How to Have a Healthy Hanukkah (and Still Eat All the Kugel)


There is perhaps no carb-ier holiday than the eight potato-, noodle- and chocolate-dreidel-soaked nights of Hanukkah.

But before we bust out our stretchy pants, we asked trainer Nichole Peterson, who teaches classes at Barry's Bootcamp's SoMa, FiDi and Marina locations, how she manages to stay fit while feasting throughout the holiday.

How can we put some healthy spins on Hanukkah's signature dishes?

"I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years and so many of the dishes are veggie-friendly at Hanukkah. Unfortunately, they are also starch-friendly, dairy-friendly, and saturated fat-friendly. I try to bring a seasonal salad (strawberries, goat cheese, walnuts, spinach) to the party to mix in with all the yellow foods we devour. If not a salad, I'll bring cooked Brussels sprouts or a cauliflower dish. I find people are actually relieved to see veggie options on the table. If I'm cooking and can get away with it, I like cooking with coconut oil rather than butter, and I use Greek yogurt rather than sour cream or cream cheese.

The thing is, Hanukkah festivities only happen once a year and there is no way I'm going without some kugel—everything obviously in moderation! I eat a small snack before I go to the festivities, so I don't load up at dinner and am able to enjoy the meal along with everyone."

Where do you source dishes in SF that you'd rather not made at home?

"If I'm looking for some amazing starters for my guests—bagels and lox!—I go to Wise Sons Deli. My go-to for cooking any healthy meals is the farmers market. It's such an easy way to get fresh delicious ingredients while shopping local and supporting your community."

How do you keep from sitting on your butt all week?

"I always prioritize workouts. My favorite thing to do Hanukkah morning is to lead the siblings in a beach boot camp workout, and it's fun to add a little friendly family competition to the mix. We pick a spot on the beach that we have to run at least a mile to and then everyone participating gets to pick a movement they want to add to the mix. Think 10 push-ups, 15 burpees, 25 v-ups, 50 air squats, and 100 mountain climbers."

Any tips for getting an extra burn to make up for all of that kugel?

"My boyfriend's family plays a wicked game of Cutthroat—it's the most intense round of white elephant you could ever participate in, with lots of sweating, laughs and some tears. That always gets my heart rate up. But if you're looking for something a little more cardio-centric, I try to walk between the lull of dinner and the family hang out, it gives me a moment to chill out and almost always gives me an excuse to walk the dog!"

Happy Hanukkah!

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