This Sunday, Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins at sundown. Chanukah is celebrated to commemorate the rededication of the 2nd temple in ancient Jerusalem, after it had been destroyed. There was only enough oil to keep the temple's lamp lit for 1 night, but miraculously it lasted 8 nights. Hence, the miracle of Chanukah. Yes, it's more than Adam Sandler's Chanukah song. The game dreidel, is played, latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) are eaten. We light a menorah each night. In it a helper candle plus one candle for each night are lit. The menorah traditionally burned using oil, but candles have now replaced the ancient tradition.
In honor of the miracle, Jews traditionally eat foods fried in oil. I love celebrating, but-I always twist the tradition into a healthier path. The most iconic food for the holiday are potato latkes. I make mine using sweet potatoes, as opposed to the usual white potatoes. I also spice them up with some warm Indian spices to give them a totally different spin. I love them with my dried cherry cranberry sauce and freshly made apple sauce (skip the sour cream!). Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. Their orange color makes them rich in carotenoids, which have been shown to prevent many forms of cancer. Their fiber content helps them the natural sugars be more slowly digested, and prevent sugar spikes from happening. 1 cup of sweet potatoes provides 377% of your daily needs for Vitamin A and 37% of your Vitamin C needs. Combining them with cranberries, further boosts the nutritional value. FYI-these latkes are gluten free and vegan.
If you're celebrating, try baking your latkes instead of frying them. While oil is the tradition, heart health is more important to me. Not to worry, these still crisp up. I've made these with kids and avoiding the oil, is a safer cooking method as well. The kids can help to mix the batter and use a cookie scooper to make the latkes. Below I've listed some great pairings for serving your latkes. To go along with the latkes, a big salad and a warm soup would hit the mark. Try a broth based soup, like my Cabbage Soup for a great celebration dinner! These latkes make great appetizers as well. Make them smaller, bake, and freeze. To serve, just place on a cookie sheet to reheat.
Here are some recipes for you to enjoy! Happy Chanukah and happy eating...until next week!
-Jessica from www.gardenfreshfoodie.com