes and pizza crust, these Passover flours offer a plethora of delicious recipe options that offer great taste and texture.

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Pereg was established in 1906, and is based in Clifton, NJ. They first became known for their vast variety of pure and natural spices and spice blends, more than 60 in all, from traditional favorites to exotics from around the culinary world. Today Pereg produces an array of all- natural products that includes ancient grains and ancient grain blends, gluten free pasta, couscous, rice, gluten free cereal and much more.

You can find Pereg Natural Foods products at retailers throughout the US, and online via Amazon.

Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I was not paid to write this review.

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Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Raisin Farfel Kugel Muffins

A quick, easy Passover recipe everyone will enjoy. Shredding the apples instead of chopping them makes for a moister kugel.  Using a food processor saves time and gives you the same results as shredding by hand.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup farfel*
  • 2- 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 large apples – peeled, cored and shredded
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)

*I used Katz Gluten Free Farfel, which is Kosher but not Kosher for Passover. Alternatively, you can use matzo and break it up yourself. Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish, or muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Makes 6 muffins.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the water and farfel. I drained some of the water out before adding the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Add the sugar, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins.
  4. In a separate bowl stiffly beat the egg whites.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the farfel mixture.
  6. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and dust the top with more cinnamon. Full each muffin tin to the top, even a little more is ok. These don’t rise.

    The muffins should look a little watery, this is normal.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Note: I also made plain, traditionally kugel muffins you see in the picture, but these turned out horribly.

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Gluten Free Passover Foods

Photo courtesy of funmuch.com ecards

Passover has always been one of my favorite holidays. Despite the massive amount of preparation involved, I love getting together with my family and friends and I actually like the food. For someone who eats gluten and dairy free all year long, the dietary restrictions during Passover don’t bother me all that much. Passover is largely a wheat free holiday, as we are supposed to avoid foods made with wheat, barley, rye, spelt, oats, yeast or other leavening agents (unless labeled Kosher for Passover).

The Passover meal is filled with symbolic foods, the central staple being Matzo, which is made with wheat flour. Not only do we eat Matzo at the Seder, but many of the other dishes are made with matzo or matzo meal – matzo ball soup and matzo brei to name a few. So what’s a gluten free Jew to do?

AI bet you are also thinking, “but Matzo is made from wheat flour, so how is that possible?” Yes it is, but the processes used to ‘’cook’’ Matzo is less than 18 minutes, which means it does not leaven and it is closely supervised, and deemed Kosher for Passover.

Thankfully there are a few brands out there that now make gluten free matzo and matzo meal, but they differ greatly in terms of ingredients, taste, availability and price.

Two of the major matzo manufacturers, Manischewtiz and Yehuda, have come out with gluten free “matzo-style crackers”. Both are made from tapioca and potato starches. Manischewtiz has a list price of $3.99  – God I wish I could find this in my local stores! – and the Yehuda retails for $6.99 – $8.99, and the matzo meal can cost upwards of $9.99

Lakewood Matzo is made from Oats and can be bought online for $25.99 and the Matzo Meal costing $14.99. This is ridiculous!!  I haven’t tried it but I think paying $6.99 at Shaw’s for gluten free matzo is absurd, so there is no way I will pay this much. I’d rather skip the matzo.

Kestenbaum Gluten Free Oat Matzo is also available online at the same price as Lakewood, but the Matzo meal is slightly more expensive at $18.

Yehuda is the only brand I’ve tried. And let me tell you, it was such a hit the past few years! It tastes slightly different from traditional matzo, it tastes more like a flat bread or water cracker and much much better! It’s more delicate than regular matzo, much less dense, and breaks apart more easily. Yehuda gluten free matzo-squares come in two varieties: plain and toasted onion. I’ve seen this brand available at my local Whole Foods, Star Market, and Stop and Shop. It’s not at every location, so it would be best to call around before making a trip to the store.  It’s also the only brand I’ve seen in stores in Brookline/Brighton.

Aside from the matzo issue, which is finally no longer an issue for us, it is largely a gluten free holiday. Many Passover foods are gluten free due to the fact that during the week of Passover we cannot eat anything leavened. In addition to gluten free matzo there are now macaroons, cereals, sponge cakes, and noodle kugels made specifically gluten free.  Many of the foods that do not contain matzoh are labled “non-gebrokts”. Non-gebrokts foods are gluten-free. It’s basically the same thing. Many products will also write “Gluten Free’’ on the packaging now too.

Here’s a list of gluten free Passover Products I have seen on the market. If you know of others please let me know and I will add them to my list! Most of these companies make gluten free products for year-round consumption too, in addition to their Kosher for Passover products.

  • Manischewitz macaroons are my favorite, I’ve been enjoying the sugar free variety all week long. The coconut and almond flavors are also high on my list. They also makes gluten free cake mixes, macaroons, potato starch, noodles and new this year, frozen gluten free macaroon dough.
  • Streit’s also makes macaroons and noodles. I recently read that Streit’s now offers Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Mix, Gluten-Free Matzo Ball & Soup Mix and Gluten Free Israeli Couscous, all new products within the past two years.
  • Gefen makes gluten free cookies, cereal, cake mixes, frosting mixes crisp flats & noodles.
  • Osem makes gluten free Kosher cakes and chicken soup mix. The chocolate coconut and marble cakes are my favorite. They are pretty sweet but not too sweet made from potato and tapioca starches. The marble cake tastes like is a simple yellow cake with a chocolate flavor from the swirls. The coconut cake is less chocolatey and has a hint of coconut to it. Both are fluffy and very tasty. I buy a few extra after Passover and keep them for the year. Add a little frosting and you’ve got yourself a nice birthday cake!
  • Paskesz makes noodles and croutons
  • All of Oberlander’s Passover products are gluten free, this includes cakes, macaroons loafs, fingers and cookies
  • Lieber’s, and Eena Kadeena make matzo ball mixes. Frankel’s makes frozen premade matzo balls, although I am not sure if any of are Kosher for Passover. Frankel’s also makes gluten free cheesecake, potato knishes and blintzes.
  • Most gefilte fish contains gluten (from the matzo meal). I’m not complaining, I do not like gefilte fish at all! As a child I used to eat it up! I would eat my sisters and anyone else who didn’t like it. Weird, right? I know. Now I can’t stand it. Luckily for those of you who do there is gluten free gefilte fish. Benz makes frozen and jarred gluten free styles. Kedem Gourmet Gefilte Fish, which is made without matzo meal, is gluten-free and does not contain MSG. Rokeach “Gourmet Sweet” and Rokeach “Heimeshe Sweet” are both gluten-free gefilte fish as well.
  • Katz Gluten Free baked goods makes gluten free farfel, but it is not Kosher for Passover. All of their products are gluten free and Kosher.

Many of these products are available at allergyfreekosher.com and www.theglutenfreeshoppe.com

So how does Gluten Free Matzo compare to traditional Matzo in terms of nutrition? I was curious of this myself. As with many gluten free alternatives, when the gluten is removed, products often compensate by adding fat and sugar. As you can see below gluten free matzo is not a healthier choice; higher in calories, fat and cholesterol, and much lower in protein and fiber.

Traditional (left) vs Gluten Free (right) Matzo Nutritional Information