Latkes and donuts, and gelt, oh my! Hanukkah is here, and with it comes eight days of gut-filling, artery-clogging, and dangerously delicious food. While the Miracle of Light may not refer to a miracle calorie-free feast, there are easy ways to enjoy all the latkes your heart desires without packing on too many pounds before your New Year’s resolutions begin. Don’t worry, we’ll still enjoy our traditional fried versions as well!
A classic latke is typically made from potatoes, which are grated and then deep-fried to get that crispy exterior you dream about each year (save the nightmares for the soggy ones). On top of that, they get loaded up with sour cream, applesauce, or my father’s favorite, a tablespoon of sugar!
So, here are a few ways to cut back on the calories without cutting back on the crisp:
- Simply swap out the sour cream for non-fat Greek yogurt. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try out some other toppings like hummus, guacamole, or make your own sugar-free applesauce that will have your house smelling like the holidays.
- While potatoes are “grate” (get it?), you can get in some extra vitamins by adding in other vegetables, like carrots, sweet potatoes, or parsnips. Try these beet latkes, which incorporate the beet greens into the potato-beet mixture before pan- frying. Beet greens are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, giving your latkes that extra nutritious punch, not to mention a bright purple hue!
- If you want to go oil-free this year (save it for the sufganiyot – fried donuts – at dessert), think about baking your latkes instead of frying them. You can still get a good crisp in the oven, just be sure to really squeeze out as much moisture as possible – you’ll get a workout while making dinner – and make them as thin as you can without falling apart. This recipe is a good one to start with, but feel free swap some of the potatoes with other root vegetables or add in some different spices (e.g. carrot + curry powder or sweet potato + chili powder).
Now if calorie cutting is not what you’re looking for, here are some drool-worthy ways to take your latke game to the next level:
- Potatoes and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly, so why not add a handful to your latkes to make them ooze with every bite.
- If latkes eight nights a week aren’t enough, try these Latke Benedicts for breakfast! Poach an egg, whip up some hollandaise sauce and heat up last night’s leftover latkes for a quick and easy Hanukkah breakfast.
If you’ve managed to save room for dessert after all these recipes, here are some delectable treats to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Why let potatoes have all the fried glory, when apples taste just as good, if not better, fried and caramelized? This recipe puts your scraps to good use, turning the fresh apple juice into a caramel sauce to drizzle on top of your apple latkes.
- If you can’t fathom a dessert without chocolate, then fry up some Mexican Chocolate Latkes for a sweet and spicy end to your latke party. Top with some ice cream, perhaps a donut hole, and you’ll be spinning in circles alongside the dreidel all night long!
You’re now ready and prepared to have eight nights of Hanukkah glory this year. With healthy twists and some not-so- healthy recipes worth indulging over, you won’t be bored with the plain old potato.
Let each night be a new miracle as you discover new tastes, perhaps make some new friends, and get ready to make some New Year’s resolutions that will most likely involve a lot sweating.
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.