The festive holiday season is here and it’s time to prepare for Chanukah. The glimmering light of candles shine in our eyes through the darkness of winter and falling snow. Celebrating with family and friends during this joyous occasion means so much more than gifts and gelt.
During Chanukah, Jews typically eat fried foods to remind us of the miracle of the oil burning for eight days in the land of Israel. Traditional holiday favorites include tasty yet greasy delicacies such as sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and potato latkes. While many exercise moderation during Chanukah, it can be easy to spin both your dreidel and diet out of control for eight long winter nights.
Here are some swaps to ensure you keep your Chanukah as healthy as can be:
STACY’S SWAPS FOR A HEALTHY CHANUKAH
· Substitute traditional vegetable oil with coconut or olive oil while making potato latkes for Chanukah. Swap out all-purpose white flour for gluten-free oat, coconut or almond flour while cooking.
· To add more nutrients and have low-carb options for your latkes, try alternatives to potatoes such as spaghetti or butternut squash, cauliflower, parsnips, sweet potatoes and/or zucchini for extra dietary fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C.
· Sneak dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and swiss chard into your latke.
· Looking to make vegan latkes? Substitute your egg for a flax egg (mix 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed with 3 Tbsp. water).
· Get creative with crudite and fresh fruit. Slice up veggies such as carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and red peppers to have your kids create a veggie menorah. For a dessert option, try using fresh berries, bananas, oranges and mango. Use your own menorah as a visual and have your kids design their own culinary creation.
· Bake potato latkes in your oven with oil instead of deep frying.
· Top your latkes with plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt rather than sour cream to boost the protein. You can also use a non-dairy yogurt made from almond, hemp or soy milk.
· Experiment with making your own homemade applesauce with organic apples. Wow your guests by putting an interesting twist on your applesauce. Add ingredients such as pear, ginger, or raspberry to spice up your traditional sauce. Make extra to have around as a healthy snack option during the Chanukah week.
· If buying applesauce for your latkes, be sure to choose unsweetened applesauce rather than sweetened or cinnamon flavor. One serving of cinnamon applesauce can contain up to 24 grams of sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
· Think out of the box with latke toppings — try using honey, agave, chopped dates or lemon zest.
· Instead of using harmful solid fats during your Chanukah celebration, use oils with less saturated fat. Avoid partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats, as these can be harmful to your health. Try naturally occurring, unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil most often and pan fry instead of deep frying during your holiday.
· Try salmon for your holiday plate. Salmon contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that play vital roles in brain health. If possible, always choose wild-caught Alaskan salmon over farmed salmon, as it has the lowest risk for possible contaminants, including pesticides and pollutants.
· Utilize your oven to bake doughnuts instead of frying them. Exchange the added sugar in your doughnut recipe for unsweetened applesauce. Substitute all-purpose flour with buckwheat flour while making doughnuts for the holiday. Coconut palm sugar is an incredibly delicious swap for regular sugar in recipes.
· If making your own doughnuts, use fresh fruit puree or jelly, free from artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup.
· Make it yourself: Use whole-wheat flour while making cookies for your celebration. Substitute dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate while making recipes for cookies. Make your own icing with healthy ingredients such as Greek yogurt, coconut milk cream or unsweetened almond milk instead of store bought icing. If making holiday sugar cookies, look for sprinkles and toppings free from artificial colors and dyes.
· Look for Chanukah gelt made with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, or better yet, make your own! Dark chocolate is an excellent source of magnesium, a nutrient that is essential to regulating emotions and balancing mood. Opt for gelt made with 60-70 percent cacao for maximum health benefits.
Stacy Goldberg is a nationally recognized nutritional consultant, registered nurse and the CEO of Savorfull (savorfull.com), a Detroit-based company that sources healthy, allergen-friendly foods and provides nutrition-consulting. Savorfull is part of the Quicken Loans Family of Companies.
NO INFORMATION PROVIDED THROUGH STACY GOLDBERG/SAVORFULL IS INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SPEAK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATION OR NUTRITIONAL, HERBAL OR HOMEOPATHIC SUPPLEMENT, OR ADOPTING ANY TREATMENT OR IMPLEMENTING NUTRITIONAL ADVICE FOR A HEALTH PROBLEM.