It’s holiday time, which makes it time to consider latkes once again. Latkes, chopped liver, even fried donuts, along with milk chocolate gelt, are Chanukah traditions that make as much sense as a three-legged crib. But what happened in the past, great as Model T’s look in retrospect, doesn’t necessarily make sense today.
Remember that in 1900, life expectancy was 47 years, so your food, even if it clogged your arteries or triggered cancer, didn’t matter – you were going to die long before chest pains started, memories faded, or polyps thrived. And simple carbs, syrup, and sugar, and saturated fat and those killer chemicals in liver didn’t really affect you – you faded from infections much earlier. Yes, liver is the worst food, full of saturated fat that increases the production of harmful proteins from genes that may not be your friends, full of every toxin and pesticide the animal ever saw.
But you do inherit much from your parents besides your genes; their latkes and chopped liver recipes need revisions if you are to see your grandchildren through college, let alone your great-grandchildren. And now it is easy to keep your arteries healthy to your brain so you could have memories, or to your sexual organs, your heart or even to your skin (for fewer wrinkles).
Walnuts to the rescue
And just in time this year comes an article from our nutritionist friend, Dr. David Katz of Yale University and his group maintaining that eating about 1.5 ounces of walnuts a day improved the diet quality and metabolic outcome in a randomized controlled trial. Seems the walnut eaters (350 calories of walnuts a day, about 26 halves) were satiated enough by the walnuts to reduce calories in their other food choices so the walnut calories didn’t add weight. In fact, they just ate less and more healthfully so that their LDL cholesterol, inflammatory and glucose markers improved. And in another study group that ate the walnuts and received nutritional coaching to reduce their other calories by 350 a day, the people who ate the walnuts daily lost weight.
So if you want to tap into those memories, maintain the potential for great sex, and avoid wrinkles, it is easy to modify the latke tradition to be healthier. The walnut version takes another three minutes to make. Here’s the recipe:
Caramelized Onion, Chive, Zucchini, Walnut and Potato Latkes
Makes 14 four-inch-round pancakes
1 tsp California origin Extra virgin olive oil
1 C Onion, small diced (½ large sweet onion)
½ C Whole wheat flour
3 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Kosher salt (or salt substitute, only needed if you have salt-sensitive
hypertension or heart failure)
3 tbsp Fat-free skim milk
1 ¼ lbs Peeled and diced Idaho potatoes (5 medium size potatoes)
12 halves Walnuts chopped fine
1 C Zucchini, grated on large hole of box grater (one small zucchini)
2 tbsp Fresh chives, fine cut
1 tbsp California Origin Extra virgin olive oil
In non-stick sauté pan slowly sauté on low heat onions in one tsp olive oil until golden and caramelized, remove and reserve. While onions are sautéing squeeze excess water out of grated zucchini and reserve. Combine in bowl whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt and set aside. In blender add potatoes, skim milk (soy or almond milk work great), walnuts, and blend until pureed. Add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and blend until well mixed. Pour blender ingredients into large mixing bowl and fold in grated zucchini and chives. Heat nonstick sauté pan with one tablespoon olive oil until pan is hot. Add quarter cup amounts of potato mixture and spread out to form 4-inch pancakes, sauté until golden brown on each side and serve.
Chef notes: Do not cover to keep crispy, reheat in oven or toaster oven.
Nutritionals: Calories 90; Total fat 2.6 gram; saturated fat= 0.1 gram; trans fats = 0 gram; cholesterol = 0; fiber 2.2 gram; sodium 270 mg; Carbohydrates 15 gram; sugar 1.05 gram; protein 2.3 gm.
Dr. Michael Roizen writes about wellness for the Cleveland Jewish News. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Follow him on Twitter @YoungDrMike.