1 Love Latkes? Cut the Fat  By Bev Bennett


IF THERE WAS ever a Jewish holiday immersed in oil, it's Chanukah, which begins Friday evening.


According to tradition, when the Jews battled the Greeks and regained their sacred Temple in Jerusalem, they rededicated it and rekindled the oil lamp that always burned there.


Unfortunately, there was only enough oil for one day, but by a miracle the oil burned for eight days until it could be replenished.


The miracle of the oil is symbolized by the lighting of a Chanukah menorah in Jewish homes. Most families also celebrate by eating foods fried in oil.


In Israel, fried pastries are a speciality. In the United States, Jews of eastern European heritage serve fried potato pancakes called latkes.


And, in keeping with the joyous holiday, there's no stinting on the oil.

As one recipe recommends: "Mix potatoes with egg and finely chopped onion and a bit of matzoh meal. Fry in way too much olive oil."


A very festive, but very fattening way to commemorate the ancient event.

You can stay in the spirit of the holiday without blowing your diet, according to Mindy Hermann, a food writer, dietitian and nutrition consultant in Mount Kisco.

She suggests you set limits. Eat one latke, not five; eat latkes once during the holiday, not every night.


However, if you want to indulge, Hermann suggests you adapt the classic recipe of shredded, fried potatoes.


Bake latkes instead of frying them.  Allow a little more time, since latkes take more time to cook without grease than with grease," she said.  Hermann sprays a cookie sheet with cooking spray, dollops on latke batter and sprays the batter with cooking spray as well.


"I prefer a cooking spray to an oil spritzer because the spray is finer and helps prevent the food from sticking."


She bakes the latkes in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

The latke texture is as crisp as if the batter were fried. If you measure the difference between fiying and baking, you'll probably use less than a tablespoon of cooking spray for a sheet of latkes, compared to two or three tablespoons of oil (absorbed) for frying.


There are other steps you can take as well.

"If you're breaking tradition, you can use sweet potatoes or zucchini in low fat latkes. The vegetables will enhance the flavor of the latkes," said Hermann.


You also can substitute an egg replacement product for whole eggs, although the dietitian doesn't think the step is necessary.


She does caution about toppings. Full fat sour cream will wreck your efforts at lower fat latkes.


"You can go with reduced fat or fat free sour cream, or plain yogurt, which is what we do. We also serve homemade applesauce. We have a farmstand nearby," Hermann said.


Here is a recipe for easy potato latkes that are as good baked as they are fried. Top them with cinnamon spiced applesauce.


Baked Potato Latkes

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 large egg

2 egg whites

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons flour


1)         Using coarse blade of grater (or food processor), grate potatoes and onion alternately into bowl (mixing the potatoes and onion prevents the potatoes from browning). By hand, squeeze out excess moisture. Stir in egg, egg white, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons flour. If mixture is wet, add additional flour.

2)         Spray a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray. Add potato mixture by 2 tablespoon measure. Flatten 1/4 inch thick. Spray tops of latkes with cooking spray. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove, flip over and bake another 20 minutes or until golden. Makes about 24 latkes; 6 servings.


Nutritional analysis for each serving: 122 calories, 2 g. fat (including cooking spray), 17 g. carbohydrates, 5 g. protein, 35.5 mg. cholesterol, 226 mg. sodium and 1.5 g. dietary fiber. … 2 pts



6 medium apples, cored, peeled and quartered .

½ cup water

¼ cup sugar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large pot, combine apples, water and sugar. Stir in seasonings. Cook, covered, over medium heat. Occasionally uncover and mash apples with back of a fork, until apples are a coarse puree and liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 162 calories, less than 1 g fat, 26.5 g. carbohydrates, 48 mg. sodium and 2.4 g. dietary fiber. The applesauce contains no cholesterol and insignificant amounts of protein.  3 pts.


Bev Bennett is a regular contributor to Food Day.


2 Low-Fat Potato Latkes I

  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil, preferably canola
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 or 5), peeled
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Set oven racks at middle and lower positions of the oven. Preheat oven to 450° F. Prepare 2 baking sheets by brushing with 1 teaspoon oil on each sheet.

Grate potatoes using hand grater or shredding blade of food processor. Place in a large bowl and add onions, flour, salt and pepper; toss to mix well. Add egg, egg white and remaining 1 teaspoon oil; toss to mix.

Drop onto prepared cookie sheets by the tablespoonful and press lightly to form cakes. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Flip latkes, switch position of baking sheets, and bake about 5 more minutes, or until golden brown.

Transfer to a platter, arranging browned-side up, and serve with no-fat sour cream or applesauce, or both. May be made ahead and stored overnight in fridge. Reheat at 350° F for 10 minutes. Makes about 24 latkes.

Tip: Use the grater attachment of a food processor to simultaneously grate both the potatoes and the onion. Set the shredded material in a colander over a bowl to catch the dripping liquid. When the grated potato-onion mixture stops squishing combine with the egg, egg white and remaining teaspoon of oil as above. Carefully pour out the liquid collected from under the grated potatoes and onions, taking care to save the white cake which has formed at the bottom of the bowl (the potato starch). Add this white stuff to the latke mixture and mix well. Complete the above recipe as written.

No-Fry Latkes

  • 2 shredded russet potatoes (about 3 peeled medium potatoes)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Oil spray

Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large mixing bowl, blend ingredients well using wooden spoon or hands. Coat two baking sheets with oil. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto prepared sheets and press down. Bake for 15 minutes, turn, then bake 10 minutes longer, or until browned. Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Low-Fat Potato Latkes II

  • 1 pound Idaho or russet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin) or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grate the potatoes using a box grater or the grating disk of a food processor. Transfer the potatoes to a colander over a bowl and let rest for 30 minutes, until the potatoes have darkened. Rinse well in cold water to remove the starch and the potatoes turn white again. Drain very well. Place the potatoes, onion, egg whites, seasonings and flour in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes before cooking. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat until very hot. Stir the potato mixture and, working in batches if necessary, drop the potato mixture by spoonfuls onto the hot skillet and shape them into circles. Let the latkes brown on one side, then turn them over to brown on other side.

Place the browned pancakes on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. When the tray is full, bake the latkes, uncovered, for another 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. Place on paper towels to absorb any fat and eat them while they're hot, with regular, low-fat or nonfat sour cream and regular or sugar-free applesauce, if desired.

Makes about 16 to 18 latkes.

Note: The trick to making these pancakes lower in fat is to use a skillet with a nonstick surface and to finish them in the oven. Serve with low-fat or nonfat sour cream and sugar-free applesauce.



1 to be honest, I found this so long ago; I don’t remember

2 http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/773100/jewish/Low-Fat-Latkes.htm