5 Ways to Lighten Up the Festival of Lights

5 Ways to Lighten Up the Festival of Lights

While most holidays last one day, Hanukkah is unique and spans over eight nights.  Unfortunately, a long holiday can sabotage a healthy eating plan if you don’t exert caution.   The most popular Hanukkah delicacy is the latke, a crispy fried potato pancake, served with applesauce and sour cream.  Other Hanukkah staples include chopped liver, beef brisket, noodle kugel, and jelly donuts—yikes!  To ensure that the Festival of Lights doesn’t derail your diet, follow our five waist-friendly tips to halt Hanukkah weight gain.

Slim-Down Your Latkes

Instead of frying latkes in calorie-laden oil, bake in the oven, or cook in a nonstick pan using a combination of cooking spray and cooking oil.  Try poufing up your latkes with vegetables for added fiber and nutrition.  Instead of drowning your latkes in sour cream and applesauce, use a dollop of light sour cream, nonfat Greek yogurt, or natural; unsweetened applesauce.

Make Mock Chopped Liver

Chopped liver is a classic Hanukkah appetizer but it’s sky high in calories and fat, a bad combination for those watching cholesterol.  The good news is you can still enjoy chopped liver by making a vegetarian version.  Try combining lentils, walnuts, and brown rice to get a similar texture and consistency as the original–it’s delicious and heart-healthy.  Serve with high-fiber crackers.

Choose Lean Cuts of Meat

Brisket can be a healthy choice if prepared properly and enjoyed in moderation. Try to purchase a first-cut or flat-half cut with the excess fat trimmed off.  Skip the fried chicken and rib roast and opt for roast turkey, pork tenderloin, or white meat chicken for the main course. And don’t forget about fish!  While fish isn’t typically thought of as a “Hanukkah food,” it’s not off limits.  Change things up and try our Cedar Planked Grilled Salmon Recipe.

Bring a Vegetable Side Dish

If you are going to someone’s house, prepare a vegetable dish so you are ensured a healthy option.  It’s the perfect way to lend a helping hand to your host–and do yourself a favor! Popular Hanukkah side dishes include roasted carrots and shallots, green beans and almonds, roasted fennel, and sautéed Brussels sprouts.  Prepare the vegetables with olive oil instead of butter.  Not only will you be incorporating a healthy fat into your cooking, but you will also be commemorating the miracle of Hanukkah, when the menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem remained lit for eight full days, despite an insufficient supply of lamp oil.

Go Gelt-Free

Did you know that one-ounce of chocolate gelt will cost you 220 calories? Ditch the gelt, and have a small portion of your favorite dessert offering with a side of fruit instead.  If you want a healthy chocolate fix to replace the gelt, try our Skinny Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites.  It’s the perfect portion controlled dessert, and won’t wreak havoc to your waistline.  *Note: If following a kosher diet, simply substitute ¼ cup mashed banana for the large egg.

This post was written by Chelsea Ariel Fuchs who is currently interning with Appetite for Health while finishing her Master’s of Science in Nutrition and Education at Columbia University.


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