This holiday, don’t ‘pass over’ nutritional energy

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Certified Health Coach and a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

With Pesach just around the corner, many of us are preparing to rid our homes of all sources of “chometz,” to be replaced by matzah and its many affiliates. While the treasured recipes that only make an appearance this time of year are often highly anticipated, the sad truth is that by day four or five of the holiday, we have grown tired of matzah balls, matzah “pizza” and potato kugel…at every meal.

Our taste buds — and our stomachs — are not the only body parts to take a hit during Pesach. In the absence of whole grains, oats, brown rice, etc., we may unwittingly be depriving ourselves of critical complex carbohydrates, which are the body’s preferred source of energy. Since most local gyms do remain open during this eight-day holiday, we want to be able to successfully continue with our regular exercise programs and not have our energy depleted in the middle of a workout.

Even the strictest and most observant among us can find a way to navigate through this concern. While matzah may provide some of the complex carbohydrates necessary to fuel our systems through a weightlifting or cycling session, other Pesach-friendly options do exist. Sweet potatoes are a wonderful and nutrient-dense source of dietary energy. A medium sweet potato provides 29 grams of complex carbohydrates and very little fat; it also brings along plenty of Vitamins A and C per serving. Fibrous vegetables, such as spaghetti squash, jicama and yams can also be deliciously prepared during this week, once again offering long-lasting energy and virtually no fat. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, are healthy and colorful sources of not only complex carbohydrates but fiber as well, which can also prove to be most helpful during the week of Pesach.

As we prepare for the traditional retelling of the Exodus, followed by the festival meal, keep an eye on recipes that will respect both the parameters of the holiday as well as the energy demands of an active, fit lifestyle. At the end of the eight days, your body will thank you!

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