Saturday, September 24, 2011

Shanah Tovah: Keeping the holidays light and simple

Some of my fondest memories growing up are cooking for the Jewish holidays with my mom. I loved waking up to the smell of braising brisket, roasted turkey, and sweet smelling desserts baking. As the holidays were always hectic, my mom liked to keep things simple with the menu filled with family favorites. Now as a registered dietitian, I love to experiment with new recipes, particularly healthy spins on traditional favorites. One dish my patients and clients always ask me about is noodle kugel…how can I make this fat-laden dish healthy and still taste delicious?

Why have you done a good thing?

Holidays, particularly the Jewish holidays, are always filled with food, food and more food. Although I always tell patients just to stick to their favorites, fill up on vegetables, and limit portion sizes, as some of those favorites are really calorically dense. So when you prepare noodle kugel, or high calorie dishes like it, it’s important to have helpful tips to lighten the load while still preserving that wonderful traditional flavor you look forward to. This is particularly simple when baking or making casseroles like noodle kugel.

Ways to lighten up a baking or casserole recipe:

1) Switch to skim/1% milk or cheese

2) Substitute cottage cheese for ricotta cheese

3) Substitute plain yogurt for sour cream

4) Use whipped butter or oil instead of stick butter

5) Switch out or reduce the amount of eggs, sugar, or butter for fruit purees like applesauce

6) Use non-stick cooking spray to grease pans

7) Mix in chunks of fruit or vegetables to bulk up the recipe

8) Reduce the portion size and still eat a tiny bit of your favorite prepared the way you know and love

Healthy Apple Noodle Kugel

10 ounces wide whole wheat egg noodles

2 tbsp unsalted whipped butter

2 large eggs

½ cup unsweetened apple sauce

¼ cup of corn starch

2 cups of 1% milk cottage cheese

2 cups of plain nonfat yogurt

1 cup of skim milk

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

½ cup raisins

½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs

2 tbsp honey

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 by 13 inch pan with non-strick cooking spray.

2) Cook noodles until just short of al dente (under-cooked), about 3-5 minutes. Drain and set aside

3) Melt butter in a small skillet on a low heat. Cook until the butter is lightly brown being careful not to burn the butter. Pour into a bowl and cool.

4) Beat together the eggs, cornstarch, 1 tsp cinnamon, and applesauce in a large bowl. Mix in the cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, brown sugar, raisins, vanilla, salt, and browned butter. Stir in cooked noodles into baking dish.

5) Top noodles with bread crumbs, the rest of the cinnamon, and drizzle with honey.

6) Bake until browned for about 1 hour. Let cool for at least 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve as a side dish or for brunch the next day.

For more fabulous Rosh Hashanah Recipes, check out the NY Times holiday slideshow

Happy New Year to all fellow Jews! Don't celebrate Jewish holidays? Try noodle kugel anyway as it is a great casserole dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

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