Kosher and Special Diets

What is kosher?  Why should Jewish people, or anyone else, want to eat this way?  How do you keep kosher and live on a special diet?  Could special diets actually provide more options in kosher?  These are some questions I’ve recently found myself wondering about.   Today I decided to take action and find the answers.

According to Rabbi Kalman Packouz, kosher actually translates to “prepared.”  It is the body of dietary laws contained in the Torah.  Kosher addresses the food chain quite thoroughly, including: which animals to eat; which to avoid; how and when to slaughter, cook and eat them or not; when to eat a tree’s fruit and more.  Many seafoods are not allowed, because they have spread disease and caused skin reactions.  Rabbi Packouz gives five reasons for following a kosher diet: “health; moral lessons; national reasons; mystical and discipline.”  Although I’m a vegetarian non-Jew, I can appreciate the health, spiritual development and self discipline motivations.

Guest blogger Susan Swift commented, “I grew up in a Kosher home and soon realized that the easiest way to keep Kosher is to become a vegetarian!”  The laws regarding the consumption of animals are complex, so I can certainly understand why.  Kosher still applies to the vegetarian diet, though.  For starters, there’s an incredibly involved rule about Bishul Akum, meaning “cooked by a non-Jew.”  The short version is: a Jew has to at least light the fire or assist in the cooking, and the food must be kosher in all other respects.

Some vegetarians still consume fish.  According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons, to be kosher, the fish must have at least one fin and some scales, and not be a mammal.  Thus, tuna and salmon qualify, but not crabs, lobster (crustacean), shrimp, oysters (shellfish), whales or dolphins (mammals).  Sushi and caviar are ok, provided they are from a fin and scale fish, and only kosher prep utensils are used. 

For lacto-ovo vegetarians, who consume milk, eggs and cheese, kosher milk can only come from a kosher animal, whose milking is supervised by a rabbi.  Going vegan or dairy free would be a convenient choice for this one.  Then you could have nut milks and nut cheeses, provided they meet the produce requirements below.

Kosher also applies to veganism.  Grains must be at least one Passover in age before being eaten.  If you brought in the sheaves just prior to the current Passover, you have to wait till two days post-Passover to eat them.  Maybe some gluten free alternatives could be handy here.  When making more than 2.5 lbs. of dough to bake, you have to pull off a little bit and burn it before baking the rest, in order for the batch to be kosher.  In times we now refer to as history, the bit would have been a form of tithe. 

Some sugar free diets allow fruit as a sweetener.  Kosher doesn’t allow tree fruit to be eaten till the fourth year of the tree’s life, regardless where your tree lives.  Also, kosher produce must be tithed upon by the producers and not grown during a seventh, or “sabbatical,” year.  There are harvesting procedures and more, so hook up with a rabbi if you’re looking to do some kosher backyard gardening.

This post barely scratches the surface of kosher.  Please consult a rabbi with any questions you might have.  Whether you’re Jewish or special diet or neither, below are a few kosher special diet recipes for your family’s dining pleasure.

Kosher Vegetarian Recipes
Baked Stuffed Pumpkin (from Jewish Recipes)

Kosher Vegan Recipes
Pesach Pie Crust (posted at Food.com by Mirj) – no rolling!

Kosher Gluten Free Recipes
Baked Gefilte Fish (by Anne Luder at Kosher Celiac Cookery)
Chocolate Rice Pudding (by Eileen Goltz at Kosher.com)

Kosher Dairy Free and Lactose Free Recipes
Harvest Zucchini Bread (by Leah at Leah Cooks Kosher)
Pumpkin Ice Cream (by Shoshana Ohriner at Joy of Kosher)

Kosher Sugar Free Recipes
Avocado and Nobu Salad Dressings (by Marlene at the Jewish Hostess)
Beet Salad (by Nechama Cohen at Chabad.org)

Soup du Jour: Cashew Carrot Ginger (Kosher, Vegan, Dairy Free, Corn Free, Lowfat)
Coconut milk, cashews, spices, fresh organic carrot, roasted garlic, ginger.
Pacific Natural Foods Soup, Cashew Carrot Ginger, 32-Ounce Cartons (Pack of 12)

Cookbook of the Day: Kosher Cajun Cookbook
Kosher Cajun Cookbook

Bon appetit.

1 comment:

  1. Hello there! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about kosher bread. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about kosher bread. Keep it up!
    In addition to meat, all other produce of ritually unclean animals, as well as from unhealthy animals, were banned by the Talmudic writers. This included eggs (including fish roe) and milk, as well as derived products such as cheese and jelly, but did not include materials merely "manufactured" or "gathered" by animals, such as honey (although, in the case of honey from animals other than bees, there was a difference of opinion among the ancient writers). According to the rabbinical writers, eggs from ritually pure animals would always be prolate ("pointy") at one end and oblate ("rounded") at the other, helping to reduce uncertainty about whether consumption was permitted or not.
    Gluten Free Kosher Bread – For An Authentic And Healthy Choice.