Purim is such a fun festival – fancy dress parties, singing & dancing, lots of noise and goodie bags filled with delicious edible treats! What’s not to love?
There are a number of activities which must be undertaken to properly celebrate Purim*, and one of these is the giving of mishloach manot – gifts of food for friends and family. One must give to at least two different people, and each gift must contain at least two ready-to-eat foods or beverages.
Unfortunately, this typically manifests itself as children swapping bags of lurid coloured sugar, while running around screaming on the inevitable chemical-and-carb-induced high that comes as a result of eating it. Call me a killjoy if you like, but I just don’t think that’s much fun for anyone, not even the kids.
I was pleased to hear then, that the Raw Chocolate Company recently achieved kosher certification from KLBD for a huge range of products including many that would be perfect healthier treats to include in mishloach manot gifts. They include raw chocolate bars (6 flavours including 2 with no added sugar), raw chocolate goji berries, raw chocolate raisins, raw chocolate sweet apricot kernels, and raw cacao nibs.
The company uses minimally processed, sun dried cacao beans, and their recipes include very few additional ingredients to let the intense flavour of the chocolate shine. All their products are vegan (and therefore parve) and the chocolate is also Fairtrade certified.
It’s arguable how ‘healthy’ any chocolate can be, but the Raw Chocolate Company claims that their products are higher in plant enzymes and friendly bacteria than their non-raw counterparts, and have higher nutrient values and a more beneficial effect on the body. Sounds good! They certainly taste delicious – my favourite so far is the vanoffe chocolate, flavoured with Ugandan vanilla and Peruvian lucuma. It’s fantastic! The chocolate goji berries are also quite moreish. Rich chocolate surrounding a tart berry. Yum.
The Raw Chocolate Company products are stocked in Holland and Barrett, and independent whole food shops, cafes and delis. You can also buy online.
Of course you can’t just put chocolate into your mishloach manot gifts (well, you could…) so here are some suggestions of additional items to include in a healthier goody bag.
- Monitor the ingredients closely by choosing homemade treats, such as hamantaschen, cookies, or if you’re feeling particularly virtuous, naturally-sweet muffins. (You can browse all of my baking recipes here.)
- Fresh fruit, such as a tangerine, an apple, or a bunch of grapes. Some supermarkets now sell little bags or tubs of prepared apple slices, melon fingers, blueberries, grapes and more.
- Fresh vegetables – for instance mini cucumbers, a bag of pepper sticks or a few baby carrots.
- How about a hard boiled egg? You can even draw a face on the shell!
- Savoury treats like individual cheese portions, or a little pot of hummus for dipping into.
- Popcorn! Air-popped and lightly seasoned with salt – delicious.
- A little box of raisins is always a hit.
- Fruit roll ups/fruit leather – a fruity treat that doesn’t have to be eaten straight away.
- Fruit shapes/fruit snacks – see the ones I reviewed by Bear Nibbles or Fruit Bowl, which are all kosher certified.
- Apple crisps, banana chips, or other crunchy fruit-based snacks.
- Single-serve pot of unsweetened applesauce.
- Individual packs of savoury crackers, oat cakes, rice cakes or breadsticks.
- Vegetable crisps – Kipper loves the beetroot and carrot ones.
- Juice box or bottle of water.
Although not strictly necessary to fulfil the mitzvah of mishloach manot, I like to include a few ‘extras’ too, like these mini groggers, a few stickers or crayons, or other party bag fillers. The spotty box in this photo came from Tiger.
Whatever you put in your mishloach manot, have a terrific Purim!
* The other ‘essential’ mitzvot of Purim are listening to the Megillat Esther (story of Esther) being read aloud, enjoying a Purim feast, and giving gifts to the poor. To fulfil this final obligation I suggest a donation to the Trussell Trust, who provide food banks for needy families in the UK.