Delicious, decadent, and diverse Hanukkah food is a staple of the holiday for many Jewish families. After all, similar to many festive celebrations, Hanukkah isn’t just a time for exchanging gifts; it’s an opportunity to create meaningful memories with loved ones, particularly around the dinner table.
Every year, Jewish families get together to enjoy their favourite dishes, from mouth-watering potato Latkes, to braised brisket and yummy Kugel. While these meals and snacks are a well-loved part of the Festival of Lights, they can contain a lot of unhealthy ingredients that can destroy your diet. The good news? With a little creativity, you can still enjoy all of your favorite traditional Hanukkah food, without overloading on carbs and excess calories.
This year, Hanukkah is December 18th - December 26th.
Below, we have some great options to explore if you’re looking for healthy versions of your favorite Haukkah food:
Baked Latkes with Roasted Root Vegetables
Latkes, (delicious jewish potato pancakes), are perhaps the most popular Hanukkah food. They’re usually made with ground potatoes mixed with eggs, flour, onions, and various seasonings. While a lot of families prefer to shallow fry their Latkes in oil, this can add a lot of extra fat and calories to your holiday meals. So, why not try a different approach?
Baked latkes can be just as delicious as their fried alternatives. They’re still crispy on the outside and soft on the inside (if you bake them right). Plus, they require minimal oil.
You can even add extra vitamins and nutrition to your latkes with grated zucchini, carrot, and other vegetables. To make your own healthy latkes, you’ll need:
· 2 large eggs
· 2 cups of grated carrot and zucchini
· ¼ cup of flat-leaf parsley
· 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
· 4 potatoes (grated)
· 1 finely chopped onion
· Half a teaspoon of kosher salt
· Half a freshly minced garlic clove
· Avocado oil spray
Mix your shredded vegetables in a bowl with your onions, eggs, and flour. Mix everything together with your garlic clove and flat-leaf parsley, then sprinkle on your kosher salt. Separate the mixture into small balls, then press them down flat on a baking sheet, before spraying them with avocado oil. Bake until crispy and golden on the outside.
Zinfandel-Braised Brisket: A Favorite Hanukkah Food
Since Hanukkah food is served during the colder months of the year, hearty and warming meals are often a staple. Beef brisket is often regarded as the main dish of the Hanukkah season, although some people have switched to chicken and poultry meals in recent years.
Although beef generally includes more fat than some other meats, it can also be a great source of iron, folate, and protein. A good way to make your brisket a little healthier, is to switch beer-based braising with fruity wine. Here’s a great recipe to try:
· 2 cups of zinfandel (or a fruity and dry wine)
· ½ cup of fat-free, low-salt chicken broth
· ½ cup of tomato paste
· 2 ½ pounds of beef brisket (with the fat trimmed off)
· 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
· ½ a teaspoon of black pepper
· Avocado cooking spray
· 8 cups of sliced onion
· ½ teaspoons of dried thyme
· 2 carrots cut into slices
· 2 celery sticks cut into slices
· 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Preheat your oven and combine your broth, tomato paste, and zinfandel in a jug or bowl. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, then add your beef, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Coat the pan with cooking spray before adding the meat to reduce sticking.
Cook for eight minutes, then set the meat aside. Add your onion, thyme, and liquid mixture to the Dutch oven, then cook until tender. Add your garlic, carrots, and celery, cooking for another 5 minutes before adding the beef.
Bake the whole thing in the oven for around 2 hours, or until the beef is tender.
Kugel is typically an egg noodle casserole or pudding served as a side dish during the Hanukkah celebration. The meal can be made either to suit savory or sweet tastes, depending on your preferences. If you’re looking for a healthier Hanukkah food, try switching the noodles out for fresh cauliflower. This savory alternative is a great way to cut down on extra sugar and butter too.
To make this dish, you’ll need:
· 1 large white onion chopped finely
· ½ tsp of black pepper
· 1 ½ tsp of salt
· ½ tsp of paprika
· Half a clove of minced garlic
· 1 medium cauliflower
· 2/3 cups of olive oil
· 4 eggs
Start by preheating your oven to 410 degrees (Fahrenheit) and prepare your cauliflower, removing any tough outer leaves and washing the vegetable. Slice the entire cauliflower into thin sections. Much of the vegetable will crumble into smaller pieces.
Combine the onion and cauliflower into a mixing bowl, adding your eggs, and olive oil, along with your seasonings and garlic. Pour the egg mixture over the cauliflower mixture and combine. Transfer the whole thing into a baking dish, and season with a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, then bake until golden.
Baked Sufganiyot (Jelly-Filled Donuts)
Easily the most popular Hanukkah food among people with a sweet tooth, Sufganiyots are a type of jelly-filled donut that’s sure to delight anyone at your table. Similar to most donuts, these treats are brimming with sugar and fat, and they’re often deep-fried too.
However, you can always switch things up and maintain the same delightful flavor by baking your donuts instead. These whole-wheat jelly-filled donuts are a fantastic alternative to the regular Sufganiyot recipe if you’re watching your weight. You’ll need:
· 1 egg
· ¼ cup of sugar
· 1 cup of water
· 2 tsp of active yeast
· 1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract
· 300g of whole wheat flour
· 260g of plain white flour
· 120g of coconut oil
· Half an orange
· Mashed strawberries or raspberries (for the filling)
Mix your flour and salt in a bowl and set it aside, then add your yeast, water, and a teaspoon of sugar to another small bowl. Beat the egg, the rest of the sugar, and your vanilla extract into the yeast mixture, with the zest and juice of your orange.
Add half of your flour mixture, and stir everything together with a fork, gradually pouring in your melted coconut oil. Add the remaining flower mixture and stir the dough until it becomes thick and pliable. Place the whole thing in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap, then set it aside to rise until it doubles in size.
Roll your dough to around a quarter inch thickness, and cut rounds using a small circular cutter, then cover again with plastic wrap so they can rise. Preheat your oven, and brush your doughnuts with oil before baking until golden brown. Use a syringe to fill your donuts with your mashed fruits.
Whole Wheat Challah
Challah is a bread-based dish and a staple Hanukkah food for many families. The dough is usually made with a combination of eggs, water, butter, yeast, and oil. It’s also topped with a range of different delectable treats, from fresh jam to sesame seeds.
For a healthier version of this carb-loaded food, try switching the standard flour out for whole wheat, for some more complex carbohydrates and fiber. You’ll need:
· 4 cups of whole wheat flour
· 1 teaspoon of salt
· 2 ½ teaspoons of active yeast
· ½ cup of honey
· ½ cup of olive oil
· 2 eggs
· 1 cup of warm water
· ½ cup of raisins
· 1 tsp of cinnamon
In a large bowl, stir the flour, salt, and yeast together until they’re fully mixed. Stir the olive oil, water, eggs, honey, and raisins in another bowl, adding your cinnamon into the mixture. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together until they form a dough, then knead the mix onto a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, then place in a lightly oiled bowl, with plastic wrap over the top so it can rise.
Once the dough has doubled in size, knead it a few times to remove the bubbles, then cut into two pieces. Set one piece of dough aside under a cloth while you shape your first loaf. You’ll need to roll three separate sections of your dough into long ropes so you can braid them together, then place them under a piece of plastic wrap again so they can rise. Coat the loaf in a small amount of egg yolk to give it a glossy finish, then bake until golden brown.
Who doesn’t love a tasty Knish? Knish is a fantastic snack to enjoy all-year round, but it can also be a wonderful Hanukkah food, particularly if you’re looking for some wholesome side dishes.
This pastry-based food is often filled with mashed potatoes or cheese, but you can reduce the fat contents by switching your filling for something high in nutrients, such as spinach.
Here’s a great low-fat version of Knish to consider:
· 6 medium russet potatoes
· A handful of fresh spinach
· ¾ cup of minced white onion
· 1 teaspoon of salt
· ½ cup of fat-free chicken broth
· ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
· 5 tablespoons of low-fat low-salt butter
· 1 tablespoon of chopped chives
· 12 sheets of phyllo dough
Start by peeling your potatoes and chopping them into small cubes. Transfer the potatoes into a large saucepan and boil until soft. Strain the water and mash the potatoes in a large bowl. Sauté your onions in two tablespoons of butter until translucent, and add them to the mashed potato alongside your broth, chives, spinach, salt, and pepper.
Stir everything to combine. Melt the remaining butter and preheat your oven, then slice your stack of phyllo sheets into long rectangles. Add a small amount of potato mixture into the center of each sheet, and roll until sealed. Cook the knish for 40-45 minutes, or until browned.
Enjoy Your Healthy Hanukkah Food
Hanukkah food is one of the best parts of the festive celebration for many families, but it’s worth making sure your feast doesn’t have a negative impact on your diet. With the healthy alternatives above, you can enjoy all of your favorite traditional dishes, without having to worry about what the scales might show in the new year.
Need some help knowing what kind of nutrition you should be focusing on this year? Check your CircleDNA report for insights into the vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients your body needs more of, based on your genetic makeup.