The last 50 years have seen a tremendous shift in the food industry. Unfortunately, this change has been toward ultra-processed foods with low nutritional value. Sticking to a kosher diet has become more challenging. On average, heavily processed foods make up 60 percent of the standard American diet. Among these unhealthy choices crowding supermarket shelves, finding appropriate options can be difficult.
As corporate-owned farms have replaced traditional farmers, the focus of food production has turned from nutrition to profits. In recent years, consumers have increasingly begun to question what they eat.
It’s easy to see why the market for kosher food has been steadily increasing. Kosher foods are viewed by many shoppers as trustworthy, unlike many mass-marketed products. A kosher label indicates that a food product is genuine.
If you’re considering a kosher diet, you probably have many questions: what does kosher certification mean? What qualifies a food product to carry the kosher label? What does following a kosher diet entail?
We’ll provide you with the answers to all your questions in this article. At Nutrition by Tanya, we aim to make the process of weight loss as effortless as possible, and a start fresh kosher diet can achieve that goal.
What Does it Mean When Food is Kosher?
Practitioners of the Jewish faith traditionally adhere to a kosher diet, which carefully follows laws and rules that have a deep-rooted history in ancient times. A type of Jewish law known as Kashrut dictates which foods Jewish people can eat, which are prohibited, and their preparation. Kashrut laws must be followed even in how the food is served.
“Kashrut” is a word derived from the root Kaf-Shin-Reish, which means proper or fit in Hebrew. The word “kosher” also comes from this root and is used to indicate foods and ritual objects that follow specific standards, in accordance with Jewish law.
While kosher laws are to be followed all year long, during Passover (Pesach), additional limitations apply. Therefore, some kosher foods are not “kosher for Passover.” For example, a bagel is kosher most of the year, but not for Passover and should be avoided during that time. If you follow a paleo or kosher aip diet, for example, you need to ensure the foods you eat are fit for paleo Passover.
How Food Becomes Kosher Certified
Some people think that a food being kosher means a rabbi must have blessed it: this is a common error. While observant Jews may recite blessings over their food before eating, these blessings are not part of what makes the food kosher. Foods can be kosher without the involvement of a rabbi. Even fruits and vegetables from your garden can be kosher (if there are no bugs).
Kosher means the food in question, including its ingredients, was processed and prepared in adherence to the body of law governing observant Jewish people. It is a religion-based way of eating with a foundation in traditional Jewish beliefs.
Kosher certification refers to a process that a company uses to ensure their food is fit for observant Jews to eat. Not all Jewish cuisine is kosher, and the kosher certification is not limited to Jewish foods. Even Thai or Chinese food could potentially be kosher if it followed kosher laws.
General Rules of a Kosher Diet
When considering following a kosher diet, there are certain rules the food you consume must abide by. Familiarize yourself with these rules, which include:
- To be kosher certified, fowl and mammals must be slaughtered in adherence to Jewish law.
- Before the poultry or meat are consumed, all the blood must be removed or broiled out.
- Any produce needs to be carefully inspected for insects, which can’t be consumed.
- Fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, and eggs can be consumed with either meat or dairy.
Kosher Diet Restrictions
Not only are there rules you must follow, but also restrictions you need to be aware of if you’re considering following a kosher diet. These are:
- In the Torah, it states, “You may not cook a young animal in the milk of its mother.” This rule is strictly following in the homes of observant Jewish people. Meat and milk products can’t be mixed, cooked, or served together. That means these food groups are not to be consumed at the same time. Utensils are kept separate for both food types, including “fleshing” for meat and “milchig” for dairy. After meals containing meat, one must wait anywhere from three to six hours, depending on their custom, before eating or drinking dairy. However, after consuming dairy products, there is no wait time before you can eat meat.
- Some animals are entirely off-limits. And, this includes not only meat from these animals, but also eggs, milk, and organs.
- Even with animals that are kosher, certain parts of the animal may not be consumed.
- Products derived from grapes must only be made by Jewish producers.
- All utensils, cookware, and cooking surfaces used for preparing meat may not then be used for dairy, and the other way around is also true. Utensils that are used for kosher foods may not have been used for preparing or serving non-kosher foods.
- The Torah strictly prohibits the consumption of blood. This dietary law has a specific reason from the Torah: the belief that the soul of the animal in question is contained in the blood. This rule applies to poultry and mammal meat, but not to fish. Due to this rule, all blood must be removed from kosher animal products.
- Casein and gelatin are prohibited when making kosher wine.
Kosher Diet Foods
Three categories of food make up the kosher diet. These are:
Meat and Poultry
The Torah’s laws are strict when it comes to what types of meat can be eaten. Kosher animals include cows, bulls, sheep, lambs, goats, and veal.
- Kosher meat can only come from animals that have cloven (split) hooves and chew their cud. If an animal has one of these requirements but not the other (for example, pigs), then it is not kosher.
- Kosher-approved poultry follows accepted tradition and includes chickens, Cornish hens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Birds that are scavengers are prohibited.
- In order to be eaten, all animals must be killed by a Schochet. This role is filled by a person who has extensive training and knowledge in traditional kosher slaughtering.
- All blood must be removed, and the animal prepared properly before being cooked.
- All items used in the processes of slaughter, cleaning, preparation, and packaging must also be kosher.
One significant facet of the kosher diet is that meat and dairy foods are prohibited from being served or eaten at the same time. For example, kosher beef may not be eaten with cheese, so that eliminates many recipes. Fish and dairy products can be eaten together. Kosher rules designate either a three or six-hour space in between when meat and dairy are eaten.
Some poultry sources are forbidden in kosher dining. Banned birds include owls, swans, eagles, vultures, and pelicans. Not only does this apply to the bird itself, but also to its eggs.
Due, in part, to the strict safety standards that kosher meat must undergo, health risks of kosher diet are minimal to none.
Dairy foods include any product derived from milk and encompasses the following: butter, yogurt, and cheese. Even a small amount of dairy in a product then classifies that item as being dairy. To qualify as kosher certified, dairy products must have specific features:
- They must be the product of a kosher animal.
- Every ingredient must also be kosher, meaning there can be no meat byproducts (such as rennet or gelatin).
- Kosher equipment must be employed for producing, processing, and packaging the food in question.
All foods that do not belong to the meat or dairy category are known as pareve. Examples of kosher foods that qualify as pareve include eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. Pareve foods are neutral and may be paired with meat or dairy.
Many beverage products, such as sodas, coffee, and tea are considered pareve. Labels must always be carefully checked with any product to determine what’s inside and what restrictions may apply.
Eggs must be from a kosher bird and may not have blood, so every egg must be checked to pass inspection.
Since wine was often used during ancient religious rituals, as well as routinely sanctified by pagans during its processing, products derived from grapes are strictly restricted. While whole grapes are not affected, wines and other grape products may not come from non-Jewish sources. In general, only grape juice and wine are affected by these rules. This includes any fruit drink that has grape juice as an ingredient.
Beer may or may not be kosher, since some fruit-flavored beers may have grape derivatives.
One item you may not have thought would be an issue is baking powder. Certain baking powders do not qualify as kosher because they contain cream of tartar, which is a wine crafting byproduct.
Kosher fish are sometimes trickier to identify, as they aren’t always labeled. Even on fish that are labeled, the label may not be accurate. Cross-contamination can also occur during processing. To ensure you’re buying fish that are truly kosher, it’s best to locate a reliable source who strictly adheres to kosher rules.
Kosher fish need to have both scales and fins, which need to be taken off before cooking the fish without ripping the skin underneath. Any food products that are derived from fish, such as fish oil, can only be taken from kosher fish.
Shellfish are strictly forbidden. Other non-kosher fish include eels, catfish, and sharks.
Types of kosher fish include:
- Red Snapper
- Sea Bass
Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains
All fruits, vegetables, and grains are considered kosher, no matter how they are grown and are an integral part of a kosher fresh diet. However, all produce must be inspected carefully to identify any insects, especially those that are prone to harboring such pests, such as cruciferous vegetables and apples. Insects and other creatures with many legs are forbidden from consumption by kosher law.
When eating kosher, rules apply not only to the food, but also to the utensils you use to prepare, cook, and serve your meals. Any time a utensil handles a food item, that food’s type is transferred to the utensil, which will thereby carry over to the next food the utensil touches. For example, if you are baking chicken and you poke it with a fork, the fork has become meat. The rule for dairy and meat not comingling is equally true for the utensils used with these foods.
The dairy or meat status can only be transferred when the food in question is heated or during prolonged use. The status of your plates is not important if you are consuming cold food in an eatery that is non-kosher.
If you wash your dishes by hand, dishpans must be used to keep meat and dairy soiled plates and cups separate. They cannot be soaked in the same sink. Dishwashers can present an issue in a kosher practicing household. Dishes that have held meat and dairy need to be kept separate at all times until clean, so they will either need to be run on different dish racks or run on separate cycles. Separate potholders and kitchen towels should be used for meat and dairy, as well.
Understanding kosher food labels is crucial to choosing the right foods at the grocery store. If you’re unsure of whether a food item is kosher, refer to its label to see if it has been designated as kosher.
The labels are as follows:
- OU: A symbol that stands for Orthodox Union. This label means the product packaged is kosher (although not always kosher for Passover). It is used for pareve products, and, therefore, the item will not contain dairy or meat ingredients.
- OU-D: This symbol appears on kosher dairy products, those that include dairy ingredients, and sometimes those that were manufactured on equipment also used for dairy products.
- OU-M/OU-Glatt: This label is used for meat that is kosher (but not always kosher for Passover).
- OU-F: Kosher fish carry this label, although sometimes they may carry the simple OU symbol. These items are not always kosher for Passover.
- OU-P: OU-P refers to a product that is both kosher and pareve all the time, including for Passover.
- OU-D-P: Products marked with OU-D-P contain dairy and are kosher even during Passover.
- OU-M-P/OU-Glatt-P: Meat items marked with either of these are kosher even during Passover.
- OU-F-P: This label is shown on fish and items that contain fish and indicates that it is kosher even during Passover.
Is it Difficult to Keep Kosher Diet?
Despite having certain rules, adhering to a kosher diet doesn’t have to be hard, even in today’s times. If you pay attention to the labels, familiarize yourself with kosher products at stores, and purchase meat from a kosher butcher, it can be relatively easy to make kosher ready meals at home.
Outside of the home, however, eating kosher can be slightly more challenging. If you’re invited out, for example, to a dinner party at a non-kosher home, be upfront but polite about your dietary restrictions.
When dining out, having access to restaurants that feature a kosher diet menu takes the guesswork out of the situation.
Kosher Diet Menu Examples
This is a meal plan that shows kosher diet examples, which has been designed for a Jewish adult with a typical, average desk job that lends itself to a lifestyle without much activity. You don’t have to follow this plan strictly; rather, it gives you a glimpse of what eating nutritiously on a kosher diet can look like. At Nutrition by Tanya, we customize a plan for you specifically to both lose weight and maintain that loss, taking into account your present fitness level, personal preferences, and weight loss goals.
This meal plan implies that all kosher rules are followed. In addition to these meals, always drink lots of water every day.
Weekly Kosher Meal Plan
- Kosher Diet Breakfast: Frittata (recipe below)
- Lunch: Pita sandwich with turkey and vegetables
- Dinner: Salmon with roasted sweet potatoes
- Breakfast: Leftover frittata
- Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken
- Dinner: Chicken and broccoli with brown rice
- Breakfast: Yogurt with berries
- Lunch: Veggie and cheese quesadilla
- Dinner: White fish with steamed asparagus
- Breakfast: High fiber cereal with skim milk and fruit
- Kosher Diet Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken
- Dinner: Chicken breast with vegetables
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with peanut butter and bananas
- Lunch: Fish tacos
- Dinner: Vegetable soup
- Breakfast: High fiber cereal with skim milk and fruit
- Lunch: Summer Asian salad (recipe below)
- Dinner: Sweet and sour turkey meatballs with quinoa and vegetables
- Breakfast: Avocado on whole grain toast
- Lunch: Chicken and vegetable kebobs
- Kosher Diet Supper: Honey mustard chicken (recipe below) and potatoes
This is just an example of how to meal plan on a kosher diet. If you would rather follow a diet that is paleo, you can easily have a kosher paleo breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At Nutrition by Tanya, we specialize in creating a variety of healthy, delicious kosher diet meal plans. Let us assist you in figuring out a healthy kosher diet plan that suits your taste and lifestyle.
The Health Benefits of a Kosher Diet
Kosher food is often healthier and even safer to consume than other products on grocery store shelves, due to the strict rules manufacturers must abide by during production. There is a much lower risk of bacterial contamination for kosher meat and dairy than factory farmed animal products. Due to the strict requirements of kosher foods, each vegetable, fruit, and grain item must be scrutinized to ensure that no insects are present, unlike non-kosher foods.
The rule prohibiting meat and dairy from mixing in the same meal cuts out many unhealthy choices, including calorie-dense pasta dishes, pizza, and cheeseburgers. This type of diet is ideal if you choose to follow a kosher paleo meal plan. Fast food is also significantly restricted in a kosher diet since most fast food items combine ingredients like beef and cheese. When foods such as these are eaten, your digestive system struggles to break them down properly. Indulging in these foods increases your cholesterol levels and causes you to gain weight. Kosher diet plans prevent high caloric intake.
If you need fast and convenient meals on the go, you can find kosher meals ready to eat that are much healthier than their fat-, preservatives, and sugar-laden counterparts. Kosher ready meals can make it easy to keep kosher with a busy lifestyle.
Since kosher meat is required to be broiled if the blood was not removed from the meat before cooking, it’s prepared in a healthier way than frying. The large focus on vegetables and fruits in kosher dieting is also beneficial for the body as these essential staples provide necessary vitamins and minerals.
Finding Kosher Food in Restaurants and Supermarkets
Contrary to what some people may think, “kosher” is not a style of food preparation or a category. Restaurants that refer to themselves as “kosher-style” serve traditional Jewish foods that are usually not certified kosher. Bagels, blintzes, knishes, and other traditional Jewish foods all have the potential to be non-kosher is they’re not prepared in the proper way outlined in the Jewish law.
Any type of cuisine can be kosher if it is prepared following kosher regulations. For example, many popular kosher Chinese food restaurants exist in New York and Philadelphia.
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced in half
Beat the eggs and egg whites together, adding salt and pepper, if desired. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium. Add the eggs evenly to the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Then add vegetables on top and squirt with a small amount of lemon juice. Cook for 3-5 minutes more, until eggs are fully cooked.
Lunch: Summer Asian Salad
- 2 packages of ramen noodles, flavor packet removed
- 3 cups of green cabbage, shredded
- 2 cups of red cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup of carrots, shredded
Place sugar, oil, vinegar, and soy sauce into a saucepan and heat over medium. Bring just to a boil and remove from heat. At the same time, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break noodles up and place onto a baking sheet. Add almonds. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. In a bowl, add the cabbage, carrots, and green onions. Once cooled, add the additional ingredients. Mix well and serve.
Dinner: Honey Mustard Chicken
- 5 boneless chicken breast halves
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup mustard
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix honey and mustard together and sprinkle in salt and pepper, if using. Put chicken in a baking dish and pour the honey mustard mixture evenly to coat. Sprinkle with rosemary. Bake for 45 minutes, ensuring that the chicken is fully cooked. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans or broccoli.
These days, everyone is in a rush to get everything done, and not many people feel like they have the time to cook a meal themselves. It may seem even harder to find suitable recipes to prepare. Don’t resign yourself to eating unhealthy meals. If you don’t have the time to cook, eating healthy kosher prepared diet meals is a better option. Choosing tasty and nutritious kosher prepared meals has never been easier. Nutrition by Tanya offers many choices for kosher meals ready to eat.
A kosher weight loss program can be highly beneficial for allowing people to lose weight and eat more nutritiously. You may have struggled in the past with your weight, even if you’ve taken steps to improve your nutritional intake. Attempting the process on your own can be difficult. At Nutrition by Tanya, our knowledgeable staff can assist you by teaching you how to adhere to a kosher diet. As part of this process, we design and successfully execute kosher weight loss programs, customized to all our clients.
When you hear the word “diet,” you may automatically think of negative feelings of deprivation and difficulty. Food that tastes good isn’t always good for the body. However, healthy cooking can be tasty cooking! Dieting doesn’t have to be a hard or unpleasant experience. At Nutrition by Tanya, we’ll help you look and feel your best by simplifying the process of healthy eating. Call us at 844-826-9234, and we’ll support you by creating a customized plan that factors in your level of activity, lifestyle, and personal taste.
In our commitment to our clients, we forge a one on one relationship with you to give you the personal attention you deserve. You won’t find a company more committed to your needs that Nutrition by Tanya. Call today!