Add Vitamin D to Your Tisha B’Av Diet With Fish

With a little seasoning and some ingredient ingenuity, you can whip up a memorable fish dish with a vitamin D bonanza.
July 24, 2020

We’ve just entered the nine days of mourning on the Jewish calendar. Among the many tragic events we mourn during these nine days are the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the exile from Spain and the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the concentration camps. For many, this period comes with a litany of customs, including refraining from listening to music and holding weddings and not buying new clothes until after Tisha b’Av.

There also is a custom not to eat meat or drink wine during the nine days. The Torah makes clear that these foods are indicative of festivity, joy and celebration: “And you shall sacrifice peace offerings, and you shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord, your God.” (Deuteronomy 27:7); “And wine, which cheers man’s heart.” (Psalms 104:15). They also were used in the Temple service. Therefore, we refrain from consuming them until after Tisha b’Av.

In lieu of eating meat, we eat fish. While I was growing up, my family ate fish for almost the entire nine days.

This year, we have the added challenge of a pandemic and everything that entails. In our case, that has meant not having a regular daily routine; managing through work instability; and having the kids at home all day.

Also take into consideration that like most Americans, we have spent a disproportionate amount of our time indoors since mid-March. As a result, we are not getting our regular dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D’s functions include absorbing calcium, aiding in bone development and controlling inflammation. A deficiency of this crucial vitamin can cause a host of health conditions, including muscle weakness, pain, fatigue and mood disorders.

Fortunately, in addition to sunlight, we can obtain vitamin D from supplements and a handful of foods. And fatty fish is a good source of  vitamin D. In addition to healthy omega-3 fats and protein, certain fish contain copious amounts of vitamin D.

Which fish is the best source of this crucial vitamin? Wild salmon, followed by farmed salmon, ahi/yellowfin tuna, trout, smoked whitefish and sardines.

Fish is easy to prepare. It cooks quickly and it can be extraordinarily flavorful. With a little seasoning and some ingredient ingenuity, you can whip up a memorable fish dish with a vitamin D bonanza. The best way to preserve the vitamin D is to bake or boil the fish. Frying may cause vitamin D to break down.

Here are some fish dish ideas to get you started:

    • Canned salmon or tuna salad: Mix in mayonnaise, diced onions, paprika and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
    • Salmon ceviche: This is excellent for hot Shabbat days. Combine small strips of raw salmon with thinly sliced onions, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, salt, pepper and cilantro. Marinate in the fridge for a day.
    • Fish stew: Sauté onions, garlic and red peppers in oil, add tomato sauce, sweet or regular tomatoes, and throw in sliced carrots and some potatoes. When almost ready, add your fish of choice. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
    • Fish ball soup: Like matzo ball soup but with fish. Combine ground fish with matzo meal, eggs and seasonings. Add to a pareve soup broth.
    • Salmon patties: Mix ground fish with eggs, flour, chopped onions and seasonings. Bake.

With summer well upon us, let’s hope the pandemic lifts enough so we can spend more time outside. Our bodies will appreciate receiving vitamin D from sunlight. And let’s hope the Temple is rebuilt speedily, so the first nine days of Tisha b’Av become about rejoicing rather than mourning.

Michael Tanenbaum is a writer and marketer living in Los Angeles. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Consciously Kosher.

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