The wonderful Yomtov of Chanuka is nearly here once again, and of course, we all think about latkes, doughnuts… and calories. Of course, we all know how intrinsic oil is to Chanuka – we’ve known since we were little kids, but as we get older, wiser, and perhaps healthier, we may have second thoughts each year.
- Should I really fry all those latkes and doughnuts?
- Do we need all that unhealthy oil in our systems?
- Maybe we should just skip it this year and bake the doughnuts instead?
What about FRYING? – Let’s talk about the Chanuka connection, I feel is a really important lesson in all areas of our lives.
Let’s backtrack and remind ourselves of why we eat oily foods on Chanuka. We all know how a tiny bit of oil was found to relight the menorah and it lasted for eight days until new oil could be made.
But there was another miracle that explains why women are also obligated in the mitzvot of Chanuka.
The midrash says a harsh decree was issued against the Jewish girls; upon marriage, each girl was first to be brought to the Syrian ruler before going to her husband. Yehudit, the beautiful daughter of Yochanan Kohen Gadol, risked her life and went to the king, and gave him salty cheese, and then strong wine. When he was drunk, she killed him, and when the Syrian soldiers saw that their ruler was dead, they all ran away.
This is the source of eating Milky foods on Chanuka, but because the miracle came about through a woman, the mitzvot of Chanuka also apply to all women.
So let’s remember how grateful and proud we Jewish women have to be when we celebrate the special holiday of Chanukah!
Since we women are the ones in the kitchen preparing all those yummy Chanuka treats, we really want to know how to cook for our families in the best possible way, both in terms of health and in keeping to our sacred minhagim, and how on earth do we reconcile frying and health?!
I feel about this, in one word, which is the most important word you can incorporate into all aspects of your lifestyle;
Holding onto our holy minhagim is so important – there is no way I – even as a nutrition health coach– would ever decide for myself or my clients, that since frying is unhealthy, we won’t fry our latkes or doughnuts anymore. Just as I would never tell anyone to stop eating cake for Shabbat because enjoying good food on Shabbat is such an important part of our tradition and part of feeding our “neshama”. You can always find alternatives but that piece of cake will not ruin your healthy eating habits.
So how do we stay healthy if food is such an integral part of our religion? Again we go back to that word. As long as we are balanced in what and how we eat, we are doing well.
- Why can’t we enjoy latkes and doughnuts in moderation?
- Can we teach ourselves to enjoy fried foods and at the same time keep them to a minimum?
You will actually enjoy them more if you savor the one or two, instead of just mindlessly eating as many as you want…
If you can manage to do that, you will be giving yourself the biggest gift, because you can learn to use this tool in other areas of your life. You really want to read your new book but you are so tired? No problem; tell yourself you will read one chapter and then go to bed. I shouldn’t say it’s no problem because it really can be hard, but if you can teach yourself to master this vital tool of BALANCE, you will find so many areas of your life so much easier to handle correctly.
On a more practical note, I want to share with you some of my thoughts about using oil.
We all need oils and fats in our diet; there are many substitutes when it comes to baking like apple compote, mashed bananas, and cooked kidney beans, however, healthy fats and oils are necessary to supply energy to our body, promote cell growth and form the building blocks for brains, cells, and tissues.
They are also vital for hormone production and vitamin absorption – however not all oils are equal, and it can be very confusing as these days there are many different options. There is avocado oil, almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and more.
They all have different characteristics and can be used to enrich your cooking and dishes in many ways.
If you’d like to know more about cooking oils and how best to use them, read about it HERE in my blog from last Chanuka.