The following article has been written by a new member of our team, Lizzie Jacobs.
We hope you enjoy trying out some of the recipes over the Christmas hoilday.
I started cooking professionally 17 years ago at a retreat center and later worked as a personal chef in North Carolina, USA. Cooking is my passion, because of the alchemy that takes place when we transform basic ingredients into nourishing and delicious food. My interest in the relationship between health and wellbeing lead me to train in 2012 as a Health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I love helping people discover the best way to eat for them, so that they can engage in all aspects of their life with clean and bright energy. It is also my mission to cut through the misinformation, and confusion that surrounds what to eat, for health, healing and the planet. Most importantly, alongside this, is the joy that comes when people feel connected to their body because they know how to best nourish themselves at all times, including under stress. I also have a parallel interest in child development and at present I am training in early years education.
A Happy and Healthy Christmas - It's all about maintaining balance during the festive season.
As winter days become darker, Christmas is the season to be warm and well nourished. Often we can get swept away in the busyness of this season, and the balance between enjoyment and excess can become blurred. There is so much temptation to consume, and often instead of being a time of nourishment and celebration, we find ourselves in a fog of mince pies, one too many drinks and a headache.
Here are some useful tips for maintaining balance during the festive season. This is not about depriving yourself, but rather focussing on quality, simplicity and taking the time to dwell on all the riches this celebration of the winter has to offer.
Above all it is useful to look at ways you can take care of yourself, instead of succumbing to excess, in order to nourish your wellbeing, and those who you celebrate with. Generally, if you feel good inside there is less temptation to drink too much and overeat. The winter months can be challenging, especially as there is a lack of warmth from the sun, and often the sky is grey. Here are a few simple suggestions and recipes to help uplift the spirits during this time. Sometimes it just takes a few simple steps to keep you feeling warm, inside and out.
- Take a bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil to help relax tired muscles and release any stress that has built up during this busy time. If you only have a shower at home, try a relaxing foot bath with some Epsom salts and lavender oil.
- Keep your body moving. Even though it is cold outside, taking walks will help keep you active. Taking time to be in nature encourages us to slow down, still the mind, and stay connected to the natural world that surrounds us.
- Drink water throughout the day. If you find it difficult to drink cold water in the winter, try drinking slightly warm water and herbal teas. Peppermint tea is especially good for indigestion! Ginger tea helps keep colds at bay! Also starting the day with warm water and a squeeze of lemon aids your digestion, kick starts your metabolism and can rid the body of toxins.
- Try to eat the last meal of the day at least 3 hours prior to going to sleep. Allowing your body to digest food before going to bed will benefit your sleep. When we are well rested we tend to be less stressed. You’ll sleep better too if you limit your screen time in the evenings. Reading a book before bed is better for you, because the light from the screen can upset your biological rythms.
- Try to limit caffeinated drinks by having them only in the morning. In the winter, milky sweet drinks are definitely appealing, so instead of reaching for caffeinated tea and coffee in the afternoon, try alternatives like rooibos with milk and honey or coco powder (unsweetened) with milk and honey.
- Stay aware of your alcohol intake. The more you drink, the worse you feel and the more likely you will reach for quick fixes, like unhealthy comfort food. Pace yourself so that you can enjoy the drinks you do have. Remember its quality over quantity.
- If you enjoy all the sweet desserts that Christmas has to offer try making a pact with yourself that you will only eat desserts that are homemade. Often store bought puddings are unnecessarily sweet and easy to over consume. The more sugar you have the more you want. Be aware of this pattern and enjoy making your own treats so you can control how much sugar you use.
Here are some recipes to try out during this season:
Kale + fig coleslaw
Green leafy vegetables have high density nutrition. The more foods you eat with high levels of minerals the less drawn you will be to snacking on junk food. This festive salad has a sweet twist with added figs to balance out the bitterness of the kale and cabbage.
¼ small red cabbage
¼ small green cabbage
One handful chopped parsley
5 chopped dried figs
1-2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds
3 Tablespoon soya or tamari sauce
2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Zest of one lime
1 Tablespoon Honey
½ clove of garlic finely chopped and a little knob of freshly grated ginger
1 Tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
Shake all the ingredients up in a jar.
- Remove the stalks from the kale and finely cut in thin shreds
- Cut both cabbages into thin shreds
- Place the kale and cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt
- Use your hands to massage the salt into the vegetables, as this releases the water and softens the vegetables making them easier to digest.
- Add the chopped herbs, chopped figs and seeds.
- Toss with the dressing and serve.
Roasted red pepper and walnut dip
Red is often a colour associated with this festive season and walnuts are in the abundance during this time. Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids and amino acids, which feed the brain and nourish the heart. The good thing is that this dip also makes a change from the ever present hummus!
3 large red bell peppers
3 teaspoon Olive oil
1 clove of garlic
Zest of one lemon
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking tray with parchment paper
- Rub the peppers in one tablespoon of olive oil and place on the baking tray in the oven for 35 minutes.
- When the peppers are ready place them in a bowl with cellophane wrap on top. This will steam the peppers, to make it easier to peel the skin.
- Reduce the oven to 325F and toast the walnuts on a baking tray for 10 minutes. Make sure they don’t burn!
- Peel the cooled peppers.
- In a food processor mince the garlic then add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth.
Enjoy this dip with pita bread, tortilla chips or cut up raw vegetables.
Roasted parsnips with pomegranate and Za’atar
Parsnips are often on the menu at Christmas time. This recipe adds a sweet twist to the standard recipe. Pomegranates are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals and add a nice crunch to this parsnip dish. You can find pomegranate molasses at Turkish or Lebanese shops.
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches of sea salt
8 medium parsnips
2 cloves of minced garlic
Seeds from one pomegranate
A sprinkle Za’atar
- Preheat the oven to 400
- Whisk the pomegranate molasses, olive oil and salt together in a small bowl.
- Peel and cut the parsnips in to sticks and toss in olive oil and the minced garlic. Spread them on a baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes, until tender.
- Drizzle the roasted parsnips with the pomegranate sauce, sprinkle with Za’atar, pomegranate seeds and mint.
Butterbeans are a good source of iron, zinc and magnesium and also high in protein. This salad is filling and fresh, leaving you feeling clean and energised.
2 cans of butterbeans, rinsed and drained
For the pesto:
3 tablespoons of walnuts
a large handful of flat leaf parsley
juice of 1 lemon
60ml of extra virgin olive oil
a small handful of grated parmesan cheese
To make the pesto:
- Add the walnuts, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan to a food processor and blend.
- Mix the pesto with the butterbeans and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve as a side dish or on top of a green salad drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.
Baked salmon parcels with herb and lemon zest butter
This is quick no fuss recipe. Salmon is filled with essential fatty acids, which nourish the brain and body. Eating fish which has a high protein content helps lower sugar cravings.
You will need:
4 salmon fillets, sliced in half
2 lemons, sliced in to 8 rounds
For the herbed butter:
9 oz butter, at room temperature
a small handful of fresh thyme, parsley or oregano leaves thinly sliced
zest of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to (180 C) 350 F
- Combine the herbed butter in a bowl until fully mixed. place the butter on to a sheet of baking paper and roll the paper up in to a Christmas cracker shape, twisting the ends to secure it. Place the butter in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the salmon parcels by cutting out 8 pieces of baking paper (about 10 inches wide) Have some kitchen twine ready for tying the parcels.
- Place the salmon on the square of baking paper and top each piece with a slice of lemon.
- Remove the herbed butter from the fridge and cut 8 round slices. Place the butter on top of the lemon and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring the edges of the paper together and secure with the twine.
- Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or cooked to your liking. Remove the packaging and enjoy.
Fun recipes to make with children
Cooking with children is a wonderful activity to do on a cold wintery day. All the recipes above can also be made with your children’s help. Have your child massage the kale for the salad, help mix the herbed butter for the salmon or press the button of the food processor when making your red pepper dip.
Here are some recipes that your children may enjoy making and most importantly eating!
Almond coated chicken nuggets with homemade tomato sauce
These little golden crispy nuggets are fun to make and delicious to eat.
100 g almond meal
400 g skinless chicken breast fillets
For the tomato sauce:
14 oz tin of chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons tomato paste
6 medjool dates
2 tablespoons honey
- For the tomato sauce, place all the ingredients in to the blender and whiz until smooth. Transfer it to a bowl.
- Show your child how to crack an egg on the edge of a bowl, let them try. In a small bowl, help your child lightly beat the eggs. Spread the almond meal on a plate. Cut the chicken in to bite size pieces and show your children how to dip the chicken into the eggs mixture and then coat it in the almond meal.
- Set the grill to medium and grill the chicken on both sides until crispy and cooked through.
Serve warm with the tomato sauce.
Mini Quiches with spinach and feta
The great thing about these is they are the perfect size for children and adults will love them too. They also can be frozen which means that you can make them before the holiday madness starts and bring them out when you need them.
You will need:
a handful of baby spinach leaves
1 onion finely sliced
75 g feta cheese
a small handful of pumpkin seeds
- Preheat the oven to 180c or 350f. Grease an eight hole muffin tray or fill with muffin cups.
- Lightly beat the 6 eggs. Get the children to tear up the spinach and add it along with the onion to the eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix. Pour the egg mixture in to the muffin holes. Let your child crumble the feta with their hands and sprinkle each muffin hole with cheese and a few pumpkin seeds.
- Pop the muffin tray in to the oven for 25 minutes or until they are cooked.
They can be frozen for up to a month and will keep in the fridge for up to two days.
Chocolate hazelnut spread
Who doesn’t love eating Nutella. The trouble is it is filled with sugar and palm oil. This recipe uses only 3 ingredients and comes out tasting rich and delicious. Children will enjoy pouring the ingredients in to the food processor and then spreading it on toast or dipping the spread on fruit slices, like apples.
150 ml maple syrup
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
Pinch of salt
What to do:
- Pre heat the oven to 200 C
- Bake the hazelnuts for 10 minutes, take them out and allow them to cool.
- Once cool, place them in the food processor and blend for about 10 minutes, until they have completely broken down. Children can help measure out the maple syrup and cocoa powder and add it to the food processor. Once this is fully blended add 150 ml of water and blend again. It is now ready to be put in a jar and stored in the fridge.
These little festive snowballs are fun to make with kids. Children love rolling these little balls and dipping them in coconut. They are also a yummy sweet treat.
2 teaspoons of coconut oil
1 3/4 cups of coconut flakes
3 tablespoons of honey
1 can of coconut milk (unsweetened)
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
A pinch of sea salt
- Melt the coconut oil and blend it 1 cup of the coconut flakes in a food processor, until it reaches a paste like consistency.
- Add the honey, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Blend again.
- Add half a cup and 2 tablespoons more of coconut flakes and blend again until this is mixed.
- Now the fun bit begins. Roll in to little golf balls then coat the balls in the remaining coconut flakes. Refrigerate until hard, roughly an hour. Enjoy.
Chocolate rice puffs
Your kids will feel they are getting a really special treat for breakfast. They are a treat you can enjoy over the holiday period. Because you made them you know what is in them.
125g butter or coconut oil
60g unsweetened coco powder
75g muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g unsweetened rice puffs
What to do:
- Preheat the oven to 50c or 300f and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Melt the butter or coconut oil in a saucepan and help your kids measure out the coco powder, sugar and vanilla and add to the oil. Mix to make a thick chocolate sauce. In a large bowl mix the chocolate sauce with the rice puffs and then spread the chocolate covered rice puffs on the baking trays. Place in the oven and turn the oven off so that the rice puffs can absorb the chocolate and get crispy. Leave in the oven until the oven has cooled down.
Store the rice puffs in an airtight container for up to 3-4 weeks.
This is a simple yet colourful treat that children will love. These cookies can be enjoyed in the afternoon or as a breakfast cookie. The chia raspberry jam is easy to make and can also be used as a jam for toast in the morning.
For the jam:
125g raspberries (frozen or fresh)
½ tablespoon of honey
1 ½ tablespoons of chia seeds
For the cookies:
300g of rolled oats
1 tablespoon sea salt
80 ml of coconut oil
150 ml honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- If using frozen raspberries, defrost first. Blend the raspberries, and honey until smooth, then while the food processor is running slowly pour the chia seeds in until fully mixed.
- Place the jam in a jar and let it chill in the fridge until it has gelled. (20 minutes)
- Preheat the oven to 180 c or 350 f and place baking paper on two baking trays.
- Process 250g oats until you have a coarse flour, add this to a mixing bowl and stir in the remaining oats and salt.
- Melt the oil and honey together in a small saucepan, whisking to blend and add the vanilla.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Slightly wet your children’s hands and roll the dough in to golf size balls, placing them on the baking tray about an inch apart. Show your child how to create an indent using your finger in the middle of the dough of each cookie. Help your child spoon in enough jam to fill each cookie.
- Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the cookies are slightly brown around the edges.
From all of the 7Futures team we wish you a very Happy and Healthy Christmas and look forward to working with you again in the New Year.
© 2012 7Futures Ltd. Registered Office: Laurel Drive, 7 George Fox Lane, Fenny Drayton, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV13 6BE.Registered in England and Wales No. 7945762
© 2012 7Futures Ltd. 7Futures Ltd offers general information which is for educational purposes only. The information provided here is not a prescription system and is not intended to be a substitute for professional exercise or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is for general information purposes only and should not be read as a personal recommendation for changes in lifestyle behaviour, nutrition, or exercise. 7Futures cannot be held responsible for any injury or illness relating to any such lifestyle or behavioural changes undertaken.