7 Tweaks to Make Hanukkah More Healthful

Meet Kenden Alfond—Author of the Jewish Food Hero CookbookFeeding Women of the Bible, Feeding Ourselves, and the forthcoming Beyond Chopped Liver: 59 Jewish Recipes Get a Vegan Health Makeover. I met Kenden in 2015, when she was looking to design her Jewish Food Hero website. And while we didn’t work together professionally, we gained a profound, long-distance friendship via regular Skypes between Cambodia (she) and the US (me). We often spoke about the nuanced relationship between food and family—especially during the holidays and how reimagining Jewish food culture could be the key to keeping younger generations connected to Jewish practices. Currently based in Paris. Her work in the world seeks to honor inherited Jewish food traditions, and living in ways that are healthier for the body and planet. She believes communal meals are essential, and that there should be no conflict between Jewish life and ethical eating.

Offering healthier plant-forward and vegan Jewish recipes is Kenden’s way of problem solving and providing resources for the community, so that everyone can share delicious, healthy meals together. Even during the heavy, food-fried-in-oil Hanukkah season. At the onset of this holiday, in a year that has felt heavy, Kenden’s thoughts on how we can make Hanukkah food healthier and still enjoy the holiday food memories serves as a beacon. ~ Jennifer Elsner

The below blog, links and photographs are from jewishfoodhero.com, with permission.

7 Simple Ways for a Healthier Hanukkah.


1. Serve cut up apples as an appetizer
The benefits of serving cut apples as an appetizer are multi-layered. First, you incorporate a part of your daily serving of fruit into your meal for a complete diet. Second, next to vegetables, fruits are a high density, low calorie food. Although apple’s take up a lot of physical space in your stomach, they do not contain a lot of calories. On average one medium-sized apple has about 95 calories. What does this mean? If you eat an apple for your appetizer you are less likely to overeat during the main course of your meal. 

2. Bake your latkes instead of frying
If you choose one of these healthy tips, let it be this one. Please, bake your latkes instead of frying. Frying foods introduces partially hydrogenated oils into your diet and it has a number of negative health associates. Fried oils have to be heated to a high temperature, this causes oxidation of the oils and starches produce Advanced Glycation End products. This is a fancy term for your food becomes carcinogenic. Avoid over consuming fried foods whenever you have the choice, during Hanukkah try this Baked Latke recipe.

3. Make your own applesauce
When you choose to make your own foods at home, you have so much more control of the ingredients you put into the recipe. Making your own applesauce allows you to pick the quality of the apples and your other ingredients. In the long run, this is usually a more economical option too. Not only are you eating healthier, you’re spending your money wisely too.

4. Make vegan sour cream
Tofu is a wonderful high protein, low fat food. Use it as a replacement for condiments in your meals where animal-based products may normally be used. This will increase the overall protein value of your meal while eliminating the overconsumption of animal products.  There is a tofu sour cream recipe in this Jewish cookbook.

Try these Applesauce and Tofu Sour Cream recipes.


5. Add a salad to your table 
Adding a salad to your table provides a number of the same benefits as the apple appetizer, high density foods that take up space but do not have high caloric values associated with them. The other benefit, fiber, we all need more fiber during heavy holiday meals to help everything digest smoothly. Here are eight salad ideas for the holiday (and not just Hanukkah ;-).

6. Bake sufganiyot instead of frying
Over consuming fried foods is bad enough for your health it’s worth mentioning twice. Bake your typically fried foods for a significantly healthier Hanukkah season. Your stomach and your family will thank you. This Baked Sufganiyot recipe is from the Jewish Food Hero Cookbook. 

7. Serve water based drinks like fruit infused waters, soda water with natural syrups
Next to removing fried foods from your holiday table this season, getting rid of sugar-heavy beverages is the easiest change to make to have a healthier Hanukkah. Including too many cocktails/wine... There are an overwhelming amount of benefits to reducing your overall sugar consumption. From reduced health risks to better brain power to clearer skin, there’s a reason for everyone to lower their sugar consumption for themselves and their loved ones.

Now it’s your turn. Share your healthy tip for Hanukkah by tagging Kenden, @jewishfoodhero.