Latkes are a Chanukah tradition, typically made with white potatoes, white flour, onions and vegetable oil.
Now, you guys know that I am one who bucks tradition – and so instead of regular latkes, I created a healthified latke packed with vegetables. My version is gluten-free and dairy-free, and can be made vegan or Paleo depending on the flour you use and if choosing an egg-free substitution.
‘Normal’ latkes, while certainly delicious, are high on the glycemic index and fried. Starchy, white potatoes and glutenous flour help with texture and binding, but the health cost for me is too high. By using gluten-free flour and egg as a binder, these sweet potato zucchini latkes hold together well, especially since they are baked in the oven. This saves you the stress of flipping them and worrying about your latkes breaking and falling apart.
Most fried foods are fried in vegetable oil, which is problematic for a number of reasons. Vegetable oil is:
- Processed and refined and stripped of its nutrients
- Bleached and deodorized to mask the smell of its rancidity
- Hydrogenated – which creates trans fats - to boost shelf life
- High in omega-6 fats, which are inflammatory when consumed in excess
Fried Food Health Risks
Aside from the inflammatory effects of the omega-6 fatty acids, fried foods are associated with:
- An increased risk of developing depression
- Accelerated cognitive decline
- An increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
- Obesity, especially in those who are predisposed to it through their genes
- Incidences of heart failure and hypertension; though there is mixed evidence about the link between fried foods and cardiovascular disease. Scientists propose that the inconsistencies are likely due to the type of oil used and the exact frying techniques.
And so, instead of frying or deep-frying my latkes, I bake them in the oven instead. This is a much healthier method of cooking, plus it’s easier because it’s almost totally hands-off.
That means instead of latkes being a once-a-year treat, I can eat these sweet potato zucchini latkes more often! These are popular at our family Chanukah gatherings, but are also great for brunch or an afternoon snack.
- 2 cups sweet potato, grated
- 2 cups zucchini, grated
- 2 cups carrot, grated
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 2 eggs, or 1 Tbsp ground chia mixed with 4 Tbsp water for vegan
- 1 cup flour (Use buckwheat, chickpea, brown rice, or almond flour for Paleo)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt (or a little more to taste)
- ¼ cup olive or coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Mix together grated veggies, onion and egg or chia egg.
- Add in flour, baking powder and salt.
- Form into patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet. I made them about 2-3 inches in diameter and flattened them out with a fork.
- Brush the tops with olive oil to give them a bit of the fried vibe.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until latkes feel dry on top and are holding together. Flip and broil for 1-2 minutes.
- Serve warm.
Photo credit: Maya Visnyei for The UnDiet Cookbook