Thursday, March 25, 2010

Is Ensure Kosher for Pesach?

Ensure Plus Complete Balanced Nutrition Drink, Ready to Use, Homemade Vanilla Shake, 24 - 8 Fluid Ounce Bottles
The technical answer is yes. I think. How about Gatorade?

My mother's favorite piece of  halachah (Jewish law) involves locusts. Locusts are kosher. Why? Because if locusts eat all of your crops, you've got to eat something.

Judaism promotes life above all else. The preservation of health and well being trumps nearly any dictate involving food. If you are ill, pregnant or nursing, you must eat on Yom Kippur. If a pregnant woman craves traif, first you tempt her with something else, then you offer her bread dipped in the cooking broth of the traif object. If neither of these sate her, she is allowed to eat traif.

So, here it is with Pesach beginning at sundown on Monday. I am on a low residue diet, due to gastritis, ulcers and colitis. This includes ONLY:

  • Refined breads, cereals, crackers, chips and pasta with less than 1 gram of fiber per serving (Note: Ideally, look for products with zero grams of dietary fiber per serving.)
  • White rice
  • Vegetable juices without seeds or pulp
  • Fruit juices with no pulp
  • Milk, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, and strained cream-based soups and sauces (Note: No more than two cups per day)
  • Tender meat, poultry, fish and eggs
  • Oil, margarine, butter and mayonnaise
  • Smooth salad dressings
  • Broth-based soups (strained)
  • Jelly, honey and syrup

    The positive spin is that I now fit into my prepregnancy pants. The downside is I've lost too much weight too quickly. Prior to this last week, I was on a clear liquid diet, and I simply wasn't able to get enough nutrients to function (i.e. stand up, parent a toddler, nurse a 4 month old). So, I've been drinking Ensure Plus for weight maintenance.

    The problem: it contains cornstarch which cannot be eaten on Pesach. With as little as I can eat right now, I'm reluctant to give it up for Pesach. Where does halachah fall on this one? Anyone?

    Now, a truly pesachtik diet IS essentially a low-residue diet. We're talking matzah (refined starch), matzo ball soup (broth, refined starch, tender meat), matzah brie (eggs, no pulp juice, refined starch), and gefilte fish (tender meat). If I follow Sephardic vs. Ashkenazic laws, I can even eat white rice and fry it with eggs, though I'll have to leave out the soy sauce.

    Renaissance Seder Plate
    But, G-d help me, I can't eat bitter herbs. I can't drink wine. I can't eat charoset. I can't eat parsley, let alone dip it in salt water. We've wiped out half the seder plate and two thirds of the seder itself!

    There's a saying, "If you're going to be angry something is happening, go ahead and be angry with G-d. G-d can take it."

    I am pissed. I am pissed this is happening. I want to eat. I want my baby to be healthy and to be able to eat enough to sustain both of us. How much gefilte fish does a girl have to buy to be kosher for Pesach on a low residue diet? How can a girl eat gefilte fish without horseradish? Who DOES that?

    You might ask why I started a food blog while I can't eat. The answer? I was stuck in bed with time on my hands, and I've been meaning to get this off the ground for a while. I can write and dream about all the food I will eat come May when I will regale all with the huge boxes of delicious raw vegetables and fruits arriving from my CSA. I will make a huge pot of minestrone, bake a loaf of hearty wheat bread and make strawberry shortcake for dessert. I might even have a glass of wine. Or two.

    Here's hoping.

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