For most people, the whole month of December is an excuse to eat as much turkey, and drink as much Baileys as possible. While in the new year, it’s customary to set resolutions to get fit and eat more healthily, it can take a bit of a push to get out of the Christmas spirit – and your pyjamas!
A healthy diet is the key to getting rid of that sluggish, post-Christmas feeling, so we’ve put together some meal ideas to help you get this year off to a great start.
Start as you mean to go on – Homemade granola
Make the most important meal of the day count with this super-simple homemade granola. This recipe is very adaptable, so really make it your own by adding your favourite fruits, nuts and spices. This will take around 30 minutes and give you 6 cups of granola – around 12 servings.
4 cups of oats
1 cup of raw nuts/seeds
½ cup of chopped, dried fruit
1 tbsp spice – cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger
1 cup of coconut (or chocolate chips for a sugar boost)
1½ tsp vanilla or almond extract
¼ cup of sweetness (eg. sugar, honey or syrup)
¼ cup of fat (eg. nut butter, coconut oil)
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2).
2. Combine all wet ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat.
3. Remove from the heat. Combine all dry ingredients and add them to the pan.
4. Mix everything together, making sure you create plenty of yummy clusters.
5. Spread thinly on a foil-lined baking tray and cook for 25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Lovely lunches – chicken & avocado wraps
Eating healthily at lunch time can be tricky, especially if you’re at work or on the go. Make two of these deliciously spicy wraps in just 15 minutes and pack for a yummy lunch.
1 thinly sliced chicken breast
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 avocado, cut into 1cm cubes
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp mild chilli powder (choose hot chilli powder for a bit more of a kick)
Juice of ½ a fresh lime
2 tortilla wraps
Sprig of fresh coriander
1. Season the chicken with chilli powder and lime juice.
2. Heat a frying pan and add the oil.
3. Fry the chicken, peppers and garlic together for 3- 5 minutes. (If packing for lunch, leave to cool before continuing. This will stop your wraps from getting soggy.)
4. Lightly mash the avocado and split between the two wraps.
5. Divide the chicken and peppers onto the wraps and sprinkle with coriander.
6. Fold the bottom of the wrap over the filling and roll in at the sides. Wrap in foil or film to prevent them from unravelling before lunch time.
Dinnertime goodness – warming fish pie
Eating healthily can be a challenge in the colder months, but this simple and warming fish pie is packed with flavour and will satisfy your craving for some hearty comfort food. Speak to your local fishmonger for seasonal fish in order to enjoy the freshest flavours all year round. This recipe takes about one hour and serves 4.
350g skinless white fish, cut into bitesize pieces
150g skinless salmon, cut into bitesize pieces
150g cooked, peeled prawns
1 small head of broccoli, broken into small florets
400ml semi-skimmed milk, plus a dash extra for mash
4 tbsp cold water
4 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper
1kg floury potatoes (such as Maris Pipers)
2 leeks, cut into slices
Grated cheese for topping (optional)
1. Peel and chop potatoes into chunks and place in a large saucepan with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat for around 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. While the potatoes are simmering, fry the leeks in half the butter until soft.
3. Drain the potatoes, mash with milk and butter. Mix in the leeks, season with salt and pepper and leave to one side.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 7.
5. Cook broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and cool under running water, and set aside.
6. Bring 400ml of milk to a simmer in a large saucepan.
7. Mix cornflour and water together to form a smooth paste and add to the hot milk. Stir the mixture constantly and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Add the fish pieces to the sauce and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the prawns and broccoli and stir gently until evenly combined.
9. Fill a shallow, ovenproof dish with the mixture and top with pre-prepared mash. Press mash down lightly with a fork, ensuring there are no gaps.
10. Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top and bubbling hot throughout.
(Optional: for an even tastier (and not so healthy) treat, remove from the oven after 30 minutes and add grated cheese to cover the mash. Return to the oven until cheese is melted and bubbly).
To keep you going – five minute hummus
For snackers, mid-afternoon hunger can be a big obstacle to overcome when eating healthily. This super-easy hummus can be whipped up in five minutes, and eaten with pita or crispbreads for a not-too-cheeky refuel.
1 can chickpeas, not drained
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp fat-free Greek-style yoghurt
Juice of ½ lemon
1. Drain the chickpeas but do so over a bowl and keep the liquid to one side.
2. Combine the chickpeas, tahini, garlic and yoghurt on a high speed in a blender until smooth.
3. Add lemon juice to taste.
4. Add a little of the chickpea liquid at a time and blend until desired consistency is achieved.
5. Serve with warm pita.
Satisfy your sweet tooth – fudgy brownies with avocado frosting
Brownies may not shout out “healthy”, but these homemade brownies can be made in 40 minutes and are surprisingly healthy. They are best eaten fresh out of the fridge for the fudgiest texture.
For the brownies:
60g coconut oil
1½ cups of dark chocolate chips
1 cup of vanilla Greek-style yogurt
½ cup of brown sugar
180g oats, finely blended to make flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
For the frosting:
1 medium avocado, cut into chunks
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp maple syrup
For the brownies:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line your brownie tin with greaseproof paper.
2. Melt coconut oil in the microwave or over in bowl above a saucepan of boiling water until it is hot and runny.
3. Pour in one cup of chocolate chips and stir until melted and thoroughly combined.
4. Stir in yogurt, sugar, vanilla essence, salt and baking powder.
5. Sieve the powdered oats into the mixture a little at a time, ensuring it is well mixed and without lumps.
6. Add the remaining chocolate chips and stir until evenly spread throughout the mixture.
7. Spread into the tin and smooth out to an even thickness.
8. Bake in the oven for between 25 and 30 minutes. Ensure the mixture is baked through but still fudgy before removing from the oven. Avoid over-baking.
9. Place tin on a wire rack to cool – do not add frosting or remove from the tin until the brownies have cooled completely.
For the frosting:
1. Place all frosting ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Add more syrup or cocoa powder to taste.
(You will need to scrape down the sides of the blender a couple of times to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly combined.)
3. Spread frosting over the cool brownies and place in the fridge to set for one hour – if you can wait that long!