11 Healthy Hanukkah Recipes Nutritionists Love
Hanukkah is often referred to as the festival of lights, and is eight days of celebration for the Jewish people. While lighting of a menorah and playing dreidel may be the immediate associations we make with this holiday, there’s also a whole lot of food involved. As it’s a celebration of oil that was expected to last for one night lasting for eight nights, a lot of the holiday foods involve a whole lot of oil. Latkes and sufganiyot (or jelly doughnuts) are delicious, but they are also greasy and fried…as are a lot of other beloved Hanukkah foods. To try to lighten this holiday up a bit but also maintain the same degree of celebration and festivity, dietitians share some of their favorite healthy Hanukkah recipes that may be a bit healthier – but just as fun and delicious.
1. Pot Roast
It’s not a Jewish holiday without a beautiful pot roast on the table, but these hearty cuts of beef laden with starchy potatoes sometimes get a bit rich and heavy. There’s a way to keep things healthier though and just as tasty. “Tender, lean chuck roast comes together here for a delightful high-protein superstar of your meal. I love chuck roast because it is surprisingly lean and pairs perfectly with Latkes and roasted veggies,” said Caroline Thomason, RD CDCES, a Washington, DC-based dietitian.
Try the recipe from Little Spice Jar.
Applesauce is a big part of Hanukkah because it’s a traditional side for latkes. But applesauce out of a jar is often loaded with sugar. Making your own can be delicious and keep the sugar in check. “Made in the crockpot or Instant Pot, homemade applesauce is a Hanukkah classic and I love that you can make a huge batch here and control how much added sugar you use,” said Thomason.
Try the recipe from The Kitchn.
Sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts, are a big part of any Hanukkah celebration – and by making your own you can know exactly what is going into the ones you are eating. “It wouldn’t be a Jewish holiday without donuts. While these aren’t the healthiest dish on the menu, they are such a homemade treat that is a definite crowd-pleaser,” said Thomason.
Try the recipe from Bon Appetit.
4. Fresh Fruit Kabobs
Fresh fruit kabobs made with various fruits are an easy way to add color, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals which help complement foods fried in oil. “To make them especially festive for Hanukkah, use small dreidel, menorah, and star of David-shaped cookie cutters to cut fruit into meaningful shapes. While you have the cookie cutters, you can cut pieces of cheese into the same shapes to make it even more meaningful,” said Kristi Ruth RD/RDN, CNSC, LDN. Assembling fruit on a stick is something even kids can help do!
Try the recipe from Carrots and Cookies.
5. Sweet Potato Latkes
Potato pancakes fried in oil are an essential part of the Hanukkah celebration, but you can have latkes that are just as delicious without the white potatoes or the excess amounts of oil. “For my family, it wouldn’t be Hanukkah without our crispy, flavorful latkes,” said Jessica Siegel, Gelson’s Markets Registered Dietitian. “Extra virgin olive oil has many health benefits, and I encourage people to go out of their way to cook with it throughout the year. Since cooking with oil is an important aspect of Hanukkah, this is an especially good time to use the healthiest oil available: antioxidant-rich extra virgin first cold press olive oil. To make these delicious latkes even more nutritious, I make half the potatoes orange flesh sweet potatoes and I leave the skin on to retain more fiber and nutrients,” said Siegel.
Try the recipe from Gelson’s.
6. Cauliflower and Chickpea Schnitzel
Schnitzel is often made with chicken or veal (or pork in non-kosher households), but this variation maintains the flavor of the meal while keeping it plant-based. “One of my favorites is a cauliflower and chickpea schnitzel. It’s a great way to incorporate cruciferous veggies and plant-based protein. I often recommend it to clients aiming for a more plant-centric Hanukkah celebration,” said Barbara Kovalenko, RDN and nutrition consultant at Lasta.app.
Try the recipe from We Are So Vegan.
7. Zucchini Noodle Kugel
Kugel is a mainstay at many Jewish celebrations, but it’s often a starch bomb. This zucchini noodle kugel is a hit for those watching their carb intake. “I usually make it with spiralized zucchini instead of noodles. It’s a lighter option but still captures that comforting, traditional taste,” said Kovalenko.
Try the recipe from F-Factor.
8. Cheesy Potato Latkes
On Hanukkah, it is tradition to eat foods that are fried in oil and/or made with cheese. Cheesy potato latkes are the best of both worlds! “These Sharp Cheddar Latkes with Horseradish Sour Cream are not only a delicious dish to celebrate the holiday, but also get a boost of nutrition from the addition of cheddar. One serving of cheese contains many of the essential nutrients your body needs, including calcium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin, selenium, and iodine. Hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss, are also lactose-intolerant friendly. When cheese is made, the curd is separated from the whey (where most of the lactose is found). The minimal lactose left in the curd breaks down considerably as the cheese ages,” said Hilary Walentuck, MS, RD, LDN is a registered dietician with New England Dairy.
Try the recipe from The Rachael Ray Show.
9. Classic Egg Cream
The classic egg cream originated among Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jewish immigrants in New York City and is a nostalgic mainstay at old-school delis and ice cream shops. “An egg cream has just three ingredients: milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer. It is basically bubbly chocolate milk. Simply Recipes’ Classic Egg Cream strongly recommends using whole milk, because the fat content stands up to the seltzer bubbles. Whole milk, like all dairy milk, provides thirteen essential nutrients, including 8g of high-quality protein. The nutrients in milk help to build and maintain healthy bones, maintain a healthy immune system, support heart health, and more,” said Walentuck. While the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, emerging evidence suggests that full fat dairy foods can fit within healthy eating patterns. Whole milk is a great choice for people looking for a creamier milk to fit into their balanced diet.
Try the recipe from Simply Recipes.
10. Spiced Hot Chocolate
If you have leftover Hanukkah gelt, try making Spiced Hot Chocolate. “This wintery drink combines leftover gelt with nutritious milk and spices to create a warm beverage perfect to enjoy while playing dreidel. Using milk to make hot chocolate is a great way for kids and adults to get an added boost of nutrition. Milk is the leading food source of three nutrients of public health concern (calcium, vitamin D and potassium) for children 2-18 years and the leading food source of calcium and vitamin D for all Americans over the age of 2,” said Walentuck.
Try the recipe from My Jewish Learning.
11. Noodle Kugel
Noodle Kugel is a classic Jewish dish that is perfect for your potluck Hanukkah party. “Kugel is a baked casserole with a starch (typically noodles or potato), eggs, and a fat. Many kugel recipes incorporate eggs, milk and cheese to create a custard-like dish. A Family’s Feasts’ Noodle Kugel combines cream cheese, evaporated milk, and whole milk to create a dairy-filled delicious dish. Utilizing evaporated milk creates an ultra-creamy texture; evaporated milk is regular cow’s milk that’s been thickened by evaporation, which removes about 60 percent of the water from the milk. Unlike sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk doesn’t contain sugar, but both are great to have on hand for cooking and baking,” said Walentuck.
Try the recipe from A Family Feast.