5 Healthy & Delicious Latke Recipes
17 minute read
Throughout the world, the holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated by eating foods fried in oil. Two popular additions to Hanukkah festivities include sufagniyot (jelly-filled donuts) and latkes (potato pancakes).
White potatoes do provide health benefits, including half the daily value of vitamin C and more potassium than a banana, as well as vitamin B6, magnesium, antioxidants, and fiber. However, latke recipes do not have to be limited to potatoes.
Mix things up by replacing that white potato with a sweet potato, zucchini, or the new nutritional pop star, cauliflower. Here are five healthy latke recipes to add nutritional bang to a tasty treat.
Cauliflower, Antioxidant Powerhouse
In addition to its low calorie content, cauliflower is filled with numerous vitamins and is an especially good source of vitamin C, providing 77% of the RDI. Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts and kale.
Cruciferous vegetables are a great source of antioxidants, including glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which laboratory studies have shown to inhibit cancer cells, especially colon, lung, breast, and prostate cancer cells.
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Additional antioxidants in cauliflower include carotenoids and flavonoids, which not only have anti-cancer properties but may also decrease risk factors for other conditions, including cardiovascular disease. The high level of vitamin C in the vegetable supports immune health and is an anti-inflammatory.
Cauliflower also contains the antioxidant sulforaphane, which has been found in numerous laboratory and animal studies to inhibit enzymes that support cancer cell and tumor growth, as well as to destroy damaged cells. This seems to be particularly effective against colon and prostate cancer but may have implications for cancers of the breast, pancreas, leukemia, and melanoma.
Sulforaphane may also lower blood pressure and support arterial health, decreasing risk for cardiovascular disease. Additional studies seem to indicate that sulforaphane may help prevent Type 2 diabetes, as well as complications such as kidney disease.
This nutrient, which is present in cauliflower, is essential for numerous body functions, including the integrity of cell membranes, DNA synthesis, and metabolic processes. In addition, choline supports brain health, development, and the production of neurotransmitters, crucial for a functioning nervous system.
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Choline is not found in many foods and a deficiency has been associated with an increased risk for liver and cardiovascular disease, as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
A Dieter’s Friend
There’s a reason why cauliflower has been making the rounds on the plate of many who watch calories or carbs. The vegetable is very low in calories, weighing in at 25 calories per cup. Cauliflower also contains fiber, which slows down digestion, providing for longer-lasting satisfaction. One reason cauliflower can be counted among the lower calorie vegetables is its high water content, which promotes weight loss.
Switching Out Carbs With Cauliflower
As you’ll see in the cauliflower latke recipe, the white vegetable is relatively mild and can take on the flavor of additional ingredients, which makes it a good substitute for your favorite “starch.” Many dieters and nutrition-conscious cooks are using cauliflower for everything from a pizza crust or risotto to mac & cheese and mashed potatoes.
Riced potatoes or “cauliflower rice” can be found in the produce and frozen aisles of most markets for convenience. Cauliflower may also be riced using a food processor or hand grater. Frozen or pre-cut florets may be steamed and mashed for recipes.
Switching out the potatoes in your latkes with different ingredients can not only provide a taste bonanza but also enhance the nutritional profile of this seasonal treat you can enjoy to celebrate Hanukkah and throughout the year.
Makes: 16 pancakes
4 cups steamed*, chopped cauliflower, about 1 medium head (you can also use frozen, steamed cauliflower, defrosted)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or gluten-free flour (I like King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional if you're dairy-free)
¼ cup fresh parsley or chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
About ¼ cup hot water
Unrefined olive oil for cooking fritters
1. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl and add the flour, garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and a few grinds of pepper and combine.
2. Add hot water a little at a time to make a batter that looks like egg salad. I mush everything together with my hands.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons oil or enough to coat bottom of skillet.
4. When oil is heated, take a ¼ cup of batter and form into a patty. Cook in the oil until golden brown on the bottom.
5. Flip fritter and cook until golden brown on the second side. You can likely fit 6 fritters at one time. Repeat with remaining batter.
The batter can be made ahead and the fritters can be frozen, too.
*To steam the cauliflower, cut it into large florets and place in a vegetable steamer over boiling water, steam, covered, until the cauliflower is tender, (about 7-10 minutes), then roughly chop, measure 4 cups, and place into a large bowl.
Brussels Sprout Latkes With Dijon Balsamic Sour Cream
4 c shredded brussels sprouts*
1 medium onion, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
4 egg whites
1/2 c all-purpose flour or chickpea flour**
Oil, for frying
*You can find brussels sprouts in the store pre-shredded. Measured out one 9 oz bag should be 4 cups.
Sour Cream Ingredients
1 c sour cream
2 tb dijon mustard
2 tb honey
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1. If you've bought your sprouts pre-shredded, comb through them and chop up any big chunks because those could cause the latkes to fall apart.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sprouts, onion, salt, and pepper. stir in the lemon juice and egg whites, and then stir in the flour.
3. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a pan over medium heat.
4. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, place dollops of the mixture in the oil. gently flatten them with a spatula. fry until golden brown on each side.
5. For the balsamic dijon sour cream, simply combine all ingredients (and place in a ramekin).
Spiralized Sweet Potato Latkes
Makes: 12 latkes
1 large (11 oz peeled) sweet potato, peeled
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 large eggs, beaten
4 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
4 teaspoons olive oil
1. Cut the sweet potato in half so it fits easily into the spiralizer.
2. Spiralize with the smaller noodle blade of the spiralizer. Cut into smaller pieces, about 5 inches long.
3. Mix together the sweet potatoes, scallions, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well to combine.
4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When hot add 1 teaspoon of oil and swirl around the pan.
5. Using a fork, grab some of the sweet potato mixture (roughly 1/3 cup), and gently place it in the skillet lightly pressing down with the fork. You can fit 4 on the skillet.
6. Cook until golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes then flip with a spatula. Use the spatula to press them down to flatten and cook until golden, about 3 more minutes.
Spicy Spaghetti Squash Latkes
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/2 cup cooked spaghetti squash, squeezed of excess water
2 tablespoons almond meal/flour
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Coconut oil for frying
1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and jalapeno with the 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil until softened, about 3 minutes.
2. In the meantime, combine the squash, egg, almond meal and parsley in a large bowl.
3. Once onion & jalapeno mixture is done, add it to the large bowl with the squash and mix together.
4. Using the same skillet over medium-high heat, add enough coconut oil for pan frying (about 2 tablespoons).
5. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the squash mixture into the skillet and fry until brown and crispy (about 3-4 minutes) on the bottom, flip and cook on the other side until crispy.
6. Carefully transfer latke onto a paper towel lined cooling rack.
7. Garnish with extra parsley and serve with yogurt, sour cream or apples.
These latkes are suitable for Paleo, gluten-free, and grain-free diets.
2 medium zucchini
2 green onions thinly sliced
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup fresh grated Parmigiana Reggiano (packed down)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Oil for frying, avocado or coconut
1. Grate zucchini with a medium sized grater so you get decent shreds of zucchini.
Add salt and place shredded zucchini in a clean dishtowel and squeeze to get as much liquid out of it as possible.
2. Once squeezed place back in bowl and add beaten eggs, thinly sliced green onions, almond flour, Parmigiana Reggiano, and fresh ground black pepper and mix thoroughly. (Add the lemon juice, if you choose to use it).
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of your choice of cooking oil over medium heat and wait for pan to get super hot.
4. Once oil is shimmering add spoonfuls of mixture in hot oil and fry until golden brown on each side. About 2-3 minutes per side.
5. Place on platter lined with paper towels to soak up any grease that sticks to the fritter.
6. Serve with sour cream and extra green onions or apple sauce on the side.
Other Healthy Ingredients
This summer squash, is low in calories and high in phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamins C, A, B1, B6, and B2, calcium, and manganese. Zucchini, which is actually a fruit and not a vegetable due to its seeds, is also a good source of magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorous, as well as zinc, niacin, and protein. The summer squash provides both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Foods that contain fiber provide numerous health benefits, including flushing carcinogenic toxins from the colon. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and folate in zucchini provide protection against cellular damage and beta-carotene and vitamin C also have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma, as well as other conditions. Manganese and vitamin C may also lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
Winter squash is also packed with nutrition. Many varieties are high in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Spaghetti squash is utilized by dieters to replicate pasta due to its low calorie and carbohydrate content. A hard-shelled squash, the interior of spaghetti squash can be separated into strands and contains almost 10 percent of the recommended daily intake for fiber.
Spaghetti squash packs a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamin C, which provide protection against free radical damage. The spaghetti substitute is also a good source of potassium and calcium, as well as B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin, all of which support cell function.
Antioxidants include beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health. Beta-carotene, converted to vitamin A in the body, may also lower LDL and provide benefits with insulin resistance. This squash provides protection against cardiovascular risks, including decreased blood pressure from potassium, improved circulation, and stronger arterial walls.
The omega-3 fatty acids in spaghetti squash provide an anti-inflammatory response, which may lower risk for arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and various cancers. Don't like spaghetti squash? No problem. Supplementing with a clinically-proven Antarctic krill oil supplement can provide potent servings of EPA and DHA as well as the antioxidant power of astaxanthin.
Like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous vegetable family. These mini heads of cabbage are a great source of vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting and bone health. In addition, these sprouts contain high levels of vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports not only immune function and tissue repair but iron absorption. Kaempferol, an antioxidant in Brussels sprouts, may reduce inflammation, provide cardiovascular benefits, and inhibit cancer cell growth.
The fiber in cruciferous vegetables seems to provide a decreased risk of diabetes by slowing the glucose absorption in the blood. Additionally, Brussels sprouts are a good source of alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that may impact insulin sensitivity, which may help manage blood sugar.
Choosing Your Oil
Frying foods in oil is a traditional part of the Hanukkah celebration. Oil may not deserve its reputation as an unhealthy food. That really depends on the type of oil, especially when you’re frying at high temperatures.
Oils to keep out of your shopping cart include partially or fully hydrogenated oils, soybean oil, palm oil, and cottonseed oil. Hydrogenated oils are created with the addition of hydrogen to make them solid at room temperature or have a longer shelf life.
These oils can have a disastrous effect on cholesterol profiles, raising LDL (bad) cholesterol while lowering HDL (good cholesterol). Palm oil has a high ratio of saturated fat, which can contribute to risk for cardiovascular disease; cottonseed oil also has a high saturated fat ratio and may contain pesticides from farming.
When you’re cooking at high temperatures, such as with these latkes, the smoking point of the oil you use is important. The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which it begins to smoke and becomes ineffective.
An oil with a smoking point above 375 degrees F, the temperature you’d typically use for frying, is considered to have a high smoke point. Healthy oils for frying include pure olive oil (not extra virgin, which has a lower smoke point), avocado oil, and coconut oil.
Is Coconut Oil Bad for Cholesterol?
Coconut oil has been getting a mixed review from nutrition experts but the MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) are not metabolized like long-chain triglycerides, which means they may not impact cholesterol or cardiovascular disease. Look for virgin coconut oil.
The Bottom Line
By substituting or adding vitamin- and antioxidant-dense ingredients to traditional latkes, you can boost their nutrition value. Foods fried in a healthy oil with a high smoke point can have a place in a healthy diet, in moderation.
Adjusting ingredients can make latkes suitable for numerous dietary needs, from vegetarian to gluten- or grain-free.
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