First of all, Pesach Sameah (Happy Passover) to all my Jewish friends and readers!
In the Jewish tradition “Passover” is the memorial of Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of slavery in Egypt by the power of the Most High God. It’s the most important of all the Jewish feasts.
On Holy Thursday, which is the memorial of Christ’s Passover with his disciples before His Passion, many Christian families join in the Seder celebration by incorporating the traditional Jewish Seder foods and symbols on the table, but with the addition of memorializing Christ’s institution of the Eucharist (the Sacrament of His Body and Blood) and the Holy Priesthood on this most holy of nights.
I love the idea of a Christian Seder meal on Holy Thursday. My family celebrated Seder meals (or at least ate a lamb roast) on Holy Thursday when I was growing up. We certainly ate our Seder in haste, as the Israelites did, so that we could scoot out the door in time for Holy Thursday Mass that evening. But despite the haste, I always loved the symbolism of the Holy Thursday meal (and the tasty food- lamb is a Wood family favorite for sure!)
In my own young Catholic family, my desire is to celebrate a Seder supper on Holy Thursday as well. But our kids are still so little that for the past few years I haven’t found it worthwhile to put forth all the money and effort for a Seder meal that the kids were too young to really appreciate, let alone put into their mouths and actually eat! [My picky eater toddlers aren’t exactly ready to eat horseradish as the “bitter herbs” on top of matzah or dip parsley into salted water. Someday…]
This year, I had a different idea. Instead of doing a lamb roast and some of the more fancy side dishes that belong at a Seder, perhaps I could incorporate the spirit of a Seder meal in a simplified and simplistic way that a young Catholic family (mine is composed of myself, the Hubs, and two small toddler boys) could enjoy, and that my kids would actually eat.
I think I’ve come up with a toddler-friendly, budget-friendly, pregnant-tired-mama-friendly Catholic Seder menu! And the best part is, the entire Seder (including decorations) will cost me about the same or less than buying an uncooked lamb roast at the grocery store. (I’m calculating about $24.00 will make this simple Seder for a family of four, plus we’ll have leftovers).
Simple Toddler-Friendly Catholic Seder Meal: (* = recipe included at the bottom of my post).
- * Spiced lamb meatballs with balsamic-fruit compote (my 15-month-old LOVES these meatballs!)
- * Avo-ziki sauce (my alternative to the “bitter herbs” course – this sauce goes so well with the meatballs and on pita or matzah)
- Crash hot red potatoes (recipe from The Pioneer Woman – it can be found here.)
- Applesauce (my kid-friendly alternative for Haroset)
- Pita bread with butter (my kids prefer soft bread to hard crackers, otherwise I’d do matzah)
- Concord grape juice (perfect alternative to wine for toddlers and pregnant mamas)
- Mini round white coconut cake (my grocery store sells delicious gourmet mini-cakes in the bakery section. Instead of making my own round white cake (symbolizing the sweetness of eternal life) or a lamb cake for my centerpiece, I’m going to save time and effort and buy the bakery’s gourmet mini coconut one. It’s delicious, easy, and will be the perfect little taste of sweetness for the 4 of us).
I’ll use a white table cloth, white candles, white napkins, and white (fake) flowers that I already have at my house, along with my white everyday dishes. (Easier cleanup than bringing out the fine China this year. Also less stress for me about giving said plates to my toddlers). I’m also headed to the Dollar Tree tonight to see if I can find some heavy glass “goblets” for my boys’ servings of grape juice. I’d like them to experience the symbolism of the special Seder Cup, but I don’t want to tempt disaster with one of my more expensive fluted glasses.
So that’s the deal for our simple toddler-friendly Seder! I wish I had pictures to show you today, but I won’t have those and the review of how it goes until after Thursday night. I’m not planning to say any of the Seder prayers during our Holy Thursday meal. For the ages of our kids, it’ll be enough to have a specially set table, a special menu, and to talk with them about the story behind the different foods and symbols as we eat our meal.
Other fun stuff you might want to check out for Holy Thursday and Holy Week:
FREE printable: Holy Thursday coloring page (we’ll be whipping out our washable Crayolas for this on Thursday!)
FREE printable Holy Thursday craft from Catholic Icing (this looks a bit labor intensive but FUN!)
Argentine Lentil Stew Recipe (One of the ladies in my Catholic mom’s Yahoo Group suggested making this recipe for a Good Friday simple supper, in honor of the newly elected Pope Francis I from Argentina. I thought it was a fantastic idea and had to pass it along to my readers).
Recipes Mentioned in my Toddler-Friendly Seder Menu:
(These are taken from the book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo)
Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Balsamic-fig compote:
1 lb. ground lamb
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp onion powder
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 dried figs sliced (or any dried fruit – pears, dates, prunes, etc).
1 sprig fresh rosemary
preheat oven to 375. In a mixing bowl, combine all the spices with the lamb using your hands. Form into approx. 16 small meatballs, about 1 oz. each, and place them in a large baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes.
While the meatballs bake, in a small saucepan combine the water, balsamic vinegar, figs (or whatever fruit you choose) and rosemary. Simmer until the texture becomes thick. Serve the meatballs warm from the oven with the compote.
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup grated cucumber
1 small clove garlic
juice of 1 lemon
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp fresh dill, fine chopped (optional)
Happy Passover and Happy Holy Week my friends!