On Sunday evening, September 13th, 2015, Rosh Hashanah begins. Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, is one of the holiest days in the Jewish religion. Not only is it the Jewish New Year but it marks the beginning of ten days of repentance for the sins we committed the past year and our vow to do better in the coming year.
Rosh Hashanah is the perfect time to think about and make connections between what we hope for and what we eat.
We pray for a healthy year, yet we might eat in unhealthy ways.
We celebrate the creation of the world, yet we might do things that contribute to the destruction of the planet.
We seek compassion and forgiveness, yet we may show little compassion for the animals who end up on our holiday tables.
We repent for our sins and give charity. We “awake from our slumber” and “mend our ways.” So what better time is there to practice compassion, charity and new beginnings than by eating a healthy plant-based diet that is kind to our bodies, the animals and the planet?
On Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to eat foods that symbolize the good things we hope and pray for in the coming year. Certain foods are symbols and reminders of our hopes for a sweet and happy new year. To learn about the traditional foods eaten on Rosh Hashanah, see How to Have a Happy and Healthy Jewish New Year. In celebration of the New Year, 5776, here are 18 (the symbolic number for life) meatless and dairy-free recipes to help you celebrate this joyous holiday.
1. Vegan Pineapple Honey
On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, we dip challah and apples into “honey” asking for a sweet year. Though Biblical texts mention honey, historians believe that it was really a fruit paste that was eaten as actual honey was hard to come by. That’s good since we don’t want to start the New Year by hurting bees. Instead, make this Vegan Pineapple Honey. Just two simple ingredients can combine into a sweet and gooey, thick syrup is a tasty vegan honey alternative that kids and adults all love.
2. Individual Apple Pie Pastries
On Rosh Hashanah, we eat apples and sweet foods in hopes for a sweet New Year. These Individual Apple Pie Pastries are a delicious way to keep with tradition. Use a cookie cutter to make them in whatever shapes are most pleasing to you.
3. Cantaloupe Rose Soup With Blueberry Cream
On the 2nd night of Rosh Hashanah, it is tradition to eat a “new fruit” – a fruit that either has just come into season but we haven’t eaten yet or a fruit we have not tasted for a long time, if ever. This ritual is to remind us to appreciate the fruits of the earth, be grateful we are here to enjoy them and to literally taste the newness of the year. We can also eat fruit in a whole new way like this Cantaloupe Rose Soup with Blueberry Cream. Rose water adds a distinctive floral flavor to this soup.
4. Warm Fennel and Pomegranate Salad
People often use pomegranate as the new fruit as it is rich in symbolism. It is said the fruit contains 613 seeds just as there are 613 mitzvot or commandments; we wish that our good deeds in the coming year will be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate; and the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and the unlimited possibilities for the New Year. Celebrate with this Warm Fennel and Pomegranate Salad with its creamy tahini dressing.
5. Vegan Challah
Besides dipping apples in something sweet, the next most well-known symbolic food of Rosh Hashanah is round challah. The bread, which is usually baked in a braided shape, is made in a round shape to represent the unending cycle of life and the prayer that another full year will be granted. Make this Vegan Challah or this Vegan and Gluten-Free Challah.
6. (Fish Style) Parsnip Fillets
Some people believe that it is good to eat fish on the New Year because they are symbolic of fertility and abundance. Because fish never sleep, it is also thought that eating fish will keep up cognizant and aware. We can follow this tradition in a compassionate way by enjoying vegan seafood at dinner. These Parsnip Fillets will remind you of the sea with the flavors of lemon and dill.
7. Beet, Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Beets, leeks and dates are believed to remove spiritual roadblocks, including enemies, before a sweet New Year is granted. Gourds are another symbolic food eaten to make our merits many. This Beet, Butternut Squash and Apple Soup combines the subtle flavor of beets with the zing of apples. Top it with a tangy cashew sour cream.
8. Black Eyed Pea Chili With Corn Fritters
Just like the Southern tradition, black-eyed peas are thought to bring good fortune in the Jewish New Year. This Black Eyed Pea Chili is warm, comforting and tastes even better the next day. Top the chili with homemade corn fritters for an extra treat.
9. Slow Cooker North African Couscous
Couscous is believed to bring many blessings as represented by the many tiny grains. This Slow Cooker North African Couscous is rich in the spices and flavors of North Africa and filled with lots of delicious vegetables. Try to add seven vegetables since the number seven represent goodness and luck.
10. Masala Lentils (Sabut Masoor)
The Indian spice Fenugreek is also thought to increase our merits. Fenugreek is one of the many spices which are blended with garlic into a paste to make these Masala Lentils. Serve this as a part of your celebratory meal.
11. Vegan Matzo Ball Vegetable Soup (Gluten-Free Option)
Not all traditional and customary holiday dishes are symbolic; some are just delicious. Serve up a bowl of tradition with a vegan twist with this Matzo Ball Soup. There’s also a gluten-free option for the matzo balls.
12. Stuffed Seitan Roast
Brisket and roasts are common holiday dishes. This Stuffed Seitan Roast is a compassionate entrée that tastes amazing. It’s stuffed with tofu, walnuts, and veggies and topped with a maple mustard glaze. This is definitely your holiday table centerpiece.
13. Macadamia Crusted Tofu
For a lovely entrée, serve this Macadamia Crusted Tofu. Crunchy and nutritious macadamia nuts encrust marinated tofu without any grains or gluten, but plenty of flavor and protein. Serve it alongside some simple steamed greens or a bed of rice for a perfect, satisfying meal.
14. Potato and Onion Kugel With Sautéed Apples
Kugel is a traditional Jewish dish. This Potato and Onion Kugel is easy to make and a family favorite. Serve it with sauteed apples, apple sauce, vegan sour cream or whatever you like. You can also bake this in muffin tins for individual servings.
15. Strawberry Cheese Blintzes With Strawberry Basil Compote
Add sweetness to the New Year with these Strawberry Cheese Blintzes. They are vegan, gluten-free and delicious. Top them with the strawberry basil compote to make it extra special.
16. Chopped Salad With Apple Chipotle Vinaigrette
Bacon for a Jewish holiday? Yes, when it’s smoky coconut bacon! It’s the perfect topping for this Chopped Salad with Apple Chipotle Dressing. The combination is sweet, spicy, smoky, and oh so good.
17. Apple Loaf Cake
This Apple Loaf Cake is sweet and moist and full of apple goodness. It’s a perfect dessert topped with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream or have it for breakfast with some vegan butter on top. We vote to have it both ways.
18. Date Plum Sorbet
End your meal on a sweet and lucky note. Dates are believed to help make your New Year wishes come true. One of your wishes may be to have a bowl of this Date Plum Sorbet. It has fresh, juicy, red plums blended with flavorful, sweet and nutritious dates churned into a delicious smooth frozen treat!
There is no better way to celebrate the New Year than with food that is healthy, compassionate and incredibly delicious. It is not only possible but easy to keep traditions alive while updating them just a bit to fit with our newer beliefs. At One Green Planet, we wish you a very Happy New Year. “Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim: May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
Lead image source: Potato and Onion Kugel With Sautéed Apples