There’s a lot to do to get ready for Rosh Hashana. Fall clothes to purchase, food to buy, menus to plan and–oh, yeah–teshuva to do. After all that, there’s little time to plan more, but I’d like to humbly suggest one more plan to make all these days of cooking and eating leave us fulfilled and not filled. Take it all or some, and I guarantee you’ll be more satisfied in the end.
1. Get yourself over to the farmers’ market. Sunday morning, head over to the Skokie Market or the Rogers Park one and buy every vegetable you can get your hands on. Picked within the day and then spread across tables by the farmers, these are so gorgeous that to dissolve them in a kugel would be a sin. Chop them all up, put them in big baking dishes with salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil, and you’ll eat the most incredible Yom Tov food. It’s so easy, you can even make it on Yom Tov. Want it to be pretty? Add some fresh herbs on top, and everyone will think you’re gourmet. (Find more detailed recipes here, if you’re the following-instructions-type.)
While you’re at that market, buy yourself a few pecks of apples. Make some homemade apple sauce or baked apples for the best kind of desserts.
2. Stretch your meat farther. I’ve written whole posts about how we manage to serve one small fryer chicken to a whole table (with guests). No one goes away hungry, I promise.
3. Eat breakfast. There are a lot of people who are accustomed to skipping breakfast on Shabbos and Yom Tov. And there are lot of people with less kavana in davening and who dive for the kiddush spread and then overeat at lunch because of it. If this is you, consider breakfast. A lot of rabbis would prefer you pay attention during prayers and stop pigging out. Yours might be one of them.
4. Avoid dessert. Decide now–right now–that you won’t eat junk except on Shabbos. Tell everyone you know that you won’t be eating unhealthy treats except for on Shabbos. Then, stick to it like you would any teshuva plan. Remember bein adam l’atzmo? This is it. And then, when you serve that awesome chocolate cake, serve your hot baked apples too. Sure, it’s not the same, but it’s incredibly good still (really, I promise!), and you can save yourself a slice of cake for Shabbos.
L’shana tova to all! Here’s to a happy, healthy 5775!