Sufganiot (Hanukka donuts).
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
As the Hanukkah season approaches, chocolate, jam and custard filled sufganiot have started to appear ubiquitously in bakeries and pastry shops around the country, wafting invitingly to the nostrils of passersby.
However, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) on Monday called on the Israeli public to refrain from eating the calorie-rich doughnuts that are customarily associated with Hanukkah.
Litzman made the remarks bringing into question the balance between health and tradition on Sunday night at a health conference in Herzliya.
The health minister urged the Israeli public to veer from the Hanukkah tradition of eating the fried treat due to its high fat content.
"It's possible to find substitutes for everything today, and there is no need to stuff our children with sufganiyot, which don't meet the standards of proper health and nutrition," he said of the delicacy that is eaten in the custom of fried food associated with the miracle of oil in the Hanukkah story.
During his remarks, Litzman invoked previous comments
he had made about avoiding fast food from McDonald's, acknowledging that "people thought I was crazy."
"Perhaps I should hot have specified the name of the company," he said, attempting to clarify that he was referring to "junk food" in general.
"If I had to say something today, I would say: Sufganiyot out," he asserted.
While the health minister underlined that he was not calling for Israelis to refrain from eating in general, he stressed that unspecified, healthier alternatives be considered in place of sufganiyot.
Senior Israeli dietician Mariana Auerbach said Litzman had brought up a relevant point, noting that a typical sufganiya contains about 400 calories. She added that specialty doughnuts with chocolate, cream or dulce de leche filling can reach upward of 550 calories a piece.
Auerbach said that other Hanukkah fried favorites such as latkes, or potato pancakes, usually have a lower calorie count of about 150 to 200.