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5 Ways to Lighten Up Your Hanukkah Celebrations

By Shannon Sarna

We have made it to December, one of my favorite times of the year. There are so many opportunities to gather with friends, family, coworkers and loved ones to celebrate the season. And of course so many opportunities to entertain and eat.

Hanukkah is the time of the year in the Jewish calendar when we really embrace fried foods with abandon: latkes, sufganiyot and some brisket for good measure. It’s delicious but definitely a tough time of year to stay on track with healthful eating.

A little indulgence can go a long way, but you can still make some slight adjustments to keep the holidays from getting too out of control. So here are 5 reasonable, healthful ways to lighten up Hanukkah, just a smidge. 

Wishing you and your family a delicious and healthful holiday where Every Bite Counts.

1. Bake a Cake
Not all Hanukkah gatherings have to feature foods fried in oil; rather they could also feature heart-healthy oils like olive oil. Have you ever tried an olive oil cake? It’s moist and flavorful and perfect for the holiday.  Try a recipe like this orange and olive cake from The Food Network, ideal as we approach the height of citrus season. It’s also non-dairy, which means it’s the perfect sweet ending after some lightened up brisket.

2. Make Veggie Latkes
It’s not all about the potatoes, or at least it doesn’t have to be. I started baking beet latkes last year, and now I can’t stop. There are so many other ingredients other than regular potatoes to make latkes. Here are just a few examples:
Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Latkes from The Nosher
Brussel Sprout Latkes from Pamela Salzman
Gingered Carrot Latkes from Epicurious
Beet Sweet Potato Latkes from The Nosher 
Spaghetti Squash Latkes from The Kitchen


Libbie Blog Weismark family
Libbie Blog Weismark family
Libbie Blog Weismark family

3. Infuse Oil for a DIY Gift
Try making your own infused oils and give them as gifts. I love chili infused oil, garlic infused oil or  rosemary oil, just to name a few possible flavors. Infused oils are delicious when added to roasted vegetables, used for homemade salad dressing or drizzles on top of some pizza. 

4. Swap the Sour Cream
Love sour cream? I mean, me too. But instead of serving potato latkes with sour cream, I opt for a low-fat Greek yogurt, which has all the richness of sour cream with a fraction of the fat and also some added digestion benefits from the good bacteria in the yogurt. You could also try serving your latkes with labneh or tzatziki. 

5. Skip the Frying
If the thought of all that oil is just too much for you (or your heart) skip the frying (your kitchen will thank you) and bake the latkes. That’s right – you can make baked potato latkes using a recipe like this one from The Healthy Maven, although there are countless others to peruse. Some use muffin tins to keep the shape, and others are freeform. Baked latkes are a great way to still enjoy those classic potato pancakes, minus the messy, fattening frying.


Shannon Sarna is Hadassah’s food guru and spokesperson for Every Bite Counts: Hadassah's Nutrition Program. The food editor of The Nosher, Shannon writes a monthly Hadassah column with signature recipes for Every Bite Counts.

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