Healthy Christmas treats

Christmas can be a time of great enjoyment but also excesses in terms of what we eat and drink.  It can be a season full of temptation with the general expectation of having too much to eat and drink being the norm.
We are therefore going to provide you with some ideas about how to come out the other side of Christmas without undoing all the good work you have been implementing the rest of the year and some delicious recipe alternatives.

How to manage your alcohol intake

Stay hydrated, aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Tea and coffee do count towards this quota but caffeinated versions should not make up the whole quota. One trick to maintaining hydration is to have a glass before bed and a glass first thing in the morning. That way when you are drinking too much and its cold outside you ward off the dehydration.

Don’t skip meals so you can stockpile calories to drink.  Alcohol contains empty calories and not eating will starve you of nutrients you need to detoxify. 

One tip to avoid a hangover is stick to one type of drink and lighter coloured alcohol contains less chemicals that can contribute to a hangover.

Stick to one alcoholic drink per hour and alternate each drink with water and fruit juice. This will allow your body to process the alcohol as you go, staving off the morning roughness.  As a general rule your liver can process one unit of alcohol an hour. Anything more than that and you are stressing your organs and hangovers result. Obvious... we know!

How to manage food

Breakfast is key, and eggs are the perfect choice. They are high in choline which helps the liver detoxify and they are protein rich which can help stabilise blood sugar levels after the excesses of the night before. An omelette with lots of veg added can be a fantastic morning after cure with the vegetables adding much needed extra nutrients. Or, if you can’t face an omelette, then try a breakfast smoothie which will help replace lost electrolytes and nutrients from the night before.

Have a pre-party healthy snack. That way you will be less tempted to graze all night long on the buffet table. It can really help you hold your resolve. it’s easy to consume a lot of excess calories this way but not feel fully satisfied especially if you are nibbling on crisps and fried party foods. One idea is yoghurt and banana, which is high in potassium and can counteract the increase in salt intake from crisps and olives and nuts. It is also high in protein which slows stomach emptying and means you have something inside you when you have your first drink.
When at the buffet table, fill half your plate with fruit and vegetable and concentrate on protein rich food on the other half e.g chicken and salmon. Then walk away! Buffet tables can be a disaster zone.

Don’t be tempted to skip meals the morning after a night out. You need the nutrients to help you recover and it’s all about balance. If you stick to being sensible 80% of the time then you can indulge 20% of the time.

Recipes for healthy and delicious alternative party food.

Savoury recipes

Seared beef lettuce cups                                                


  • 350g trimmed sirloin steaks

  • 2 tbsp. 5 spice powder

  • 1⁄2 cucumber

  • 2 tbsp. coriander, roughly chopped

  • juice 1⁄2 lime

  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce

  • 6 Little Gem lettuces leaves

  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced

  • 1⁄2 red onion, thinly sliced


  1. Put the steak between two sheets of cling film and beat with a rolling pin until half its original thickness. Thinly slice the steak, and then mix with the 5 spice in a bowl. Leave to marinate for 5-10 mins.

  2. Roughly dice the cucumber and mix with the chopped coriander and lime juice and fish sauce and pinch of sugar.

  3. Heat a frying pan until very hot, then fry the steak slices for 1½-2½ mins for rare to medium, turning the slices halfway through.

  4. Pile the cucumber mixture into the lettuce leaves, and then top with the searedbeef, chilli and red onion.

Sweet potato and sage pesto bites.                                                       


  • 4 sweet potatoes (scrubbed clean)

  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil

  • 1/2 cup Walnut Sage Pesto

  • 4 slices prosciutto

  • 1/4 cup rocket


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.

  2. Brush olive oil on the sliced sweet potatoes and place in the oven on a baking sheet for 45 minutes.

  3. Remove the sweet potatoes and bacon from the oven.

  4. Allow the potatoes to cool for 10-15 minutes then slice in half lengthwise.

  5. Place a tablespoon of pesto in the centre of each potato.

  6. Place the prosciutto on the sweet potato

  7. Top each potato round with a few pieces of fresh rocket and serve.

All-Dressed Kale Chips By Angela Liddon

Crispy and chewy kale chips baked in the oven and seasoned to perfection. Enjoy these as a healthy alternative to potato chips.

Ingredients per baking sheet: approx.

  • 1/2 bunch kale leaves

  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil

  • 1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Remove leaves from the stems of the kale and roughly tear it up into large pieces. Compost the stems (or freeze for smoothies). Wash and spin the leaves until thoroughly dry.

  3. Add kale leaves into a large bowl. Massage in the oil until all the nooks and crannies are coated in oil. Now sprinkle on the spices/seasonings and toss to combine.

  4. Spread out the kale onto the prepared baking sheet into a single layer, being sure not to overcrowd the kale.

  5. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 12-15 minutes more until the kale begins to firm up. The kale will look shrunken, but this is normal.

  6. Cool the kale on the sheet for 3 minutes before digging in! This really makes all the difference! Enjoy immediately as they lose their crispiness with time. Repeat this process for the other half of the bunch

Homemade tortilla chips


  • 1 x packet of corn tortilla flat bread

  • Salt

  • Olive oil


  1. Cut each tortilla into 8 triangles.

  2. Arrange on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt and oil.

  3. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes on 180-200 c.

Pitta chips

Prepared as above but with pitta bread. Additional flavours can be added such as paprika, garlic, dried or fresh herbs.

Spicy Pea Dip


  • 1 lb frozen green peas, thawed or fresh shelled young peas cooked.

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, cleaned, seeded and diced

  • large bunch fresh coriander

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 1/2 tbsp lime or lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp fresh mint

  • 1 tsp lime or lemon zest

  • 3/4 tsp salt, or more to taste (I usually add closer to 1 tsp)

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, or more to taste


  1. Whizz everything together in a blender.

  2. Decant into a bowl and serve with pitta chips (recipe above).

Smoked mackerel pate


  • 1 packet smoked mackerel

  • 1 large tablespoon crème fresh or greek yoghurt

  • 1 teaspoon of horseradish

  • 2-3 spring onions chopped finely

  • Handful of chives or tarragon


  1. Remove the skin from the smoked mackerel and flake the flesh into a bowl.

  2. Combine the ingredients together to form a loose chunky pate.

  3. Spread on whole meal toast or crackers and enjoy.

Baba Ganoush                                                                         


  • 3 aubergines

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed with a teaspoon of salt

  • 1 lemon, juice only

  • 2 tbsp tahini

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • black pepper, to taste

  • Fresh chopped coriander


  1. Prick the aubergines with a fork. Grill the aubergines until the skin is charred and blackened and the flesh feels soft when you press it (this will take approximately 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking).

  2. In a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic with the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and pepper.

  3. When cool enough to handle, cut the aubergines in half and scoop out the flesh.

  4. Mix the soft flesh with the remaining ingredients and the yoghurt.

  5. Place in a serving dish and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle parsley or coriander over the top.



  • 1 x avocado

  • ½ crushed garlic clove

  • half a lemon juiced


  1. Peel and take the hard stone from the avocado place in a bowl.

  2. Add lemon juice and crushed garlic.

  3. Mash ingredients together to the texture of your choice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can also add fresh red chilli peppers and finely chopped coriander to this dish.

Black bean chunky dip      


  • ½ bunch spring onions finely chopped

  • 1 carton black beans

  • 2 spoons of salsa

  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander


  1. Combine all the ingredients and serve

You can also top with Guacamole and Greek Yoghurt.

Other Ideas

  • Pickles are a satisfying and very low calorie snack when you are craving something sour. Onions, cucumbers, anchovies, are all really healthy .

  • A hot drink - this may sound unusual but a hot drink made of 1 cube of vegetable stock and a generous squirt of chilli sauce is a delicious and satisfying way of curing a salty craving (for crisps) . It comes in at about 15 calories per mug. You can add bulk to this by adding finely chopped veg and wholewheat noodles to create an instant homemade pot noodle.

Sweet recipes

Salted Caramel Truffles

Crunchy on the outside, perfectly creamy and salty-sweet on the inside.
Serves: 20


  • 400g Medjool dates, pitted

  • 1 x200g bar dark chocolate, chopped

  • 3 tablespoonsnatural salted peanut butter (creamy is best, but crunch workstoo)

  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt + more for topping


  1. If your dates aren’t sticky and super moist when squeezed, soak in hot water for 10-15 minutes to soften. Then drain thoroughly and pit. Otherwise, just pit and add to the food processor.

  2. Blend/pulse your dates until they form a loose "dough." Mine usually turns into a ball, which is what you're going for.

  3. If it’s not quite combining, drizzle in a tiny bit of warm water - 1 tsp at a time - scraping down sides as needed, and mix until a rough paste or ball forms. If you add too much water it will be difficult to handle them later as they won’t freeze up well.

  4. Lastly, add 1/2 tsp sea salt and mix once more to incorporate. Taste and adjust saltiness level if desired.

  5. Using a small melon baller or a tablespoon and finger, scoop out small balls and roll/form them into balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 20-30 minutes to set.

  6. Once set, drizzle on peanut butter until the top is coated. If your peanut butter is super firm and not spreadable (meaning it's either dry or not the natural variety), add it to a small mixing bowl with 1/2 tbsp coconut oil and microwave to melt (or heat in a small saucepan). Stir to combine, then proceed as instructed.

  7. Freeze again for another 15-20 minutes, or until the peanut butter has formed a semi-firm “shell.”

  8. Warm the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments with 1 tbsp coconut oil.

  9. Remove truffles from freezer and, using a fork, scoop truffles up and quickly immerse in chocolate, using a small spoon to drizzle chocolate evenly on top. Then gently shake off excess chocolate and place back on parchment-lined baking sheet. Alternatively, you could place the truffles on a fork and drizzle the tops with chocolate. Freeze to set again, then dip the bottoms in chocolate and place on parchment to cool. This achieves less of a "shell" and more of a drizzled effect.

  10. Top truffles with a small sprinkle of sea salt (optional), and repeat until all truffles are coated.

  11. Place back in freezer or fridge to set - about 30 minutes. Set out from the the freezer or fridge to serve. For softer truffles, let them come to room temperature.

  12. Store in a freezer-safe container in the fridge or freezer to keep fresh.

Author: Minimalist Baker

Black Bean brownies


  • 1x 15 oz. (425 g) can black beans, well rinsed and drained

  • 2 large flax eggs (2 heaped tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp water)

  • 3 tbsp (45 g) coconut oil, melted (or sub other oil of choice)

  • 3/4 cup (72 g) cocoa powder (the higher quality the better)

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup (105 g) organic cane sugar, slightly ground or pulsed in a food processor or coffee grinder for refined texture

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Optional toppings: crush walnuts, pecans or semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).

  2. Lightly grease a 12-slot standard size muffin pan (not mini). Make sure you've rinsed and thoroughly drained your black beans at this point.

  3. Prepare flax egg by combining flax and water in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple times and then let rest for a few minutes.

  4. Add remaining ingredients (besides walnuts or other toppings) and puree - about 3 minutes - scraping down sides as needed. You want it pretty smooth.

  5. If the batter appears too thick, add a tbsp or two of water and pulse again. It should be slightly less thick than chocolate frosting but nowhere close to runny.

  6. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin tin and smooth the tops with a spoon or your finger.

  7. Optional: Sprinkle with crushed walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips.

  8. Bake for 20-26 minutes or until the tops are dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides. I found mine took about 25.

  9. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan. They will be tender, so remove gently with a fork. The insides are meant to be very fudgy, so don't be concerned if they seem too moist - that's the point. Plus, they're vegan so it doesn't really matter.

  10. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. Refrigerate to keep longer.

Author: Minimalist baker .

Fruit and Nut Balls (Sugarplums): Recipe taken from Joy of


  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans

  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts

  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) pitted dates

  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) dried figs

  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried cherries or cranberries

  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried apricots, coarsely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) candied ginger (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (the outer orange skin of an orange)

  • 1 - 2 tablespoon Grand Marnier or freshly squeezed orange juice


  • granulated white sugar

  • confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar

  • demerara sugar

  • finely chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or pistachios)

  • Dutch-processed cocoa powder

  • semi-sweet chocolate (finely grated)

  • sweetened coconut (finely ground)


  1. Mix all ingredients together and put into a food mixer.

  2. Pulse until a paste consistency and roll into small sized balls.

  3. Coat in a topping of your choice.

   Chocolate Avocado Mousse


  • 1 rip avocado

  • 1 heaped tbsp. cocoa powder

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 tbsp cold water

  • vaniila

  • cinnamon


  1. Scoop the flesh from the avocado into a blender and add the cocoa powder, honey, and cold water.

  2. Blitz until smooth. Taste. Add more cocoa powder, honey or water as needed.

  3. Add a little ground cinnamon, and or vanilla to taste.

Almond Butter Chews

These Almond Butter Chews could not be any easier and they make a simple pre-workout snack for about 100 calories each. They take 5 minutes to whip up, use just 1 bowl, and do not require an oven! You could even make them gluten-free quite easily too by using Nature’s Path Rice Crisp cereal. Makes 7 golf-ball sized chews.


  • 1/4 cup chunky all-natural almond butter

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup rice crisp cereal (I use GF Nature’s Path)

  • 3 tbsp organic brown rice syrup

  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs (or chopped chocolate)


  1. Line a plate with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the almond butter, brown rice syrup, and vanilla.

  3. Microwave on high for 35-45 seconds. Stir well and immediately add in the rice crisp cereal and cacao nibs (or chopped chocolate). Stir very well until fully mixed.

  4. Wet hands thoroughly and shape the mixture into ‘golf-balls’. Press mixture together firmly so it will hold. Wet hands after each ball is formed so the mixture will not stick to your hands. Place the balls onto parchment paper and freeze for 5 minutes. You can keep these chews in the freezer in a sealed container and enjoy them straight from the freezer. They remain nice and chewy.

Nutritional info: (per large ball, not including the cacao nibs): 105 kcals, 5 grams fat, 12 grams carbs, 6 grams sugar, 2 grams protein.

Sourced from :

Monkey Milkshake

Peel chop and freeze 3 ripe bananas - you can do this when you have bananas going brown in your fruit bowl and they will keep nicely until you want them.

Once frozen whizz the banana pieces with 400 ml milk ( can use cows, almond, coconut, or soy).

Add ½ tsp ground cinnamon, and 2 tbsp cocoa powder. You can also add 1 scoop of protein powder to increase the protein content- for young adults this can be a great way to boostprotein intake.

if exercising add more milk or water to reach desired consistency.

Sweet Potato Brownies

  • 100g unsalted butter

  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped

  • 200g baked sweet potato, flesh scooped out

  • 125g brown sugar (any sort)

  • 2 medium eggs

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 100g plain flour

  • ¼ tsp baking powder

  • 100g chopped pecans


  1. Line an 18cm square tray-bake tin (or similar) with nonstick paper or foil, and heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted)/350F/gas mark 4.

  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add 125g of the chocolate and stir until it is melted.

  3. In a bowl, beat the sweet potato flesh with the brown sugar until almost smooth, then mix in the butter and chocolate.

  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, beat until thick, then stir in the flour and baking powder until evenly combined.

  5. Fold in the pecans and remaining chocolate, then spoon into the tin, smooth the top and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until just cooked but still a soft under the crust.

  6. Leave to cool completely in the tin before slicing.

Sourced from

All content copyright of Renee Taylor Nutritionist Filling the Gap N15 CIC.

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