In truth, I do not have the magic answer to what is best to eat before a fast. I’ve definitely tried it all, from carbohydrate loading to eating a tablespoon of honey just before a fast begins. But after years of experimenting I have my simple, pre-fast menu that I think is balanced, hydrating, and satiating. Some fasts, I am admittedly hungrier than others but in discussing this with others, it seems to be the case for everyone. A few other simple tips, don’t grossly overeat before a fast, it just makes you excessively tired and puts your digestive system into overdrive. Drink lots of water and then drink some more. Start drinking extra water a day or two before the fast so that you have some extra hydration in reserve. And of course, limit caffeine a day or two before so that you do not get a withdrawal headache. Add watermelon to this menu too.

Mushroom Cauliflower Soup

Photo by Kitchen Confidante

Serves 8

Nutritious, savory, and filling but not heavy at all. This is good all year round but a nice start to a pre-fast meal.

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced, about 1 ½ cups
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 cups button mushrooms, sliced or cut into pieces
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag frozen cauliflower, defrosted
  • 6 cups water or vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and just cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cauliflower, and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add water/broth, salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and partially cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

With an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add white wine and mustard. Rewarm and serve.

Traditional Whole Roasted Chicken

Photo by Food Network

Serves 4

Can be doubled

  • 1 (4 lb.) whole chicken or chicken cut into pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or margarine, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons honey, optional

In a large, oven safe baking dish, place chicken breast side up. With your fingers, gently separate the skin from the flesh, leaving the skin on, but making a pocket to season the chicken meat.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, mix oil/margarine, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika. rosemary, thyme, garlic, orange zest, salt and pepper to form a paste. Rub paste under chicken skin and on top of chicken skin coating everywhere. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and pour wine over and around chicken. Roast for 45 minutes. Open the oven and baste chicken with pan juices and drizzle with honey if using. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, basting once or twice during the last few minutes of cooking.

Carve and serve warm with pan juices.

Ultimate Roasted Garlic Potatoes

Photo by Kitchen Sanctuary

Serves 8

I’ve tried every kind of roasted potatoes and these are deeply flavored and perfectly crispy. I like the additions of balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. If you don’t have time to roast the garlic just use fresh, but roasted garlic is richly sweet and delicious.

  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 head roasted garlic* or 6 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds small baby red or yellow potatoes cut in half

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easier clean up.

In a small bowl, whisk mustard, vinegar, roasted garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper until thick and well mixed.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet. Pour mustard mixture over potatoes, mixing until the potatoes are thoroughly coated.

Roast potatoes for 50 - 70 minutes until crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.

*Roasted Garlic

Slice the top off of the head of garlic (horizontally). Set the garlic with exposed top on a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Generously pour about 2 tablespoons olive oil over the garlic head and then wrap tightly with foil. Place aluminum on a baking sheet or in a dish and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 45 minutes. When cool, squeeze out the cloves from the skin and use the cloves and accumulated oil.

Maple Roasted Heirloom Carrots with Tahini Drizzle

Photo by Calm Eats

Serves 6

This is a new addition to my menu. It was a big hit this summer and for many on Rosh Hashanah and it fits well into the theme.

  • 3 packages small baby heirloom carrots, peeled (or 1 3 lb bag colorful carrots, peeled and sliced in spears)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon (juice of one fresh lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Place carrots in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss well.

Roast in the oven for about 15 - 22 minutes until caramelized, and softened but still holding shape and a crispness.

While carrots are roasting make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk tahini, olive oil, juice from 1 lemon, soy sauce, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix. Add 2 ice cubes and let them melt a little. Then mix. If the sauce is smooth, then it is done. If chunks still appear, add one more ice cube and stir again.

Drizzle sauce over carrots and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photo by Sally's Baking Addiction

Makes 16 large cookies or 2 ½ dozen regular size

Traditional, perfect every time, this one’s a keeper chocolate chip cookie. Serve with pareve ice cream. This recipe is adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine or butter, melted & slightly cooled*
  • 3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
  • Any other mixins of your liking, m&m, coconut, nuts, etc.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the melted margarine, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the egg, then the egg yolk. Finally, whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will

be very soft, yet thick. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Cover the dough and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or up to 3-4 days. Chilling is mandatory. I highly recommend chilling the cookie dough overnight for less spreading.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow it to slightly soften at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Roll the dough into balls, about 3 Tablespoons of dough each. The dough will be crumbly, but the warmth of your hands will help the balls stay together. Roll the cookie dough balls to be taller rather than wide, to ensure the cookies will bake up to be thick.

Place 8 balls of dough onto each cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked. They will continue to bake on the cookie sheet. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note on cornstarch: If you don’t have cornstarch or don’t want to use it, simply leave it out. The cookies are still very soft.