10 Healthy Tips For The Festive Season
We all know how hard it can be to stay in shape with Christmas around the corner. It’s that time of the year when indulgence is tempting, and we often allow ourselves a few more treats here and there! Well, there’s nothing wrong enjoying ourselves, but, what if we could swap out a couple of those delights in order to keep on top of our health and fitness? We’ve put together 10 nifty little ideas that certainly won’t stop the festive fun but will help to maintain all we’ve achieved so far!
- Delectable Dark Chocolate – if this season brings out the chocolate fiend in you, then maybe think about arming yourself with an alternative to the classic milk variation. Made from the seed of the Cocoa tree, dark chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants. It’s less sugary than milk chocolate and therefore lower in calories. It’s higher in fibre and also naturally high in iron, magnesium and copper. There are many flavoured dark chocolate choices available, but the trick is to keep the cocoa percentage as high as possible. This means you’ll reap the most health benefits.
- Superfood Fruit & Nut – there’s nothing more festive than a bowl of mixed unshelled nuts with a nutcracker resting on top. Or is there? Probably, but for now, let’s imagine there isn’t. Well, rather than cracking every nut open, why not put together this perfect combo ahead of time. Nutritious, not too naughty and ideal for that mid-afternoon craving, nut’s are packed full of healthy fats and protein. Add dried cranberries and a few sultanas, plain almonds, cashews and pecans together to make a delicious go-to healthy snack. It’ll stop you reaching for the mince pies!
- Choose Healthier Cheese -it’s sometimes up for debate as to which are the TOP healthiest choices. We’ve landed on these 3 as the best cheeses suitable for a cracker (because cottage could be a little messy, low-fat cream cheese on crackers has been done to death and Parmigiano belongs against a grater, let’s be honest).
No.1 Feta – lower in calorie and higher in protein.
No. 2 Mozzarella – lower in sodium and packed full of nutrients. Avoid the pre-shredded stuff; it’s more processed, so always go for the soft balled mozzarella!
No. 3 Swiss – tends to be lower in fat and sodium (brand dependant) and is also higher in Vit B1
- Clever with your Crackers – you simply can’t have cheese without the crackers. Well you can, it’s just not as fun. And nowadays the choices out there in the supermarkets is humongous. So how do we create the perfect healthy cheese and cracker combo? Here are some things to look out for when choosing your cracker.
No.1 Salt content – it’s not ‘hidden’ as such, but we often don’t register this ingredient when looking at labels and a lot of crackers have a much higher amount than we think.
No.2 Choose wholegrain where possible. it’s higher in fibre, and it makes you feel fuller for longer
No.3 Sugar content – just because something tastes salty, doesn’t mean there’s no sugar in there. A lot of premade savoury seasoning mixes, for example, are packed full of sugar. Salted crackers are no exception! Definitely worth checking the label for this sneaky ingredients.
- Robust Red Wine – commonly known as the ‘healthier choice’ when partaking in a glass. It’s known for its antioxidant quality, but most of us will agree that it’s still alcohol and therefore should to be consumed in moderation. OK – parental talk over! So, is there a difference in the types of red wine available, and is there such a thing as healthier red wine? In short, yes, and here are the top 3.
No.1 Pinot Noir – has the highest levels of Resveratrol (the nutrient responsible for red wines antioxidant properties) It also has less sugar and alcohol content and therefore fewer calories – win-win.
No.2 Merlot – not quite as high as the Pinot in terms of Resveratrol, however, still higher than other wines, the smoother tasting Merlot boasts a good concentration of this nutrient making it a good choice when compared with others.
No.3 Cabernet – If Pinot or Merlot aren’t your bag then perhaps Cabernet would suit? Again, lower in sugar and still high in antioxidants, this wine is up there.
- Homemade Tortilla Chips – easy to make, perfect for sharing and ideal for controlling your intake of salt, sugar and all other flavouring ingredients used in most prepacked crisps! Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (180 degrees fan assisted). Take a regular (wholemeal if possible!) tortilla wrap and spread a light layer of olive oil on both sides. Cut into triangular (or whatever shape you like) pieces and spread over a baking tray. Bake for 5-6 minutes, checking throughout that they’re getting nice and crispy without burning. Once out the oven, place in a bowl and cover with your own topping. A light sprinkle of salt and paprika is always a winner!
- Go nuts for Ginger Nuts – The humble ginger nut! The unsung hero of the biscuit world and a lovely dunk in the afternoon cuppa! But why turn to this little guy for your go-to biscuit of choice? Well, apart from smelling and tasty festive with its intense, fiery flavour, ginger nuts are lower in calories than most biscuits, and they provide one-tenth of your RDA of iron when consuming 3 of these tasty wee treats.
- Tasty Turkey – Christmas dinner can be served in a variety of fashions. With chicken, beef, venison, duck, pork (maybe!?) nuts and then, of course, there’s the classic – turkey! The leanest of not only the birds but of all the meats. Lower in fat, lower in calories and similar in protein to chicken, the turkey reigns supreme. So if you’re a meat-eater and you’re thinking of keeping it lean even on the big day, then this bird will have your back.
- Ice Cream Swapsies – Ice cream is probably the most beloved dessert of all time. So many flavours and so many memories attached to it no doubt! Well, perhaps this year, swapping it out for a deliciously refreshing sorbet could be the new trend?! Lower in fat as it does not contain dairy and therefore lower in calories, sorbet could be considered a healthier choice. But both options do contain a decent amount of sugar, so again it’s all about moderation.
- Conscious Cocktails – if you’re out and about and fancy a cocktail because, you know, it’s Christmas and all, then these are the best ones to go for.
No.1 Bloody Mary – On average only 125 calories a glass with a single shot of vodka, plus you also get the perks of the Vit C, Vit A and potassium from the tomato juice. Suppose you can handle a tabasco kick – even better!
No.2 Negroni – A popular Italian classic, the Negroni is a Campari and gin-based cocktail. It’s simple, low in calorie and super refreshing.
No.3 Vodka Martini – there’s a reason why James Bond opted for this one, he was always watching his waistline (wink). Using the 3 simple ingredients, vodka, zesty lemon and dry vermouth, this cocktail avoids sugary mixers making it lower in calories.