Chanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is an occasion to celebrate with traditional foods and old favorites with a new twist. At the center of the traditional Chanukkah menu is food cooked in oil, commemorating and symbolizing the oil that lit the Second Temple for eight days when there was only enough for one. It’s a great occasion to try out new holiday food ideas. There&rsquo ;s loads of scope for delicious and exciting but still healthy food, using vegetarian ingredients. Eating cheese is another Chanukkah tradition that also offers plenty of great vegetarian possibilities.
Whatever dishes you choose for your Chanukkah gathering, the oil is a vital ingredient that has a great impact on the flavor of your final product. Organic olive oil is the perfect choice for your Chanukkah cooking. There’s one other oil issue to consider. Consider using eco candles in your menorah, or if you’re using oil lamps, try environmentally friendly bio oil, made from recycled vegetable fats.
The essential vegetarian Chanukkah dish is the potato pancake, or latke. Whether you opt for the traditional latke or croquettes, made with mashed potato, you can give them all sorts of delicious treatments. For different flavor, add herbs or spice them up with hot ingredients.
For latkes with a difference, consider other vegetables. Butternut squash, cauliflower and root vegetables like parsnips and beetroot are all suitable for making different kinds of latke. Spice them up with chilli, cumin and other herbs – from your garden, if you can. Healthy holiday food is best seasoned with top quality organic condiments, that are now easily available in delis, supermarkets and online. Don’t forget the free range, cruelty free eggs.
Vegetable latkes or fritters with cheese will allow you to combine two of the core Chanukkah traditions. Spinach, leeks and courgettes are always given a lift with added cheese. Vegetarian cheese is now much easier to find than it used to be, and in a range of varieties. The difference is that it uses a vegetarian rennet substitute in the curdling process, instead of rennet from cow’s stomachs. Modern food labeling makes it easy to make sure you’re getting something that’s suitable for vegetarians.
No Chanukkah celebration is complete without something sweet. Doughnuts and Sufganiyot are vegetarian, and though we don’t normally think of them as healthy food, making mini versions that, by definition, have fewer calories is a good idea. You can also find recipes for baked versions online. On the other hand, upmarket Israeli bakeries have pioneered many variations on the conventional jelly doughnut, with less sugary fillings and healthy fillings like honey and nuts.
Honey puffs are another delicious treat, especially for the kids. Organic honey is a must for home made honey puffs that are always unbeatable. Chocolate Chanukah gelt can also be made at home. Good quality fair trade chocolate will make it extra special.
These are only a few ideas to help make your Chanukah holiday food a little more sophisticated, healthy and eco-friendly too.