For some, the holiday season may seem like the opportune time to swap the green juices with cocktails, sweet potato salads for sweet potato fries, and surfing the waves for surfing the internet while watching TV on the couch… for ten hours straight.
While I’m a firm believer in moderation, it’s crucial to remember that eating healthily isn’t just for your waistline; it’s essential for your overall wellbeing and mental health. With that said, the holidays should be enjoyable and a time to celebrate the end of the year with your loved ones, especially after the year that was 2020.
So, whether you’re celebrating on a road trip, camping in the great outdoors, lying on the beach or having everyone over for celebrations, there’s one thing that ties all of these scenarios together.
Betcha didn’t see that one coming!
While Christmas is a season that’s usually full of big meals and lots of sugar, one of my favourite ways to stay healthy and enjoy time with my loved ones is making food with my daughter.
Here we are making our favourite Strawberry and Chia roll ups recipe.
If you're keen to make a few healthy swaps, why not try swapping out sugar-laden candy canes with healthier alternatives to keep the festivities going and minimise the sugar crashes and sore bellies?
Baking or cooking with the family is a great bonding activity and can help put kids in touch with the cooking process. I don’t know about you, but I find the act of making a recipe, letting it cook and then consuming it so rewarding - and kids usually do too.
So, why do I love Christmas nibbles?
Well, let’s be real. When you get to a party, you never really start eating at lunch or dinner time. There’s typically a lot of chatting or present giving, which can delay the start time of eating by a few hours.
By the time you start to plate up, you’re so much hungrier than when you came and ready to eat the table (just me? Oh, okay.).
By consuming a healthy and protein-rich nibble beforehand, you’ll have a better chance of controlling your portions and stopping yourself from eating yourself silly.
For those situations, I love making homemade crackers and dips – your family will love it too so, get cracking! You can serve these up before a meal as finger food, or enjoy them at afternoon tea.
Star Crackers and Dips
These are the perfect dip and cracker combos to have dotted around. Indulge in bite-sized pick-up-able crunchable crackers and nourishing dips to have your Christmas nibbling needs sorted.
Minted Pea Dip
Makes 3 cups
- 420 g (143/4 oz/3 cups) fresh or frozen cooked green peas
- juice of 1 small lemon
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup packed mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt freshly ground black pepper
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend on high.
- Transfer to a bowl and serve garnished with a mint leaf.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3–4 days.
Roasted Broccoli and Hazelnut dip
Makes 2 cups
This delicious dip combines broccoli with aromatic hazelnuts, zingy lemon and herby basil. Your guests will be left in awe and begging for more.
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon extra
- 1 large broccoli head, chopped into florets
- 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
- pinch of chilli flakes
- juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 75 g (21/2 oz/1/2 cup) hazelnuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes Celtic sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and stir-fry the broccoli for a few minutes, until browned.
- Remove from the pan and let it cool slightly.
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor with 2 tablespoons of filtered water. Pulse until well combined – if it feels too dry, add one more teaspoon of olive oil.
Makes 22 crackers
- cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, for greasing
- 200 g (7 oz/2 cups) almond meal
- 1 organic egg
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon low-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus extra, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3) and grease a baking tray with olive oil.
- Place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth dough forms.
- Place the dough on a sheet of baking paper and use a rolling pin to roll out into a 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 inch) rectangle, about 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick. Using a dough cutter, cut the dough into stars and transfer them to the baking tray.
- Sprinkle with a little salt and bake for 12–15 minutes,
- or until crisp, turning after 6 minutes. Transfer the tray to a wire rack for the crackers to cool down and crisp up.
- The crackers will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or longer if you keep them in the fridge.
If you’re like my family and maybe a little nuts (ha), you may become obsessed with my sweet spiced nuts – I sure am. I guarantee kids will gobble them up too.
Sweet Spiced Nuts
Makes 4 cups
Move over chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Hot and spicy, with a hint of sweetness, you’ll love these Christmassy-tasting nuts. Keep a stash on hand, pack them into bags and give them to your friends as homemade gifts. Store in jam jars and scatter on salads or cereals, too.
To veganise: Replace the coconut sugar and egg white with 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) of rice malt syrup.
- 100 g (31/2 oz/2/3 cup) coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 organic egg white, whisked until frothy 4 cups mixed nuts (see note)
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Whisk the coconut sugar, salt, spices and egg white together in a small bowl. Add the nuts and stir until they are coated in the egg mixture.
Transfer the nuts to the baking tray and bake for
40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the nuts cool in the oven for another 20 minutes.
These will keep for 4 weeks in an airtight container.
Note: A great combination is almonds, walnuts, Brazil, hazelnuts, cashews and pistachios.