Healthier Hanukkah, however you spell it

Whether you spell it Hanukkah, Chanuka or perhaps Chrismukah (for the years — including 2016 — when two winter holidays align), the traditional foods for the eight-day Jewish festival are not exactly the healthiest.

During Hanukkah, many Jews eat oily fried foods such as sufganiyot (filled doughnuts) and latkes (potato pancakes) to celebrate the miracle depicted in the Hanukkah story of a small quantity of oil lasting for eight days — long enough for more oil to be prepared.

This year, try these simple yam and scallion latkes as a flavorful and healthier alternative to the traditional white potato latkes. One serving (2-3 latkes) includes all of the vitamin A you need for the day. And you can limit the quantity of oil used by baking or lightly pan-frying these latkes. Serve with nonfat Greek yogurt and no-sugar-added (or homemade) applesauce.

Servings: 5 (2-3 latkes per serving)

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 yams (or sweet potatoes)
  • 6 scallions, julienned
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil for baking, 4 teaspoons for pan-frying

Directions

For baking

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread 1 teaspoon of canola oil on the parchment paper in each baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
  3. Peel and grate the yams.
  4. Add yams, scallions, flour and spices to eggs. Stir to mix.
  5. With clean, dry hands, scoop up yam mixture and flatten into patties, about palm size. Place patties on prepared baking sheets. Latkes do not expand, so they can be placed close together, just not touching.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes until latkes are golden brown on both sides and crispy on the edges. Serve warm.

For pan-frying

  1. Preheat oven to 200 F. Prepare a plate with a double layer of paper towels. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
  3. Peel and grate the yams.
  4. Add yams, scallions, flour and spices to eggs. Stir to mix.
  5. Turn off the oven. Spread 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a skillet or frying pan. Swirl to coat and heat pan over medium-high heat.
  6. With clean, dry hands, scoop up yam mixture and flatten into patties, about palm size. Place patties in the pan when the oil starts to shimmer. Depending on the size of your pan you can fry 3 or 4 latkes at once — just make sure you have room to flip them.
  7. Fry on the first side for 1-2 minutes, until the latkes are golden brown (or a little bit darker) and mostly stick together. Carefully flip and fry on the second side for another 2 minutes. Place finished latkes on the prepared plate and place in the oven (make sure it is off!) to keep warm as you fry the rest of the latkes. Add paper towels as needed between layers of latkes.
  8. Add an additional teaspoon of oil to the pan as needed between batches. After the first batch, you may need to turn down the heat to make sure subsequent batches don’t brown too quickly. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Baking

  • Calories: 160
  • Total fat: 5 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 130 mg
  • Sodium: 75 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 24 g
  • Dietary fiber: 4 g
  • Sugars: 8 g
  • Protein: 6 g

Pan Fried

  • Calories: 180
  • Total fat: 7.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.5 g
  • Sodium: 75 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 24 g
  • Dietary fiber: 4 g
  • Sugars: 8 g
  • Protein: 6 g

Contributor

Executive Chef