6 Practical Tips for a Healthier Hanukkah

Food for the Soul

The Jewish festival of lights is a beautiful holiday which celebrates the miracle of oil that lasted eight days instead of one day. We usually celebrate it by lighting candles, singing songs, playing games and sharing family memories.

Food is a big component of this holiday, especially latkes, sufganiyot (doughnuts) and anything deep fried.

Although I believe we should feed our bodies good and nutritious food, in holistic nutrition there is a place for food for the soul. Holiday food usually gets into that category.

7 Practical Tips for a Healthier Hanukkah

I would never tell you to not eat traditional holiday foods, because it would be a really bad advice. I will however, suggest a few tips to help you make healthier versions of the same foods.

So, let’s start:

Tip #1. Try Pan Frying Instead of Deep Frying

Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil but that doesn’t mean we have to deep fry everything! By now I think you know that deep frying is very bad for digestion, the heart, arteries, it creates free radicals in the body which promotes disease and aging.

This year instead of frying your food, try pan-frying which means you’ll consume less oil overall. Put the oil inside the batter, and a little bit of oil in a non-stick frying pan, this way you are getting the same latkes but much less oil.

Tip #2. Bake your Latkes Instead of Frying Them

Who said you have to fry latkes? It is messy and smelly and takes too much time.

I love baking my latkes, and believe it or not, I can do a batch of 40 latkes in 20 minutes instead of frying each one separately. Simply line a baking sheet with aluminum paper and brush it with oil, create latkes with your hands and bake for 30 minutes, flip all of them and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve with your favourite applesauce or non-dairy sour cream.

baked potato latkes

Tip #3. Experiment with Other Vegetables

There are literally hundreds of latkes variations, so you don’t have to stick to the boring old fashioned potato latkes recipe.

I’ve done some research and found a gazillion of latkes recipes with veggies other than potatoes. Get out of the box and try something new!

Beet & Carrot latkes

Zucchini Latkes with Tatziki Sauce

Brussels Sprout Latkes

Zucchini Latkes with Yogurt Curry Sauce

Tip #4. Use Healthier Oils in Your Recipes

I’ve done a cooking demo with a Rebbetzin in our community and she was very impressed when we were frying with a good quality oil. We’ve used a grape seed oil for frying and the oil didn’t splash, smoke or smell bad. Even after frying 50 sufganiyot, the oil was still clear and clean. This is how you can tell if the oil is stable in high heat or not, and that oil performed very well.

When buying grape seed oil, make sure you are buying the ones that come in a dark glass bottle and preferably organic.

Keep in mind that grape seed oil is very high in omega 6, which promotes inflammation in the body, so don’t make this your every day oil.

For daily use, I would go with coconut oil, olive oil, red palm oil and avocado oil. The best practice would be to rotate your oils.

Tip #5. Replace White Sugar with Healthier Sweeteners

White sugar is bad bad bad!!!

You don’t have to give away the sweet flavour, just use healthier alternatives, such as: Sucanat, coconut sugar, maple syrup, raw honey, date sugar, coconut nectar and molasses.

Tip #6. Make Mini Sufganiyot Instead of Jumbo Ones

This is my favourite tip and that’s why I’ve left it to the end. Did you know that it takes 20 minutes until our brain gets a cue from our stomach that its full? That is the reason why so many of us overeat – we just keep eating until we feel stuffed and bloated. When you are making mini sufganiyot, you are kind of tricking the brain and by doing so helping yourself eat less. Try it, it really works.

One large sufganiya is the equivalent of 6-7 mini sufganiyot (depending how small you make them of course), I use shot glasses to cut the dough, so mine come out to be like Timbits in size.

mini sufganiyot

That’s it!

Small changes in the kitchen can have a significant impact on the health of your family. Embrace the process of change, and forget about perfection. Enjoy your family instead!

Feel free to leave your comments below and remember that I am here to support you on your journey to health!

Wishing you a happy Hanukkah and may your home be lit with the glow of God throughout the entire year!