Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Passover: a time for renewal, matzah lasagna, and a butt-kicking.

The weather report called for today to be cold and rainy.  Awesome.  No, really, no sarcasm here.  I mean it.  Awesome!  You see, I have a wicked cold, way too much work to do, am completely unprepared for the 10k I am supposed to be running in less than 2 weeks (more about that later), ate way too much food yesterday (more about that later), really want to finish reading my latest fast-food equivalent of a book, Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes, and was really looking forward to a day of wallowing.  But then, as I reluctantly dragged my still pajama-clad butt to the kitchen for another coffee, I noticed that the light seeping through the closed window shades looked a little too bright for a rainy day.  I probed deeper, opening the blinds and found, to my dismay, it was sunny out.  Not just "sun peeking through the clouds" sunny but "not a cloud in the blindingly blue sky as far as the eye can see" sunny.  Crap.  Now I have no choice but to get out there....

...aaaaand I'm back.  More than 24 hours later.  So my sister called when I was writing yesterday and we ended up going for that walk in the sun on what was supposed to be a crappy day.  And I'm glad I did because just as we finished walking, the crap rolled in and it is still crappy outside.  On a day when I was to do the first of 5 long runs in a row.  Not fun.  I sooooooo don't want to get out there today.  Its cold.  And damp.  And raining.  And humid. And just plain yukky.  But, like I tell myself on the days that I run in torrential rain during the summer, "This is what the weather could be on race day so you better get used to it."  But still, I just can't see to get off my butt and run today.  Where is super-motivating summertime Cayla when I need her?


And remember what I said about eating way too much good food?  Well, I did.  Not just during the Seder for Passover, but also in the weeks preceding it.  Cakes, cookies, pasta, bread, pizza, chocolate, and more chocolate. Now, I am not one to count calories.  At all.  Really.  It's not about that.  Its about being cognizant of the good health of my body and mind, the environment, and setting a positive example for my kids.  And I also recognize that on any diet, you are not expected to be perfect, but instead aim for 80%.   Unfortunately my percentage was more like 20%, at a time when I really do want to be cleaning up my diet.  I even bought (and love) The Kind Diet and Power Foods and having been making a ton of stuff from both of them.  I highly recommend that you pick one, or both, up.  So while my dinners have been stellar, my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks leave a lot of room for improvement.  And I'm using Passover to kick start my healthy eating habits.  So according to me, rabbinical law is forbidding me to eat bread, pasta, rice, doughnuts, or chocolate for the remaining 7 days of Passover.

Dinner #1:
My son liked this so much, he said that I should make it during the year instead of regular lasagna.  It was really good, but let's not get carried away.
Vegetarian Matzoh Lasagna
Serves 4 with leftovers for you to take to work the next day

You need:
1 tub light ricotta
1 egg
4-5 pieces of matzoh
1/2 lb of fresh spinach, steamed and chopped up
2 cups your fave tomato sauce (not chunky)
1 cup sliced & cooked mushrooms
1 cup shredded light mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
s & p & whatever other spices you like

1. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach, and egg.  Taste & add s & p as you feel necessary.
2. Ladle about 1/2 cup tomato sauce  & spread out on the bottom of a 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
3.  Cover with 1 layer of matzoh.  It should take one whole piece and a few broken-off pieces from another piece.
4.  Spoon more sauce and spread out.  Then spread 1/2 the ricotta mixture on top of that, then 1/2 the mushrooms, then 1/3 the mozzarella.
5.  Repeat step 3 & 4.  Then cover with one last layer of matzoh, the rest of the sauce, the rest of the mozzarella, and the Parm.
6. Bake at 350 for about 30 min.  It will be all bubbly and browned and puffy.  
7. If you can resist (it will smell sooooooo good when you pull it out of the oven), wait 5-10 minutes before serving.

Hint #1:  Some matzoh lasagna recipes call for soaking the matzoh first in water.  I find there is enough liquid in the sauce and veggies to soften them up and anymore would make them go mushy.  This brings me to...

Hint  #2:  Use which ever veggies you like, just make sure they are cooked first.  Otherwise, they will release their liquid while cooking in the lasagna and your "noodles" will get mushy.

Hint #3:  I used light cheese because I find that mozzarella and ricotta are so mild anyways that when in a dish like this, their subtle flavour gets lost so why not go for the lower fat option.  However, if you are a strong defender of full-fat cheese, go for it.

Hint #4: This recipe works equally as well with regular lasagna noodles.  But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not use the oven-ready ones.  They are so nasty.  Take the extra few minutes and do it properly.  And this is coming form the world's most impatient cook, me.


This is where you come in.  I need:
1.  Recipes or links to recipes for other awesome Passover dishes.
2.  Words of encouragement to keep me off chocolate, pizza, pasta and doughnuts (for about a week)
3.  Words of encouragement (aka ass-kicking words) to get me out there & running, even when it is craptastic out.



  1. passover recipes? oy...lol.
    Just makes lots of salads, lots of fresh fruit, egg white omlettes, quinoa salads, kale chips. In no time the week will be over. HA.
    Did I help?

  2. You did help. Love the quinoa. Love the kale chips. And I guess as I forget what chocolate tastes like, fruit will start tasting better. I am such a child... Thanks!