Hope you are well!
We all love to treat ourselves over Christmas. Have those special wee treats that we don’t usually have (or have in moderation) throughout the year. There is nothing bad about this at all, it is a celebration after all and we all make our own choices.
For me, my Christmas indulgence is alcohol. I normally only have it once a week, a glass or two of wine at the weekend. During the festive season, I will be a bit more relaxed – cocktails, champagne, port etc are all to be enjoyed!
Whether this be the same for you, or if your treats are more of the sweet or savoury kind, I bring you a few hints and tips to still have a treat, but to make some better choices for a healthier outcome!
Still enjoy your favourites but with no guilt whatsoever, sounds good to me!
Here are a few options to think about when it comes to festive beverages!
– Oh how we all love those red cups! Out come the Christmas flavoured coffees that are full of milk, syrup, whipped cream and toppings. Not so good!
What I do though is order a plain Americano (yummy coffee!) and then ask for a shot of my favourite syrup (my favourite ‘treat’ aspect) in a separate small cup. Then I can add as much or as little as I want, depending on my taste. Yummy coffee but without all the other ‘additions’ I’m not so fussed about!
– A favourite for a lot of people at this time of year. Why not make a lightened but still delicious version!
– Take a few squares of good quality dark chocolate and melt in a pan. Slowly add some almond or coconut milk, about 300ml. Heat while stirring. Once heated, taste and add a sweetener (some honey or maple syrup) if required. Top with marshmallows! The best hot chocolate without the processed powder!
– A healthy twist on a ‘red cup’.
– Take a spoon full of instant coffee and add another spoon and a half of dark cocoa powder. Add a few dashes of peppermint extract (to your liking). Then add a small amount of boiling water to bring it together. Once it has all dissolved, add the rest of the water. Leave room to add as much or as little milk as you like (we use coconut milk for an amazing flavour) and add a sweetener to your liking – we use one spoon of honey. Voila – a festive ‘red cup’ without the price tag. You just need to find an actual red cup…!
– Everyone loves a good cocktail, and at Christmas you may go for something different. I just tend to avoid cocktails with milk, cream or butter in them, simply because I don’t like how sluggish I feel after drinking them. I also don’t tend to go towards ones with lots of different syrups in them – sugar overload! But then again if I know I am only having one I don’t tend to be too restrictive on myself. If making at home, you have control, so it’s easy to make something a bit better for you. Use mixers such as fruit juice or sparkling/ soda water and try using fresh fruit as a flavour, rather than a syrup. Fruit purees are amazing with champagne/ sparkling wine. My favourite cocktail at the moment is a spicy jack – one part Jack Daniels, two parts spiced apple juice and 3 parts sparkling water. A tasty spicy warming drink (you could actually have it warm too, just use hot water instead of sparkling).
Listed below are just a few of my favourite healthy treats at Christmas – I could go on for days listing things, but have just stuck with a few good ones instead!
– See yesterdays post for more info. I just love the taste! You forget it’s fruit!
– Yes it takes a bit of preparation, but nothing beats a bowl of homemade soup. Just cook some veggies on the stove with some stock and once the veg is cooked then blitz. Add your favourite herbs or spices for flavour. Want really simple? Cook a bag of carrots in some stock, blitz, add some seasoning and dried coriander to taste and done! A simple soup in next to no time. And after all these heavy Christmas meals, I guarantee that a bowl of homemade soup will go down a treat with friends and family over the festive period.
– Fresh fruit – a winner at any time of year but there are some special ones to savour right now. Satsumas, clementines, tangerines and oranges are all amazing at the moment. My favourite is the Clementine I could honestly sit and eat a whole bag. And there isn’t anything more festive at Christmas. Persimmons are still very tasty and we are still going through so many of them in the Fotheringham household. But if you are looking for a real treat, why not try a 2 minute fruit compote? Chop up an apple or a pear into chunks. Add an addition of choice – I add a spoonful of my mincemeat to the fruit but other ones I have done include honey and walnuts, cinnamon, maple syrup etc. Put in the microwave for 1 minute until heated through. Stir and eat! Or make it into a crumble by toasting some oats or almond flour in a dry pan and add to the top! Easy, quick and tasty!
– Dried fruit – a tasty treat on its own! Cranberries, figs, apricots, raisins – all so yummy and perfect for when you just want ‘something sweet’. Recently when we went to David’s parents for Christmas number one, we brought with us, as dessert, a dried fruit platter. It consisted of mini skewers each with a date, few raisins and apricot on them, a ring of dried figs in the centre and some additional raisins and dates dotted about in the gaps. It went down a treat, there was nothing left and everyone commented on how nice it was to have something different. For many it was the first time they had actually tried some of the fruits! Oh and it went perfect with the cheese board. Who needs crackers when you can use fruit instead!
– Dates require a section on their own, simply because of their versatility! So you can have them on their own, delicious. But you can also stuff/ wrap dates to make the most perfect appetisers/ snacks/ canapés etc. Here are some ideas…
– Wrap – in bacon and cook in oven until bacon is ready or in parma ham and have them cold.
– Stuff with – goats cheese, blue cheese, nuts, small pieces of cooked ham, honey cream cheese blend etc.
Trust me, all of the above are a taste sensation!
– Nuts are a perfect energy boost at this time of year. Just try to watch your portion sizes, as with everything, too much is too much whether it be chocolate, nuts or even grapes! Almonds, pistachios, pecans, cashews and walnuts are perfect festive treats and unlike peanuts (which are actually legumes not nuts) don’t need to be heavily salted or flavoured. Sweet potatoes with pecans anyone…?! Oh and then there are roasted chestnuts, that’s where I need to hold some restrain! But bring out a tray of them to your family and friends on Christmas day and they will beat chocolate and other candies hands down!
– A perfect Christmas morning breakfast that’s full of goodies and won’t make you feel bloated and yuck for the rest of the day. Or try sweet potato or squash pancakes.
– Just a wee one to end on. One of my favourite snacks at the moment is a nakd bar – either the gingerbread one or the pecan pie one – they both taste like Christmas cake! Full of the festive flavours we all love but none of the nasties. The gingerbread one consists of 48% dates, 32% almonds, 18% pecans mixed with some ginger, cloves and cinnamon. And the pecan pie one is simply 52% dates, 28% pecans and 20% almonds. Yummy!
So there you have it, just some of my favourite things to eat and drink this month that I have no reason to feel any guilt over, whatsoever. Just good, honest, real fuel for our bodies! What we always want!
Any favourite you have that you want to share?