Every holiday has its sweets and treats. Hanukkah has greasy latkes, Purim with its gooey hamantaschen, even Rosh Hashanah boasts apples dipped in honey. And then there’s the most challenging of all holiday treats for a gluten free diet . . . matzah! What gives the crackle and crunch in this otherwise boring Passover delicacy? Let’s break it down.
Traditionally, matzah is made with two ingredients: flour and water. Water is added to flour made from one of the following grains: oat, wheat, rye, barley, or spelt. The mixture is then cooked for 18 minutes at most, just long enough for it to be cooked and before it is able to rise. Because of the grains used, traditional matzah is not acceptable for those on a gluten free diet, specifically those with celiac disease.
So what is a gluten free Passover observer to do? Luckily, along with the rest of the food industry, Passover food brands are catching on to the growing need for gluten free products—now there’s even gluten free matzah! Look for “Gluten Free Matzah style squares,” made by the brands Yehuda and Manischewitz. And, as if we weren’t already fans, Manischewitz has created a full line of gluten free, kosher for Passover products! Find everything from brownie and pancake mixes to macaroons, crackers, and soup broths that are both Passover and gluten free compliant. We also recommend looking for Passover foods made with potato starch and tapioca flour, which are both gluten free ingredients.
The great news is that you don’t need to celebrate Passover in order to reap the benefits of this holiday. The season brings endless amounts of new gluten free foods that only reach shelves around the Passover season. So take out that magnifying glass and head to the kosher for Passover aisle—who knows what holiday sweets and treats you may find!
Ayelet Schieber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. Mrs. Schieber is a great resource for all things relating to food and nutrition, from symptom management to weight maintenance to healthy snack ideas.
Leora Hauptman, MS, RN, CPNP is a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. Mrs. Hauptman has many years of experience working with children with gastrointestinal disorders and developmental disabilities.