The winter holiday season continues with Hanukkah, which begins Dec. 16 and continues for eight days. This Jewish "festival of lights" celebrates the tiny vial of untainted olive oil - enough to burn for a day - that burned for the entire eight days needed to restore the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Food prepared for this holiday is traditionally cooked in oil. Potato pancakes fried in oil are the traditional Hanukkah meal. But with a slightly different approach, latkes - as potato pancakes are also called - can be enjoyed with no guilt or worry.

Baking rather than frying latkes is the key to better nutrition with no loss of flavor. While potatoes are the main ingredient, they don't have to be the only ingredient. Using grated carrots in the mixture, for example, adds color, texture and nutrients. The carrots add the protective substances that vegetables naturally offer, such as beta carotene and other cancer-fighting phytochemicals. You could also try grated sweet potatoes or zucchini.

If you want the pancakes crispier, just pop them under the broiler for a minute after baking. You can serve with a dollop of sour cream, or applesauce, which is easy to make and always a treat when it's freshly homemade.

Just core and thinly slice 6 medium apples of any variety or mix. (You can peel the apples, but leaving the skin on gives the sauce a nice color and more fiber.) Put them in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add one-fourth cup water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high 10 minutes. Stir apples. Microwave uncovered until apples are very tender, about 5 more minutes. With a fork, coarsely mash the apples to the desired consistency. Mix in cinnamon and sugar to taste, if needed.

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Baked Potato Pancakes

Makes about 16 pancakes or 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 2 large carrots, scraped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • reduced-fat sour cream or applesauce (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray large non-stick baking sheet with oil spray. Coarsely grate potatoes and carrots. Place them in large sieve. Set sieve into a large bowl so it nestles securely. Squeeze vegetables to wring out as much liquid as possible. If vegetables still feel wet, pat dry with paper towels, then transfer them to a mixing bowl. Stir in flour, parsley, onion, eggs, oil, salt and pepper, making sure ingredients are well combined.
  2. Spoon small mounds of the mixture on the baking sheet to form 2 1/2-inch pancakes, leaving 1 inch between each. Bake latkes until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side, turning once with spatula. Pancakes can also be made in a pan, preferably non-stick, with a light coating of canola oil spray on the bottom. Heat pan to high, then reduce to medium or medium-high heat. Transfer cooked pancakes to warm plates or a serving platter and serve at once. If desired, serve with low-fat sour cream or applesauce.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
251 calories,
3 g. total fat
Less than 1 g. saturated fat,
50 g. carbohydrate,
6 g. protein,
5 g. dietary fiber,
185 mg. sodium.

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Diabetic Exchanges: 3-1/2 Starch/Bread, 1 Lean Meat


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