Healthy Latkes: A Holiday Twist
Instead of white potatoes, why not try these healthy latkes with vitamin-rich sweet potatoes and zucchini? Use those leftover “zoodles” for something other than pasta!
Potato latkes had always been a family staple at my household growing up. I remember the big jar of Mott’s applesauce sitting there waiting to be made into a big dollop while the potato pancakes sizzled. As a child, I grew up non-religious. Having a Jewish father and Polish Catholic mother, family traditions were very important. This included decorating a Christmas tree with Neil Diamond (also Jewish) holiday soundtracks in the background, and of course the potato latkes! Now that I am out of the house, living thousands of miles away in Boulder, I felt it was time to recreate these traditions with my own twist. One in mind? A healthy latkes recipe!
You say potato I say…
Most latke recipes include white potatoes. White potatoes are not the enemy, keeping the skin on, they have a good source of fiber and vitamins and minerals. These include potassium (not recommended for people living with renal failure) and vitamin C. When the two potatoes, white versus sweet, battle it out, sweet potatoes seem to be the winner. Overall, sweet potatoes have more fiber, vitamins, and less calories per serving. Looking at these differences, I decided sweet potatoes had to be the ingredient for my healthy latkes version. For more on the nutrition of these potatoes, check out this neat article from The Cleveland Clinic.
Watch the salt
Most of us use salt in our cooking to give it flavor. Who enjoys bland food really? Instead of extra salt, why not incorporate fresh herbs and spices for a major flavor boost? I used fresh rosemary and thyme in these pancakes and it made a huge difference in the taste. Try to keep the salt to only a pinch since a teaspoon of salt is a days worth of our recommended 2,300mg intake.
Easy on the oil
Most traditional recipes for latkes require frying in heavy amounts of oil. This is what makes them more delicious, but later your stomach will hate you. Try using a non-stick pan with only a light coating (1-2 tablespoons of oil) to still get the flavor and a slightly crisp texture. The lesser amounts of oil will save you in excess calories and not cause indigestion.
Are you Inspiralized yet?
I am late on the spiralizer bandwagon as most of you have had Zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a pasta dish already. I have mine with pasta mixed in it because I need the healthy carbs to keep up with my running hobby. We all need carbs to function, if the “zoodle” dishes are keeping you hungry, try adding either sweet potato noodles or spaghetti to fill you up more. Also, try spiralized vegetables in stir fry or salads, they make a dish much more beautiful.
Speaking of zoodles, if you are like me and want to try an alternative to pasta, add them to the latkes! The balance of the sweet potatoes and zucchini came out delicious!
To make the perfect zoodle or sweet potato noodle, I high recommend a spiralizer. I started with a handheld one from Amazon for less than $10 and it did the job! However, on my holiday wish list is the larger spiralizer with a handle since I got a lot of practice on the handheld version. If you do not have either spiralizer, feel free to use a grater. I used grated sweet potato for this batch and the pancakes held together perfectly.
Healthy Latkes for the win!
This recipe took me two attempts. My first try was baking them to completely avoid the frying method. My version came out gooey and lifeless. Having a small amount of olive oil gave the crispness and taste I remembered from potato pancakes growing up. If you absolutely love white potatoes for your latkes, why not try mixing some of the white potato with shredded carrots or beets for my nutrients? To hold the pancakes together, I used flour and eggs. Feel free to replace eggs with flaxseed eggs if you prefer a vegan alternative. Gluten-free? Replace the flour with almond flour or meal to give it that gritty texture and hold.
Wishing everyone a very happy holidays, including a Happy Hannukah! This time of year is all about delicious food to be shared with those we love. Happy New Year and may it bring us joy and most especially peace!
These latkes are so versatile. They can be made with grated or spiralized carrots, beets, and even parsnips. If you don't have fresh herbs in your house, the dried form is just as good, but cut it down to teaspoon level size.
- 1 large zucchini, spiralized or grated
- 1 large sweet potato, spiralized or grated
- 1/2 medium white or red onion, grated or finely chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (can substitute for Gluten-Free flour)
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs, optional (panko preferred)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1-2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, optional
- pinch of sea salt, and black pepper to taste optional
- Olive oil (or other vegetable oil for sauteeing)
- Mix all of the ingredients except for the oil thoroughly together in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to let it bind together.
- Once ready, form one to two tablespoon scoops of the mixture into a pancake shape on a cutting board. Set aside.
- Heat the oil, enough so that it very lightly covers the bottom of a non-stick pan or skillet, on medium-high heat. Place the pancakes on the skillet. Cook the pancakes for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden. Transfer the pancakes to a towel (or paper towel) lined plate to absorb some of the grease.
- Serve with your choice of apple sauce, sour cream, or even greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice and garlic!