Viewing post:

Alternative Christmas Dinner

The festive period isn’t normally associated with healthy eating, but Dr Michelle Braude says it doesn’t have to be this way and that many of the foods we often associate with Christmas and New Year are actually very healthy if used in the right way. ‘You just have to be creative’ she explains. ‘Below I’ve used some popular festive flare to create a flavoursome feast which uses some of my favourite festive ingredients.

Healthy Festive Flavours

Doctor and nutritionist, Dr Michelle Braude shares a healthy meal packed full of festive flavours…

The festive period isn’t normally associated with healthy eating, but Dr Michelle Braude says it doesn’t have to be this way and that many of the foods we often associate with Christmas and New Year are actually very healthy if used in the right way.

‘You just have to be creative’ she explains. ‘Below I’ve used some popular festive flare to create a flavoursome feast which uses some of my favourite festive ingredients.

Salmon is jam packed full of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are vital for a healthy brain and nervous system. If you go for a low sugar version, dark chocolate is actually a rich source of anti-oxidants, whilst nuts are packed with important nutrients.

TO START

Dairy-Free Creamy Cauliflower Soup

You’ll have a hard time believing this soup is so low in calories and fat, and totally dairy free.


Ingredients

Serves 8

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 900g frozen cauliflower
  •  1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1½ litres of vegetable stock (made from MSG-free vegan stock powder)
  • 230ml unsweetened almond/ cashew milk
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Truffle oil, to drizzle
  • Pumpkin seeds or za’atar to garnish, optional

Variation: stir through a tsp. of ground turmeric and a sprinkling of curry powder for a delicious twist on this recipe!

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions and garlic until translucent.
  2. Add the cauliflower and saute for several minutes until cauliflower softens.
  3. Pour stock over and simmer until the cauliflower is soft (around 30-40 minutes).
  4. Blend with a hand-held blender.
  5. Season with black pepper to taste and stir the almond/cashew milk through.
  6. Re-heat until just warm.
  7. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with truffle oil. Garnish with pumpkin seeds or za’atar to serve.


THE MAIN EVENT

Grilled Salmon & Baby Potatoes on a Bed of Greens & Barley

A showstopper of a dish that will leave your guests asking for more.


Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 1 whole side of salmon fillet (around 1kg), with skin removed
  • 1kg baby potatoes, washed and cut in halves
  • 240g mixed greens
  • 250g cooked barley (or brown rice)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil divided 
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 80ml of balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Balsamic glaze – for drizzling


Method

For the salmon:

  1. Heat oven to 200°C.
  2. Toss baby potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, rosemary, salt and black pepper. Cut a 1/4 off the head of garlic horizontally, and wrap it in foil.
  3. Place potatoes and garlic on a parchment lined baking tray and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
  4. Coat the salmon with 2 tablespoons olive oil, soy sauce, dried mixed herbs and pepper. Place on another parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven 20 minutes before the potatoes are ready. Roast salmon for 18-20 minutes.

For the dressing:

1.              Blend together the balsamic vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and squeezed out roasted garlic. If too thick add a bit of water.

Complete the dish:

Combine a few tablespoons of dressing with the cooked barley, and the rest with the mixed greens. Arrange greens on a platter. Sprinkle the barley over the greens. With a large spatula place the salmon on the greens and barley and place the baby potatoes all the way around the salmon. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the salmon to decorate.

Variation: You can also decorate with pomegranate seeds, flaked almonds or chopped spring onion


THE PERFECT SIDE

Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Mango and Pomegranate

An incredibly versatile recipe, this salad can be served alongside the salmon, but is also substantial enough to make a delicious light lunch or dinner on Boxing Day or in early January. Quinoa is packed with protein, so with the heart-healthy fibre-filled pistachio nuts, avocado and pomegranate seeds, this salads ticks all nutrition boxes.


Ingredients

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish

  • 170g uncooked red quinoa (or regular white quinoa)
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 small ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 80g pomegranate seeds
  • 20g pistachio nuts, shelled
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • A few handfuls of spinach or salad leaves

For the Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp low sodium soya sauce


Method

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions. Allow to cool slightly. 
  2. Put all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. 
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Add to the salad, and toss well to coat.


PUDDING

Guilt-free Chocolate Protein Pudding

Using fat free yoghurt and xylitol (a natural sugar alternative), instead of sugar, you won’t believe these delicious puddings are actually healthy when you taste them.


Ingredients

Serves 1

  • 170g 0% Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. xylitol (available as Total Sweet in stores)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla essence
  • Toppings (optional): blueberries, dark chocolate chips, sliced almonds, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts
  • Agave or maple syrup – to drizzle


Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients together well in a mixing bowl, until the cocoa powder is fully mixed in, with no lumps left, and a smooth, pudding-like consistency is reached. Spoon into a serving bowl. Top with toppings of your choice. Drizzle agave or maple syrup.
  2. To make the pudding more ice-cream like, you can pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes before tucking in.


THE ULTIMATE SNACK

Chocolate Hazelnut Clusters

Quick and easy to make, these ‘no-bake’ clusters (my take on those famous Hazelnut balls) require just a few ingredients. Delicious and low in sugar, they’re perfect home-made treats.


Ingredients

  • Makes approximately 20
  • 340g 90% cacao dark chocolate
  • 226g hazelnuts (or other nuts)
  • Pinch of salt (if using unsalted nuts)
  • Xylitol to sweeten


Method

  1. Line a large baking tray with baking paper or foil and set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a heavy-based pan over a low heat. Keep stirring, making sure you don’t burn the chocolate. As soon as the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat.
  3. Add the nuts to the melted chocolate, and xylitol to sweeten to your taste, and stir well until they are fully mixed in and coated.
  4. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray. Allow to cool.
  5. Place in the fridge and allow to set for several hours. Remove from the baking paper or foil.

By: Dr Michelle Braude, founder of The Food Effect, www.thefoodeffect.co.uk

@thefoodeffectdr  www.instagram.com/thefoodeffec...


Dr Michelle Braude qualified as a medical doctor from University College London (UCL). During her medical studies, she completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Nutrition from King's College London as well as an elective in Gastroenterology at the Whittington Hospital.

Being passionate about all things health, food, medicine and science, Michelle started her own nutrition practice, The Food Effect, in 2012, tapping into her desire to utilise her extensive knowledge in both medicine and nutrition to support and help clients improve their diet, lose weight and supercharge their overall health and wellbeing - in a way that would be sustainable for the rest of their lives.

Michelle is the author of two successful books, that encapsulate the ethos of The Food Effect lifestyle, and is particularly keen to help those looking to make long-lasting, effective change to their health, weight and overall wellbeing.