Editorial Intern
The Festival of Lite
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Chanukah foods don’t exactly bring healthy images to mind. In Israel, this time of year every bakery in town is serving up trays and trays of sufganiyot, doughnuts with your choice of jelly, caramel or even chocolate filling.
But as people worry about their waistlines and calorie counts, indulging in a fried delicacy for eight nights may not be the best idea.
“Chanukah shouldn’t be a scary time for people,” said Susie Fishbein, whose most recent cookbook, “Kosher By Design Lightens Up,” offers up delectable kosher food for the health-conscious.
Instead, Fishbein advocates celebrating the holiday the way it’s intended: as a celebration of oil — commemorating the miracle of the sacred oil lasting eight days in the temple menorah — not a celebration of frying.
“It’s not about fried foods,” she says. Rather than inviting friends over for a meal of latkes followed by doughnuts, have people over for an “olive oil tasting party — so appropriate for Chanukah,” she says, suggesting that guests sample oils from around the world using small bits of bread and hummus or slices of apple. “There are certainly ways to work oil in that doesn’t have to involve deep-fried food,” she said.
“This really should be, and is in some communities, a celebration of olive oil,” said Arthur Schwartz, the former food editor for the New York Daily News and former host of “Food Talk” on WOR radio. His most recent cookbook is “Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited.”
“The tradition is to fry things, but you don’t have to fry; you can have vegetable soup and pour a little olive oil over it and say that’s in honor of Chanukah,” he says. “Olive oil straight from the bottle is much healthier than oil you would use for frying.”
But, Schwartz, says, anyone who says “Jewish food is unhealthy is not bringing it into the 21st century.” Instead he says, there are ways we can enjoy our traditional foods, as long as we balance it out with other things. “Our ancestors ate very spartanly most of the time, and then feasted — in the Jewish tradition we have a feast on Shabbos, once a week.”
So certainly once a year can’t be too frequent for a jelly doughnut.
“Any nutritionist will tell you that in a healthy diet nothing is off limits,” said Fishbein. “The worst thing you can do is deny yourself those foods.” Instead, she says, pick one night to treat yourself — and make it worthwhile.
For those who are looking to indulge for all eight nights, jelly doughnut muffins might be a better choice. But if you’re looking for one great, fried treat, try making your own doughnuts at home, and invite friends over to share.
Baked Jelly Doughnut Muffins
(Adapted from various recipes by Amy Spiro)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup fruit jelly of your choice
1⁄2 cup sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
Beat together the sugar and egg until light in color.
Add in flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir until combined. Pour in oil, milk and vanilla and beat until mixed. Fill the muffin cups about halfway, then place a teaspoon of jelly in the center of each. Top with remaining batter.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
Immediately upon removal from the oven, roll the muffins in the sugar so it sticks to the top and sides. Place on wire rack to cool.
Makes 12.
Easy Doughnut Holes
(Adapted from various recipes by Amy Spiro)
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons oil

Stir together the flour, baking powder cinnamon and salt.
Make a well in the center, and pour in the egg, milk and oil. Mix together until combined.
Fill a large pot about halfway with oil, making sure to leave a 2-inch headspace at the top. Heat the oil until it reaches 365 F (use a candy thermometer to test). Lower doughnut batter, by teaspoonfuls, into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown on all sides, turning over when needed.
Remove and drain on paper towel. Roll in powdered or granulated sugar when warm, or cover in a glaze once cooled. Makes approximately 36 doughnut holes. n

Last Update:

04/01/2010 - 15:36

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