This Hanukkah, Save the Oil for the Menorah

This guest blog post is written by OnPoint Nutrition, a team of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionist who specialize in one-on-one virtual nutrition counseling.

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is the Jewish “Festival of Lights”. The Western Calendar dictates when Hanukkah is celebrated each year.  Hanukkah for the year 2018 is celebrated/ observed on sundown of December 2nd ending at sundown on Monday, December 10th. Hanukkah is celebrated in honor of one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history: the reclaiming of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, when a day’s worth of oil burned for 8 whole days!

Today, Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting one candle on the Hanukkiah, a candelabra with nine candles, each day after sunset to represent the original oil lamp that burned for eight days in the temple. Gift giving each night, dreidel spinning and a fried feast consisting of potato pancakes and jelly-filled doughnuts has become a strong tradition as well.

The Festival of Lights is a time for both traditional and celebratory food, but many of the dishes consumed through the eight days of Hanukkah are weighed down by oily fats and extra calories. We’ve compiled a few inventive recipes to keep your holiday eating under control, without giving up the beloved latkes, challah or sufganiyot.

L’chaim!

Carrot, Scallion & Potato Latkes

Latkes – typically made with potatoes, wheat flour, eggs, then fried in oil- most individuals would not consider these delicious pancakes a healthy food. Our spin on latkes provides the chance to try something new that won’t hurt the waistline.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup shredded carrots

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated

  • 3 scallions, finely chopped

  • 3 eggs, whisked

  • ½ cup rolled oats

  • ½ cup oat flour

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil

  • Cooking spray

  • Pinch of salt and pepper

For serving: unsweetened applesauce, low-fat sour cream, etc.

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 F

  • Spray two baking with cooking spray

  • Grate potatoes with food processor or cheese grater, place potatoes in cheesecloth or dishcloth and squeeze out liquid to remove excess starch

  • In a large bowl, combine grated potatoes, carrots, scallions, eggs, oats, oat flour, salt and pepper

  • Using your hands, take about ¼ cup of mixture and form into a ball, transfer to baking sheet and flatten slightly

  • Repeat until all of mixture is on baking sheets

  • Bake in over for 15 minutes, remove and flip carefully then bake for another 10-15 minutes

  • Serve warm with desired dip

Baked Jelly Filled Sufganiyot

Sufganiyot/sufganiyah – Traditional round deep-fried jelly or custard filled doughnuts topped with powdered sugar, enjoyed by children and adults alike. We recommend baking these delicious treats for a slightly more guilt-free indulgence.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package rapid rise dry yeast

  • 1 tbsp. sugar

  • ¼ cup warm water

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 egg

  • 1 ¼ cup sugar

  • 1 cup soy milk

  • 3 ½ cups whole-wheat flour

  • Pinch of salt

  • 3 tbsp. butter, cut into 9 pieces

  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • 1 cup jam (strawberry, mixed berry or raspberry)

  • Confectioners sugar for dusting

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl, dissolve yeast with 1 tbsp. sugar in warm water

  • In a standing mixer with paddle, beat egg yolk, egg, yeast mixture, ¼ cup sugar and milk. With mixer still going, gradually add flour and salt. Mix in butter one piece at a time

  • Transfer dough onto floured surface and knead once or twice then shape into ball. Spray a bowl with cooking spray, place dough in bowl, cover and place in a warm area for an hour or so until dough has doubled in size

  • Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray

  • With lightly oiled hands, take 2 tablespoons of dough, roll into ball and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls about 2 increase apart. Cover with a kitchen towel and let dough balls rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F

  • Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden, remove from oven and let cool

  • Place jam in pastry bag with a medium pastry dip, press tip into doughnut and squeeze at least 1 tsp. jam into doughnut

  • Dust with confectioners sugar and serve

Matzo Ball Soup

Matzah – As the legend goes, Jews did not have time to wait for bread to leaven when fleeing Egypt. This unleavened bread, called Matzah, is a traditional dish eaten during Passover, but certainly has made a strong presence during Hanukkah as well. The bread can be used as a flat, cracker-like bread, as breadcrumbs, or formed into matzo ball soup. Cut the traditional chicken fat in your recipe by swapping it for a healthier oil. The addition of spinach is certainly untraditional, but will give your soup a nice boost of vitamins and minerals! Also, be sure to use lean chicken meat without the skin to save additional fat and calories!

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 3 carrots, finely chopped

  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped

  • 3/4 lb chicken breast 

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2 cups water

  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

  • 2 sprigs fresh dill

  • 2 cups spinach

For the matzo balls:

  • 3 large eggs

  • 3 tbsp. oil of choice

  • 3/4 cup matzo meal

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • Freshly cracked pepper

  • 3 tbsp. water

 Instructions:

  • In a large pot, sauté garlic, onion, celery, and carrots in oil over medium heat until onions are transparent (about five minutes)

  • Add chicken breast, chicken broth, 2 cups water, some freshly cracked pepper, and one or two sprigs of dill, cover with lid and bring to boil

  • Reduce heat to low, let simmer for 30 minutes

  • Meanwhile, make the matzo balls. Whisk eggs with oil, add matzo meal, salt, baking powder, pepper and combine well

  • Add 3 tbsp. water and stir until smooth. Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes to allow matzo meal time to absorb moisture

  • Once chicken soup is finished simmering, remove chicken breast, shred it and return to soup, add salt to taste

  • Once matzo ball mix has thickened, begin forming dough into ping pong sized balls and drop them in the simmering soup as they are formed

  • Add spinach and let simmer again for 20 minutes without removing lid

  • Before serving, add a few sprigs of fresh dill


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