Chanukah’s tradition of frying foods to incorporate oil isn’t associated with healthy eating, but dietitian-nutritionist and kosher food writer Beth Warren has three steps to get through the eight nights with a minimum of guilt.
- Step 1 — Plan ahead. With mindful planning, you can prepare for holiday indulgences and select your favorite treats. That’s a proven way to help you snack less throughout the eight days of Chanukah.
Step 2 — Plan for later. Once you preselect your favorite treat, save it for the end of Chanukah. You will have something to look forward to, and that anticipation could contribute a bit of added willpower against other temptations.
- Step 3 — Plan for physical activity. A sure way to balance the added calories that could creep in during Chanukah parties and the winter season is to plan fitness into your day. Keep in mind that your schedule could fill up with parties and menorah lightings, so plan for a minimum of 30 minutes of fitness into your day. And make it fun.
Here are two guilt-free treats for the Festival of Lights.
10 minutes to prepare, 8 minutes to cook
1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup almond milk
2½ tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and coconut sugar. In a separate bowl, stir together the vinegar, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir together until they’re evenly mixed. Pour the batter into a greased doughnut pan. Tap the pan on a table to ensure the batter is even. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes.
Sweet Potato and Parsnip Latkes
10 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook
2 sweet potatoes, chopped in chunks
1 large parsnip, chopped in chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, stems and seeds removed
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Coconut oil if frying
Extra-virgin olive oil if baking
Siracha sauce, optional, to taste
In a food processor, pulse the sweet potato and parsnip chunks. Add in the jalapeno, parsley, salt and pepper, and turn on the processor for about 30 seconds until the ingredients are fully combined. In a bowl, whisk the egg. Add the potato mixture to the egg and mix to combine. Form thin patties from about 2 tablespoons of the mixture.
If frying: In a medium saucepan, melt about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, then add the latkes, about 4 at a time, and cook 2 to 4 minutes per side. Add and melt more coconut oil as needed. If baking: Place the latkes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and drizzle olive oil on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes to achieve your desired crispiness.
Place finished latkes on a wire drying wrack with a paper towel underneath to absorb excess oil. Although coconut oil is a cleaner alternative to vegetable and other oils used for frying, it is still caloric. For a healthier recipe, use the baking approach.
Beth Warren is a registered dietitian-nutritionist who writes on kosher food and nutrition and is the founder and CEO of Beth Warren Nutrition in New York.