Feeding the family is easy chickpeasy
ONCE, OUR options for keeping kosher outside the home were limited and it was safest for observant wayfarers to carry a homemade sandwich. But now there is a much better choice of ready-to-eat products. SouthAfricanRamonaHazan,founder of Me Too!, makes healthy snacks that are perfect for impatient eaters.
“We’re about to launch frozen falafels in a resealable bag — they’re amazing with our tahina sauce,” says Hazan, who has grown her business over 11 years.
Originally she was selling computers by day and producing hummus in her one-bedroom flat by night. “There were bowls of soaking chickpeas on every surface. My first few batches were awful — my friends tasted it and said ‘stick with computers’,” she says. “I knew I’d got it right when they polished it off with a whole challah.”
Hazan now has a purpose-built unit where she and her team produce a tonne of hummus each day, as well as salads, supplying Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Costco, Waitrose and Morrisons.
The new falafel will fill a gap in the snack-food market. “As a mum I know you want to give your children something healthy but don’t always have time to cook from scratch. Falafel is a good way of giving them legumes.
“You can also take a few out of the freezer to pop into a lunchtime sandwich or salad. They’re even a healthy snack on their own.”
Me Too! hummus varieties include original, pepper, chilli, lemon and coriander, beetroot, jalapeno and a version topped with Egyptian dukkah — a blend of seeds and spices, which was inspired by her foodie father’s heritage. Hazan keeps the flavours as close as she can to the original recipes: “We get some good tips from family and do our best to keep them as authentic as possible, even when mass-produced.”
Seaweed is a recent addition to the range and has won Hazan and her company a Quality Food Award.
“Seaweed is the new thing. Nutritionally it’s off the chart — a superfood. Even a little gives huge benefits. One gram provides enough B12 for the whole day. When we saw Jamie Oliver talking about it and how good it was for you, we went for it.”
There are plans to introduce a seaweed falafel, as well as other new falafel flavours — spinach and kale, beetroot and sweet potato.
The Me Too! range embraces other snackfriendly foods — new green cucumbers, dips (baba ghanoush, tahina and aubergine with red peppers) and salads (varieties are Peri Peri chickpea; grilled pepper; curried lentil, Mexican bean and couscous). All are ideal for a healthy lunch on the go.
In winter you may prefer a warm midday meal and Me Too! offers such soups as butternut squash, spinach and courgette, leek and potato, red lentil, tomato and basil and (parev) chicken noodle. There’s also a basil pesto — handy for a quick pasta salad or to mix into salad dressings or drizzle into soups.
If you haven’t even got time to assemble your lunch from convenience products, a tasty alternative is Fresh Wholefood’s macrobiotic, vegan and vegetarian home-delivery service. Husband and wife Julius and Devori Nussbaum and their chefs make the meals in their Hendon kitchen and transport them to your door in ecofriendly brown paper bags and boxes.
They can bring you breakfast, lunch, a snack and a drink in one bag. I tried the breakfast of detox lemon drink (water and fresh lemon juice), a seedpacked no-wheat bread roll and a fresh salad of pickled carrot, avocado and rocket. This came with a super-tasty salsa dressing of coriander, cashew nuts, chickpeas, olive oil and vinegar.
Lunch was black bean salad with sparlic (parsley and garlic) dressing, quinoa salad, roasted sweet potatoes, blanched mixed vegetables and an Asian dressing made up of sesame oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and water. There was also a cheeky date and lemon square — a no-sugar treat, just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth.
“The truth is, in today’s world, people live such hectic and fast-paced lives and one of the first casualties is people’s health and specifically the way they eat that can have many consequences,” says Julius.
Everything was delicious, with the added plus of making me feel saintly. I didn’t even need to make dinner, as the portions were so generous that I spread them across my day.
Golders Green’s Soyo is another boon for those eating on the go — and as the menu is now available via internet delivery service Deliveroo, if you’re too busy to go out to fetch your meal,
you can have it brought to your door. Try the salmon primavera pasta; quinoa salad; salsa tuna (seared tuna on a yummy base of mango and pineapple salsa) or one of the freshly cooked daily soups which come with a side order of bread. If all that healthy food leaves you needing a treat, the Oreo hot chocolate should do the trick.
Those close to Kosher Kingdom, Golders Green, can take advantage of its great Munch and Crunch range.
“We make high-quality food to go that happens to be kosher,” says Karen Staszewski, who started the line in 2012.
There are more than 400 foods in the range, from the very healthy crudités with rice cakes to more indulgent treats such as pains au chocolat, biscuits, cakes, jellies and desserts.
“We’re constantly looking for new modern ideas and listening to our customers,” says Staszewski. “If someone asks for something or gives me feedback, I’ll always look into it. We have just installed a meaty kitchen, so we’ll soon be doing meat fillings in our sandwiches.”
Munch and Crunch products — available only in Kosher Kingdom — include filled bagels and baguettes, cheesecakes, fruit compôtes, soups, goujons and salad dressings, as well as smoothies, wraps, salads and soups. All are beautifully packaged. For crowds, the company also does platters.
Borehamwood locals can swing by Flipside Burger Bar (a part of the Mr Baker group) for a speedy burger. There are straightforward beef versions, or you could have grilled chicken or vegetarian soya burgers. The no-carb brigade can take theirs with a mixed salad or go for a grilled chicken breast or chicken schnitzel served on an Israeli or green salad. With so many options, keepi ng k o s her is no longer an excuse to make do with a packet of crisps and a can of pop.
The classic Middle Eastern dip from Me Too! comes in stacks of flavours
Broccoli boost from Soyo