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The guilt-free guide to Hanukkah eating

Hanukkah partyHanukkah can be a nutritionist’s worst nightmare, with most foods fried in oil for symbolic reasons. But the holiday’s a piece of kugel for Marissa Lippert, Well+Good’s gourmand nutritionist, who swiftly steers her way through the most tempting carb-laden holiday table—and Bubby’s less-than-lean brisket—with carefree aplomb.

How does she does she enjoy the treats of the season without the Hanukkah guilt? We share Lippert’s game plan for navigating the Hanukkah buffet (which is applicable to pretty much any holiday party—or wedding).

Her six steps:

1. Assess the buffet table and determine what’s most important to you—I’m talking about the less-than-healthful items. Plan through to dessert ahead of time.

2. If you could care less about kugel, but definitely want to have a good dessert, skip it or have a small serving.

3. Aim to fill half your plate (or at least 1/3) with whatever vegetables or salad you can scout.

4. Plan on having one or two regular-sized latkes (a SMALL dollop of sour cream if you’re a fan, meaning two tablespoons max) or a dollop of applesauce. Yes, latkes are fried carbohydrates, but sometimes you just have to have the real thing…in moderation.

5. If there’s sugfaiyot (fried donuts) for dessert, keep that in mind from the beginning. Thankfully they’re usually on the small size. One or two and you’re golden.

6. As for the brisket, it’s actually often a pretty lean cut of beef (depending on the cut you get). If you see extra fat, try to work around it. Keep in mind that a serving of brisket is the size of your fist (about 3–4 ounces or 2–4 thin slices). If there are some nice carrots, onions, and potatoes roasted with the brisket, definitely include those.

Any healthy Hanukkah-appropriate party pleasers if you have to bring something?
Last year, I came up with a fantastic mini-latke recipe with sweet potatoes that I paired with a spicy siracha crème-fraiche—amazing! I ended up baking them, which requires less oil, and they still came out deliciously crispy and flavorful. And thanks to their miniature appetizer size, they were a perfect way to start the evening. Two or three of them and you’re perfectly satisfied. Plus, they’re a crowd pleaser!