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Sugar-Free Sweet New Year

May 9, 2009 | by Naomi Muller

How to indulge in the sweetness of Rosh Hashana without the sugar.

On Rosh Hashana most Jews indulge in sweet foods which symbolize their desire for a sweet year. Problems arise when someone is unable to tolerate sugar or honey for either medical or dietary reasons. Obviously, we all desire a year filled with sweetness and all manner of delicious blessings, even if we have to watch our sugar intake. The question is how to substitute for sugar and honey and still have those sweet delicacies at our holiday tables.

The answer to this culinary dilemma is to substitute fruit and fruit juices. I have created numerous recipes that are just perfect for Rosh Hashana, as well as any time throughout the year. Yes, they may be a break from our traditional ways, but we are commanded to guard our health and that takes precedence over any longstanding customs. So if you can't dip your apple in honey, how about some all fruit preserves instead?

I wish everyone a sweet and healthy New Year!


This recipe is my take on the traditional glazed sweet carrots.

12 medium carrots
2 Tbsp. light tasting olive oil
2 Tbsp. orange juice
grated zest from one small orange
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. apple juice concentrate
1 Tbsp. alcohol-free sugar-free maple extract

Peel carrots and then slice into 1/4 inch pieces. Place carrots in a covered vegetable steamer over boiling water for 10 minutes or until they are tender. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add orange juice, orange zest, steamed carrots, salt, nutmeg and apple juice concentrate. Stir to coat and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and add maple extract, mixing well. Serve immediately.

Note: When grating citrus fruits for zest, be sure to use only the colored part, avoiding the bitter white part.



This is not a traditional dish, but it is sweet and beautiful.

2 acorn squash, halved, seeds and strings removed
2 cups water
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup red apples with peel on, chopped
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. light tasting olive oil

Place squash halves cut sides down on cutting board. Trim 1/4 inch from the rounded top of each squash so that they will stand level when filled. Arrange squash hollow sides down in an oblong microwave safe baking dish. Add water. Cover dish with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open to vent. Microwave on high until almost cooked through (about 10-12 minutes). Meanwhile, combine nuts, apples, cinnamon and oil in a bowl. Pour off water from baking dish and turn squash over. Divide nut mixture evenly among squash halves. Microwave on high, covered and vented, about 4 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: If it is your tradition not to eat nuts during Rosh Hashana, then either substitute the walnuts for coconut (or almonds if your tradition allows) or omit them altogether.


Apples are another symbolic Rosh Hashana food and in this kugel, they are absolutely sweet and outstanding.

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 jar banana baby food
1 cup light tasting olive oil
4 eggs
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup orange juice

Mix all ingredients together really well.

10 Cortland apples, grated with peel left on
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

Spread half the cake mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan. Spread the apple filling over it. Pour remaining cake mixture over apple filling and spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Optional: place half of the cake mixture in the bottom of the pan, 3/4 of apple filling, remaining cake mixture and then the remaining 1/4 of apple mixture on top.


Here is a sweet chicken recipe.

3 lbs chicken, cut into quarters or eighths
2 Tbsp. fruit sweetened apricot preserves
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. sugar free ketchup (or tomato sauce)
2 Tbsp. dried chopped onion
1 Tbsp. sea salt

Mix all ingredients (except chicken). Spread the sauce over the chicken and cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr and 10 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Note: If you want to cut down on the fat, you can cut the mayonnaise down to 1 Tbsp. and remove the skin from the chicken. Just be sure to keep the chicken completely covered so it does not dry out.


Here is another sweet chicken recipe. It reminds me of the honey baked chicken that I used to make for Rosh Hashana.

2 - 3 lb. chickens, cut into eighths
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp. water
1 cup whole wheat matzo meal
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup light tasting olive oil
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup unsweetened apple butter
1 cup orange juice

Remove chicken skin. Trim pieces of all excess fat and pat dry. In a shallow bowl, combine eggs and water. Beat well. In another shallow bowl, combine matzo meal, salt, pepper and garlic. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then roll in matzo meal.

Fry chicken in oil over medium heat until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a Dutch oven or covered roasting pan (do not grease the pan).

In a small bowl combine hot water, apple butter and orange juice. Pour over chicken and cover. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Baste occasionally.


A great substitute for honey cake.

1 cup Earth Balance non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
1 jar banana baby food
2 eggs
32 oz. jar of natural applesauce
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream margarine and bananas. Add eggs and mix well. Pour in applesauce, beating well, then add dry ingredients. Fold in nuts.

Pour batter into a greased 9" x 13" pan and bake for about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.

Note: You may substitute almonds or coconut for the walnuts or omit them entirely.

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