Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullen gives readers tips on how to avoid undoing all the good work you’ve done throughout the year at Christmas-time. Follow her health-smart tips!
We work hard all year to maintain our health and fitness goals whatever they may be. Avoid being tempted to undo all good and don’t let your health become second to the lure of Christmas festivities. Indulging is a healthy part of life and is only realistic; strict limitations do no body or mind any favours. However, it is possible to continue your health goals during the festive season and find nutrition in the festivities.
Below are my top tips to keep on the health bandwagon and take the stress out of “bringing a dish”, including healthy ways to decorate dishes in the most nutritious and delicious fashion. Enjoy!
Tip # 1 - Focus on Fruit
Avoid a sugar hangover and find sweetness with fruit! Fruit not only brings sweetness to desserts but also provides a good dose of anti-oxidants and fibre. My dish-tips include:
- Try poaching pears as a dessert; they’re delicious warm or cold served with yoghurt
- Make banana ice-cream to serve with Christmas classics such as pudding: All it takes is blending frozen bananas in a food processor until they resemble the texture of ice-cream
- Replace ½ the sugar in recipes with mashed banana or dried fruit
- Indulge and purchase fresh berries – serve with yoghurt and a sprinkle of spiced granola for crunch, this is enough to satisfy any sweet craving
- Christmas is mango season; make the most of it and try grilled mango cheeks with banana ice cream and a squeeze of lime – what more could you ask for?
Tip # 2 - New Twists on Old Classics
Old classics may be tradition in your household, but it’s possible to improve on the old in new, exciting ways that will be sure to get the nod from the both young and old:
- Instead of using cream, top pavlova with whipped coconut cream and seasonal fruit. Place a can of coconut cream in the fridge the night or a few hours before required, open and skim off solid cream into a bowl, whip like cream adding a touch of maple syrup or raw honey
- Make ”bliss balls” the new truffles and show off your favourite high-protein treats – guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser!
- Make classic custard from scratch using good quality milk, eggs and maple syrup, this provides a nutrient dense decadent addition to desserts
- White Christmas is a favourite in most households and especially with kids, but is loaded with unhealthy fat and sugar - try a healthier version using puffed quinoa, coconut oil and goji berries
- Tempt the table with avocado mousse instead of traditional chocolate mousse – you will have everybody fooled! Simply blend avocado, banana, raw cacao, water and maple syrup
- Put traditional trifle to rest and instead try chia pudding made using Vitasoy’s Unsweetened Coconut Milk layered with fresh mango puree (it has 1⁄2 less calories than lite milk* and just 55 calories per serve, plus is made using real coconut cream and contains calcium+)
Tip # 3 - Simple Swaps
If time is of the essence on Christmas Day and you’re well versed in the kitchen, simple swaps may be all you’re after:
- Swap refined white sugar for raw honey or maple syrup
- Use coconut oil to “set” dishes as opposed to butter
- Swap refined white flour for hazelnut, flaxmeal or buckwheat flour
- Replace a “dollop” of cream with a dollop of full-fat luscious natural yoghurt
- Make beans your binder – cannelloni beans, chickpeas and red kidney beans are not only delicious, but are also a fibre-rich addition to biscuits and cakes
Tip # 4 - Finding Joy
Christmas isn’t a time for guilt, whether we indulge or not. Christmas is a time to celebrate and share the love of food with close family and friends. Show your love for food, health and others by putting a healthy spin on your Christmas favourites – you will be sure to find the joy of Christmas and good health will follow!