Holiday Cooking Traditions: Thanksgivukkah

I’ve always loved the holiday season, but when I became the mom of a child who struggles with social and sensory issues, large family gatherings became more stressful than fun. I wanted to find a way for my son to participate in our holiday traditions, contribute something to the collective experience and discover a feeling of joy in family customs going back generations. So we started cooking together: making latkes (potato pancakes) for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah to serve to our guests; preparing special gluten-dairy free Hmantashen cookies at Purim; mixing fruits and nuts for a sweet and savory dish called charoset at Passover. Over the years, George has come to associate certain foods with the holidays and looks forward to our time cooking together. And our extended family has come to appreciate all of George’s culinary efforts and generosity in helping Mom prepare the delicious food that we eat.


For Jewish families, this Hanukkah is going to be a special one, since it falls on Thanksgiving day and has been dubbed by many as “Thanksgivukkah.” Now, for many of our kids who can be rigid and literal, this convergence of holidays may be a little challenging~but also is an opportunity to practice dynamic thinking. What is latkes are made with cinnamon and apples as well as potatoes? What if we tried filling our doughnuts with pumpkin butter instead of jelly?


I love creative culinary opportunities so I’ve recently published a Thanksgivukkah e-book featuring 18 kid-friendly GFCF recipes for you and your children to cook and eat together, Even if you aren’t Jewish, you’ll have fun bringing some tastes of Hanukkah to your Thanksgiving table. 


Here are a couple of sample recipes for you to try:


Apple Cinnamon Latkes

The taste of autumn and Hanukkah shredded into one delectable latke!




  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 yellow onion (pre-grated by an adult)
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • 1/3 c. rice flour
  • ¾ c. olive oil (approx.)
  • Yields 12-15 small latkes


Step by Step


  1. Wash and scrub potatoes (This a great job for kids of all ages!). If you are NOT using organic potatoes, I suggest peeling your potatoes before going on to step 2.
  2. Grate the potatoes with a hand grater. (Sure, you can use a food processor, but what fun is that?) Help your child get started by using hand over hand, then allow him/her to grate as able.
  3. Grate the apples with a hand grater (again—if you are not using organic, I recommend peeling the apples).
  4. Pour the shredded potatoes and apple into a colander and push down to drain all of the liquid.
  5. Pour potatoes and apple into a large bowl.
  6. Crack the eggs and add to the potato-apple mixture. (Click here for a fun video clip of my son cracking eggs—lots of fun!).
  7. Add the onion, salt, pepper, cinnamon and flour to the mixture and stir.
  8. A grown-up can heat the oil in a deep frying pan over high heat. The oil should be a centimeter or so deep.
  9. Drop a spoonful of the mixture into the pan and flatten with your spatula.
  10. Fry until the bottom begins to brown, then flip and fry the other side.
  11. When latkes are crispy, place on a platter covered with paper towel to absorb the extra grease.

Serve with traditional latke toppings and/or warm maple syrup!


Menorah Veggie Salad

This is a great starter for your Thanksgiving dinner for the kids~get some raw veggies in them before they fill up!




  • Bell peppers in different colors (yellow, green, red, orange)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Clementines or Tangerines

Each child will make his/her own menorah salad.


Step by Step


  1. Wash and slice the peppers into thin, long strips.
  2. Place romaine leaves on an individual plate.
  3. Place eight pepper strips on the plate~these will be your kids.
  4. Make a shamash (helper candle) by placing one pepper strip on top of another so it is double the length of the other candles.
  5. Peel a clementine and place a segment on top of each candle for a flame.
  6. You can use additional pepper strips (or other veggies) as the base of your menorah.


Homemade Gelt

Homemade gelt is so delicious and easy to make! Purchase special foil in harvest shades~red, orange,and green as well as

traditional gold~to make festive Thanksgivukkah gelt!




  • 2 cups chocolate chips of your choice (For GFCF, try “Enjoy Life” brand; we’ve also used carob chips)
  • ½ t. vanilla extract


Step by Step


  1. Children can measure chips and vanilla and place into a saucepan. An adult can put the pan onto a double boiler and slowly melt the chips, approx. 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the chocolate from the heat and carefully spoon chocolate into cups in a mini-muffin tin (don’t fill all the way up—just ¼ of the cup or so to make a nice coin).
  3. Pop the tin into the freezer for an hour. Use a flat knife to pop out the gelt. Children can cut foilsquares and wrap the gelt.

If all of the gelt isn’t eaten immediately, you can wrap into small bags to share with family and friends!


Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer blogs about food and family at “Like” Kitchen Classroom on Facebook for GFCF cooking tips and fun family recipes. To purchase her Thanksgivukkah e-book (just $5 for 18 recipes and lots of fun Thanksgivukkah ideas), go to

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