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Making Christmas meals healthier

Making Christmas meals healthier

Traditional Christmas meals can seriously derail all attempts at healthy living. Plates get piled high with five different kinds of meat dripping in fat and gravy, yellow rice that you haven’t seen all year, golden roast potatoes all crispy on the outside and oily within, and cauliflower, broccoli and spinach drowned in thick creamy, cheese sauce.

All explanations about your high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure and the benefits of eating gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free are ignored and swept under the tablecloth till it’s time to prep New Year’s resolutions. 

Say no to falling off-the-diet into the Christmas trifle

Of course, social distancing may save the diet this year but if not, plan to have a Christmas meal that suits your health.

Buy just two different kinds of meat that can be braaied, oven-roasted or air-fried with no or minimum amounts of oil. Use herbs and spices in the marinade to flavour meats and let it cook slowly in its own saturated fat and cholesterol with garlic, onion and sprigs of rosemary as companion flavours. 

With the heavy-duty proteins sorted, it is time to ditch the white potatoes, yellow rice, lasagne and curry in roti in favour of oven-roasted multi-coloured sweet potatoes, carrots and turnips coated with herbs, cumin, nutritional yeast and oil-in-water spritzes. 

Keeping it cool and fresh

With protein, fat and healthy carbs roasting, braaiing or air-frying away, it is time to let rip with the side dishes in as many colours of the rainbow that the vegetable kingdom and your wallet have to offer. 

But first of all, start the day with a light and refreshing tall glass of cucumber juice blended with spring water, lime juice and garnished with blueberries and peppermint. 

Prepare jugs of flavoured iced water and different kinds of homemade iced teas to be kept topped up throughout the day instead of serving sugar-laden soft drinks. You can get creative by pairing flavours; cucumber and pomegranate, oranges and mint, lemon and lime, grapefruit and lavender flowers, different colour berries with cinnamon.  

Instead of just using black tea, many different refreshing herbal teas can be enhanced by adding fruit pieces, fresh herbs, edible flowers and spices. Sweeten teas with dates or honey instead of sugar. Give it a kick with fresh slices of ginger.

Christmas greens on the side

Replace all the traditional fatty side-dishes with an array of vegetable side dishes such as lightly steamed broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower, seasoned with lemon, flavoured avocado oil, salt and pepper.

Create salads of cucumber, thinly sliced granny smith apples, baby spinach leaves, lightly cooked green beans, rocket, red onion rings, yellow and red baby tomatoes, a handful of black and green olives and a few broken walnuts. Place seasonings for salads on the table, thereby giving guests options. 

One such salt alternative seasoning, especially for those on salt-free diets, is made of a tablespoon each of dried parsley, dried basil, thyme, onion powder, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, two teaspoons each of dry mustard, smoked paprika or chilli, and half a teaspoon each of ground turmeric and celery seeds. 

Instead of fatty mayonnaise or creamy salad dressings, make or buy different kinds of hummus to use as sauces for the side dishes. The hummus can also be paired braaied, or oven-baked brinjals, peppers, butternut, brown mushrooms and corn.

Of course, there’s the dessert

Take heart, what to eat and staying on track for a healthier lifestyle for you and your family doesn’t have to stress you out. There’s pudding at the end of it all, and it is all refined-sugar free, gluten-free and dairy-free, enough to satisfy all guests’ dietary requirements.

How about chocolate pudding made with this: place 4 -5 Medjool dates, 3-4 teaspoons cocoa or cacao powder, one tablespoon coconut oil, a pinch of sea salt, water to create consistency into a blender and mix. It may require an hour in the freezer. Serve with kiwi, berries and mint or papaya and pineapple. 

At Affinity Health, we care about your well-being. If you need expert advice, speak to your doctor about what healthy alternatives you can turn to this Christmas. Having medical insurance can help negate the costs of seeking professional medical advice and leaves you with extra cash in your pocket to do fun, festive things. 

Affinity Health has made it very easy for you to check whether or not your desired physician is covered. 

Finding your nearest GP is as easy as going to Affinity Health’s website and clicking on the Find a Doctor tab. You should see this tab under client resources. Then type in your city or town. 

And just like that, you will have access to a full list of doctors listing their names, addresses and contact details. 

Affinity Health members can contact us on 0861 11 00 33 to consult with an Affinity Health primary healthcare consultant, who will assess your symptoms and give you medical advice before issuing you with a script for medication or referring you to consult with an Affinity Health network GP.

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