Chanukah: It’s All About the Applesauce
Okay, okay — and the potato pancakes.
Alas, I do not have a magic recipe for delicious, low-calorie latkes. After all, it’s all about the oil, right? But do not despair! I do have a recipe for healthy, easy, fabulous applesauce — and two strategies to go with it so that you can enjoy your latkes without feeling that you yourself have been transformed into a vat of oil.
The first strategy is based on one that Jay and I have recommended before as one of the keys to our success: plan ahead. Decide before you sit down to the table how many latkes you’re going to have, and commit to the plan. Enjoy every shameless bite.
The second strategy is also key for us: when you sit down to a meal, eat all produce first. In the case of Chanukah, that would mean starting with a big helping of my wonderful applesauce. The benefits of this are threefold: one, you’re filling up on the healthiest food first. Two, you’re buying time between being hungry, seeing the glistening latkes, and eating eight of them before you know it. And three, if you start with the most delectable food (in this case, latkes), you’re less interested in having anything else. Unless it’s a jelly donut. Let’s not even go there.
But now, after you’ve had your applesauce, you’re less hungry, and you’re more in control. Now have your (with some more applesauce, if you like). Success! Here, now, is the recipe:
- 8 apples (I like Honeycrisp, but choose any type or types you like), peeled and cored*
- Lemon rind strips,** optional
- Cinnamon stick, optional
- Cut each apple into big chunks (eight or so per apple), and put them in a pot. Add the lemon rind and cinnamon stick if you like. Put enough water into the pot to just cover the bottom.
- Cover the pot, and cook the mixture over medium heat until it boils. Then, turn down the heat and simmer 20 minutes or, making sure that there’s always enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. The applesauce is done when the apple chunks are mashable, but still more or less intact..
- When your apples have cooked enough, turn off the heat, and remove the cinnamon stick and lemon rind strips.
- The next step is optional, but I highly recommend it. Drain the liquid from the apples. You can always add some back later, but this ensures that the applesauce won’t be too watery. And by the way, that liquid your drain off is the most amazingly delicious apple juice you’ll ever taste.
- Mash up the chunks to the texture you like.*** You’re all done! Or, at least I am. If you want to pureé the applesauce in a food processor for a smoother texture, be my guest.
* I hate coring apples, even with an apple corer. I just peel the apples and then cut off the flesh from the core.
** If you do use lemon rind, peel off big strips so that they’re easy to find when you’re ready to remove them.
*** I like using a potato masher for this step, but you could even use a couple of forks to do the job.
Note: applesauce freezes really well.
A word about the photograph in today’s post. The framed picture shown is a menorah that my mother-in-law, Betty Kenty, cross-stitched for our family 19 years ago. Betty was a devout cross-stitcher, and she was also a devout Methodist. She could have cared less that I was Jewish or that my husband and I agreed to raise our daughters as Jews. She cared only that we create a loving home. And she also gave me the best parenting advice I ever heard: “If you want your children to respect you, then treat your children with respect.” I miss Betty every day.
If you’re so inclined, have a happy Chanukah!