Pushing the Matzo Ball Forward–A Russian Passover

A Vegetarian Russian Jewish Passover



Shiitake schmaltz and plant-based sirniki? These are two of the amazing “healthified” delicacies that 34-year-old Jewish holistic nutritionist Meribel M. Goldwin has created, putting a modern spin on classic, Russian comfort foods. This Passover, eating healthy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing tradition.

On March 8th, at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Goldwin, who is the founder of Blossomed Life LLC, hosted “Pushing the Matzo Ball Forward,” a lecture on modernizing Russian-Jewish cuisine, followed by a tasting of the recipes. The tasting portion of the evening was curated by Elena Tedeschi, chef of Well Rooted Kitchen. This project was created as part of COJECO (Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations) BluePrint Fellowship and Genesis Philanthropy Group.

After the event, I sat down with Goldwin to discuss how she’s transforming beloved holiday recipes, fostering health while maintaining flavor.

Sara-Kate Astrove: Is Russian-Jewish cooking unhealthy?

Meribel Goldwin: Yes, especially processed meats, very salty foods—anything with mayonnaise and too much processed carbs.

S-KA: So how did these foods become Passover staples?

MG: Jews in Eastern Europe who lived in shtetls had to do a lot with very little. Matzo ball soup preserved matzo crumbs by combining them with oil and fats from chickens or cows. Schmaltz was made from chicken skin and fat, fried until crispy and brown. Now we know that deep fried meat is carcinogenic.