The festive period isn’t normally associated with healthy eating, but leading doctor and nutritionist 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.”
Here, Dr Braude shares a healthy meal packed full of festive flavours.
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.
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)
1 cup unsweetened almond or 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!
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and garlic until translucent.
2. Add the cauliflower and sauté 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 or 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 and baby potatoes on a bed of greens and barley
A showstopper of a dish that will leave your guests asking for more.
1 whole side of salmon fillet (around 1kg), with skin removed
1kg baby potatoes, washed and cut in halves
8 cups 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
A third of a cup of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Balsamic glaze – for drizzling
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 dressing 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.
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
1. Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions. Allow to cool slightly. Put all ingredients in a large bowl, including the quinoa and toss well to coat.
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.
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
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.
Recipes and imagery taken from: The Food Effect Diet