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Jewish DC Hanukkah Guide 2018

hanukkah

I.

Smell.

Latkes.

That can only mean one thing.

It’s Hanukkah time y’all. So get ready to get lit (that pun is still clever, right?).

For those who have been counting down the days until this glorious Festival of Lights, or those who maybe totally forgot Hanukkah was happening early this year and are now debating whether re-gifting last year’s Blue Apron subscription would be socially acceptable…this handy-dandy Hanukkah Guide is for you!

Check out our roundup of the best Hanukkah parties, latke recipes, and menorah lightings across Jewish DC! Oh, and if we missed an awesome event – submit it here . And however you celebrate, we wish you a miraculously wonderful Hanukkah season.

NOTE: This list will be regularly updated, so please check back for new events and celebrations.

Pre-Hanukkah Events

Hanukkah Events

Sunday, December 2nd

Monday, December 3rd

Tuesday, December 4th

Wednesday, December 5th

Thursday, December 6th

Friday, December 7th

Saturday, December 8th

Sunday, December 9th

Monday, December 10th

 

Hanukkah Recipes + Blog Inspiration

 

The events listed above are not sponsored or hosted by GatherDC, unless otherwise specified. GatherDC does not assume any responsibility, liability, or financial obligation to to the events listed that are not explicitly hosted by GatherDC. 

Spotted in Jewish DC – The EmporiYUM: Meet. Eat. Shop.

This week in #SpottedInJewishDC we checked out The EmporiYUM, a pop-up marketplace with over 100 vendors selling their best food products ranging from snacks, drinks, and even boozy ice cream! We went around with an empty stomach and an open mind, getting a taste of all the offerings and scoping out the local Jewish foodies sharing their products at the event.

With Hanukkah around the corner, we did your homework for you (you’re welcome) and have some great gift ideas for your fellow foodies. Dig in to meet some of these DC food scene changemakers, one full belly at a time!

Even if you didn’t make it to The EmporiYUM this year, don’t fret, just follow my pro-Hanukkah gifting tips to support your local Jewish foodie favorites and get some good eats along the way. You’ll be in foodie heaven, while giving the gift of eating locally made products that support the buzzing startup community here in DC.

 

NOSH BARWith “just the good stuff” inside, Nosh Bars are full of ingredients you can identify without pulling out your phone and turning to Google: nuts, fruit, oats, seeds, and spices. That’s it!

Keeping it simple is just what Nosh Bar’s owner, Michele, intended when she created them in her own home kitchen. Tired of being confused in the grocery store with all the various “health bar” products out there, she turned to the basics of eating simple foods full of clean ingredients. Her bars come in a variety of flavors, with the best-selling figstachio and something for the more adventurous with the goji berry bar (if you haven’t tried these berries yet, grab one – they are full of antioxidants and perfect for the winter sniffles). This was Michele’s first year at The EmporiYUM and she had lines throughout the whole event!

PRO-GIFT GIVING TIP: You can get some Nosh Bar products for your favorites online, and at local stores like TasteLab Marketplace, Steadfast Supply, and Reformation Fitness.

 

PRESCRIPTION CHICKENThe EmporiYUM was held outside on a chilly November day, so warm soup was just what we needed to keep up the energy. Luckily, the soup-slinging duo Prescription Chicken was on-site serving up shots of their chicken soup alongside mini challah braids.

This soup delivery service sends chicken soup out to cure whatever ails you, like the classic winter sniffles, to the hangover package that includes a turmeric spiced soup with a side of vitamins, tea and saltines. Started after co-founder Valerie Zweig had a rough battle with laryngitis where all she wanted was some good matzo ball soup, an idea was born and she recruited her cousin, Taryn Pellicone, to launch the business.  With the notion that soup infers comfort, their soup can be for those who are sick or just having a bad day.

PRO-GIFT GIVING TIP: Deliver a package of Grandma’s Famous Chicken Noodle Soup to those needing some extra love.

 

BUFFALO & BERGEN: Located steps from The EmporiYUM’s pop-up marketplace, Buffalo & Bergen brings the joys of New York soda shops to Washington, DC, giving a new spin on old classics.  With soda flavors ranging from Coca-Cola to Lemon Lavender to Carrot Marigold, Gina Chersevani’s mixology expertise adds an extra splash to these longtime favorites (you can also add a little booze if you choose)!

In addition to the expansive drink menu, Buffalo & Bergen serves up classic Jewish bites like knishes and bagels! Sourcing their water straight from New York, these bagels will have even the biggest critic coming back for more.

PRO-GIFT GIVING TIP: Treat your friends to brunch or cocktails at Buffalo & Bergen…or simply bring some bagels to your next Hanukkah shindig when everyone’s had enough latkes (is that a thing?!).

 

SWAPPLES: Frozen waffles are a staple in any millennial’s freezer, offering a quick breakfast option for our busy lives. Swapples provide a healthy alternative to the often sugar-loaded frozen waffle; entirely plant-based, these allergen-free waffles are made with yuca root, a starchy, nutritious tuber vegetable.

When owner Rebecca Peress was told by a doctor to cut out all sugar from her diet, she quickly felt limited by the options in her grocery store. She started making Swapples for herself, and once her co-workers kept requesting them, an idea for a business was born.

Swapples currently come in four flavors: Blueberry, Cinnamon, Tomato Pizza, and Everything (this one’s especially for bagel lovers). You can find them in grocery stores like Whole Foods, MOM’s Organic Market, and Glen’s Garden Market.

PRO-GIFT GIVING TIP: Grab a bag and try out this healthy, vegan alternative to your favorite waffle! Maybe even swap a Swapple for this year’s latkes – who knows, you may find a new holiday tradition.

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Judith  Rontal  is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! Judith hails from wintry Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she grew up in a family that always managed to eat dinner together, even if that was at 10 pm. She’s continued that connection between food, family and culture in her blog, Aluminum Foiled Kitchen, and in her daily life in DC where she works in PR, focusing on media relations. When not in the kitchen working on a new recipe to serve at her next dinner party, you can find Judith sweating it out at yoga or running the Rock Creek Park trails. Follow her food adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

In Defense of Thanksgivukkah

facepalm

By this point everyone knows that Thanksgivukkah is occurring this Thursday.  By some accounts, this is the greatest culinary event in history; by other accounts, it’s a horrible occurrence that needs to be ignored.  Almost every possible article has been written about it, even The 8 rules of Thanksgivingukkah Sex (just click on it now, we know you’re going to. We can wait ..questionable content for work).  While there are some valid reasons to want to separate the two holidays, many of the arguments, such as those presented by Allison Benedikt, are overblown.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. When dealing with any event that is several centuries or even millennia old, certain liberties are going to be taken with the story. Much like a plot twist in Homeland or 24, facts can get in the way of a good story.  Historical purists would probably take umbrage with the way both stories are told in elementary schools. However, the underlying principles of the holidays are both commendable. Personally, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and being thankful for what we have. Hanukkah is about overcoming adversity against challenging odds, it’s not about presents.

But Allison Benedikt’s complaints go far beyond historical critique, and her article needs a response because there are not enough face palms in the world to express my disdain for it. Why Slate chose to publish this is beyond me, because she is someone who appears to have a very limited understanding of Judaism as a whole and whose love of Judaism is itself questionable as shown in her own writings. Let’s proceed:

I don’t want my kids to think Thanksgiving is a “present holiday.”

This shows a complete lack of understanding about Hanukkah. If you think Hanukkah is a presents holiday, you are doing it wrong. This woman has completely secularized and commercialized Hanukah so, to her, it has little value beyond a night to give kids gifts and maybe eat fried foods. She has already lost the true meaning of Hanukkah, the continued struggle of the Jewish people against unmistakable odds and violent attacks that was overcome by our community’s famous strong will. It’s true that with the recent exception of Black Friday hysteria, Thanksgiving has largely escaped the commercialism that plagues so many other holidays.  She should try to keep Hanukkah free of commercialism as well.  Also, her failure to teach her kids about the story behind Hanukkah, rather than just presents, demonstrates her own misunderstanding of Hanukkah and deficiency as a parent.

Combining the Holiday foods is an awful idea.

First, if you don’t think sweet potato latkes sound amazing or think pastrami with Brussel Sprouts (since bacon is out of the question) is awesome, I can’t help you. More amazing Jewish fusion food for me! Due to Hanukkah’s connection with oil, basically anything imaginable on the Thanksgiving menu can now be justifiably deep fried like a state fair. Fried foods are better than their regular counterparts; this is an inarguable fact of life. Anyone who disagrees should probably just pack up and move to North Korea. . Our food is one of the things that bind us as not just a religion, but as a culture, and we should embrace the culinary hybrid of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.

Jews should not feel ashamed to be different.

I spoke with two individuals whose parents were intermarried and they mentioned they liked Thanksgiving because it didn’t highlight the differences in the two sides of their family.   Those of us from dual Jewish parent homes can still relate to the awkwardness of the holiday season. As Jews we often can feel like outsiders and Thanksgiving is a bonding time where regardless of our religious differences we are like everyone else in the Country. These differences are most obvious during the Christmas season.  There are holiday parties which are, to be honest, Christmas parties at work and with our friends. Our desire to socialize and celebrate with friends and coworkers can often be in conflict with our religious roots.  As the incomparable Kyle Broflovski says, “It’s hard to be a Jew on Christmas”, but on Thanksgiving it doesn’t matter.

Hanukkah’s rise and specifically its association with gifts is at least partially related to our exclusion from Christmas activities. In the realm of religiously important holidays, it’s not particularly high.   We spend our holy days not eating, while others get a Federal holiday to celebrate their biggest religious occasion.   However in our desire to fit in, we shouldn’t ever be afraid to embrace who we are and the addition of latkes to the thanksgiving table shouldn’t alarm anyone. We can still appreciate Thanksgiving as a secular American holiday even if we happen to give it a Jewish twist this year.

This is the only chance in our lifetime where the first day of Hanukkah will occur on Thanksgiving. Something fun and unique is happening in the Jewish world, and we should embrace it.

Happy Thanksgivukkah,

Jon Halperin

The opinions reflected in this article are that of the author and do not represent the views of Gather the Jews or its staff.

 

Hanukkah 2013 Events!

hanukkahAre you looking for something Hanukkah-related to do before or after you celebrate Thanksgiving outside the District?  Or are you riding out Thankgivikkah here in DC?  Either way, we’ve gathered the DC Hanukkah events for you!  If you see an event missing, email Rachel at rachelg@gatherdc.org so we can make sure it makes it onto the list.

Many of these events require advance ticket purchase or RSVP.

Thursday, November 20th:

Sunday, November 24th:

Monday, November 25th:

Tuesday, November 26th:

Wednesday, November 27th:

Thursday, November 28th:
Sunday, December 1st

Monday, December 2nd:

Tuesday, December 3rd:

Wednesday, December 4th:

Thursday, December 5th:

Saturday, December 7th:

Sunday, December 8th:

Monday, December 9th:

Famed Christmas Elf Toy Meets its Jewish Match: ‘Mensch on a Bench’

MosheLast April, GTJ told you about a Kickstarter campaign for ‘Mensch on a Bench’. We’re happy to say that ‘Mensch on a Bench’ has become a reality!

—–

When his son asked for The Elf on the Shelf—the famed Christmas toy that is said to keep an eye on children and report back to Santa Claus regarding their behavior—entrepreneur Neal Hoffman says he felt an admitted pang of “elf envy” and saw the need to offer something more appropriate.

“I said to myself that I wished there was a toy and book that was an alternative, that was rooted in Jewish traditions,” Hoffman tells JNS.org.

Hoffman, at the time an employee of the Hasbro toy and game company, would go on to create a new toy to ensure that those celebrating Hanukkah wouldn’t experience the same “elf envy.”

With roots tracing back to the 1970s, The Elf on the Shelf has sold nearly 2.5 million units. The elf has now met its Jewish match through Hoffman’s The Mensch on a Bench, a toy and book set based on the story of the character “Moshe the Mensch.” Available for the first time this Hanukkah, the set costs $36 (plus shipping and handling).

Using the popular crowd-funding website Kickstarter to raise money (in Jewish-appropriate denominations of $18) Hoffman brought his dream of a Jewish judge of childhood behavior to life. The book that comes with Moshe explains that this savvy tzaddik was in the Temple with the Maccabees when they defeated the Greeks in the second century BCE. As the age-old story goes, there was only sufficient oil for one night, but it lasted for eight. How? Moshe volunteered to sit on a bench all night and keep an eye on it. Thousands of years later, Moshe is still on a bench and still watching over Hanukkah, much like The Elf on the Shelf watches over Christmas.

Hoffman, a Massachusetts native who now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, explains that as a father of two in an interfaith household, he was well familiar with The Elf on the Shelf from his nieces and nephews. When his son asked for one, he says he initially laughed off his idea for a Hanukkah-themed alternative to the toy, but the idea kept coming back until he could resist it no longer.

While Hoffman sees The Elf on the Shelf as a symbol of the commercialism of a holiday, he suggests that Moshe the Mensch is a keeper of the eternal traditions of Judaism.

“The Elf is more secular and not as religious, just pure fun,” he says.

mensch-bookMoshe may not be an “answer” to the elf, but it is an “alternative” that is appropriate for Jewish children and allows them to create their own Hanukkah tradition, Hoffman says.

Hoffman used his years of experience at Habsro—where he worked (and played) with the legendary likes of G.I. Joe and the Transformers—to his advantage for creating The Mensch on a Bench. Yet the experience was different than anything he had done before, he says.

“This was the first time I had to take an idea and figure out everything, including the design, engineering, pa

ckaging, marketing, fundraising, Web development, and timeline management,” Hoffman recalls. “It really made me appreciate the caliber of people I had worked with in the past.”

While he didn’t have his former Hasbro colleagues working with him, Hoffman was far from alone. He quickly found fans on Facebook and backers on Kickstarter, and says his biggest support came from his family. The passion for Moshe the Mensch was immediately “contagious,” he says.

In an effort to explain Moshe to the masses, Hoffman hurried to come up with a believable backstory, and created the book to accompany the toy.

“The book is inspired by the story of Hanukkah,” Hoffman says. “It tells about how the Maccabees came back to the Temple and were tired from the war and needed to sleep. With only one night of oil, they were worried it would go out overnight and leave them in the dark. One man volunteered to watch over the lights: Moshe the Mensch.”

To give Moshe and his story more staying power and appeal, the book also includes activities for each of the eight nights of the holiday. Hoffman hopes to bring the book not only to his local library, but also to the Jewish literacy nonprofit PJ Library, which to date has delivered more than 3 million books to youths. He also says sequels are possible.

“There are still a lot of words that rhyme with ‘mensch’ that we can work with,” Hoffman says.

In the meantime, Hoffman is looking forward to opening his own Moshe on the first night of Hanukkah (Nov. 27).

“I think we have a fun idea that Jewish families can rally around and use to make Hanukkah more fun,” Hoffman says. “Over the next couple years, Jewish families will decide if this is a great idea and something they want, or if the Mensch will become a rare collectors item.”

This article also appeared on JNS.org.

Mensch on a Bench

menschMensch on a Bench is a new Hanukkah tradition, meant to bring families together with a hardcover book and plush doll of Moshe the Mensch.  To support the campaign to get Moshe into stores, visit the Kickstarter Page.

ELF ENVY.  That is what started this whole thing.

Our son Jacob wanted to be like many of his friends and get an Elf on a Shelf, but being Jewish, the answer was no.

That got us thinking.   The Elf on a Shelf is a new tradition…so why couldn’t we, as Jews, add a new tradition to our holiday to add some more Funukka to Hanukkah.

We created the story of Moshe the Mensch.   Moshe was at the Temple when the Maccabees returned victorious from the war.   Judah Maccabee was exhausted from the fighting and he wanted to go to bed.   But, with only enough oil left for one night, Judah was worried the lights would go out in the middle of the night.   Moshe volunteered to sit on the bench of the Temple and tell everyone if the lights went out.   What a Mensch sitting on that Bench.

The book goes on to tell the story of Moshe, his 8 days sitting on the bench, and his love of the traditions that Jewish people have.

The product is designed for young Jewish families, but is a great introduction to Hanukkah for those not of the Jewish faith.

In the end our goal is to increase active participation in Hanukkah and make the celebration of the holiday even more fun than it is today.  We also want to teach kids what it is to be a true Mensch and teach them to strive to make a positive difference in the world around them.

The funds raised via Kickstarter will be used to cover the costs of the first production run of 500 Mensch figures.   The minimum order that the factory will produce is 500 units.  The funds will also cover the development and production of the Mensch on a Bench book and packaging.

Our progress on the project is as follows:

  • The concept and logo are complete
  • The prototype is in production
  • The manuscript to the book is written
  • We have selected a factory to produce the figures, books, and packages

With the funds from Kickstarter, our next steps are to:

  • Illustrate the book
  • Complete the package
  • Complete initial production run of 500 dolls and books
  • Ship product to the US and into the hands of boys and girls by Hanukkah this year!

Learn more about Mensch on the Bench directly from Neal:

 

GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – Jewish Holiday Parties That Were Discontinued

getting lit - kosher ham - funny jewish tshirt website.jpgWASHINGTON, DC – (@The Comedy News) – We have all been invited to our fair share of holiday parties- with our coworkers, with our friends, with our neighbor who hoards cats and trash in the front yard.

And for the 165,000 Jews in the DC metro area, there is no shortage of Jewish-themed winter gatherings.

Various Jewish organizations have facilitated dozens of successful parties for the DC Jewish community, some even running annually for over twenty years.  Just like good Jewish humor, the names of the parties have been alliterated and cheesy.

However, there are some Jewish winter holiday events that were discontinued over the years:

Challah Back Y’all Karaoke Kabbalah (2005-2006)
A short-lived karaoke tournament inspired by the Gwen Stefani song, Hollaback Girl.  A schmorgesborg of challah bread kept the bashful non-singers enthused.  Discontinued after too many renditions of Sweet Caroline, Don’t Stop Believing, and Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu.

Bagel Bash (2000-2008)
A $5 fee got revelers admission to a wild and crazy dance party at McFaddens in Foggy Bottom, as well as all-you-can-eat bagels and schmear. Discontinued after Michelle Obama smote excess carbohydrate ingestion.

Pork Protest (1993-1994)
A dance party primarily attended by reform Jews who advocated for a change in kashrut laws forbidding pork products.  Popular with American Jews from Midwestern states.  Discontinued after no one would admit to each other that they loved the taste of pork.

Shrimp Strike (1993-1994)
Same as pork protest.  Just more popular amongst New England seafood snobs.

Brisket Bris-off (1946-1964)
During the post World War II baby boom, DC Jews used to gather at RFK stadium on Christmas Eve for an outdoor mass-celebration of brit milah, or “bris”.  Local chefs provided complimentary brisket samplings to the new parents.  Discontinued for too many reasons to list.

Mistletoe Mitzvah (1989-1999)
Billed as “The Easiest Jewish Singles Event to Get To First Base!”  Basically, it was an awkward happy hour with mistletoe hanging from the tavern’s ceiling.  Interest faltered after everyone in the Jewish community had made out with each other.

Jew-Jitzu Jam (1984)
Popularized by the film, Karate Kid, the Jew-Jitzu jam was a martial arts-themed dance party that encouraged Jewish revelers to dress up in either Cobra Kai attire, or Miyagi-do Karate attire.  Discontinued after too many fights broke out on the dance floor.

None of the aforementioned parties are real.  Instead you should subscribe to GTJ’s events calendar for your holiday cheer.

GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – Christmas Writes Cease-and-Desist Letter to Hanukkah

The following letter was leaked from a law firm in Brooklyn: 

Hanukkah
18 One-Candle Drive
Jerusalem, Israel

Dear Hanukkah,

It has come to my attention that my client [CHRISTMAS] contends that you [HANUKKAH] have infringed upon Christmas’ position as the preeminent gift-giving holiday during the cold weather months of November and/or December.  My client demands that you cease and desist your existence as a gift-giving holiday immediately.

I understand that you [HANUKKAH] are a “festival” and not a holiday.  However, you and my client [CHRISTMAS] are constantly grouped by the politically-correct masses into the same category.

In the scenarios listed below, the unauthorized likenesses of Hanukkah (H) to Christmas (C) are highlighted:

· Menorahs (H) vs. Christmas Trees (C). A free-standing symbol of holiday cheer consisting of lights and flames.

· Potato Pancakes(H) vs. Buttermilk Pancakes (C)  Honestly, did you really have to re-invent the pancake?

· Blue Tinsel (H) vs. Green/Red Tinsel (C).  Decorative tinsel is for Christmas.  You may not make it blue and call it ‘Hanukkah Tinsel’

· Dreidels (H) vs. Assorted Gambling (C).  Dreidels are a cheaper knock-off of dice- which are supposed to have six sides.  The only gambling allowed during the holiday season is reserved for College Bowl Games.

· Eight Nights (H) vs. Christmas Eve (C).  The nights of Hanukkah are artificially inflated, my client alleges, to overlap with Christmas every few years.  Unacceptable.

· Adam Sandler (H) vs. Bing Crosby (C).  Mr. Sandler’s “humorous” incarnations of the Hanukkah song are a rip on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”  And all he does is name celebrities that are Jewish.  That’s not a song, that’s a Wikipedia page.

You must cease and desist all attempts to emulate Christmas immediately.Should you not comply, Christmas will write another Cease and Desist letter each year until you come into compliance.You will be responsible for an eternity of attorney fees, plagiarism, royalties, individual and/or class-action law suits on behalf of Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sincerely,

Check Out the DC Hanukkah Events!

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with the DC Jewish Young Professionals!  This page will be updated regularly so check back.

First to get you in the mood:

Wednesday, December 5th

Saturday, December 8th

Sunday, December 9th

Monday, December 10th

Tuesday, December 11th

Wednesday, December 12th

Thursday, December 13th

Friday, December 14th

Saturday, December 15th

Sunday, December 16th

NEW GTJ Health Series: 7 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

With Thanksgiving upon us, and Hanukkah and New Years quickly approaching, even the healthiest eater can be tempted by holiday treats.  Lucky for you, GTJ is here with a helping of tips to limit the damage on your waistline while still allowing you to enjoy this festive season.   Below I serve up a 7 course meal of suggestions to help get you through the holidays.

Tip #1: The Best Defense is a Strong Offense.  Eat Breakfast!

While it can be tempting to skip meals or limit your calories substantially in anticipation of large holiday meals, this may be harming you more than you think.  Research from the Journal of American Dietetic Association among others, suggests that those  eat breakfast have lower BMIs (body mass index), are less depressed, and have better cognitive performance.  Conversely, those avoiding breakfast have an increase in appetite later in the day that often causes overeating and weight gain.

Take home point: Eat a well-balanced breakfast with lean protein (like nonfat yogurt or milk) and fiber rich foods (like oatmeal or fiber rich cereal) to limit overeating at your latka feast.

Tip #2: Limit the Alcoholwho

For many, alcohol can be vital part of getting through extended holiday time with family.  In reality, alcohol will hijack your healthy eating plans.  First of all, alcohol is empty calories-it has no nutritional value and our body often fails to register that you consumed these calories which leads you to eat more to compensate.  Second, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes fluid loss and thus dehydration.  As we get more dehydrated, we get thirsty and drink more of these empty calories.  Lastly, alcohol lessens inhibitions and induces overeating, making even the most diligent partygoer a latke hog.

Tip #3: Hold Off on the Appetizers:

My Aunt Jan is famous for her spinach dip at Thanksgiving.  At many holiday parties there are large tables of these dips, treats, and other foods that are high in salt and fat.  Just like that nosey relative, there is just one strategy: Stay away!  Position yourself away from the appetizer tables; this will help you avoid the tendency to eat what’s in front of you.  If seeing and hearing your family snack around you causes you to want to snack, you’re not alone.  One strategy to get around this is to keep yourself occupied with a cup of water or low calorie beverage in  hand or chewing sugarless gum while others are snacking.

Tip #4: Limit the Gravy and Sour Cream

The eternal debate between apple sauce and sour cream for official topping of the latke will last forever (see The Leevees song “Applesauce vs. Sour Cream” for a synopsis of the arguments), but the debate over which is healthier has long been settled.  One tablespoon (and who only uses a tbsp. of sour cream?) of sour cream has 31 calories, of which 86% are fat.  So if you’re enjoying a couple of latkas and add a reasonable 5 tablespoons of sour cream, you are adding on 15g of fat.  Stick to the applesauce!

Gravy is similarly fatty.  One simple tip to limit homemade gravy’s fat- refrigerate the gravy to harden the fat overnight and then skim it off, this will eliminate over half of the gravy’s fat content.

Tip #5: Savor the Food You Eat

When deciding what foods to eat at a holiday feast, select and savor your favorites even if a couple are less healthy.  By enjoying the foods you do eat, you will feel less guilty and more full of holiday cheer.

Tip #6: Eat Your Veggies

Your mom was right- you should eat your vegetables.  They are jam packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help detoxify our bodies and protect us from cancer.  Vegetables are also full of fiber that helps make us feel full.  So pile on the grilled and steamed vegetables (avoid higher fat options like fried or those with heavy sauces).  Healthy examples include lemon grilled kale and butternut squash, or mashed sweet potato and toasted almond green beans.

Tip #7: Choose one Desert to Savor

If you’re anything like me one of my favorite parts of a Thanksgiving or Hanukkah meal are the desserts.  All of them.  But rather than sampling every single pumpkin pie or jelly doughnut, pick your favorite and savor it.  Feel the texture of every bite and enjoy it.  And grab a slice for your grandma, she’ll love you for it.

Alex Berger, a new GTJ contributing columnist, is a native of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.  He graduated in 2008 from the University of North Carolina and is currently in his last year of a combined MD/MPH program. He is excited to be back in the DC area and to share tips on nutrition, health, and fitness. He can be reached at Alexander_Berger@med.unc.edu.