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Blessings for a Good and Sweet Year

The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) is soon upon us and I wanted to take this opportunity to bless us all with a good and sweet year. This is the traditional blessing that Jews wish upon each other and it goes hand in hand with the custom of eating apple dipped in honey to symbolise a sweet new year.

It's interesting that this is the attribute we decide to bless the year with. Sweetness. Why sweetness over any other wish? And why do we wish each other a good and sweet year? Aren't they one and the same thing? The Ishbitzer Rebbe (Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner (1801-1854)) explains that everything that comes from God is ultimately for good, even if it is unclear to us how so. But when something is sweet, it actually tastes good to us, meaning that our experience is a good, positive one. That is why we bless each other with a good and sweet year - our wish for our friends and fellow human beings is not only that we see that everything that happens to us is from God and is for the good, but it also feels good to us. For me this also highlights the fact that we can and should include sweetness in our diet. It's an important dimension to our food, one that we shouldn't feel we need to suppress and rid ourselves of, but rather know how to include, as part of a whole food and wholesome approach to eating.

There are many traditions involving food for Rosh Hashana. It is a custom to eat certain foods which will be "signs" for the year to come, including apple dipped in honey, pomegranate seeds, carrots, dates and even the head of a fish! Interestingly, these foods are all rich in antioxidants, a rainbow of colours and flavours to grace our festive table.

Until a couple of days ago I thought that I was hosting this year, for all four festive meals over the two days. But like most plans right now, nothing is certain and change and disappointment are around every corner. I'm very grateful that although we won't be able to be with our extended family, I get to sepnd the holiday with my husband and kids. I like to use the customary fruits and vegetables as inspiration for what to cook. I'll definitely be serving my grated carrot salad. I love to add apple, raisins and cinnamon to my challot, I'll throw together a really simple beetroot and herb salad, we'll have salmon, coriander and lemon chicken, chicken baked with rice, some kind of a meat roast (not my forte, but hopefully will work out this time!). I'll also be serving my sweet potato and spinach pie, a brown rice and carrot salad, a big leafy green salad with grated carrot and beetroot and a raspberry vinaigrette. And for my most favourite many options! I will make the delicious apple rose tarts I've been trying out (will hopefully share a recipe soon), apple crumble, chocolate fudge cake... still finalising the rest. In future, I would love to be organised enough in time to share a complete holiday meal plan, with recipes linked for everything. Bear with me as I navigate my way through this new world of blogging.

I want to bless us all with a happy, healthy and sweet new year. We should all have the energy and inspiration to surround ourselves with what we know will bring out the best in us and those around us, especially in regards to food. Here's to including more real food, more rainbows of fruit and vegetables, feeling good about our food choices and enjoying the sweet things.


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