April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Dear Jenn,

I try to watch my weight and keep healthy. But I am enticed by the holiday food which ruins my diet. This year I’m making our family Chanukah party. As you said previously, if you’re the host/hostess you can control the menu. So, any suggestions for a low-calorie healthy Chanukah party menu?

Sincerely,

Chanukah Party hostess

Dear Chanukah Party Hostess,

Thank you for your question. And yes, in previous columns I did mention that if you are hosting a party you “can and are” in control of the menu. Let’s discuss some Chanukah holiday party menu ideas.

The Menu: Appetizer, Main, Sides & Dessert

Chanukah menus are often dairy, but yours can be what is customary for you and your family. With the seemingly prevalent food allergies and intolerances these days, consider the options. Any food item or ingredient that may cause an allergic response is off limits.

Appetizer

For the diet conscience, display fresh chopped or sliced vegetables with hummus, tahina and/or a low-calorie salad dressing. Avoid crackers and chips, which are high in empty calories and sodium. Even low-calorie and low-sodium crackers are not the most nutritious selection to display.

Consider a tomato-based or butternut squash soup (not creamed) for a warm, cozy touch. Pass around to sip and warm up.

 Main: Let’s Do Fish!

In general, fish is a healthy protein, and it is parve. How about serving baked or poached salmon? Salmon is a very healthy, fatty fish that contains Omega-3 fatty acids (FA). Omega-3-FA is a crucial nutrient for brain and body health. Other healthy fatty fishes that contain Omega-3-FA are trout, sardines, tuna and mackerel and are good selections too. Salmon is also high in the mineral selenium, which is involved is DNA (genetic material) synthesis and thyroid metabolism (body regulation). Seems like a good choice!

In terms of cooking the salmon, avoid fattening, high-calorie sweet sauces. Instead use fresh lemon, lime and natural spices for taste. If you choose to prepare a honey-glazed salmon, use the honey sparingly to prevent taking a healthy protein and turning it into a sweet threat.

Healthy and delicious!

Sides

Potato latkes of course! Avoid deep frying. Instead, fry lightly just to brown the outside of the latke; then bake until done. Pat off any excess oil with a paper towel. This cooking technique can be used to prepare any latke, regular potato, sweet potato or vegetable fritters.

 My Healthy, Baked, Yummy Potato Latke Recipe

Ingredients

Avocado oil spray—has a high smoke point appropriate for high-heat baking

Yukon Gold potatoes—suitable for frying and baking due to low starch quality

Onion—finely chopped (No large pieces of onion in latkes.)

Egg—1 large is adequate for batch.

Salt & pepper

Garlic powder or fresh minced garlic

Coconut flour for gluten free or 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to help absorb extra liquid.

Parchment paper.

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Shred potatoes and chop onions finely.

3. In a mixing bowl combine shredded potatoes, onion, egg, spices, and small amount of flour. Mix ingredients.

4. Liberally spray the parchment paper with the avocado oil spray

5. Press mounds of the mixture into the parchment lined sheet. Spray latkes liberally with avocado oil spray.

6. Flip the latkes after 7 minutes.

7. Bake until crispy about another 7 minutes.

You may want to serve a lasagna or pasta and cheese dish for guests who might not like fish. Purchase low-calorie lasagna or pasta varieties and low-calorie cheese as well. Chop vegetables such as onion, pepper and mushrooms. Fry in avocado oil spray or Pam spray. Add stewed/chopped tomatoes to the mixture and simmer. For lasagna, layer the sauce, cheese and lasagna noodles. If you are preparing a pasta-and-cheese dish, the sauce is optional. You can add a scoop of 1-2% cottage cheese on each corner of your lasagna/pasta dish and one scoop in the middle for decorative purposes. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the lasagna or casserole to have a crispy topping. Bake until done.

Steam fresh vegetables of your choice or have a tossed salad with diet dressing on side.

Serve unsweetened apple sauce. You can add a touch of cinnamon in the apple sauce to add a flavored dimension.

If you serve sour cream with the latkes, select low-fat varieties.

Serve with unsweetened applesauce or low-fat sour cream.

Dessert

Fresh fruit is always a welcomed, healthy dessert. You can add a low-calorie/low-fat variety of whipped topping with a sprinkle of nuts and cranberry-raisins to decorate the fruit bowl.

Sufganiyot! Purchase or prepare your own, but make sure there are some mini-sized yummies, so the calorie-conscience guest can have one too!

To serve with coffee or tea.

During holiday time, weight control is difficult. Holiday foods are enticing. Also, socializing around food causes overeating. And subconsciously, parties that tend to focus on food cause an association between happy memories and food. For some, this can lead to emotional-eating behaviors.

If you are at a Chanukah party that has an overwhelming amount of food, nibble on vegetables as an appetizer, select a protein and vegetable for your main, have one small potato latke or half of a large. Control high-calorie dessert portions. Try to eat slowly and mindfully, and avoid second helpings! There is no rule that one must consume everything at the smorgasbord or even taste everything at a table full of food. Instead, select foods to consume carefully and strategically, and eat to satisfy “true hunger.” Remember to hydrate!

You can have a wonderful holiday party without overindulging. Concentrate on family quality time with your loved ones and the special moments with them.

One last word of suggestion—even though it’s Chanukah, there is no excuse for not exercising! So do it! It is important for overall good health and wellness!

Happy Chanukah to one and all!

Yours in good health,

Jenn

See my new holiday blog at www.nu-transform.com and call me at 718-644-1387.

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