As you know, I am married to a Jewish man and we celebrate Passover every year. I am not Jewish but I love Passover because it is very ceremonial. The Seder plate bears the ceremonial foods and contains a selection of nutritious foods.
Maror — Bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery the Hebrews endured in Egypt. Use horseradish
Karpas — A vegetable other than bitter herbs representing hope and renewal, which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of the Seder. Parsley or another green vegetable.
Zeroah —Roasted chicken neck or shankbone; symbolizing the Paschal Lamb (Passover sacrifice), which was a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night.
Charoset — A sweet, brown mixture representing the mortar and brick used by the Hebrew slaves to build the storehouses or pyramids of Egypt. In Ashkenazi Jewish homes, Charoset is traditionally made from chopped nuts, grated apples, cinnamon, and sweet red wine.
Beitzah – A roasted hard-boiled egg, symbolizing the korban chagigah (festival sacrifice) that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night.
Hazeret – Many Jews use horseradish for maror and Romaine lettuce or another bitter green for hazeret.
Horseradish, Parsley, Lamb, nuts, apples, cinnamon, egg, and lettuce are all very healthy and nutritious food.
Like the Japanese New Year feast, Osechi, all of the dishes have symbolic meanings and are nutritious too. For example, kuromame, black soy beans represent “hard work and good health.” Herring roe, Kazunoko, contains many tiny eggs in a tight cluster and is eaten as a wish for an abundant harvest and fertility. Tazukuri (dried anchovies) literally translates as “making rice crops” and eating these tiny fish on New Year’s symbolizes a bountiful harvest.
Both ceremonial dishes were started more than 1,000 years ago, and people who lived in those days knew what is good for us. Although it is hard to acquire chemical free, pure soil ingredients of the traditional dishes nowadays, we should remember why we are eating them and stick to old style cooking as close as they used to.