This year, Hanukkah takes place December 2 through December 10. Latkes are one of the most common foods served throughout the eight nights of Hanukkah. Most traditional latkes are best described as fried potato pancakes, made of shredded potatoes, eggs, onions and salt. This holiday season, try sweet potato latkes as a twist on the traditional dish.

A Very Short History of Latkes

The tradition of enjoying fried foods is really about the oil to fry them. Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees—the Jewish rebel army—rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Syrian-Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.
This legend is a familiar tale told at Jewish holidays. The fondness for fried foods during Hannukah is in celebration of the miracle of the oil that kept a menorah lit almost 2,200 years ago.
Latkes originated in the Eastern European countries of Germany, Austria and Poland as a peasant food. Potatoes were cheap, plentiful, and easy to store, making them a staple.

Other Traditional Foods for Hanukkah

  • Matzo Ball soup: Matzo balls are traditionally served in chicken soup and are a staple food on the Jewish holiday of Passover.
  • Sufganiyah: The doughnut is deep-fried, filled with jam or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar.
  • Challah: This delicious baked bread is made from eggs rather than milk or butter and is often braided before baking.
  • Brisket: A cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal.

Sweet Potatoes vs. White Potatoes

Both potatoes are a healthy carbohydrate source. Yet, sweet potatoes have more fiber and are lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes. If you have diabetes, keep in mind the importance of portion size and distribution of carbohydrate-rich foods throughout the day.

Sweet Potato Latkes

  • 2medium sweet potato, peeled and shredded
  • 2medium green onions, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4cupAll-purpose flour
  • 1/2tspsalt
  • 1/8tsppepper
  • 1egg, slightly beaten
  • 1cupSour cream
  • 1cupPecans for garnish
  1. Mix all ingredients, except sour cream and pecans
  2. Oven Directions: Heat oven to 400°F. Generously grease cookie sheet. Drop sweet potato mixture by teaspoons onto cookie sheet; flatten slightly. Bake 12-15 minutes turning once, until golden brown.
  3. Skillet Directions: In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Drop sweet potato mixture by teaspoons into skillet; flatten slightly. Cook 4-5 minutes, turning once, until golden brown; drain on paper towels.
  4. Optional: Garnish with sour cream and pecans
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