Biblical Eating Explained and Terms Defined
Remember that these guidelines have been given to us for our health and protection. The belief in Yeshua the Messiah does not change our digestive systems. There are plenty of good and healthy foods for us to choose from.
The Biblical guidelines and definitions of what our Creator has sanctified and set apart for us as food are found in Vayikra/Leviticus 11 and D'varim/Deuteronomy 14. Certain items eaten by some have never been called “food” nor “meat” for us to eat, and some things people will eat are called “abominations.”
Avoid all pork and pork products (found in bacon, ham, Canadian bacon, lard, gelatin, Vitamin D3 in milk, and animal rennet and enzymes in cheese). Also avoid shellfish such as shrimp, crab, lobster and fish without fins and scales. All meat must be properly slaughtered (not strangled) and the blood removed before eating (Acts 15:19-21). For more scripture references for why we remove the blood from our meat, click here.
The word “Kosher” means “proper or acceptable.” When this term is applied to foods other than meat, it generally means that there are no expressly forbidden products in the food nor have any touched the food. When it is applied to wine and grape products, Israeli wines produced from Israeli grapes are held to stricter standards. Scripture tells us that grapes are not to be used in the 7th year, not even their aftergrowth is to be used that year. Israeli grapes are held to this standard. Otherwise it means that kosher wine or grape juice produced outside of Israel has had no non-kosher additives and has not been touched by a non-observant Jew and typically has been pasteurized (mevoshel) to ensure this. When the term “kosher” is applied to meat, it generally means that the animal was healthy, slaughtered in a humane manner, and the blood removed.
There are two accepted ways to kosher your meats (referred to as “kashering”):
- Salting and soaking:
To remove the blood from meat by salting, you will need Kosher Salt (found in the baking supplies section of your grocery store) and a metal colander set aside only for this purpose. The instructions are on the box of the Kosher Salt.
- Broiling over an open flame:
An alternate and acceptable means of “koshering” meat is through broiling or barbequing. The meat must first be thoroughly washed to remove all surface blood and then salted slightly on all sides. Those on salt-restricted diets can skip this salting altogether. Broil using a grate that is sufficiently open to allow the blood to drip away from the meat, over an open fire, which draws out the internal blood. When koshering liver, slits must be made in the liver prior to broiling. After broiling, the meat or the liver is rinsed off. Consider before choosing to eat liver that one of the functions of the liver is to filter out toxins in the animal.
The Kosher-Certified Symbol “Hechsher”
The kosher symbol certifies that the food does not contain prohibited items nor have they been processed with prohibited items or on equipment that processes prohibited items. It also separates the food into Meat, Dairy and Neutral, for those wanting to separate these. If you see “Dairy” or “D” with the kosher symbol, then the food contains dairy. If you see “DE”, then it was processed on “Dairy Equipment”, which means a food that contained dairy went through the machinery at some time prior to that item. If you see “Parve” or “Pareve”, then it is neutral and contains no meat or dairy. A “P” or the words “Kosher for Passover” are added if the food is also Rabbinically kosher for Passover. There are many kosher-certified symbols (‘hechsher’) and it would be wise to become familiar with them. (Click here to see a listing of various kosher symbols). Be aware that the different kosher certifying agencies will sometimes differ in what they will accept as allowable. Some are strict and others more relaxed. “Halaal” is not a kosher designation and is for different dietary guidelines.
The kosher symbol, however, does not certify the food is healthy for us. Are we to eat foods laden with preservatives and man-made chemicals, or foods sprayed with herbicides and pesticides? We suggest reading all labels carefully when choosing what we put into our bodies.
A Few Areas to Pay Attention To
Read ALL labels and look for the kosher symbol on the item if you are unsure.
- Gelatin: Please note that “Jello” brand puts a generic “k” on their packaging, but it does contain pork and is not to be eaten. When I called the company, they told me they use the rendered hides from cows and pigs. Why can they put a generic “k” on their packages? This is a good example of why you want to know your kosher symbols. Some argue that when a pig's skin is rendered, it is no longer porkit has been changed into something else. Below are links to some informative rabbinic discussions on gelatin and its status as kosher or not:
“Will These Bones Live?” Yechezkel 37:3, by Rabbi Zushe Yosef Blech
“Getting into the Thick of Things Gelatin,” by Rabbi Avrohom Mushell, Star-K Kashrus Administrator
- Some plastic wrap, foil, pan liners, and cooking sprays use unacceptable oils and fats in the manufacturing process, so look for the kosher symbol on these if you are using this to cover or release your food. It's not such a simple world anymore as this article shows us: “The Story Behind Kosher Plastics,” by Avrom Pollak, Ph.D., President, Star-K Kosher Certification
- Nutritional Supplements and Medicines: Check your labels for “gelatin” capsules or binders. If there is not a kosher symbol or the statement “suitable for vegetarians” or a vegan symbol, then assume it contains pork until you contact the company directly and ask. Some enzymes used in both traditional pharmacy as well as natural supplements are derived from pork. Bovine is from cow, porcine is from pig. If it is not specified, call the company or ask your pharmacist to look it up.
- Sausage casings: It may say “Chicken Sausage”, but the casing may be pork. We’ve found chicken sausage that said “natural casing” on the label to be from a pork source. If you purchase from a meat counter, ask the butcher. If you purchase sausage in a package, check your labels carefully and if the casing source is not specified, call the company and ask. If you are looking for no nitrites or MSG and all natural ingredients, New Seasons Market sells a turkey and a chicken sausage with a lamb casing, Shelton (available at health food stores) sells turkey sausage with a beef casing, and Trader Joe's store brand offers a pork-free, gluten-free, no casings, pre-cooked “Sun-Dried Tomato with Basil and Tomatoes Chicken Sausage” with no garbage added. These are not rabbinically certified kosher.
- Check the “allergy information” included on the label. They are to disclose on the label (in the USA) if the equipment used to prepare the item is shared with foods containing the most common allergens, including shellfish. You may be surprised to find your favorite hummus dip with acceptable ingredients is made using the same equipment as the clam dip.
- “Natural flavors” and various additives and colorings all need to be questioned as to their source.
Where You Can Buy Kosher-Certified Foods
Kosher-certified foods may be purchased at most grocery stores. Kosher-certified meats take a little more hunting to find, especially if you want organic meat. Trader Joe’s has prepared a pamphlet of the kosher certified items they carry, including meat, and Wise Organic Pastures meat is available in many areas as well as on-line. Local Portland area resources for kosher-certified foods and meat includes: Trader Joe's, Wild Oats Markets, New Seasons Markets, the Albertsons store on Shattuck Rd. & Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy in SW Portland, NW Kosher Co-Op, and the Mittleman Jewish Community Center Deli. Links and contact information are here.
Two helpful reference books are (click on underlined text):
Helpful links to on-line references and resources (click on underlined text). We will be adding to this new section as time allows:
If you have any questions or need suggestions, please e-mail Sandi . Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed when you first get started in these things. You’ll get the hang of it pretty soon and it’ll become natural for you. Remember what YHVH tells us in D'Varim/Deuteronomy 30:11-14:
“For this mitzvah which I am giving you today is not too hard for you, it is not beyond your reach. It isn't in the sky, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will go up into the sky for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’ Likewise, it isn't beyond the sea, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’ On the contrary, the word is very close to you - in your mouth, even in your heart; therefore, you can do it!” (CJB)
Let's examine a few scriptures that are used to question Biblical eating standards and oftentimes used to argue that “the law has been done away with”:
1 Timothy 4:1-5 states:
“The Spirit expressly states that in the acharit-hayamim (literally, “the end of the days”, the latter days) some people will apostatize from the faith by paying attention to deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come from the hypocrisy of liars whose own consciences have been burned, as if with a red-hot branding iron. They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods which God created to be eaten with thanksgiving by those who have come to trust and to know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing received with thanksgiving needs to be rejected, because the word of God and prayer make it holy.” (CJB, emphasis added)
Oftentimes this scripture is used to argue that “everything is now clean for us to eat, we just need to pray over what we intend to eat.” What it is saying is quite to the contrary. Paul is talking about people in the end of days who abstain from foods which are clean and acceptable in Torah.
Let's look closely at this scripture. “Truth” in scripture refers to Torah. So we ask, “Which foods did Elohim (God) create to be eaten with thanksgiving?” Was it everything and anything we see or only specific things he created for our food? The word “holy” is the Hebrew word kadosh, which means “set apart” or “sanctified.” What has been set apart or sanctified by the word of Elohim for us as food? Our answer is found in Vayikra/Leviticus 11 and D'Varim/Deuteronomy 14.
For a more complete look at this subject, read:
Food for Thought by Natan Lawrence, which addresses the heart and spirit behind the Biblical Kosher Laws as well as the various Brit Chadashah (NT) scriptures that are used to argue that clean and unclean meats are no longer valid for Believers.
Cookbooks and Recipes
Sandi's Favorite Cookbooks
We are often asked to recommend cookbooks for those wanting to eat Biblically and celebrate the Biblical Holidays. There are many recipes available on the internet and you might be surprised what you may find in your library's cookbook section. Here is a list of the cookbooks we reach for the most in our kitchen (click on the underlined text for a link to further information about purchasing the book):
Sue Gregg's Eating Better Cookbooks for Busy Women No pork or shellfish recipes to have to weed out...NOR white sugar nor white flour! Whole food healthy recipes that really taste good! For those who need to know, there is a “holidays” book, which includes both Biblical Holidays as well as Thanksgiving and some of the ones the Christian Church has adopted. This set is our top all-around favorite for every day meals as well as entertaining.
Light Jewish Holiday Desserts by Penny Wantuck Eisenberg (ISBN 0-688-15985-0). She substitutes part of the fat with a jar of pear and apple-plum baby food. Very tastey and you don't miss the "missing" fat.
The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook, An International Collection of Recipes and Customs by Gloria Kaufer Greene (ISBN 0-8129-2977-2). Mrs. Green not only shares great recipes that are traditional for each Moedim (Appointed Time), she gives an informative and historical explanation of the Holiday and it's traditions.
Kosher by Design: Picture Perfect Food for the Holidays & Every Day by Susie Fishbein (ISBN 1-57819-707-4). We find we are using this book more and more. It is a stunningly beautiful book and it is a joy just to read through the book. For the practical side, if you focus on good health choices, you will need to substitute ingredients or simply change some of the recipes to use a healthy oil or lower fat choice. She gives great presentation ideas for each of the holiday tables we set. I especially like her Challah napkin rings idea! We've been told her new Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen cookbook is wonderful, and Mrs. Fishbein has now produced a series of these popular cookbooks, including Kosher By Design Entertains: Fabulous Recipes For Parties And Every Day and Kosher by Design Short on Time: Fabulous Food Faster.
Sandi's Favorite Wheat-free Flour Substitute
We have been wheat-free in our home since 1997 due to food allergies. We began this journey with our son who was 2-1/2 years old at the time and reacting severely to 55 foods! He now can eat all foods freely, including some wheat and spelt. However, wheat and spelt are a bit challenging to several people in our family and we simply feel better when we avoid them. We are sharing some of our wheat-free recipes because we know how difficult it can be.
Most recipes can be easily converted by substituting the wheat flour with the flour blend below, exept for yeast breads. Yeast needs gluten to rise and that makes yeast breads a bit more complicated. Remember to use all wheat-free ingredients, such as wheat-free flavor extracts (Flavorganics, or Simply Organic extracts) and cider or rice vinegar for the vinegar listed in your ingredients. Wheat-free tamari can be used in place of soy sauce and mustard powder mixed with wheat-free mayonnaise in place of prepared mustard. A helpful book we've used for substituting is “Kitchen Magic: Food Substituting for the Allergic” by Linda Weiss. This helpful book even has a recipe for mock graham crackers if you want to make a graham cracker crust.
Last year we worked with some Chanukah Sufganiyot (jelly donut) recipes that we converted to wheat-free. One is a baked yeast jelly donut and the other is a baked donut without yeast. The yeast version (with raspberry filling) is pictured in the photo at the top of the Chanukah page (click here). These were made by our almost-12-year-old and 8-year-old-daughters. Oh my, did they have fun!
This flour blend can be used in equal amounts to the wheat flour in most recipes, except for yeast bread. It does not contain enough gluten and needs xanthum gum and apple cider vinegar added to rise properly. I just grind the organic grains up together in my grain mill, or you can use purchased, pre-milled flour in the same quantities:
2 Cups Barley + 1 Cup Short-Grain Brown Rice + 1/4 Cup Oat Groats.
Mix together to make flour blend. Substitue 1 cup this flour blend for 1 cup flour called for in the recipe (except yeast breads).
Wheat-Free Breadmaker Challah for Erev Shabbat
Start with all ingredients at room temperature
Mix liquid ingredients together and place in bottom of breadpan
3 Eggs, large or extra large (must measure 3/4 cup), lightly beaten
3 tablespoons Organic Olive Oil
1-1/4 cups Water
1 teaspoon Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add onto top of liquid ingredients in breadmaker pan.
3 cups Wheat-Free Flour Blend (see above) or gluten-free flour such as rice flour
2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
1/2 cup Non-Instant Organic Dry Milk
1-1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
3 tablespoons Sucanat or Sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/8th teaspoon Vitamin C (powdered or crushed tablet)
2-1/2 Teaspoons RED STAR® Active Dry Yeast
2/3 Cup Raisins
Place pan in breadmaker and set to a medium crust. Add raisins at appropriate time near end of kneading cycle (many breadmakers will “beep” to let you know it's almost done kneading). This will look like stiff pancake batter when kneaded and cannot be braided. Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before turning out onto a cooling rack.
If the loaf sinks in the middle when cool, remember to write a note on the recipe to reduce the liquid approximately 1 or 2 tablespoons.
If the loaf has a rough uneven top crust, remember to write a note on the recipe to increase the liquid approximately 1 or 2 tablespoons.
Or, if you don’t use a breadmaker:
Mix liquid ingredients together in a mixer bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and add to the liquid ingredients. Using the dough hook, knead the dough on lowest setting for approximately 8 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the raisins when almost kneaded.
Let the dough rest for about 2-3 minutes before turning into a prepared (oiled) 5 x 9” glass loaf pan. Rise in warm place (such as 100° oven) until double in size (about 40 minutes). Bake in a 325° oven (metal pan350° oven) for 40 minutes. Turn out immediately onto cooling rack.
Sandi's Favorite Meatless Gravy
Since I do not use the meat “drippings”, we have found this recipe to be a favorite of ours. We think it tastes like a chicken or turkey gravy and is great over potatoes, meat or veggies. This gravy can be made dairy-free and gluten-free.
In a 2 quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Add flour, and stir often for two minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes.
1/3 cup flour (I use my flour blend, or rice, bean or sorghum flour)
In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Whisk together with the flour/oil, half at a time to avoid lumping.
1 cup organic milk, rice milk or other dairy-free alternative “milk”
1 cup water
1 Tblsp wheat-free tamari sauce (like soy sauce) or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon dried, crushed sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of black pepper (optional)
Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 -15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If gravy seems too thick, simply whisk in additional water, 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Gravy will thicken as it cools.
Stores well in the refrigerator for several days. To serve at a later time, reheat slowly over medium heat, making sure to stir well. Add a Tablespoon or two of water if necessary. Yield 1-1/2 to 2 cups. Original recipe from Imagine Foods.
Halakha (Guidelines) for
Hoshana Rabbah & Congregation Elim Community Meals:
Please do not bring any beef or beef products (such as beef gelatin, beef casings, etc) into community meals. We've been asked about our reasons for not wanting beef on the community table. We chose this standard after the meat from the dairy cow diagnosed positive with Mad Cow disease went through our local stores here in the Portland area during Chanukah 2003. It keeps things simpler.
Please ensure all dairy items used to make foods brought to the community meals are organic only. This includes butter, cheese, milk, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, etc. Read your labels carefully for any dairy products that might be included in the ingredients (for example, salad dressings, dips, prepared foods and mixes).
Fish, poultry (koshered, free-range or organic preferred), vegetarian (includes fruits, grains & legumes) and organic dairy contributions are all welcome.
If you have questions, please email Sandi at e-mail.