The harvesting of health

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. Read her weekly ‘Lighten Up’ fitness blog online at www.stljewishlight.com/fitness. 

By Cathleen Kronemer

We have recently made the transition in our home from the air conditioner to the open windows, allowing the cool breezes to waft in, welcoming autumn in all its early glory.  The approaching of Sukkot, too, is a happy reminder that a season of new fruits and vegetables has also arrived.  

When our daughters were young, we enjoyed decorating the partially enclosed tree house of their backyard swing set with colorful depictions of fruits and vegetables, cut from construction paper and tied to strings of yarn. After-school snacks were always enjoyed in the makeshift sukkah as we explained the symbolism of the holiday to our children.  Tradition tells us that the roof of a sukkah should be left open so that those dwelling inside might always be able to see the sky.  

Taking a skyward view of life is always good advice.  It challenges one to think “outside the box” and to set lofty goals.  Both of those statements describe our attempts to coerce our younger daughter into trying new vegetables.  Not being adventurous when it came to culinary delights, she tended to stick to her tried-and-true regimen of carrots and celery.  One of the culinary traditions associated with Sukkot is the serving of dishes which feature ingredients stuffed within others, representing the cornucopia of plenty with which we have been blessed, and for which we hope will come throughout the New Year.  This might be a way to get your own finicky eaters to try new fruits and vegetables as they are served with more familiar foods nestled within….or even the other way around!

A common dish found on many Sukkot festival tables is stuffed peppers. By taking familiar ground beef or ground turkey, adding some interesting seasoning, and stuffing it into a brightly colored bell pepper, it will beckon even the fussiest of eaters.  Stuffed fruit pies, too, are commonly served on this holiday, presenting the perfect opportunity to introduce fall fruits and perhaps unfamiliar berries, all nestled in a delicious flaky crust.

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The novelty of enjoying as many meals as possible inside the sukkah may be all that is needed to start some new healthy food traditions in your own home.  Embrace the breeze and gaze upward……the sky’s the limit when it comes to good health and nutrition!