Passover is around the corner and there is the usual buzz in the air about the holiday food. What to make, what new recipes to try, recipe sharing. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of everything matzoh. It doesn’t make me feel good and I’m working at listening to my body more. Sure, I can get nostalgic about holiday food and remember “matzoh and butter”, or my grandmother’s lemon sponge cake, or my mother’s matzoh meal bagels. But my body doesn’t like the total disruption that making everything out of matzoh meal and matzoh cake flour causes. And as a nutrition counselor, I work with many people who can’t eat matzoh because of ingredient restrictions like wheat or gluten intolerance. Passover also causes disruption for people who can’t eat eggs or dairy since everything uses eggs for leavening, and dairy foods seem to make their way into many recipes.

Raw foods offer an answer for many of us who don’t eat wheat, gluten, dairy or eggs. Raw food desserts use ingredients like dates, nuts, seeds, fruits, spices, agave (or liquid sweetener of choice), coconut, lemons, limes. Raw foods are those that are made without heating above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. No butter, no eggs, no leavening, no wheat or gluten, and actually, they are generally healthy for you unless they contain a huge amount of agave. You can even have chocolate by using the raw cacao powder. Mmmm! Even if you don’t have a dehydrator, there are plenty of recipes that you can make.There is a recipe for a Raw Carrot Cake in Marvelous Meatless Meals.

I love the recipes in Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Desserts including her Raspberry Chocolate Ganache Cake made of dates, raw cacao, agave, avocado, raspberries; and her Pineapple Icebox Cake; and many many more. They all work for Passover and for people with ingredient restrictions (except nuts!!). One year I made a raw apple pie recipe of hers that had an almond and date crust. Or you can make a simple rich and elegant dessert by pureeing soaked cashews with some lemon juice, vanilla, and agave and using this “cream sauce” to top your fruit; better yet, make it into a parfait with layers of the cream and berries then top with nuts.

Are you very fond of Kale Chips? They make a great crunchy non-matzoh snack and can be made in the oven at 250 degrees F if you don’t have the dehydrator. I’m especially fond of kale chips using a cashew cheese sauce instead of the oil. There are plenty of recipes available on line for this.

Here is another idea: a raw zucchini lasagne, using “noodles” made of thin strips of zucchini; a homemade sauce of tomatoes/basil/garlic/sundried tomatoes/olives; a ricotta cheese made from soaked macadamia nuts or cashews, with herbs added.

I’m not saying you have to go all raw for the holiday; you don’t even have to eat all raw desserts. But you will find them easy to make, and easier to digest than matzoh-everything. And if you’re going to eat a lot of food with matzoh, make sure you’re also having plenty of raw fruits and salads to help it along…..