My daughter in-law Karen invited us for Succoth, saying they’re so busy between jobs and graduate school; they’d probably buy prepared foods. Of course, I jumped at the invitation- to come and to cook. “I’ll bring dinner,” I offered.
The holiday, a celebration of the harvest, began Sunday night and ends next Sunday, October 7. We’re going on Friday, so it’s also Shabbat. Hence they won’t travel to us but “overlook” that we travel to them.
Always up for a food challenge, I wanted to plan a meal that honors the holiday and also conforms to their dietary regiment—they’ve become vegan.
I was particularly intrigued by the “Seven Species” that signify Succoth or Sukkot, pronounced “Sue-coat.” Spelling variations occur because they’re transliterations from Hebrew.
The Seven Species, (Shivat Haminim in Hebrew) are the seven fruits and grains named in the Torah (Deuteronomy 8:8) considered staples of the Israeli diet in ancient times and then the main produce of the land.
They are: wheat, barley, grapes, consumed as wine; figs, pomegranates, olives, usually in oil form; and honey made from dates.
Challah will cover the wheat requirement. I’ll get fresh figs and a pomegranate and cook with olive oil. I’m making vegetarian chili with beans, corn and peppers, and will add some barley to a quinoa dish my friend and food blogger Stacy posted: Quinoa with roasted Brussels sprouts and leeks, almonds and raisins. I’ll substitute some honey for maple syrup in a recipe for maple- date bars and we’re set.
Yet the vegan diet is hard. I worry that they’re not getting enough protein and both seem too thin. (They’ve decided the baby, 17 months, will be raised as a vegetarian and eat lots of dairy.)
What’s even more worrisome is how foods we once thought were exempt from potential carcinogens, aren’t.
Consumer Reports found high levels of arsenic, a natural element found in the earth’s crust that if combined with other elements, like oxygen, chlorine and sulfur could become poisonous. Common rice foods, especially items eaten by babies and children, like rice cereals, were found to have elevated amounts of arsenic.
“No federal limit exists for arsenic in most foods, but the standard for drinking water is 10 parts per billion (ppb). … That level is twice the 5 ppb that the Environmental Protection Agency originally proposed and that New Jersey (Yay!!) actually established,” the article states.
I shared this with my kids; saying “read and heed.” Nathan and Karen chose to become vegans because of concerns about additives in meat and dairy products. Now, given this news, Karen quipped, “maybe we’ll just eat air ferns.”
Scary indeed. Perhaps Seven Species isn’t such a bad idea.