Happy Nutritious Christmas!
December is renowned for being the month of indulgence, with healthy habits often taking a back seat until the New Year…
Enjoy your Christmas break and see it as an opportunity to reflect back on the progress you have made so far and think about new goals and aspirations for the year ahead. From a health perspective, which elements would you like to improve upon, and what small steps could you incorporate into your lifestyle that would have a lasting benefit?
Here are a few tips on how to enjoy yourself without compromising your health goals over the coming weeks:
1) PRIORITISE BREAKFAST
The rest of your day may well take a nosedive as soon as someone opens the Quality Street…but starting your day off properly will make a huge difference to your energy, motivation and appetite. Focus on healthy fats and protein such as eggs, avocado, salmon, natural yoghurt and nuts. Most importantly, start each day on a fresh page to get you back on track with a positive mind set.
2) HEALTHY SNACK STASH
When we are unprepared, tired, in a rush or have had a few drinks, this is when bad eating decisions are most likely to occur. Being prepared with a supply of healthy snacks on-the-go such as nuts, fruit or protein bars will reduce the likelihood of reaching for the unhealthy options.
3) PRACTICE CONSISTENCY
It’s extremely easy to get swept along with the Christmas hype and before you know it, what used to be just one day of indulgent eating has turned into a whole month’s worth…be mindful of sticking to your normal routine and what usually works for you as much possible.
4) STAY HYDRATED
It’s easy to forget at this time of year to drink around two litres of water a day – and add a little extra to balance additional alcohol intake.
5) KEEP EXERCISING
If you can’t face the gym, even a brisk walk or workout at home will positively influence your eating habits for the rest of the day and get the endorphins going! Studies have shown that regularly sweating out toxins is also the best way to keep colds and flu at bay.
There are lots of treats around to tempt us at Christmas…but nothing’s better than making something simple and fresh from scratch to impress your friends and family. Here are a couple of great recipes from ‘The Healthy Chef’ Teresa Cutter to get you started:
HEALTHY CHRISTMAS CAKE
The high ratio of whole fruits in this moist cake means that no additional sugar is required. Almond flour instead of refined white flour also makes it refined carbohydrate and gluten free. Serve with natural yoghurt and a blob of Manuka honey – perfect!
· 600g mixed dried fruit (raisins, apricot, sultanas)
· 1 tsp ground cinnamon
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· ¼ tsp nutmeg
· 1 orange zest and juice
· 3tbsp coconut or extra virgin olive oil
· 3 organic eggs
· 200g ground almonds
· 50g walnuts
· Optional: top with flaked toasted almonds
Preheat oven to 150C fan. Prepare 20cm round cake tin with baking paper, lining the sides and base. Combine dried fruit, spices, vanilla, orange zest & juice, oil and eggs. Add almonds and walnuts and mix through. Spoon cake batter into tin and bake for 1.5 hours – check with a skewer to see if it comes out clean and if not bake for another 30mins. Cover the top if necessary to prevent over-browning. Cool, then remove from the tin and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
ROASTED BABY CARROTS WITH POMEGRANATE, PISTACHIOS & HOUMOUS
This is a wonderfully simple recipe that accompanies any roasted meat dish over Christmas perfectly. It’s high in beta-carotene and minerals for an immune system boost! The high proportion of insoluble fibre also helps to lower cholesterol, support healthy digestion and regulate blood sugar levels.
· 500g baby carrots, washed and trimmed
· 3tbsp coconut or olive oil
· 60g chopped pistachio nuts
· 1 fresh pomegranate (or packet of pre-prepared seeds)
· Sea salt
· 1 bunch parsley, chopped
· 4tbsp lemon juice
· 250g cooked and drained chickpeas
· 2 tbsp tahini
· 60–80ml iced water
· Optional: toss the carrots with a handful of spinach leaves or feta cheese for a little something extra
Preheat oven to 180C fan. Combine carrots, 2tbsp oil and pinch of sea salt on a large baking dish. Roast for 30mins until tender and caramelised.
Meanwhile, make the houmous by combining chick peas, 2tbsp lemon juice, tahini, pinch of sea salt and iced water in a blender until smooth and creamy.
Make pomegranate dressing by mixing ½ the pomegranate seeds with 2tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp oil and mix until combined.
Spread the houmous on a plate or board and arrange carrots over the top. Garnish with pistachios and chopped parsley and the other ½ of the pomegranate seeds. Finish with a drizzle of pomegranate dressing and enjoy!