Apparently, the average American will consume 4,500 calories at Thanksgiving, according to new research from the Calorie Control Council. The organisation found that the turkey dinner alone can contain 3,000 calories. The additional 1,500 calories can be blamed on snacks such as dips, chips and boozy beverages consumed before, during and after the main meal. In addition to this, there’s usually a whopping 229 grams of fat in the meal alone.
In comparison, our standard Christmas dinner is reasonably healthy. Consider the main component, Turkey, a rich source of protein and when skinless it is low in fat, with the white meat having less fat than the dark meat. Turkey is a fabulous source of vitamin B6 and niacin for energy production. There is also some evidence to suggest that regular turkey consumption can help lower cholesterol and stabilise insulin levels. Perhaps, most importantly, the meat contains tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin and plays an important role in boosting the immune system. It is also a source of selenium, which supports the thyroid hormone and your metabolic system. However, the meat can be high in sodium and large amounts of tryptophan can make you sleepy. Is this the reason for the obligatory post-Christmas crash?
Ensure you’re getting the best turkey, perhaps by buying from a local source where the turkeys have been raised organically and are subsequently less likely to contain pesticides and herbicides. If you’re marinating the turkey, place it in the fridge once ready, as it is very sensitive to heat. When kept in a fridge it will be fine for approximately two days, if it is precooked you can safely keep it for about four days.
The remaining components of roast veg and potatoes (I usually switch to white sweet potato and leave the skins on!) are full of nutritional benefits, providing you roast them in a little coconut oil, avocado oil or a fat that can be used at high temperatures.
How many times have you stood at the supermarket checkout and gawped at the trolley loads some people purchase for the festive period? Do we over purchase for fear of running out of food, or perhaps not having enough choice? Are we ingrained with this behaviour pattern, living on leftovers for the next three or four days? Ironically, the shops are usually only closed for one day, and in our multi-cultural society it is not unlikely that you could find a shop open on Christmas day itself.
So how can we avoid adding the pounds or perhaps making the Christmas menu work for us?
Place the ham joint in a slow cooker, push cloves into the meat (sharp end first). Sprinkle mixed all spice onto the fat, which will become the crackling. Slice two pears in half and place around the joint. Drizzle 3 dessert spoons of local honey over the joint. Pop 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks into the pot and cook on low for 8 hours.
I love my roast veg and at Christmas it’s a tradition I definitely keep. I used carrots, parsnips, turnip and sweet potato. Chop them however you prefer. For the glaze, I used Walden Farm apple butter, Sweet Bird sugar-free toffee apple syrup and cinnamon. Blend 1 tsp cinnamon with 4 pumps of the syrup and 1 tbsp of apple butter. Pour this over the vegetables and sprinkle walnuts on top of the veg before roasting. Roast for 45 minutes on 180 degrees.
Split your Brussels sprouts in half and place in a wok. Pour 1/2 a cup of coconut milk into the wok. Add 2 dessert spoons of horseradish and 3 tsps of grated creamed coconut. Simmer until the Brussels start to soften and the sauce begins to reduce.
This is multi-allergy-friendly plus protein enhanced. It also requires no cooking at all. In your food processor, add 3/4 cup linseeds and 3/4 cup flaxseeds, ¼ cup cocoa nibs, 1/4 cup goji berries and ¼ cup date syrup. Add protein powder if you wish, I used vegan chocolate protein for a richer flavour. You could use any you chose. Then the Christmas element is added; 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp all spice, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon powder. Blend together. Line a metal loaf tin with cling film. Spoon the mix into the tin and press down firmly. Fold the excess cling film over the mix and place in the freezer for 2 hours minimum. Lift out and keep in the fridge until you need some. Slice and enjoy with a coffee.
Multi-allergy friendly. In your food processor place ¼ cup stevia, 4 cups almond flour, 1/3 cup almond milk. Blend together. Unlike normal pastry you shouldn’t try to roll this out. Take some of the mix (again not too sloppy but slightly sticky) and press into your pie moulds evenly. Cook for 5 mins on 180 degrees. In your Nutri Ninja place 1/4 cup cranberries, 1/4 cup sultanas, 1/4 cup pitted dates, 3 shots of egg nog sugar free Sweet Bird syrup, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp all spice, 1 tsp cinnamon. Blend together and then spoon equal amounts into the pies and place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Protein truffles. Nutri Ninja at its best. Two scoops of vegan chocolate or caramel protein, 1/4 cup organic unsweetened Kaizen cacao powder, 6 pumps of cranberry sugar free Sweet Bird syrup, 1/4 cup cocoa nibs, 1/4 cup linseed, 1/4 cup Alpro unsweetened almond milk. Blend in the Nutri bullet. It should be a stiff mixture with a slight sticky nature. Take a tsp of the mix and roll it between your palms to make a ball. Pour some Kaizen cacao powder into a dish and roll the protein ball in the powder until coated thoroughly. Place each ball in a mini paper sweet case.
Peel your pears and place in the slow cooker. Place 4 cinnamon sticks in the slow cooker with a little fruit juice, I used organic unsweetened apple juice. Slice 1 orange and add to the juice. Pop in 3 mulled spice teabags for easy. Cook for a minimum of 6 hours on low.
In your food processor place 1/4 cup stevia, 4 cups almond flour, 1/3 cup almond milk. Blend together. Unlike normal pastry you shouldn’t try to roll this out. Take some of the mix (again not too sloppy but slightly sticky) and press into your pie moulds evenly. Cook for 15 minutes on 180 degrees. In a bowl mix 1 jar of pumpkin puree, 3 tsps of Steenbergs pumpkin pie spice blend, add 2 scoops of vanilla protein. Add 4 melted leaves of gelatine to help it set. Spoon the pumpkin mix onto the shortbread pastry. Leave it to set in the fridge. For the topping you need 1 cup of either Coyo or Fage Total Greek yoghurt and mix with 2 shots of tasted marshmallow sugar free Sweet Bird syrup. Spoon the mix onto the pumpkin and then sprinkle a little of the pumpkin spice for decoration.
Don’t fight the treats this Christmas. Embrace them or even better, supply or make your own, writes @DrEkirkeOSTM.
Nuts are fabulous, and a great source of good fats. However, they can yield high calorie values. Lidl have some amazing flavours in their Deluxe range, including almond nuts flavoured with chilli, wasabi, and salted caramel. Almonds have a better nutritional value than peanuts, for example. If you buy flavoured nuts and snacks, be aware of the ingredients and look for hidden sugars.
Crisps are unavoidable at Christmas. However, I am happy to tell you there are some great products that give you that crisp sensation without the fats and starch that you may be trying so furtively to avoid.
Two chicks were featured in a previous issue edition and continue to be one of our favourites. Since then we have found amazing Kale crisps from Marks and Spencers, Eat Real’s Quinoa chips, which are super delicious, Udis Ancient Grains crisps, and Tescos’ Cofresh Indian snack range, which includes crunchy lentils and chickpeas. All of these yield a better nutritional package than your standard potato crisp. MAKE YOUR OWN
You use any vegetables, but here is a recipe for sweet potato crisps. They are really easy and I have made them in a variety of flavour combinations, including Spanish smoked paprika, chilli flakes, garlic and chilli, oregano and mixed spices, lemon and pepper, chives (and you could sprinkle on some cheese!), and Fenugreek.
The trick to making these work best is slicing them very thinly, if you can do this with a knife that’s great. I find that very tricky, so I prefer to use a mandolin slicer, but be very careful as they are fantastically sharp. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees. Lightly spray the roasting tray with avocado oil. Place your sliced sweet potato on the tray, do not let them over lap or they won’t crisp properly. Sprinkle your choice of flavouring on and cook them for 10 minutes, turn with tongs and sprinkle more flavouring. Cook for a further 10 minutes, or until crisp.
After Eight Mints are always present and associated with Christmas, but what exactly are they made of? In just 2 mints, 17g weight, there are only 73Kcal, 2.2g fat, but 12.7g carb… of which 11.5g are sugars. There is very little protein or fibre. Is there an alternative? You won’t be able to replicate this exact flavour, but I have found The Protein Works Protein makes an alternate which has 2g sugar and 10g protein with 97Kcal per large truffle. MuscleFood have their own version, which is a peanut praline truffle that yields 70Kcal, 2.9g protein, 1.9g carbs of which 0.4g is sugar. Not as high in protein, but certainly lower in sugar. You could always make your own truffles…
You’ll need 2 scoops Genetic Supplements Chocolate vegan protein, 1/4 cup Kaixen Living Raw Cacao powder, 6 pumps Chocolate TRKD sugar free syrup, 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs, 1/4 cup linseed from GrapeTree & 1/4 cup Alpro unsweetened almond milk. Blend together until well mixed and sticky. Roll out 1 large tsp of mix into a nice sized ball between your palms. Dip in cacao powder, dessicated coconut, almond flour or even chia seeds. Place into a paper case and refrigerate. I also add coffee, but you can add whatever takes your fancy.
If making your own treats seems like your idea of fun and you want to get your family involved there are some fantastic festive recipes on my website. You could also try following @SpamellaB, @DeliciousDuo, @TheUrbanKitchen and
@TheKitchenShed on social media. They all have some lovely treats on offer.