We're only human, so when it comes to fasting, being without food, it seems like all we do is think of food, what to eat. Even before and after the holiest day on the Jewish Calendar, Yom Kippur, which is not only a fast, but it has the restrictions of Shabbat, meaning on cooking along with others, what we eat (and drink) before and after can be crucial to a healthy and comfortable fast.
There are those who cut out caffeine for days before fasting, but to be honest, here I am less than ten hours before the fast will begin, sipping my usual second giant mug of coffee. But, like most days, all my coffee is drunk in the morning, after my two giant mugs of water. I don't continue drinking coffee throughout the day.
That's the toughest thing on all fast days, starting the day dry. The liquids clear my systems for action and alertness. Yom Kippur and Tisha b'Av are really hard, because not only can't I drink first thing in the morning, but I forbidden from having my two giant mugs of water before going to sleep. That means that during the day of the night the fast begins I must make sure I've had enough water to drink. Yes, water, and not tea, coffee or juice. Juices can be almost as bad as tea and coffee because the truth is that juice is no more than sugar and food coloring. Coffee and most teas have caffeine which push out the liquids; that's the meaning of diuretics. And I disagree with those who say cut out all salt. Cut down if you use a lot, but everyone needs some to keep the liquid in.
Last night at work in Yafiz, Sha'ar Binyamin, even total strangers asked me what I'm serving to break the fast. I guess they figured that if I know how to fit shoes, I should know what to serve after fasting twenty-five 25 hours.
Before the fast I've always served a typical Jewish chicken plus soup and vegetable meal, with a salad and starch. When the kids were little and lived at home, I'd prepare easy to heat kugels and vegetables with cheese for the breaking the fast meal. I remember one year about twenty-five 25 years ago when the electricity went out on Yom Kippur and I couldn't easily heat up the post-fast meal, since my ovens have always been electric. Luckily I was able to send the food to a neighbor who had a gas oven.
Now that it's just me and my husband home, I'm just going to serve the same basic meal for both.
I'll cook up the chicken in the soup and then remove it for the meal. I should do that soon, because I like to give the soup a chance to let the fats move to the top, so I can skim it and then cook in the vegetables.
For the starch, I plan on making kasha, and as you may know I make lots of vegetables. And there will be a fresh salad, too. I'll have everything before the fast, but after the fast I'll pass on the kasha and salad.
The reason I won't eat the kasha is because I've been keeping my carbohydrates minimal for the past years. That diet change helped me lose a lot of weight and keep it off.
For some reason I find raw food painful in my mouth after fasting. That started many years ago during a trip to New York when I broke the fast on American orange juice. Suddenly I felt like my mouth was painfully burning. And that pain returns if I have raw food too soon after a fast.
That's one of the reasons I prefer a good vegetable soup
. On all the other fast days, I spend the last couple of fasting hours making a soup. But we can't do that on Yom Kippur.
What are your favorite pre and post-fast menus and foods?
May you all have a wonderful year.
Gmar Chatima Tova!