Festive Food-related tips

2019-12-04 14:17:35

Here are some tips to keep you healthy and on track over the festive season…

  1. Use the holiday time as an opportunity to EXPLORE and DISCOVER some new foods and concepts. Visit local farmers markets and new eateries which are sprouting up all over with creative fare incorporating a spectrum of foods from plants to insects. Many ideas can be recreated and adapted at home so if you see a festive salad, pumpkin flapjack or black bean brownie that you like; make a note and when are home search the internet for recipes that meet your healthy eating criteria.
  2. ORGANIZE recipes digitally or into a lever arch file that’s ACCESSIBLE. Once you have tried and tested a recipe, file it digitally or manually so that when you are busy and need to quickly think of an idea, you can find it quickly. I also like to keep a record of dinner party menus and/or of food combinations that have worked well. 
  3. STOCK up. Reduce your time in the shops by stocking up on a few good-to-have minimally processed non-perishable products in your grocery cupboard and freezer. Items with a very short list on the ingredients label, that are not ultra-processed and have little-to-no added sugar, salt, fats, chemical preservatives and artificial colours/flavours. Dried beans, split peas, lentils, mung beans, chickpeas, varieties of wholegrains, cans of tomatoes and legumes without all the unwanted extras; tuna, salmon, pilchards, sardines; nuts, nut butters, seeds, dates, and in the freezer, a few packets of frozen edamame beans and berries, as well as some lean protein options like chicken, fish, lean meat. 
  4. PACE yourself and enjoy the PAUSE MOMENTS. At home and at functions, wait for all food to be plated before starting to eat. Take a few deep breaths before you start eating. Focus on what you are eating and savour every bite. And for every mouthful of food you take, chew it thoroughly. Pause between courses. Wait 20 min before starting dessert. And if you are going out, don’t arrive at function starving. 
  5. BUFFETS and BRAAIS. First have a look at the full offering before piling up on all the options. Limit yourself to one plate and make room on it for vegetables and salads – just watch the dressings. When planning your own braai menu, break away from the traditional garlic breads, boerewors, chops, and ‘mayo’ salads and think of fish, veggie kebabs, a dried bean potjie with/without meat, leafy salads  and for dessert, think light and fresh – pineapple carpaccio with mint or pomegranate or sliced mangoes with mint or ginger. 
  6. TURN IT INTO A PICNIC. If friends suggest a restaurant. Think about turning the opportunity into a picnic, where you can choose the food ingredients and the combinations, and where the activity incorporates some energy expenditure like a hike or a game of frisbee. 
  7. FOOD MOOD SET UP. Celebrate your eating occasions by putting effort into the setting and making that festive. The placemats, the flowers, the candles. 
  8. LIQUID SOLUTIONS. To help you manage/cut back your alcohol intake, keep a written record of your drinking goals, a note of your drinks consumed (check the volume against standard drink references) and become aware of triggers (people, places, things) that encourage you to drink more. You can then build strategies to deal with these situations, for example, interspersing your intake of alcohol with water, soda water or mineral water. Instead of sweetened beverages, use fresh lime, lemon, mint, cucumber or frozen berries to change up water and spices like cinnamon and cardamom and ginger to flavor tea/iced tea. 
  9. WASTE LESS. Save time, money, calories and the planet by consuming less. Make your mantra: ‘local, seasonal, light in calories and to buy loose rather than packaged items’. Transform leftovers into new creative meals, and make your own compost. For some nifty ideas, have a look at https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/ . 
  10. GIFT HEALTH. By sharing and gifting healthy options, you also get to think of and research ideas that that you too may enjoy, and in the process, extend your own ideas/skill set. Make your own gifts packaged in reusable tins and jars – homemade spice rubs; pickles; chutneys; sourdough breads; spicy biscuits and so on. Robust water bottles, collapsible cups and bowls, flasks, lunch boxes, cooler bags and picnic sets, reusable dish covers and shopping bags are some practical gift ideas.