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With Christmas just around the corner, it’s a time for celebration with family and friends, often associated with indulgence in high energy food and drinks! However, while it is still important to follow healthy eating practices over the Christmas period, it doesn’t mean you have to go without. Remember these tips when celebrating this Christmas:

  1.  Fresh not fried. When planning your Christmas menu or ordering out, choose tasty fresh foods as starters mains, desserts and avoid the fried, battered, crumbed options.
  2. Watch your portions: even high calorie treats can be enjoyed occasionally, in moderation. Make sure your meals still fit the ‘Healthy Plate Model’: ½ the Plate includes Free Vegetables/Salad (e.g. all salad vege, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, capsicum, etc); ¼ of the Plate contains wholegrain or low GI carbohydrates (e.g. wholegrain bread, pasta, basmati or brown rice, potato/sweet potato/corn); ¼ of the Plate contains lean meat/chicken/fish/eggs/low fat dairy (e.g. lean steak, turkey, ham, grilled/baked/steamed seafood) + small amount dressing/sauce.
  3. Choose 2 entrée size meals instead of 1 entrée and 1 main when eating out. Choose entrée or dessert, not both, or share a dessert.
  4.  Watch your Alcohol intake this Christmas. All alcohol is high in calories (second highest in energy to fat). But alcohol mixed with high-sugar mixers (like soft drink, fruit juice or cocktails) is even higher in calories. Try plain spirit mixed with soda/tonic water & fresh squeezed lime/lemon. If drinking wine, stick to standard glass sizes (1 standard glass wine = 125ml). If drinking beer, the lower the alcohol the lower the calories (e.g. light or mid-strength beer instead of full strength). And alternate all alcoholic drinks with water/soda/mineral water +/- fresh lime/lemon.
  5. Be mindful of the ‘nibbles’. It’s easy to over-eat on pre-dinner nibbles, especially while drinking alcohol. Avoid socialising on an empty stomach as this can cause you to over eat on nibbles. Go for vegetable sticks rather than crackers with dips/cheese. Choose plain crackers (e.g. water crackers, plain rice crackers), rather than Jatz-style ones which are higher in fat; make your own dips such as salsa, hommus or Tzatziki dip, or try one of the recipes below. Go easy on the cheese!
  6. Enjoy regular physical activity over the Christmas period/holidays. Just because you are on holidays is no excuse not to exercise. In fact, having more time in the day (if off work) should enable you to enjoy being active more often. If you have a family, do activities that include the whole family e.g. going to the beach, walking, playing games like cricket, tennis etc. If you are away on holidays, ditch the car and walk to your destination where possible (e.g. to the shops, beach, café).

Moroccan Carrot Dip

  • 500g carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks and boiled until very tender
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime/lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Puree the carrots in a food processor, add the garlic, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, coriander, and lemon juice, and continue to blend until smooth. Add olive oil, and process just until it is well-blended. Cool to room temperature then serve with parsley garnish (optional). Serve with vegetables sticks or home-made toasted pita bread triangles.

Pumpkin Dip

  • 1kg pumpkin (e.g. Kent or Butternut), cut into chunks and boiled.
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Optional: add 2 Tbsp low fat Greek/Natural yoghurt when blending pumpkin to make a more smooth consistency
  • Optional: Chopped fresh coriander to serve

Head oil in pan, cook garlic and cumin for about 1min. Stir in pumpkin. Mash or blend until smooth. Serve with vegetables sticks or toasted pita bread torn into pieces.

Beetroot Dip

  • 1 medium (about 240g) beetroot, root and stem trimmed
  • 250g (1 cup) Natural yoghurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1 tsp ground coriander and 2 tsp ground cumin

Bring beetroot to boil in a saucepan with plenty of water. Reduce heat and simmer for 25mins or until tender. Drain and set aside till cool enough to handle. Peel beetroot and set aside until cooled to room temperature (wear cloves to avoid staining hands). Cut into chunks and blend in food processor until smooth. Add yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Optional: for extra spice, if desired, add 1 tsp ground coriander and 2 tsp ground cumin with yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice.

Toasted Pita Bread Chips for dips

Place individual Pita breads or Lavish bread in the oven and bake until just crispy (before going too brown). Cut or tare into triangular shaped pieces.

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