At Christmas time healthy eating often goes out the window. Rich fatty foods, too many sweets and excessive alcohol places a heavy burden on our liver and digestion, which leaves us feeling sluggish and bloated. Here are some tips for having a healthy delicious Christmas lunch that won't leave you feeling full and uncomfortable.
Give your liver a helping hand
Over the festive season our poor livers get overloaded. Other than the obvious, enjoying alcohol in moderation, you can give your liver a helping hand by consuming certain foods and herbs that help support healthy liver function. Have a good serving of sulfur-containing vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and onion and garlic with your Christmas meal. A delicious way to enjoy Brussel sprouts is pan-fry 5 shredded Brussel sprouts with a diced onion and a clove of garlic, in some olive oil with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, then toss through either quinoa or brown rice. Take the herb Milk thistle daily to protect your liver cells from alcohol-induced damage and to enhance your liver detoxification. Swapping your morning coffee with a detoxing Bodhi Organic PuriTEA.
Healthy protein sources
People always tend to overeat on Christmas day. Try to eat mindfully and enjoy your meal. Including some healthy protein with your meal along with some fibre-rich vegetables or salad is a great way to prevent you wanting seconds. Protein and fibre helps you feel full and satisfied, keep blood sugar levels balanced and sugar cravings at by. Roast turkey, chicken, lamb, pork and seafood are all healthy choices for Christmas lunch that are great sources of protein. If you like to have ham with your Christmas lunch buy sliced ham that is nitrate free. Grilled or BBQ seafood platters or whole large BBQ fish filled with fresh herbs and lemon make an excellent Christmas meal served with a variety of salads and healthy sauces. Avoid unhealthy deep fried seafood.
As a rule of thumb you should be having a portion of protein the size and thickness of your palm, then fill the rest of your plate with salad or veggies. Cut down on calories by cutting off some of the fat and skin, and hold off on pork crackling. Choose grass-fed organic meats, organic poultry, and wild sustainable fish were you can. Make your own healthy fresh cranberry sauce, bone broth gravy, chimichurri, or mango salsa to add extra flavour to your meats, poultry and seafood.
Salads and veggies
Steamed and oven baked veggies are the perfect way to make your Christmas feast a healthier one. Oven baked root veggies like pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, and jacket potatoes are all healthy, fibre-rich choices to go with your Christmas meal. Keep the skins on as they contain flavonoids that are rich in antioxidants and extra fibre. Hold off on lots of butter and sour cream and instead opt for some olive oil and Greek yoghurt.
Try pan-fried or oven baked Brussels sprouts with some olive oil and spices, and lightly steamed green beans, asparagus, peas, corn cobs and broccoli. Add extra flavour to your steamed veggies by tossing them in a little olive oil and adding fresh herbs and spices, roast garlic, lemon juice, some almond flakes or a little crumbled feta.
Salads are ideal on a hot Christmas day. Toss some shredded kale through salads for extra goodness. Pomegranates or dried cranberries are tasty addition to Christmas day salads. Avoid salads with creaming dressings and mayonnaise and instead make your own healthy dressings using nutritious ingredients like Greek yoghurt, lemon, herbs, garlic, wholegrain mustard, avocado, tahini and apple cider vinegar. A simple tasty salad dressing is 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 4 tsp dijon mustard and 2 Tbsp lemon juice.
Instead of serving unhealthy snacks like chocolate nuts, chips and salted peanuts, go for healthy platter full of nutritious snacks like raw mixed nuts, healthy dips (hummus, beetroot or roast pumpkin hummus, guacamole, salsa and baba ganoush), cheeses, dried fruits, oven baked artichokes, olives, berries, mini bruschetta, fresh figs stuffed with feta, veggie sticks, and healthy wholegrain crackers, crusty bread slices or homemade pita chips. Fresh rice paper rolls, sushi, and mini frittatas also make great healthy Christmas snacks to serve your guests. Make a big fruit platter for the table for people to snack on. You can serve it with some yoghurt dips.
Make a big pitcher of iced tea with sliced fresh fruit, plenty of ice and mint. It looks lovely on your Christmas table and it’s a healthy and delicious alternative to unhealthy soft drinks. Try our award winning Pomegranate & Lime iced tea made with Bodhi Organic LongeviTEA. Other delicious ice tea combinations include chilled green tea with apple juice, lime and mint (Bodhi Organic ViridiTEA); or chilled ginger & lemongrass tea with either pink grapefruit or some pineapple juice (Bodhi Organic ZesTEA). Iced teas also make perfect healthy cocktail mixers.
Drinking too much alcohol is a sure fire way to put on weight over the Christmas period. Alcohol is not only very high in calories and it seems to go hand-in-hand with unhealthy eating. The higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories. Go for low carb, light beers, spritzers if you drink wine, and if you prefer spirits avoid soft drink mixers and opt for soda water and some fresh lemon or lime or iced tea mixers. Try to limit your drinks and don’t forget to have a glass of water in-between alcoholic drinks.
For fruit cake lovers try our healthy sugar-free fruit cake recipe, served with some fresh cream. Healthy sorbet made from blended frozen fruits is a delicious dessert on a hot summers Christmas day. Healthy fruit ice blocks or chocolate dipped strawberries or bananas are also great Chrissy treats for the kids. Instead of mince tarts that are high in calories and contain unhealthy trans-fats or chocolate peanuts and other sugary sweets try some of these healthy chocolaty Christmas treats Gluten-free Cherry Ripe Balls, Chocolate Date & Brazil Bites, and Caramel Chocolate truffles. Your guests will love them!
Healthy Festive Fruit Cake
375g mixed sun-dried fruit (date, apple, pear, apricot, sultanas)
425g can mangoes, diced (in natural juice) – keep the juice
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1¼ cups wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon allspice
2 organic eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup almond flakes
½ cup crushed walnuts
- Preheat oven to 180*C (350*F/Gas 4). Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
- In saucepan over medium heat, add mango with juice and dried fruit. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Place flour, baking powder, baking soda and all spice in a large bowl and combine well.
- Mix lightly beaten eggs through dry mixture, until well combined.
- Mix through fruit and almonds and walnuts.
- Pour mixture into loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes. Cover with foil if its becoming too brown. When your cake is cooked an inserted skewer should come out cleanly from the centre.