Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

Archive for December, 2011

Potato Pancakes (Latkes) for Hanukkah (or any time!)

Remember my post about being able to eat “badly” 20% of the time? Well, true potato latkes (pancakes) probably fit into that category. But heck, Hanukkah comes only once a year. If you want to make them a little healthier, see suggested substitutions at the end, to add some nutrition to the feast. Makes about 25-30 pancakes.

5 lbs. of potatoes, or 5 cups, grated and squeezed
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 very large sweet onion
8 tbs. flour
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and grate the potatoes and onion to medium-fine texture
Squeeze out as much liquid as you can
Stir in eggs, salt, pepper
Sprinkle in flour and baking powder
Mix and drop into hot oil to desired size
Cook until crisp and golden brown
Drain on paper towels. Blot the tops.
If serving a bunch at once, keep them warm on a tray in 200 degree oven
Serve with low fat sour cream and/or apple sauce

Leftovers (if there are any) can be frozen

You can substitute some or all of the potatoes with sweet potatoes or zucchini, in equal quantities.

The secret to keeping the latkes crisp is putting them into the pan when the oil is hot enough (but not too hot that they will burn before cooking through) and squeezing out as much liquid from the batter as possible (using a strainer), before cooking.


I post to Facebook on a fairly regular basis, but no posts receive as many comments as those that relate to food. I can post a profound saying or quote and may get a response, but talk about food – wow! I posted about all the soup (4 varieties) I made in the last 2 days.  Perhaps the winter hoarding instinct took hold, but even I didn’t know why I had such a strong need to cook. It was relaxing, in spite of all the bowls, pots, knives and cutting boards to clean.

It is incorrect to assume that since one loves food, s/he eats mostly unhealthy food. It is untrue that healthy food doesn’t taste good. Most any “unhealthy” recipe can be made healthier with a switch of ingredients or elimination of some, without losing the essence of the dish. (See the post about substituting ingredients in recipes.)

There are foodies who only eat cream, butter, etc., and there are those who want to live long enough to sample and savor many things. Follow the 80-20 rule and you will be happy and live longer. Eighty percent of the time, eat well and not too much. Indulge your cravings the other 20% of the time (unless there are health issues that need to be addressed) and it will be enough to keep you healthier and satisfied – even the foodies among us.

Healthier Recipe Substitutions

I love to cook, as you can see by the dozens of cookbooks on my kitchen shelf! Most of them are filled with healthy recipes, but a few of them are not, so I had to learn how to lighten them up.
I’m all about ingredient substitutions as long as the food still tastes great – I do not eat food that tastes like cardboard! Besides using lots of herbs and spices for flavor, here are some general healthy recipe substitutions I’ve found over the years:

Instead of: Substitute:
1 cup cream 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1 cup butter, margarine, or oil ½ cup apple butter or applesauce
1 egg 2 egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute
Pastry dough Graham cracker crumb crust
Butter, margarine, or vegetable oil for sautéing Cooking spray, chicken broth, or a little olive oil
Bacon Lean turkey bacon
Ground beef Extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
Sour cream Fat-free sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips ¼ – ½ cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup sugar ¾ cup sugar (this works with most everything except yeast breads)
1 cup mayonnaise 1 cup reduced-fat or fat-free mayonnaise
1 cup whole milk 1 cup fat-free milk
1 cup cream cheese ½ cup ricotta cheese pureed with ½ cup fat-free cream cheese
Oil and vinegar dressing with 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar 1 part olive oil + 1 part vinegar (preferably a flavored vinegar, like balsamic) + 1 part orange juice
Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce) 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or margarine

Source: National Institutes of Health

Anybody else have some favorite healthy ingredient substitutions? Do share!

Ginger Carrot Soup Made Healthy & Easy

I am always looking for ways to make great recipes easy and more healthful. Starting with a class assignment, I took a fat-laden soup and made it healthy, as well as vegetarian/vegan friendly with some alternative suggestions. Here is the result of changing an Emeril recipe, made with heavy whipping cream and sour cream, to a heart-healthy winter dish, saving 426 calories (496 calories if milk is omitted). There are 45 fewer grams of fat and most of it is shifted to mono or unsaturated fat – the good kind). Serve with good bread and a salad and you have dinner! Yield = 4 servings.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 to 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk (* may be omitted for vegan)
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

Using a 4-quart stock pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Place the onions and celery in until they are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the carrots to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are lightly caramelized and start to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the stock, salt, pepper and bay leaf, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the soup until the carrots are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup and puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender or in batches in a heat proof blender. Adjust the seasoning, add the milk at the end if desired (omit for vegan).

Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh chives or parsley.

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