Hanukkah —the Jewish festival of lights— celebrates the miracle of light. Although a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah has become more popular over the years due to its close proximity to Christmas.
The holiday, which lasts for more than a week, includes copious amounts of fried foods to celebrate the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days following the Jewish rebel army’s victory over the Syrians. Talk about a bona fide excuse to indulge!
The problem is, after eight days of going overboard on latkes, cheese blintzes and donuts, even your stretchy pants won’t fit anymore. But what to do instead? You can’t say no to mom’s food, because oy vey, right?
If you want to survive Hanukkah with your waistline intact, you’ve got to be strategic in your approach. First, find healthy alternatives to the traditional recipes. Second, sidle up to mom and persuade her to give them a try. As soon as she realizes that you’re only sacrificing the calories, she’ll be onboard.
Tips for Having a Healthier Hanukkah
Celebrating Hanukkah in a healthier way doesn’t have to be hard or boring. It’s about making some subtle switches to ensure your menu is super tasty, but doesn’t end up on the hips or in the arteries.
Incorporating healthy food substitutions and changing up your cooking methods slightly can make all the difference. Try swapping out the dairy with plant-based alternatives and where possible, opt for baking instead of frying (relax, you can still use oil).
Healthy, Vegan and Delicious
They say veganism is the future and with movies like What the Health and well-known plant-based athletes singing its praises, it’s easy to see why. This year, why not healthy up what is traditionally a very unhealthy holiday by making Hanukkah recipes vegan?
Vegan Hanukkah Star Spelt Cookies
Photo Credit: Ilene Godofsky
The thing about cookies is that once you start you can’t stop. Not to worry, Ilene from The Colorful Kitchen has got your back with these vegan Hanukkah spelt cookies. Though not gluten-free, spelt is a low-gluten grain which sits well with most folks.
1 tbs ground flax
3 tbs warm water
1½ cups spelt flour + extra for sprinkling
½ cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp salt
⅓ cup vegan butter (can sub coconut oil)
¼ cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a baking sheet.
- To prepare flax “egg”, stir ground flax and water together in a small cup. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
- In a small bowl, stir all wet ingredients together until smooth.
- Add contents of small bowl and flax “egg” to large bowl and mix until smooth.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on a clean surface. Use rolling pin to roll dough out until it’s about ¼” thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Repeat until all dough is used and place cookies on baking sheet.
- Bake for 9 minutes, until edges are slightly golden. Let cool completely.
- In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips at low heat. Drizzle chocolate over cookies and sprinkle shredded coconut on top. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to set chocolate.
Vegan Beet Latkes
Photo Credit: Izzy Darby
The Nosher’s vegan beet latkes are sure to be a hit with veggie fans. Purists may take a moment to get over their bright color, but once they do they’ll be coming back for seconds and thirds. Everyday Health suggests using coconut oil with caution if you have cholesterol issues, so you may want to sub it with olive or canola oil.
Non-Dairy Raw Cashew ‘Sour Cream’
Photo Credit: Sonia Lacasse
No latke is complete without a hefty dollop of sour cream, but with so many reasons to stop eating dairy, it makes sense to find a heart-friendly alternative to this staple. Adapted from Healthful Pursuit’s vegan cream cheese recipe, this non-dairy raw cashew ‘sour cream’ from The Healthy Foodie is worth trying. While not as silky smooth as its dairy counterpart, Sonia says it’s still creamy, light and airy.
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Gelt
Photo Credit: Amy Kritzer
Who doesn’t love chocolate, especially when it looks this good and tastes even better. Instead of getting your usual store-bought candy, try wowing your family with this dark chocolate sea salt gelt recipe from What Jew Wanna Eat.
Remember though, that while plant-based recipes are definitely healthier, they still contain calories. If you really want to avoid a wardrobe malfunction you’ll need to exercise a little self-control. I know, easier said than done, but just think about how much better you’ll feel if you don’t gain eight pounds in eight days. Just a thought.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock