A Ho Ho Healthy Christmas

Can Christmas really be healthy and still enjoyable?

Resisting temptation at this time of year can seem impossible, and frankly quite boring, but no-one likes the weight gain, bloating or sluggishness that comes from overindulging during the festive period either.

We firmly believe that you can still enjoy Christmas without sacrificing your health or your waistline – here are our 12 top tips for a wonderful, delicious and healthy Christmas…

1. Get out and exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk round the park, it makes all the difference.

2. Find some quiet time every day, ten minutes of deep breathing will calm stress hormones and stop you feeling overwhelmed – Bach Rescue Remedy is a lifesaver when you’re having a crisis moment or feeling under pressure, just use two drops on your tongue as and when you need it.

3. Drink plenty of water on waking, and throughout the day, to flush through toxins, stop false hunger and keep you hydrated – even mild dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue.

4. Make time for a decent breakfast, to stop you overindulging later in the day. Avoid starchy boxed breakfast cereals, instead go for eggs, served with healthy sides like avocado, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. Or fruit compote with yoghurt, nuts and seeds is another good choice. Don’t skip meals either, remember that blood sugar crashes drive cravings.

5. If you have a blender, whip up a fresh smoothie every day to keep you glowing, this time of year can be energy-sapping to say the least. Try using leafy greens, cucumber, celery, fresh herbs, berries and coconut water or milk, or try our lemon smoothie recipe.

6. Watch those mince pies – along with chocolates, they tend to be the most over-indulged-in Christmas treat. Try and limit yourself to one a day, or better still, make your own using the recipe in our ebook.

7. Boxes of chocolates and biscuits tend to be everywhere at work and at home at this time of year – try and bring nuts and fruit with you wherever you go to resist temptation when hunger strikes.

8. Do things differently by offering healthier nibbles and snacks to guests – instead of crisps, sausage rolls or battered prawns, put out olives, nuts and seeds, carrots and humous, or homemade chocolate bark – check out our ebook for more ideas.

9. Christmas lunch can still be enjoyed without going crazy – turkey is a healthy, lean meat so enjoy plenty, and load up on greens like sprouts or kale, along with colourful carrots and red cabbage. Go easy on the potatoes, stuffing, bread sauce and parsnips, and make your own cranberry sauce so you can sweeten it naturally. Go for a small portion of pudding and add some festive fruits on the side for extra nutrients.

10. Have a few healthy but delicious pudding recipes up your sleeve so you can stay on track without feeling like you’re missing out – see our chocolate chilli pot recipe below or how about this delicious cake.

11. Pace yourself on the big day – slow down, chew really well, and don’t keep eating once you feel full – there will always be another meal soon enough, and if you save leftovers for another day you’ll be glad you don’t have to cook when the time comes!

12. Limit your alcohol intake – it is a very potent sugar that not only encourages weight gain but also places a burden on the liver, which can get a bit of a battering over the festive period. Go for spirits but steer well clear of sugary or sweetener-laden mixers, instead just add sparkling water and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice; avoid heavy, high-alcohol wines and instead go for lighter, sparkling wines like Prosecco or make a spritzer by adding some mineral water to white wine. Try and only drink with a meal, to slow the rate that the alcohol hits the bloodstream, and keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after indulging. Have a few alcohol free days every week too.

Wishing you a very happy, relaxing and healthy Christmas.

200g dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher), finely chopped
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp chilli powder or 1 tsp of fresh chillies, very finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the Whipped Topping
1 can full-fat coconut milk chilled overnight in the refrigerator
Coconut sugar, to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together coconut milk, egg yolks, chilli, and salt. Add in the cinnamon stick. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens and forms a smooth custard that coats the back of a spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully watch the custard, taking care not to overcook or boil it. When the custard is ready, take the pan off the heat, and remove the cinnamon stick. Position a fine mesh sieve over the bowl of chocolate, and pour the custard through to catch any lumps. Let the chocolate and custard mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes, then gently stir to mix the melted chocolate into the custard base. Stir very gently so that the temperature doesn’t drop too quickly, otherwise you’ll end up with grainy chocolate. Steady, slow stirring is essential for ensuring a stable emulsion. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Divide the mixture evenly into espresso cups or ramekins and cool to room temperature. Let them chill and firm up in the fridge for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, remove them from the fridge along with the chilled can of coconut milk. Remove the lid and carefully spoon out the thick layer of solidified coconut cream on the top. Place the cream into a chilled bowl, with coconut sugar if using, and whip it until it forms stiff peaks. Spoon a dollop of the whipped coconut cream on to each cup. Dust with cinnamon.

Written by Emma Rushe

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