Spring has sprung. That means Passover and Easter are just around the corner. And our local grocery stores have geared up for these two important religious holidays. There are aisles dedicated to Easter candy -- Peeps, chocolate bunnies, and creme filled eggs. There are hams in the meat section and hot cross buns in the bakery. You can find Easter baskets, plush stuffed bunny & chick toys, and egg dying kits.
You'll also find an expanded selection of Kosher foods. All my local supermarkets have special end-of-the-aisle displays for Passover. Several different kinds of matzos, matzo meal, potato pancake mix, jars of borscht and gefilte fish, macaroons, and my personal favorite -- toasted coconut marshmallows.
Passover commemorates "The Exodus" from Ancient Egypt and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery. The Old Testament teaches that when Pharaoh finally freed the Israelites, they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise. Flat bread, matzo, is a reminder of the rapid departure of the Exodus. For the duration of Passover, also called The Feast of the Unleavened Bread, no leavened bread is eaten.
For people watching their sodium intake, the larger supermarket selection of matzos at Passover is really good news. Matzos are a thin crispy cracker-like product (similar to Carr's water crackers). They come in 7 x 7 inch squares and are usually fairly low in salt. During Passover, I like to stock up on them. Last week I picked up a box of Manischewitz Whole Wheat Matzos. No sodium whatsoever! I also got a box of Osem Egg & Onion Matzah, just 5.5 mg. sodium for one entire cracker.
Matzoh crackers are usually simple in flavor but with a lot of crunch. So they're a great foil for tasty dips and spreads. Homemade hummus or white bean pate are wonderful served with matzos. The same goes for homemade onion dip, guacamole, salsa, cottage cheese spread, etc. To tell the truth, I love matzos spread with butter. You can even use them to make quick pizza snacks. A smear of tomato sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, and broil until bubbly.
Another great product is matzo meal. It's made up of crushed, ground matzo crackers and is a perfect substitute for breadcrumbs because it's usually sodium free. You can use it in meatloaf, for crumb toppings, for dredging chicken or fish. Last week I also picked up a couple of canisters of Manischewitz Matzo Meal for those summer months when I'm too hot to think about baking low sodium bread just for crumbs. Matzo meal is a great alternative to store bought bread crumbs. You can also make your own matzo meal by grinding up whole crackers.
As with everything, be sure to check the labels. Some of the flavored matzos are almost as high in sodium as Nabisco brand products. But the simpler plain, egg, and whole wheat matzos are usually perfect for low sodium diets.