“In general, Hanukkah foods are fried and very oily to celebrate the miracle that a tiny amount of oil burned for eight days,” said Jennifer Glockner, registered dietitian nutritionist and creator of the Smartee Plate. “While celebrating and keeping traditions are important, slightly modifying recipes can create healthier versions.”
“With around 32 grams of sugar for an average serving, concord grape juice spikes blood sugar and is typically laden with artificial flavors and unhealthy additives,” said Lori Tseytin, holistic health coach and nutrition teacher. You can save yourself the sugar by diluting the grape juice with water or, even better, sparkling water to create a fizzy concoction.
Kugel is a traditional Jewish casserole, normally made with egg noodles or potatoes, and cheese. “Kugel may be made in a healthy way by preparing it with only vegetables, olive oil, eggs, and a little bit of seasoning,” Tseytin said. “Whole grains and complex carbohydrates are a healthier way to complete a holiday meal. Baked sweet potatoes and quinoa salad are both nutritious and satiating.”
“Latkes are traditionally made with potatoes and eggs, and are deep fried,” Glockner said. “Alternatively, the pancakes can be baked. For a variety of nutrients and flavor, try using zucchini, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and root vegetables. You can add onions or scallions and fresh herbs for added antioxidants and flavor.”
“Sour cream is used as an accompaniment to the latkes,” Glockner said. “It is full of saturated fat, which is unhealthy for the heart. For a healthier version, try low-fat plain Greek yogurt, which offers more protein and less saturated fat. You can also try mashed avocado or guacamole on top for a heart-healthy topping. Unsweetened applesauce works well, too.”
“Sufganiyot are unhealthy because they are fried in oil and are full of sugar, saturated fats, and trans fats,” Glockner said. “Alternatively, the doughnuts can be baked. Fresh fruit can be substituted for some of the sugary jelly. Make the doughnuts smaller or share one so you can still experience the tradition with less calories, sugar, and fat.”