Being healthy on a holiday is always a challenge, especially when the celebration lasts eight nights! This Chanukah, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has a few innovative swaps to make your festivities a little healthier.
Night One: Pick a healthy oil
Chanukah commemorates the tiny cask of oil that lasted for eight nights. Eating potato latkes fried in oil is a tasty symbol of this miracle, and a great way to make it healthier is to pick the right oil. Avocado oil is a great swap that withstands high heat well (you’ll want a high-medium heat to get the pancakes good and fried). Coconut oil can also work, as can an olive oil — as long as it’s not extra virgin oil, whose low smoke point makes it unsuitable for deep frying.
Night Two: Swap the sides
Traditionally popular sides for dipping latkes include sour cream and applesauce. Try swapping plain greek yogurt for the sour cream; you’ll still get that delicious tart flavor, but with less fat and calories. Store-bought applesauce can be loaded with sugar, but it’s easy to make your own. First, cut and core 6 apples and place them in a large pot with ½ cup of boiling water and ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon. Boil for 15-20 minutes until the apples are tender, then puree them in a food processor or blender, keeping the mixture chunky. Let the applesauce cool to room temperature before serving. It keeps in the fridge for a week!
Night Three: Add some sick dance moves to your dreidel game
There’s nothing like a little healthy competition, and spinning a dreidel for the reward of a pot of chocolate coins (or gelt) is just that. With four sides to the dreidel, players either land on a nun, for which they do nothing; gimel, where they take the whole pot; hey, where they get half the pot; and the dreaded shin, where they have to add a coin to the pot. Get players out of their seats and moving during a dreidel game with our healthy twist, Dreidel Dreidel Revolution! When a nun comes up, instead of doing nothing, all players must rise to their feet and perform a dance move of the spinner’s choosing. Suggestions include (but not limited to): Dab, ChaCha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Cotton-Eyed Joe, the Grapevine,Whip/Nae Nae, The Twist, the Chicken Dance, the Do-Si-Do, the Hokey Pokey, the Hustle, YMCA, the Moonwalk, the Running Man, popping & locking, or even a ballet twirl.
Night Four: Make your own vegan, sugar-free chocolate coins
The objective of getting as much gelt as possible isn’t very enticing for a sugar-free or vegan diet. However, no one needs to miss out on some tasty chocolate money with a vegan, sugar-free alternative. Make your own chocolate by melting one cup of raw cacao paste in a double boiler over low heat. Once melted, stir in two droppers of liquid stevia, 1 tablespoon of maca, 2 tablespoons of mesquite powder and a pinch of vanilla powder. Refrigerate in chocolate molds overnight, cut them into round coins, cover in tin foil and you’ve got currency for all to enjoy!
Night Five: Skip the potatoes
Looking for a carb-free holiday? You don’t need starchy potatoes to make a delicious latke. We’ve got eight veggie-packed, low-carb recipes for each night here.
Night Six: Lighten up the sufganiyot
Jelly-filled donuts fried in oil is another way to commemorate the Chanukah miracle, but there’s an easy way to make these a healthier treat! While there are many ways to tweak with this recipe, we like the baked whole wheat variety by Neta Cooks.
Night Seven: Skip the deep fry
If the Macabees had known about cholesterol, they would totally understand. Take any latke recipe, add ¼ teaspoon of baking powder to the recipe, place the latkes on an oiled baking sheet and bake them for 30 minutes at 425°F. Yum!
Night Eight: Chanukah yoga
All the candles on the menorah are now lit for the holiday’s final night — and there could be no more healthy way to celebrate the outpouring of light than to let your inner light shine. By Chanukah candlelight, let’s get your flow on. Start with sun salutations, then pay homage to the Jewish soldiers who reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem by launching into a series of warrior poses. Once finished, place your hands in prayer, bow your head and swap out your namaste for a slow “Shalom,” drawing out the ommm for good measure.