While Christmas is a special time for being with family, it’s just another day of the year when it comes to what you eat. Don’t undo all the good work of the year by gaining pounds over Christmas and then feeling disappointed with yourself.
You know the drill, it goes one of two ways:
you over-eat, you feel bloated and lethargic or you abstain and feel like a party pooper. Well it doesn’t have to be that way. Barbara Cox of healthy meal delivery company Nutrichef is your fairy godmother and she’s here to grant your Christmas wish – feel great and enjoy the day!
Have a merry breakfast
It’s easy to overlook this important meal when the pressure is on to get the turkey in the oven. But we all need breakfast for a good start to the day, so when you and your family delve into your presents, remember to tuck into a good breakfast too. Prepare your body for the day ahead.
Go for granola served with pieces of fresh apple and pear then throw in some festive fruits & nuts such as brazils, figs and dates.
Berry Christmas Get those anti-oxidants buzzing early with a handful of brightly coloured berries for your breakfast, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or strawberries. Add some dairy-free yofu and some grated dairy-free chocolate.
Jazz up your muesli with slices of fresh tangerine or satsuma, or a few grapes.
Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on wheat free toast, packs some protein and omegas and is always a festive favourite.
And, for a bit of luxury, serve them with a Mulled Juice from a cocktail of cranberry, orange and fruits of the forest juices – just warm up the juices and serve with a sprinke of cinnamon, great for good circulation in the cold, and nutmeg.
Christmas lunch is served
It’s so easy to over-eat once you’ve sat down with your crackers, but pace yourself!
You could dip into Christmas with a selection of dips made with dairy free yoghurt and cucumber, avocado and tomato, or puréed sweet peppers. Serve with vegetable sticks made from raw carrots and cucumber, and toasted wholemeal pitta or rye bread.
Or how about a warming winter vegetable soup made in advance, we love butternut squash with a hint of ginger, topped with soya cream.
Turkey and all the trimmings
This is good news in terms of healthy eating, because turkey contains more protein and much less fat than goose or duck. Avoid those sausage meat stuffings inside your bird and use whole veg instead.
Nut roast has become the traditional Christmas dish for many vegetarians. For a festive twist, try adding cranberries, apricots (fresh or dried) or chestnuts.
Barbara’s Tip sprinkle some pomegranate seeds in your champagne or sparkling wine, they’ll look great and give you an injection of vitamins A, C & E.
Tasty Christmas veg
Heaps of vegetables are another traditional part of Christmas lunch. Many people will eat more fruit and veg on Christmas day than on any other day of the year. And with so many different varieties to choose from, it should be easy to reach your five daily portions.
At this time of year there are lots of wonderful root vegetables in season. And these can add lots of colour and taste to your plate, not to mention the vitamins.
When you’re cooking your veg, remember not to add salt to the water. Flavoursome winter vegetables are easy to make without that pinch of salt. If you steam your vegetables, rather than boiling them, you won’t lose as many vitamins.
Use any cooking water as stock added to turkey juices for your gravy; avoid stock cubes, granules or powder, which all tend to be very high in salt. Add a spoonful of your very own home made cranberry sauce!
Carrots try sprinkling with cumin and braising in lemon juice and olive oil. And parsnips are an old Christmas favourite, with their sweet spicy taste, always best roasted – drizzle them with some manuka honey.
Brussels sprouts are loaded with folic acid and suphoraphane thought to be a potent anti-cancer food. They are a Christmas staple but they’re not to everyone’s taste. Try making them a bit more exciting by finely slicing them and serving them with chestnuts.
Barbara’s Tip Vegetables can be steamed and tossed in extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter with fresh or dried herbs and sea salt and pepper. Steaming is quick and helps to preserve the nutrients.
Cranberries are rich in anti-ageing antioxidants and help prevent the build-up of plaque in your arteries. So get hold of some fresh ones and blitz up your own fresh cranberry sauce.
And who could forget the roast potato, a vital part of the traditional Christmas lunch? Potatoes are a starchy food containing carbohydrate, which gives us energy, as well as fibre and other important vitamins and minerals. So just for today pile them high, but cook them in olive oil and sprinkle with the immune system boosting rosemary!
Barbara’s Tip Cut potatoes for roasting into large pieces and parboil them first. This reduces the surface area for oil absorption. Go easy on the oil and use extra virgin olive oil for a subtle nutty flavour.
Your Just Desert
Another Christmas classic is the Christmas pudding, with its rich concoction of dried fruits such as raisins, currants and sultanas. All very good for you…
But Christmas pudding isn’t to everyone’s taste. If you’re after a lighter dessert, try serving a big fruit salad and make it extra special by adding some tropical fruits such as papaya and mango, topped with a dairy-free cream.
Or make your own Christmas compote by stewing your favourite berries with plums, apples and cinnamon, and serve it up with some vanilla dairy free yoghurt.
Barbara’s Tip Use manuka honey or Sweet Freedom instead of sugar to sweeten your fruit.
The Last Temptation
Desert is rarely the end of a Christmas lunch! There’s the cheese board and the chocolates and the mints and the coffee and the liqueurs…
I could suggest lots of healthy alternatives, but if you like I’ll just look the other way!
My 80/20 rule applies at Christmas as well, be sensible 80% of the time and the rest of the time, you can be a little less sensible…