Singing and dancing. Eating and drinking. Stories, costumes and noisemakers. Purim truly has something for everyone. But I can easily name my favorite of the exciting traditions: mishloach manot, also called shalach manot, which literally means “sending of portions” of food. The idea behind these gifts of food as a way to increase love and friendship is rooted in the ancient world of Purim’s Book of Esther, but resonates just as much today.

In our modern life, Purim seem to have somehow morphed into the Jewish version of Halloween…crazy costumes included. Baskets are filled to the brim with all the candy and sweet hamentashen. But this year, why not take this tradition to a new level? Let’s make our gifts about sharing the beauty and bounty of good, natural, healthy food.

<a href=Purim Basket" width="250" height="333" srcset="https://jewishfoodexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/purim-basket.jpg 250w, https://jewishfoodexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/purim-basket-225x300.jpg 225w, https://jewishfoodexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/purim-basket-65x87.jpg 65w" sizes="(max-width: 250px) 100vw, 250px" />The tradition is that each gift basket has at least two different kinds of food. I like to fill my baskets with all the various ingredients needed to make the power bars in the receipt below, or I make the bars and give them on Purim cut into triangles just like the hamentashen cookies that remind us of the three-cornered hat of Purim holiday’s villain, Haman. They also make a delicious birthday or housewarming gift, or even a much-appreciated teacher gift, and they’re great for breakfast or anytime snack treats.

I’m often asked why I chose the ingredients I use. While good taste is, of course, a top priority, I carefully chose each ingredient for its beneficial, healing properties. Inside these power-packed bars, you’ll find nutritional goldmines such as chia seeds, goji berries, almonds, pumpkins seeds, and raw and local honey.

What exactly are chia seeds? Is this the same thing as the famous Chia Pets? Indeed it is. But this ancient food was used for far more than fun-shaped plants. The Aztecs and Mayans ate chia as a primary energy source. In fact, these little powerhouses also include rich sources of fiber, more omega 3 than salmon and disease-fighting antioxidants. You can find Chia seeds in any health food market or online. I grind mine in a coffee grinder which makes them easy to use in recipes, sprinkle on cereal or even added to a favorite cookie recipe.

Along with chia seeds, goji berries are another ancient food climbing the popularity ranks. Also called the wolfberry, goji berries come from a shrub native to China and are filled with antioxidants and other compounds that may help prevent cancer and heart disease, boost the immune system and lower cholesterol. That brings new meaning to the word powerful!

While not as esoteric as the chia seeds or goji berry, almonds are just as nutritionally impressive. The unique combination of vitamins, minerals and elements in almonds stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, strengthen bones and teeth, boost brain activity and reduce heart attack risks.

Much more than a sweetener, for centuries honey has been used for healing and rejuvenation. However, be careful when choosing honey. Heating and processing kills the enzymes and beneficial compounds, which is why I encourage you to choose raw honey. High in folate and B vitamins, raw honey contains enzymes that can aid in digestion and locally produced honey can help people build immunity to local seasonal allergies as well as serving as a potent cough suppressant.

Lastly, dark chocolate. Ahhhhh!! Besides satisfying that sweet craving, dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, controls blood sugar, is loaded with antioxidants and high in minerals such as potassium and iron…as long as the chocolate you choose isn’t loaded with processed, refined sugar that will destroy all the nutritional benefits.

Complete your power bar Purim basket with some beautiful fresh fruit and let the gift giving begin!