Preparing for Passover with Healthy Recipes from Norene Gilletz

Norene Gilletz is one of Canada’s leading kosher cookbook authors. She is a culinary consultant, cooking teacher/lecturer, culinary spokesperson, cookbook author, and freelance food writer, focusing on healthy cooking. A certified Culinary Profession with the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), her culinary career began at the age of three helping prepare meals in her mother’s kitchen and where at age nine she invented her first recipe; she has never looked back. Her books include Norene’s Healthy Kitchen, Healthy Helpings, Second Helping Please, The Food Processor Bible, and The Low Iodine Diet Cookbook. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada. To learn more about Norene Gilletz, visit her web site,


Source: Norene’s Healthy Kitchen by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap Books)

This tender, succulent chicken is made with 40 cloves of garlic to commemorate the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years after their exodus from Egypt. When you serve this, there won’t be an exodus from your Seder table! The garlic becomes mild and mellow from the long, slow cooking, and is also wonderful spread on matzo.

40 cloves garlic (3 whole heads)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 chickens (31/2 lb/1.4 kg each), cut into pieces
2 tsp Kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp dried
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 to 1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth

Additional fresh thyme, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray.

2. Drop the garlic cloves into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute; drain well. (Or place the whole garlic bulbs in a microwaveable bowl and sprinkle with water. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute.) Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins—they’ll pop right out. Set aside.

3. Place the onions and celery in the bottom of the prepared roasting pan. Rinse the chicken pieces well and trim any excess fat. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in the prepared roasting pan. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and parsley, then drizzle with oil. Tuck the reserved garlic cloves around and between the chicken pieces. Pour wine on top and cover tightly with foil. (If desired, the chicken can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated overnight.)

4. Bake, tightly covered, for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes longer, until nicely browned, basting occasionally.

5. Transfer the chicken and garlic to a large serving platter and drizzle with the pan juices. Garnish with thyme, and serve.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings. Keeps for up to 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 4 months.

302 calories per serving (without skin), 7.8 g carbohydrate, 1.1 g fiber, 36 g protein, 11.9 g fat (2.9 g saturated), 108 mg cholesterol, 377 mg sodium, 440 mg potassium, 5 mg iron, 57 mg calcium


• Use 10 to 12 single chicken breasts, with bone and skin. Bake covered for 1 hour, then uncover and bake 20 minutes longer.

Garlic Alert: Some people won’t use garlic during Passover. Instead, add 1 additional chopped onion, 2 chopped red peppers, and 2 cups sliced mushrooms.

Chef’s Secrets

• The Numbers Game: Did you know that an average head of garlic contains 15 to 16 cloves?

• Skinny Secrets: If desired, remove the skin from the chicken before cooking. However, if you want to serve the chicken the next day, cook it with the skin on, then refrigerate overnight. Discard the congealed fat before reheating. Remove the skin before eating.


Source: Norene’s Healthy Kitchen by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap Books)

This dish is excellent for Passover, when it’s nearly impossible to find grains that are allowed as a side dish. Lemon juice and parsley pair perfectly with the quinoa and vegetables. Quinoa also makes a terrific Passover breakfast cereal (see Breakfast Bonanza, below).

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 cup seeded and chopped red pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic (about 2 tsp minced)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil or 1 tsp dried
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Place the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer; rinse and drain thoroughly. Transfer to a medium saucepan, add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper, mushrooms, and garlic and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden.

3. Add the cooked quinoa, salt, pepper, basil, and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with parsley.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings. Recipe easily doubles and triples. Keeps for up to 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator and reheats well. Don’t freeze.

150 calories per serving, 25.0 g carbohydrate, 2.9 g fiber, 5 g protein, 4.1 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 398 mg sodium, 377 mg potassium, 3 mg iron, 35 mg calcium

Matzo Farfel Pilaf:

Substitute 31/2 cups matzo farfel for the quinoa and omit the water. Omit Step 1. Sauté the vegetables as directed in Step 2. In Step 3, add the matzo farfel to the sautéed vegetables and stir until lightly browned. Gradually stir in 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth. Add the seasonings and lemon juice and cook over low heat, stirring often, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Chef’s Secrets:

• Breakfast Bonanza: Cook 2 cups of quinoa in 4 cups water as directed in Step 1. Use half the quinoa for the recipe above. Use the other half as a breakfast cereal. Add a drizzle of honey, some raisins or dried cranberries, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Fresh strawberries or blueberries are another delicious option as a topping. Serve with skim milk or yogurt.


Source: Norene’s Healthy Kitchen by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap Books)

These low-carb chicken kneidlach (matzo balls) are a luscious alternative to regular matzo balls. For people who aren’t able to use matzo meal, these can be made with ground almonds, making them gluten-free.

1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp fresh dillweed
1 lb (500 g) lean ground chicken or turkey
1 large egg
1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
3 Tbsp matzo meal (or ground almonds)
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp club soda or cold water
10 cups salted water

1. In a food processor using the steel blade, process the onion, celery, and dill until minced, about 10 seconds. Add the ground chicken, egg, oil, matzo meal or almonds, salt, pepper, and club soda; process just until mixed. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. In a large pot, bring the salted water to a boil. Wet your hands and shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls. Drop into boiling water, cover tightly, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the balls from the water and transfer to bowls of hot chicken soup or vegetable broth.

Yield: 2 dozen miniatures. Keeps for up to 2 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 3 months.

39 calories each, 1.4 g carbohydrate, 0.1 g fiber, 3 g protein, 2.3 g fat (0.6 g saturated), 21 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 17 mg potassium, 0 mg iron, 3 mg calcium

Source: Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap Books)

Club soda is the secret ingredient to make these matzo balls light and fluffy. Each matzo ball contains 25 calories, 3 grams carbohydrate and less than a gram of fat.

1/2 cup matzo meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder, optional
1 egg plus 2 egg whites (or 2 eggs)
2 tbsp. club soda or ginger ale
1 tsp. oil
1 tbsp. minced fresh dill (or parsley)
2 1/2 quarts salted water

1. In a large bowl, combine matzo meal, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add egg, egg whites, club soda, oil and dill. Mix until blended. Cover bowl and refrigerate mixture for 30 to 60 minutes. It will thicken upon standing.

2. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Wetting your hands for easier shaping, form mixture into 1-inch balls. Carefully add matzo balls to pot, cover tightly and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes. No peeking allowed!

3. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove matzo balls from water and transfer to hot chicken soup or vegetable broth.

Yield: 12 matzo balls. Freezes well (see Chef’s Secrets, below).. This recipe can be doubled easily, but be sure to use a large pot so the matzo balls can expand.

Chef’s Secrets!
Matzo balls can be cooked in advance, then frozen in chicken soup. You can also freeze them on a cookie sheet until firm, then transfer them to plastic freezer bags. Store in the freezer until needed. You don’t need to defrost them first. Just reheat the frozen matzo balls directly in the soup!

If you prefer firmer matzo balls, add 1 or 2 tbsp. additional matzo meal to the matzo ball mixture.


Norene’s Healthy Kitchen

These are so good, you’ll need to pray that they’ll last throughout Passover! Chocolate lifts your spirits when you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed with Passover preparations, and these no-bake treats are the perfect “pick-me-upper.” These are also a wonderful and easy gift to bring to a Seder. Everyone will cluster around you when you bring these to the table!

10 oz (300 g) good-quality dark chocolate (bittersweet or semi-sweet)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups toasted sliced or slivered almonds (substitute matzo farfel for a nut-free version – no toasting needed)
11/2 cups (8 oz/250 g) cut-up dried apricots (scissors work best)

1. Break up the chocolate into chunks and place in a large dry microwaveable bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on medium for 2 minutes, then stir. Continue microwaving on medium for 1 to 2 minutes longer, just until melted; stir well. Cool slightly before stirring in oil, almonds, and apricots.

2. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets (I use Chefs Select parchment paper). Refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes or until firm. Transfer to an airtight container, separating the layers with parchment paper.

Yield: 48 pieces. Keeps for up to 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator, if you hide them well! Freezes well for up to 4 months.

66 calories per piece, 6.7 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fiber, 1 g protein, 4.9 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 84 mg potassium, 0 mg iron, 12 mg calcium


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