Even without the oil, it’s still a miracle

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

It has often been said that if your ears are burning, it might be that somewhere someone is talking about you.  This time of year, if your eyes are burning, it is most likely because you are grating onions in preparation for Chanukah latke-making!

The traditional frying of these delicious potato patties commemorates the long-ago miracle of oil lasting for 8 days, the backbone of the Chanukah festival.  While latkes have become a staple in most Jewish households during the week of Chanukah, many health-conscious individuals shudder at the notion of eating anything fried at all, regardless of the holiday.  Relax, my oil-phobic friends…..there is still a way to embrace the holiday and all of its traditions without threatening to undo 11 months of hard work, both in the kitchen and in the gym!

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Several years ago, a family friend introduced me to the virtues of baked latkes.  The batter is prepared using the same delicious recipe that has no doubt been handed down for generations.  The only difference is that, instead of deep-frying the latkes in a skillet of oil, the patties are baked on cookie sheets.  In my home, we use an olive oil flavored nonstick spray to coat the cookie sheets. However, a light coating of oil will suffice as well.  Baking at 350 degrees, latkes prepared in this fashion may take a bit longer to cook than their fried counterparts, but the result is worth the wait.

While most latke experts use only white potatoes to prepare their batter, there is no reason not to branch out and include sweet potatoes or even red potatoes in the mix.  The potassium content is higher in these 2 varieties, providing an extra nutritional boost.  Some creative recipes even call for shredded carrots, adding more beta-carotene and Vitamin A per serving.

As you light the menorah in a few days, reflect on each of the miracles in your own life.  Take a moment to recall the events of days gone by, and how that little vial of oil managed to light the darkness for 8 whole days.  Then, grab the applesauce and enjoy your healthier latkes!

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.