When Jessica Pearl, RD approached me to send Chanukah recipes for the winter newsletter sent out globally to dietitians of The Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition, I felt compelled to revise my old latke recipe. It was exciting to develop a recipe that dietitians may approve as a healthier alternative than the traditional potato latke. The main consideration in choosing the base vegetable was that it exceeds the potato’s nutritional values in some of the macro and micronutrients. The winners of my creation were: Celery knob and yellow beets.
Celery knob is a root vegetable, also known as celeriac or celery root. While it looks rather rough on the outside, once it’s peeled it is quite easy to use. Select a knob that is firm, medium sized and has no soft spots, and less trailing roots. Smaller knobs are usually more tender, larger ones can be rough and woody inside, and soft spots indicate rot initiation.
Celery knob is known to aid the digestive and immune system. Among others it has vitamins C and B6, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium. The mineral Magnesium is a co-factor for vitamin C, D, Potassium, and B vitamins. Magnesium helps to avoid heart attacks, lowers blood pressure, stops muscle cramps, increases calcium absorption among other benefits.
Celery knob has less than half of the carbohydrate found in potatoes. Since it does have less fiber than potato does, I added the flaxseed into the mixture. Flaxseed needs to be grounded in order to release its omega 3 qualities and antioxidants lignans. Lignans are phytonutrients associated with cancer prevention and many others research. Ground flax is undetectable to taste buds and could be added to numerous food and withstand high temperatures. Surprisingly, using celery knob as the base of the latke does not compromise on the appearance or taste of the latke. In addition, I discovered that the shredded celery knob has a thicker texture than potatoes, and does not seep as shredded potatoes naturally do, which is a plus when preparing the mixture ahead of time.
In my second recipe, I swapped sweet potatoes for golden beets. Beets have half the calories and carbohydrates than sweet potatoes. They also have higher B9 (folate), iron and manganese contents levels, and double the vitamin C. Additionally, beets are higher in total omega 3 and Omega 6, even though the ratios in both vegetables are similar. Although there is a sufficient amount of antioxidant in this recipe, I still added some fresh cranberries to the recipe in order to balance out the sweetness. The golden beets recipe is more delicate to handle, since it has slightly higher water content than sweet potatoes. Because of this issue, I would not suggest storing for a later use. You may want to add more flour than suggested, if you feel that the mixture is becoming too liquid. Beet are known to reduce inflammation, support the heart, and protect the digestive, brain, and eye health.
Traditionally, we fry Chanukah latkes. Both discussed recipes have been tested fried and baked. Since many of us long for that specific fried latka, I compared the results of both methods. I suggest lightly spraying the top of the latkes before baking. This was enough to yield a good consistency, and a golden brownish color. I found that the beets latke looked better when they were baked instead of fried. For frying, I suggest using no more than one spoon of oil for every two latkes. Note that the latkes should not be deep-fried, as traditional latkes are. I prefer using avocado oil. Some like using canola oil, but have in mind that it should be expeller-pressed or cold pressed oil that’s also organic or non-GMO. Pure olive oil, a blend of virgin and refined oils, is also adequate for pan frying because it has a higher smoke point than other olive oils.
Celery Knob Flaxseed Latkes
- 2 C. celery knobs, finely shredded
- 1/2 C. onions, grated
- 1-1/2 tsp. ground flaxseeds
- 2 egg whites, slightly whipped
- 1 whole egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional 1/4 C. finely chopped swiss chard (without the stem), or similar
Pre-heat oven to 375F, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients and form 9 latkes, placing them on the cookie sheet. Lightly spray oil over the latkas and bake for 8 minutes or until golden.
Yields: 9 medium latkes, Prep time: 10-20 min
Golden Beets with Cranberry
- 2 C. golden beets, shredded
- 3/4 C. combination of red and yellow onions, diced
- 1/8 C. fresh cranberries, chopped
- 3 egg whites, slightly whipped
- 2 tsp. whole wheat flour
Combine all ingredients and form 8 latkas, placing them on the cookie sheet. Lightly spray oil over the latkas and bake for 8 minutes or until golden.
Yield: 8 medium latkes, Prep: 10-20 min