Eight nights of lights, food, family and gifts: Hanukkah is here! Over 8 days you will be over eating, over conversing, dealing with family and over spending, so how do you make this year’s Festival of Lights healthy, green and budget-friendly? With these tips and tricks!
Eco-nukkah Decor and Festivities
Make your own menorah – Get creative with the centerpiece of the holiday. Recycling and reusing every day materials is a great way to spice up the holiday. After all, conserving 1 night’s worth of oil for 8 nights is the most eco holiday tradition around so why not step it up a notch!
Burn eco candles – Cheap and conventional candles are toxic when burned. So keep you and yours healthy this Hanukkah by choosing soy based, natural candles for your menorah and festivities. Or if you are using an electric menorah, choose LED lights
Crafty decor – keep the kids busy by having them make dreidels out of milk cartons and Stars of David out of Popsicle sticks. They have fun, you keep them away from the kitchen and they get to keep a holiday souvenir!
Instead of having traditional fried potato latkes, try oven-baking them. Also adding in some veggies such as spinach or broccoli. Or better yet, make sweet potato latkes! But if you must fry, opt for coconut oil as it is a much healthier option.
As for topping the latkes, swap out sour cream for the vegan version or top with applesauce. Or try a fabulous gourmet jam instead!
Lighten up your matzo balls by cooking them with non-hydrogenated vegan butter or lighter oil, perhaps grapeseed.
Leave out the meat! Serve up meat free dishes that feature fun things like Field Roast, Tofurky, Match Meats or Gardein. See ya cholesterol!
Fry your Sufganiot in coconut oil or better yet, bake them. And switch to dark chocolate gelt.
Make traditional pastries and cookies, like hamantashen or rugelach, with whole wheat flour or even gluten free flour.
And try these healthy, vegan recipes at your holiday seder!
Chickpea Cakes With Beet Horseradish Salad
2 large shallots
2 T olive oil
Red pepper flakes
1 15oz can chickpeas
1/4 tsp lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the finely minced shallots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of dried thyme and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Add the rinsed chickpeas, cover and simmer until just heated through. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Add freshly grated lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Mash the peas with a potato masher and form into 1/4-cup mini-footballs. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. cover the bottom of a hot frying pan or skillet with coconut oil. Add the cakes in and lightly brown on each side.
2 1/2 pounds beets without their greens trimmed, leaving 2 inches of the stem ends intact
1/2 cup finely grated peeled fresh horseradish or 1/3 cup drained bottled horseradish
2 T sugar
2 T wine vinegar
3 T water
In a kettle cover the beets by 2 inches with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer the beets, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are tender. Drain the beets and under cold water slip off and discard the skins and stems. Cut the beets into wedges, in a bowl combine them well with the horseradish, the sugar, the vinegar, the water, and salt and pepper to taste, and let them marinate, covered and chilled, for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
Serves chickpea cakes with a few spoonfuls of beet salad. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Kugel
6 small sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
3 apples, peeled and grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup matzo meal
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup fruit juice or water
Mix ingredients together. Press into baking dish and bake 45 minutes at 375ºF, until crisp on top.
3 lbs potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 lb kale, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
Cook potatoes and mash. In a separate pan, sauté onion in oil, then add kale and steam, covered, until kale is soft. Remove from heat and mix with potatoes and seasonings. Pour into casserole dish and bake at 350ºF until warmed through.
Matzoh Ball Soup
1/2 cups matzoh meal
12 oz package firm silken tofu
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 carrot, peeled
handful fresh dill
fresh parsley for garnish
8 cups of vegetable broth
In a mixing bowl, combine the matzoh meal with salt and pepper, set aside.
Crumble the tofu into In a blender or food processor, add the vegetable broth and puree until smooth. Add the oil and blend again.
Mix the tofu mixture with the matzoh meal. Combine well, making sure that everything moist. Grate 1/2 the carrot into the mixture and combine. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to overnight.
Remove matzoh mixture from the fridge. Form into tightly packed, walnut sized balls. To form the balls, fill a large stock pot with enough water to fit all the matzoh balls with minimal handling. Salt the water generously, cover and bring to a boil. Use a cutting board to line up the formed matzoh balls and cover it with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Keep your hands clean. When all the balls are prepared, drop carefully into the boiling water, 1 or two at a time, with a spatula or slotted spoon. Take your time and be careful, not to plop one on top of the other. When all the balls are in the water, cover the pot for 40 minutes. The matzoh balls will have floated to the top and will drop back down when lid is lifted. To make them even lighter, you can turn off the heat, cover the pot again, and let them sit in the water for another hour or so. This way they absorb more water and expand a bit more.
Prepare the broth by placing it in a separate pot. Grate the other half of the carrot into the broth, along with a handful of chopped fresh dill. Bring to a low boil, and when it’s just heated, prep the bowls. Carefully remove matzoh balls and place 2 or 3 in a bowl. Ladle the broth over the matzoh balls, so that they’re covered only about half way.
Grilled Veggie Pesto Matzah (or Pasta) Lasagna
2 boxes of matzah (substitute cooked lasagna noodles if you so choose)
13″x9″x2″ baking dish
1 package of firm tofu, crumbled (seasoned with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper)
4 cups pesto (I like Le Grand Maison Brand, it is vegan an convenient)
1/4 c. chopped garlic
2 bags of prewashed baby spinach
4 Asian eggplants
2 yellow bell peppers
3 large portobello mushroom caps or 6 shiitakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Slice eggplant in half lengthwise, lay skin side own on paper towels and sprinkle salt on top. Let sit for a half hour. Cut squash in half lengthwise and along with the mushrooms, place into a large Ziploc freezer bag. About a half hour before cooking, press water out of the eggplant. Marinate eggplants, squash, yellow peppers and mushrooms in balsamic vinegar for about a half hour directly in the ziploc bag.
Preheat oven to 350. Grill the eggplant, squash, and mushrooms. Allow to cool slightly.
In a skillet, sauté spinach in olive oil with chopped garlic. Cut eggplant, squash, and mushrooms into bite size pieces.
Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1 cup of the pesto. Add one layer of moistened matzah (run under water). Layer half the grilled vegetables, 2/3 cup of the pesto sauce and 1/4 of the crumbled tofu mixture in dish. Repeat layers twice, the second time using the spinach as your vegetable, and the third time using the rest of the grilled vegetables. Cover with a final layer of moistened matzah, brush to coat with olive oil and add about 2/3 cup of pesto sauce on top.
Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with additional pesto or tomato sauce if desired.
Death By Chocolate Toffee Matzoh
4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup unsalted vegan butter
1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
Line a rimmed baking sheet completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
In a 3-4 quart heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula. Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
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The Healthy Voyager, aka Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, is the Vegan Executive Producer, Creator, Host and Writer of The Healthy Voyager web series and radio show, site, blog, and overall brand. A nutritionist, chef, film making, screen writing, traveling, singing, dancing, fun-loving, healthy and green living wife, The Healthy Voyager aims to help people live well, one veggie at a time!
Menorah. Creative Commons photo by ews
Potatoes. Creative Commons photo by