Top 5 Kosher for Passover Foods You Should “Pass” Over

Kosher for Passover Processed Foods

Food plays an important role in the celebration of Passover. The stringency of the consumption and even ownership of leavened foods (Chametz) inspire many who may not keep kosher year round to be more observant of kosher laws on Passover.

It has also created a prosperous kosher for Passover food industry. “Passover represents 40% of annual kosher food sales and each year, more and more new products are introduced to keep up with the needs of the growing and ever-changing kosher consumer.” (Bill Springer, co-producer of Kosherfest quoted in the Paramus Post).

The “ever-changing kosher consumer” cannot possibly survive eight days without cookies, cereals, breads, pizza, and sodas apparent by the abundance of Chametz impostors in the kosher for passover food aisles.

Most processed Passover foods will include at least one artificial ingredient. And if you’re lucky enough to uncover an “all natural” product, what that really means is it has a ton of sugar. (When did highly refined white sugar become an “all-natural” ingredient?).

This week I made my yearly pre-passover trek to the kosher market to view what the food companies fabricated with what I call the four food groups of Passover; cottonseed oil, MSG, white sugar, and potato starch.

I admit it’s challenging to prepare your house for Passover and find the time to make all your staples from scratch. But to continue the consumption of some of the worst food offenders – proven harmful to our health – should be unacceptable and leaves little reason for food producers to offer healthier alternatives.

The Top 5 Kosher for Passover Foods You Should “Pass” Over at the Market this Year

1. Mayonnaise

Glick’s Mayonnaise Ingredients: Cottonseed oil, water, acetic acid, whole egg, sugar, salt, xantham gum, EDTA.

All brands of kosher for passover mayonnaise that I saw were made from cottonseed oil. The “lite” versions added potassium sorbate and cellulose gums to the mix. (Trading in some fat for more artificial ingredients makes people feel better about eating it?).

Cottonseed oil is produced by a highly industrial process from the seeds of the cotton plant, and is one of the four main genetically-modified crops (next to soy, corn, and canola). The oil contains high levels of pesticide residues and is unstable and rancid because of its high heat processing. It’s high level of omega-6 fatty acids should also raise health concerns.

Cottonseed oil is found in a high percentage of Passover products because it can replace soy and canola oil – both kitniyot, another category of foods considered forbidden on Passover by some traditions.

Solution: Make your own mayonnaise. Don’t be intimidated by homemade mayonnaise, it is simple and fast to prepare.

2. Chicken Consomme, Soups and Seasoning Mixes

Osem Chicken Style Consomme Ingredients: Salt, flavor enhancer (monosodium glutamate), tapioca starch, sugar, palm oil, spices, dehydrated vegetables ( onions, celery), flavorings, dehydrated parsley, antioxidants (butylated hydroxyamisole, butylated hydroxytoulene).

Most soups, consommes, and seasoning mixes I found contained MSG except for Lieber’s – but with hydrogenated palm oil shortening and artificial flavors, it’s far from a healthy alternative.

MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate, is used in processed foods to enhance flavor. Read what else MSG does from these health experts;

“A widespread and silent killer that’s worse for your health than alcohol, nicotine and many drugs.” Dr. Mercola.

“MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees – and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.” Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.

Some other health effects of MSG include obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue, disorientation, and depression.

Solution: Make your own stock. If you are not getting enough flavor in your chicken soup you are not simmering the bones long enough.

I have a separate slow cooker that I use for Passover and making stock is one of the first foods I prepare. You can buy chicken bones and chicken feet (for extra gelatin) from your butcher, throw it in your slow cooker and let it do its thing for 24 hours. You’ll never buy soup seasonings again. You can prepare this in a soup pot as well but preparing for passover is like cooking four  thanksgiving meals in a one week period and I’ll take whatever help I can get – a slow cooker makes passover preparations much easier (and they are not expensive).

3. Osem Bissli

Osem Onion Bissli Ingredients: Matzo meal, palm oil, dehydrated onions, and garlic, slat , flavor enhancer (monosodium glutamate) spices, edible acid (citric acid) contains gluten.

These popular, addictive Passover snacks are addictive for a reason – all Bissli flavors have MSG. Read #2 why they should be avoided.

Solution: Make your own snacks. I could not find one salty, crispy, crunchy type kosher for Passover snack that were made out of real ingredients. Snack on organic matzah with organic butter or make some kale chips.

Kale chips: tear the leaves off the stems, and rinse. Season with olive oil or coconut oil, and sea salt. Bake for 10 minutes in a 350F oven or for a raw version, overnight at the lowest setting (or use a dehydrator).

4. Potato Chips

I can’t decide what’s worse; snacking on MSG flavored matza meal (Bissli) or deep fried potatoes in cottonseed oil.

Though one of the few passover foods with just two ingredients, every brand of passover potato chips on the market is made out of potatoes and cottonseed oil. You want to know how to fry your arteries in eight days or less? Snack on kosher for Passover potato chips.

The only exception I saw was Lays that has a special passover run in which they use palm olein oil – though I’m not sure what the “olein” is so decided to avoid it.

Solution: see 3# above.

5. Non-dairy Whipped Topping and Non- Dairy Coffee Creamers

I had to see with my own eyes the chemical creativity of a non-dairy, non-soy imitation food “thing”.(As if the year round version of non-dairy kosher creamers and whipped topping isn’t bad enough).

Kineret Non-Dairy Whipped Topping Ingredients: Water, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, sugar, polysorbate 60, carbohydrate gum, salt, artificial flavors, carrageenan, polysorbate 80, disodium phosphate, annatto.

In recent years many food manufacturers have started to phase out trans fat from their products.

Apparently the kosher food industry is keeping trans fat makers in business.

Shortening and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are all trans fats. Trans fat have been associated with numerous health issues including cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, sterility, learning disabilities, growth problems and osteoporosis.

Solution: Use real cream! Or for non-dairy alternatives use coconut milk or make your own almond milk.
If you can’t figure out how to make a non-dairy version of whatever you need a non-dairy creamer for don’t make it.  Your passover guests will not revolt because dessert did not include a buffet of fake food look alikes.  (At least mine never have).

What are some of your real food solutions for Passover? What other worst offenders have you seen in the market? Please share your ideas for healthier snacks and staples in the comments.

Sources and Recommended Reading:

Web:

Complete Guide to Fats and Oils – Real Food Digest

The Health Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods – Real Food Digest

The Truth About Cottonseed oil - Agriculture Society

MSG: IS this Silent Killer Lurking in Your Kitchen Cabinets? - Dr. Mercola

Interview with Dr. Russell Blaylock on Devastating Health Effects of MSG, Aspartame, and Excitotoxins- Natural News

Books:

Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills -  Russell Blaylock

This post is linked to the Food Renegade | Fight Back Friday.

"PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog." I only endorse products that align with the ideals of Real Food Kosher and that I believe would be of value to my readers.

Comments

    • Lisa says

      It’s fine for at least one week. Not sure how much longer beyond that. I would rather make smaller amount once a week than a large amount that can last much longer. You can add liquid whey if a dairy version works for you and that lasts much longer.

    • Rena Schochet says

      One of the first things I do is make mayo for Pesach. Although our family uses cottonseed oil, I think we will be using more olive oil this year. The Pesachdik recipe is very easy, and you can add fresh garlic to your mix to enhance the flavor.

      Using whole eggs is not entirely healthy, but it is certainly much better than the store-bought stuff.
      Chag Kasher v’samayach to all.

      PS – I make enough mayo for the whole Yom Tov, and usually end up making more because it is so popular with the family.
      Rena
      Health, Wellness, and Weightloss Coach

      • lisa says

        You need to be worried about the cottonseed oil not the whole eggs. Whole eggs are a whole food and full of nutrients our body needs (hormones, brain function, etc).

        Cottonseed oil is an industrialized product, probably genetically modified, full of pesticide residues, and rancid from its high heat processing – I wouldn’t even consider it a food.

        If you’re worried about the cholesterol content of eggs, I suggest you do more research – especially if you are a health coach. I have links in my fats and oils post for further reading;
        http://www.realfooddigest.com/foods-to-pass-over/complete-guide-to-fats-and-oils/

  1. Julie says

    I am not Jewish, but one of my favorite meals is matzo ball soup! I have made it using the package matzo ball mix, but was wondering if you would share with us a healthy recipe for matzo balls.

    • lisa says

      Matza Ball Soup is not one of my specialties. I think I’ve made it once before. I limit how much wheat based dishes I prepare.
      This year I may try an almond flour matza ball (elanaspantry.com has a recipe) or make chicken meatballs in its place. There are so many recipes you can find online for matza balls and much of it is a matter of personal preference, some prefer a denser variation and others like them fluffier. Regardless, making it yourself is a better option than the packaged mixes.

    • Bridget says

      Matzo balls are easy to make & so much better than the boxed version. If you find a can of matza meal, there should be a recipe on the back. It’s basically matza meal, egg, water & salt. Seriously – how is that harder than mixing the boxed stuff with water? Hints: use a cold stainless bowl, & if possible use bubbly water instead of flat to get lighter balls.

  2. says

    Great Post! I’m always surprised at how people can’t bear the thought at being a little deprived for 8 days. We eat lots of almond cake (made with almonds) for breakfast and I let my kids have chocolate milk for a treat on Passover. This year I am going to make my own syrup to avoid the chemicals that the Passover ones have. We will also be using raw milk! I am also planning to make my own butter from raw cream because I have become very spoiled by all of the good butter we have been eating lately.

    • Lisa says

      Hi Beth,
      Each year, we buy less and less from the kosher markets as I learn how to make more things from scratch. It’s a good lesson for our kids (and ourselves) of how much we rely on processed foods.
      How do you make your almond cake?
      I use cocoa powder and honey if my kids want chocolate milk.

  3. says

    Funny thing about Passover–this is what led my husband and I to finding real food. I got so tired of having to toss chametz products around Passover and then trying to find other alternatives with bizarre sounding chemicals that I started researching real food. And here I am two years later facing another Passover, but with far less to get rid of!

  4. says

    The pareve Passover margarine is absolutely disgusting. I have started to make desserts and kugels for Passover using olive oil when I want something to be pareve. I’d rather not make something than eat a dish prepared with the Passover margarine.

    • lisa says

      I think it depends on your particular health issues if any.
      I generally don’t do much wheat/gluten since we do better on that kind of diet, but I do buy shmura matza for the seder, and have been buying organic whole wheat matza for the rest of the holiday in previous years.

      This year I bought gluten-free matza, and will be saving the wheat matza for times when we do the blessing of hamotzi. Some people tolerate spelt better than wheat but it still contains gluten. There is also gluten free oat matza available – though its super expensive.

      Whatever type you choose- at least matza is the one packaged food that still contains minimally processed real food ingredients.

  5. says

    It’s amazing how food companies have found a way for us to avoid chametz over Pesach without having to feel like we gave anything up. Isn’t the “going without” a huge part of the remembrance of the holiday? Every year we remember what our ancestors endured and had to give up, how they suffered and yet grew stronger. Yet we can’t go eight days without kosher for Passover “cake”. I feel that to teach myself and my children about this holiday we truly go without. I don’t buy anything that makes me feel like I’m using the rules to get around the rules. I cherish this time of year to remember and going without chametz makes the holiday that much holier for me.

  6. says

    Terrific list! Being Paleo, I avoid foods like that year round. In fact Pesach is one of my “cheats” because I will eat matza during the Seder (and feel achy the next day, but it’s worth it!). Almond milk makes a decent creamer for coffee. I use that all the time. I prefer cream, but I’m eliminating dairy because of possible weight gain from it. A good spread for matza, besides butter, is solid coconut oil. If it’s in a liquid state put it in the fridge to harden. It’s really good!
    One Passover food that I’ve perfected are macaroons. Over the years I wanted to make a low-carb type and used xylitol to sweeten. Now, the only sweetener I will use is honey. These are amazing cookies which I bake only for special occasions. I usually make a large amount and freeze them, so now I’ve a batch made up for Pesach. I guarantee they won’t stick around for long! The recipe is here: http://paleodietnews.com/4029/paleo-diet-coconut-macaroons/
    Lila Solnick recently posted..The Best Way to Eat Eggs on the Paleo Diet

    • lisa says

      Thanks for your tips! I’m going to try your macaroons. You should also link it to the passover blog carnival – the linky will be up next week.

  7. Rachel says

    Interesting and important info, but let’s be realistic: Passover is 8 days. Most nutritionists would agree that, barring health concerns specific to an individual person (ie, allergies, intolerance’s), eating a bit “unhealthy” every once in a while–or for one week a year–is not going to result in the catastrophic damage to one’s overall health as described in this article.
    For most people, Passover is not only surrounding food, but surrounding trying to find food that’s tolerable for both palette and GI system (and budget!) alike for those 8 days. Giving ourselves permission to consume foods we might not for health reasons the rest of the year can make the holiday more pleasant, and has not killed anyone yet!

    • lisa says

      Thank you for your input Rachel, but I disagree.

      When did our expectations for what passes for food become so low that we consider “partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, sugar, polysorbate 60, carbohydrate gum, artificial flavors, carrageenan, polysorbate 80, disodium phosphate” to be food? Since when is cottonseed oil a food?
      If people really can’t go without these foods for 8 days then maybe we need to re-examine our reliance on processed foods. The variety of passover cereals, cookies, pancakes, and other chametz impostors available at the kosher markets seems to defeat the point of what the holiday is about (and also makes the concept of kitnyot completely irrelevant).

      What’s so hard to feed your family eggs for breakfast, fruit for snacks, and meals made up of seasonal produce and quality proteins? The way I feed my family on passover is very similar to how they eat year round. They actually do survive without Bissli and artificially flavored candy for one week.

      No – there won’t be any major catastrophe if they eat those things for one week, but I don’t buy that stuff during the year, why should I start on Pesach?

  8. Shira says

    Palm Oil is one of the worst offenders–have you ever seen a clear bottle with it inside? If yes, then you know that it is not clear, it looks like a bottle of cholesterol.

  9. Linda says

    For the past number of years canola oil has been widely accepted by many orthodox rabbis for use on Passover. Check with your rabbi to see what he feels. Between that and olive oil, you really don’t need any of the other things.
    Two great spreads for Matza – pesto from olive oil, fresh basil leaves, salt, pepper and a bit of crushed almonds for the crunch and a dill spread made of fresh dill, olive oil, salt, pepper and alot of chopped fresh garlic. Can’t make enough of it in my house in Israel!

    • lisa says

      Your matza spreads sound delicious!

      I don’t use canola oil – it’s a highly refined oil, likely to be genetically modified, and contains trans fats. I think it’s best to stick with olive oil and coconut oil for passover – extra virgin for both does not need to be specially certified.

      You can read more about healthier oils here; http://www.realfooddigest.com/complete-guide-to-fats-and-oils/ it has links for further reading.

  10. Jason says

    There is nothing wrong with normal levels of monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in food. This is pretty well established in the scientific world.

      • lisa says

        Dr. Mercola is not the only person writing about the potential health hazards of MSG.
        Direct from the FDA;

        “Studies have shown that the body uses glutamate, an amino acid, as a nerve impulse transmitter in the brain and that there are glutamate-responsive tissues in other parts of the body, as well.

        Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s chorea. Injections of glutamate in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain.”

        • Matt says

          I was really hoping for some good information but then I saw your attacks against MSG. The quote from the FASEB study which the FDA commissioned only suggests that abnormal functioning of glutamate receptors has been linked with neurological diseases, it doesn’t even hint that the abnormal functioning can be caused by MSG. It’s like saying donuts are dangerous and then using a quote about how abnormal insulin receptors cause diabetes to support your statement. Here’s a pretty good overview of 2 studies, one being the one where your quote is from which suggest that MSG is almost completely safe except for possibly a very small group and the 2 studies disagree about that.

          http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/documents/MSG%20Technical%20Report.pdf

          You’re going to believe what you want to believe but pretty much every credible study of MSG shows no harmful effects. I feel with these types of things it’s best to see where the profit motive is. There’s a ton of money is selling books and subscriptions and snake oil. Have you seen how cheap MSG is? There would be a lot more money in designing a safe alternative if it was actually harmful.

    • Lisa says

      Thanks Sarena!
      It’s one of the healthiest options for pesach (and year round). Cottonseed oil and vegetable oils are not healthy cooking oils.

      • Sarena says

        I was told toda by Rabby Zushe Blech, Earth Kosher, that I canuse the organic spices, mac nut oil, cacoa nibs, unsweetened shredded coconut, and coconut oil from Mountain Rose.
        And also the Young Living products….on all these items provided they aremt ktnios or chometz

  11. says

    How the heck do you check kale for bugs? It looks delicious, but with all those leafy folds, checking sounds like a nightmare. Is there an easy rabbinically approved method?

  12. says

    Great point about many KLP foods being unhealthy. However, no woman (or man) who works full-time will be able to make all those foods from scratch like you suggest, in addition to all the other things that have to be done before Pesach. An alternative solution is just to do without mayo, chips and all those other things on Pesach. Come on people, it’s only a week! Surely we can survive that long without snacks and other non-essentials.

    • says

      You’re right Vicki, I certainly don’t have time to make everything from scratch either, and we do do without many of these things for Pesach, but the point of this post is to make people aware of what’s really in many of these foods and to just eat real food (get real cream instead of creamer – make real chicken soup instead of buying consomme – it’s a two minute process with a slow cooker), and if you really need mayo on pesach then spend time making it, it’s not difficult and if you don’t have the time do without – if you really need a healthy snack alternative kale chips are also very easy, otherwise snack on veggies.

      You do what you can, I just don’t want people using the same reasoning that it’s only one week, what’s the big deal to eat unhealthy for 8 days…
      Lisa recently posted..Real Food Holidays Blog Carnival – Passover 2012

  13. Deborah says

    Finally, someone who agrees that so many Kosher foods are disgusting, especially the ones that are Kosher for Pesach. Thank you for the great tips for substituting healthier options for the chemical laden and artery clogging commercial products!

  14. caje26 says

    I converted to Judaism about 8-9 years ago and I am still learning. Especially all things KOSHER FOR PASSOVER. I am lucky, my husband’s family is Jewish Moroccan and my mother-in-law still makes everything from scratch….ALL YEAR AROUND. My dilemma: Finding/preparing Kosher for Passover items that are PEANUT and TREE NUT FREE. Our children have food allergies. I am telling you – this one is a hard one. This is my second year that I make my own strawberry jam and I search HI and Low for NUT FREE KOSHER FOR PASSOVER Chocolate. I am blessed to have children that like to eat fruit and veggies! If you or anyone has any recipes, suggestions or intel to share, I welcome your input.

    Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy Passover! Hag Sameah!!!

  15. Zach says

    Thank You for this post. I agree with you 100%. I am a vegan who eats whole foods and finds all the kosher for Passover processed foods scary. For non-dairy milk I recommend soaking raw blanched almonds overnight then blending them with water to make almond milk. For non-dairy ‘butter’ I make some using coconut and olive oil. (one can google for the recipes)

  16. says

    I have still yet to find a kosher for passover parve margarine that does not contain hydrogenated oil. Many recipes call for using parve margarine but the margarines’s are all so unhealthy! I would love it if “Earth Balance” brand would produce one fort passover. Has anyone found one that does not contain hydrogenated oil?

    • says

      Hi Varda,
      I have not seen any “earth balance” type products for passover, but I would encourage you to transition to healthier options. Coconut oil makes a great pareve cooking fat. And if you are making a dairy meal, butter is a very nutritious (and delicious) fat full of the fat-soluble vitamins our bodies need.
      I don’t use Earth Balance during the year either, I find that it’s still a very processed food full of vegetable oils that need to be limited in our diets for optimal health.
      You can read more about choosing fats here:
      http://www.realfoodkosher.com/complete-guide-to-fats-and-oils/

  17. says

    Thank you for this intelligent and well researched post. I also find that we don’t eat much differently on Passover than all year round – that’s a really good thing! Meat, chicken, fresh vegetables and my kids love fresh fruit or ices. The only hard part is switching over the dishes! But, its always good to read over this post when I feel I may cave in and let them have that bissli that all their friends are eating…! We need a cultural revolution!

  18. Orley says

    How do you know that cottonseed oil has high levels of pesticide residues? I studied/work in the industry, and I don’t agree whatsoever. please provide reputable source. thank you -

  19. Rory says

    For a nondairy milk substitute may I recommend cashew milk? It’s delicious, but I’ve never seen it commercially. It feels somehow thicker/milkier than almond milk and is mildly sweet.

  20. says

    What a great post! Thank you for pointing out what to avoid during this holiday! At My Most Favorite Food in NYC, we are open during Passover and serve our customers healthy meals and desserts, including Eggplant Rolatini, Spaghetti Squash dishes, Leek Cakes, Fennel Salad and many delicious kosher for Passover cakes, pies and tarts. You can see some of our recipes on our blog http://mymostfavorite.com/blog/. Happy Passover!

  21. Ellis Jayus says

    My good friend at the OU (who shall remain anonymous to protect himself) has provided me with alternatives to this “crap” that his own organization foists upon us. For example: Cottonseed Oil is really not even a food; it’s produced in mass quantities for the holiday because it’s cheap. The intelligent alternatives are safflower, sunflower, or grapeseed, all of which are available with P symbols from various kashrut organizations. He also told me that the industry will only change upon consumer demand. Given the ease with which a year-round kosher products can be certified for Passover, it should be relatively easy to Pesach-ize many more products than our currently available. Either we keep the pressure on OU, OK, Kof-K, Star-K for healthy alternatives or we all become Sephardic! That would sure throw a monkey wrench into the holiday money machine!

    • lisa says

      I think coconut oil, olive oil, and butter would be the best options.

      I’m not sure consumer demand is at the point where we will see many more healthier products – people really like the variety of processed and convenience foods that are now available for passover. I hope it changes soon…

  22. Linda Gustavson says

    I just bought some Glick’s Potato Starch and noticed that the ingredients state “Pure Potato Starch.” That sounds good to me. Any comment? Linda G.

    • Lisa Rose says

      Hi Linda – sounds good to me too :)
      I should have been more clear in my introduction – I did not mean to make it seem like potato starch is as bad as hydrogenated fats and MSG.
      It’s fine to include it in your recipes.

    • Lisa Rose says

      Natural Value coconut milk can be used for Pesach. It’s also very easy to make it yourself – just blend coconut flakes with warm water in a blender.

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