End That Mishloach Manot Block: Creative Themes and Healthy Recipes

February 13, 2013
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The holiday of Purim is fast approaching–quite early this year–and lucky for me, because Purim is one of my favorite Jewish holidays.  My children are counting the days, because they know that on Purim I look the other way as bags and boxes of sweets and treats pile up outside our door.  I make the conscious choice to be a practical mom, rather than a determined dietitian, but I do try to include some healthy choices in the gifts I give to others.

If your mishloach manot (gifts of food) basket looks like it was sponsored by Hershey’s, perhaps you may want to try something different this year.   We take time contemplating our costumes, so why not our gift baskets?

We are obligated to give at least two foods to at least one person.  While time and budget often dictate our choices, and there never seems to  be enough of either, here are a few healthy and kosher substitutions that the kids may even thank you for:

  • Use whole wheat flour, instead of white flour (white whole wheat flour is less noticeable).
  • Substitute standard chocolate with a high-cacao dark chocolate.
  • Replace some junk food with some toys, sports cards, or comic books.

I love the idea of building mishloach manot baskets around a theme.  It gives me some focus and can get really fun.  I am no Martha Stewart, so my friends know better than to expect award-winning craftsmanship, but I try to get points for creativity!  Below you can find some of my favorite themes (starred items have recipes included below):

  • Taste of Israel – Olives, Hummus, Whole Wheat Pita Chips, Zaatar
  • Spa Surprise – Herbal Tea, Chobani Greek Yogurt, Apple Chips* and Granola*
  • Coffee Lovers – Fresh Ground Coffee, Flavored Creamers, Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
  • Roman Holiday – Whole Wheat Pasta, Sauce, Biscotti
  • Movie Night Light – Air Popped Seasoned Popcorn, Terra Chips, Dried Fruit
  • PB&J – Natural Peanut Butter, All-Fruit Preserves, Whole Grain Bread
  • Very Veggie – Vegetable Snack Chips, Low-Calorie Dip, Edamame
  • Lower East Side – Whole Wheat Bagels with Low Fat Cream Cheese and Packaged Lox

Here are a few recipes to help you create your healthy mishloach manot:


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Hamantashen

Yields 36 hamantashen

These come out amazing with white whole wheat flour; if you use regular whole wheat they will be a little darker.


  • Prep Time : 40 min
  • Cook Time : 10 min
  • Ready Time : 50 min


Pumpkin Filling:

  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


  • 2 Eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • ¾ cup Sugar
  • 2½ cups white whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 teaspoons Baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. For filling, mix pumpkin with the rest of the filling ingredients, set aside.
  3. For dough, beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together in a mixer or by hand. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until well combined.
  4. Place dough on a floured surface and roll out to 1/8-inch thickness, cut out rounds with a cup or biscuit cutter.
  5. Drop a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the circles, pinch three corners together forming a triangle. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes at 350°F.
  7. Egg wash if desired to make them shiny.

Nutrition Information for 1 cookie: 94 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 13 g carbohydrates, 1.2 g fiber, 2 g of protein

Healthy Homemade Granola


16 servings

I love homemade granola. You can change the flavor to your liking and it is a great snack on its own or with a yogurt.


  • Prep Time : 10 min
  • Cook Time : 20 min
  • Ready Time : 30 min


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup nuts of choice (slivered almonds, chopped walnuts)
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • ¼ cup shelled hemp seed (or flaxseed)
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, cherries, apricots)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, wheat germ and hemp seeds.
  3. In a small pot slowly heat brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, salt, cinnamon and vanilla together. Heat until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Pour over oat mixture and mix well. Lay granola on a large sheet pan. Sprinkle with a little water and smush handfuls with your hands.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl, add dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information per ½ cup: 200 calories, 10 g fat, 26 g carbohydrates, 4.8 g protein

Cinnamon Apple Chips

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 1.53.48 AM4 servings

These are addictive so make a lot.


  • Prep Time : 10 min
  • Cook Time : 2 hour
  • Ready Time : 130 min


  • 2 Granny smith apples
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
  • Cold water


  1. Turn oven to lowest setting.
  2. Fill a bowl with cold water and sprinkle over the lemon juice. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice apples directly into the bowl of water.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the apple slices on the sheet after shaking off the excess liquid off it.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Put into the oven for at least 2 hours, until the apple slices are crisp.

Nutrition Information: 74 calories, 20 g carbohydrates

Tamar Genger MA, RD is the Executive Editor of with Jamie Geller, the number one food and recipe site for the kosher foodie with over 5,000 recipes and a growing community.  Tamar is also a dietitian and mother of three amazing children. She works to balance her passion for healthy cooking with her insatiable desire for chocolate!

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.