6 tips for a healthy Hanukkah
Hanukkah has arrived! It’s time to set up the menorah, get ready for a game of dreidel, and fry up the latkes (Yiddish for pancakes). And speaking of frying, there’s one key ingredient that all Hanukkah revelers are no doubt familiar with: oil. Oily treats such as crispy fried potato latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) are a Hanukkah food staple, and while they are indeed hard to resist, our team at Pacific Prime have compiled a few health tips to help you navigate the coming eight days and nights of holiday revelry.
A brief overview of Hanukkah’s history and traditions
Hanukkah, also commonly known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating Judah Maccabee’s victory over Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Greeks around 165 B.C.E. According to the Talmud, after the Holy Temple had been reclaimed from the Greeks, there was only enough sacred oil found to burn for one day – however, the oil miraculously endured for eight days and nights. The modern-day Hanukkah celebration is thus centralized on eating oily food, lighting the menorah (the nine-branched candelabrum lit during Hanukkah), playing traditional games, and singing songs.
Ways to make your Hanukkah meal healthier
Hanukkah staples like latkes are no doubt delectable, yet it is important not to over-indulge as they are made of carbohydrates and oil. So, how can we honor the traditions of Hanukkah without compromising on our health and expanding our waistlines? Consider the below tips for a happy and healthy Hanukkah!
1. Choose healthier oils
While all oils contain the same amount of calories per gram of fat, the main difference between cooking oils is their ratio of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats compared to unhealthy trans and saturated fats.
When making fried food, it is important to choose an oil with a high smoking point. Coconut oil contains healthy fatty acids and a high smoking point, which is essential for frying both latkes and sufganiyot. It’s worth bearing in mind here, however, that certain types of coconut oil leave a coconut-y aftertaste, so you might want to experiment with a few brands before serving up an entire batch for your friends and family.
2. Bake instead of deep-fry
Just because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, doesn’t mean we need to consume an abundant amount of it. It might be difficult to imagine, but you can still enjoy a wide variety of delectable Hanukkah treats without deep-frying them. Instead, we recommend baking your donuts and latkes for a healthy Hanukkah.
3. Replace white potatoes with sweet potatoes
When making potato-filled dishes, opt for sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are slightly lower on the glycemic index than their white counterparts and have more fiber, as well as higher values of Vitamin A and beta carotene. They’re also more flavorful, too. Try this baked sweet potato latke recipe to find out just how delicious they can be.
4. …Or consider skipping the potatoes altogether
To make your Hanukkah meal even healthier, you can consider skipping the potatoes altogether, and opting for delicious alternatives such as cauliflower, zucchini, brussel sprouts, parsnips, pumpkin, or carrots – the list is endless!
5. Opt for lighter latke toppings
Consider pairing your latkes with lighter options instead of traditional toppings like sour cream for a healthy Hanukkah. Applesauce is a great option, as it is light, kosher, non-dairy, fruity, and offers your tastebuds the most optimal sweet and savory journey when paired with latkes. If you prefer sour cream over applesauce, go with low-fat sour cream instead.
6. Swap out the dairy
Now, you might be thinking, “What is Hanukkah without all the dairy-rich treats?” Dairy ingredients in treats like kugels (baked pudding/casserole traditionally made with egg noodles) can easily be replaced with lighter plant-based or nut-based options; vegan sour creams are rich and creamy, while most vegan cheeses have an “umami” flavor and can actually melt!
Looking for more health tips?
In addition to helping expats simplify and compare their health insurance options, our team at Pacific Prime regularly creates blogs, guides, and videos to help enhance our clients’ and readers’ understanding of healthcare and insurance related topics, such as our recent article on expat women healthcare tips and our video on preventing COVID-19. Be sure to stay tuned on our social media for the latest health tips!
When she's not typing away on her keyboard, she's reading poetry, fueling her insatiable wanderlust, getting her coffee fix, and perpetually browsing animal Instagram accounts.
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