Making Hanukkah More Meaningful

Kenden Alfond is a psychotherapist, writes kosher cookbooks, and lovingly manages the blog Jewish Food Hero from Paris— where she lives with her husband and daughter. Jewish Food Hero is a place for anyone wanting to connect with other Jewish people who care about healthy food and modern Jewish life.

Last year we featured Kenden on The Journal in 7 Tweaks to Make Hanukkah More Healthful. We invited her back to share more about her thoughts on Hanukkah, health, community, and making meaningful change. Plus she shares a recipe from The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook: Baked Strawberry-Glazed Sufganiyot (Donuts).


Kenden believes wholeheartedly that food choices matter. “If people want to start engaging with food as a self support tool, I recommend they begin by understanding how the food they are actually putting into their mouth is impacting their physical + emotional health and our environment. It's easy to fall into magical thinking around health and wellness (all the glittering and promising health trends distract us) and one way to look away from that trance is to use your own body sensations and experiences as your guide. It's easier to manage something you can measure!”

“In June, I stopped eating exclusively vegan after over 20 years. I wasn’t feeling physically well, and my dietary pattern was creating some mental and emotional unease for me too. My dietary pattern has shifted to “kosher omnivore” with lots of plant-based foods included. I’m in transition and feeling a new level of food freedom for which I’m so grateful.”


Let’s be frank, ritual requires commitment. And Kenden doesn’t subscribe to the idea that moments of anything lead to sustainable feeling states in the body or mind. Rather, “Feeling well is a long game, and it’s a direct result of consistent behaviors. Feeling rested, recharged or nourished takes planning and discipline.” 

“To rest, I try to sleep 7-8 hours every night. To recharge, I move my body daily and am currently committed to daily exercise and stretching. Nourishing to me includes: saying prayers and blessings of gratitude in the morning, eating everything (kosher) in balance, cultivating supportive and loving relationships with my family and friends, drinking hot tea and coffee every day, and hosting Shabbat dinner on Friday night.  


In the U.S., Hanukkah’s proximity to Christmas has made the holiday seem more important than it is in Judaism. It isn’t a major Jewish holiday, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve reverence. “A tried and true way to make Hanukkah more meaningful is to commit to saying the Hanukkah blessings when you light the menorah for eight nights.” Kenden designed these cards for anyone to bring more attention to the nightly ritual— the blessings are displayed in Hebrew, Hebrew transliteration and English.

Cooking is also a way Kenden celebrates the festival of lights. Oil plays a significant role in the story of Hanukkah, so cooking foods in oil is customary. “Sufganiyot are an iconic food for Hanukkah. A
traditional sufganiyot is a round, fried doughnut filled with jelly. They’re delicious but they are so oily and feel so heavy in our stomach. I wanted to make a baked sufganiyot recipe for Hanukkah that is better for us than the traditional deep-fried ones— but just as delicious.”

Kenden’s Baked Strawberry-Glazed Sufganiyot recipe is a healthy modern update. They’re easy to make, and avoids all the traditional mess of deep-frying. “Glistening with strawberry glaze, these doughnuts will delight you and your guests this Hanukkah.”

Baked Strawberry-Glazed Sufganiyot


  1. Medium mixing bowl 
  2. Whisk 
  3. Large mixing bowl 
  4. 1 doughnut baking pan (this is an absolute requirement to bake these doughnuts
  5. Cooking oil spray
  6. Small saucepan

Dry Ingredients

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose baking flour)   
  • ¾ cup raw sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking  soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

  • ¾ cup coconut milk (can also use almond milk or soy milk)
  • ¼ cup safflower oil
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1½ teaspoons all-natural vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup all-fruit strawberry jam


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F   
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk, 1/4 cup safflower oil, 1/2 cup applesauce, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar  
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet and mix quickly (do not over-mix). 
  5. Spray the doughnut pan lightly with cooking oil spray.
  6. Fill each doughnut cavity until 2/3 full (and not more).
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the doughnuts spring back to the touch.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. Remove the doughnuts from the pan by inverting it.
  10. Keep them warm in the oven until ready to serve.

While the sufganiyot bake: Warm the strawberry jam in a small saucepan for a few minutes. Then glaze the doughnut tops just before serving. Arrange on a dessert platter, and serve the same day. 


Jewish Food Hero is about sharing goodness. “On the blog, we share community members' recipes and the personal stories behind them. The first community recipe I shared, Joan’s Soft, Fluffy and Delicious Vegan Challah, has a life of its own online.  Every Friday morning, I see women and men on Instagram making this Challah for Shabbat.”   

And everyone’s invited. “Even if just a little part of you is thinking ‘I’d like to share a recipe’— I want to hear from you! Submit your recipe idea.



Kenden’s fourth cookbook Feeding Women in the Talmud, Feeding Ourselves is coming out June 2022. Jewish Food Hero also makes modern and beautiful Judaica (the most popular being the annual Jewish Holiday Calendar).