Have a lighter Festival of Lights

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. A one-day supply of the temple’s sacred oil miraculously burned for eight days, which is why Hanukkah foods are often cooked in oil.

Tips for healthier noshing

Hanukkah is notorious for being a fried carb-fest, but it doesn’t have to be. Have a healthier Hanukkah while maintaining the symbolism of traditional fare.

  • Balance your meal. Rather than making a complete meal of fried potatoes and dough, think about serving a light, healthy meal before lighting candles and then eating a smaller, reasonable amount of traditional fried foods after. Consider serving fried items alongside healthier options like steamed veggies so that you and your guests have other options to fill up on.
  • Pick better ingredients. Make doughnuts with oats and grains. Add zucchini, parsnips and carrots to latkes to reduce calories and starch. Avoid palm and coconut oils, which have more saturated fat, and go with olive or canola instead.
  • Reduce oil. Try to use a minimal amount of oil during cooking. Fry latkes and finish them in the oven. Be sure to drain fried foods on paper towels to absorb the excess grease.
  • Choose healthier toppings. A thin layer of unsweetened fruit preserves on sufganiyot, or doughnuts, is healthier than a thick, jelly filling. Choose unsweetened applesauce or plain yogurt over sour cream for latkes. Also, watch the amount of salt used.
  • Control portions. Make smaller latkes and blintzes to be more aware of how much you are eating. Smaller batches also keep you from choosing between eating more and throwing out extra food.

Resources to keep you on track

Channel the Hanukkah spirit of rededication by staying committed to being healthy. Focus on the quality of your food, rather than the quantity, while still honoring tradition.

If you’re struggling to stick to a balanced diet, Salem Health has some classes to help. In the new year, the Community Health Education Center is offering classes in diabetes management, reducing sodium, mindful eating and healthy cooking. Visit the CHEC class catalog to register or for more information.