Food stuff

Last updated 08:28 11/12/2012

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It would be easy to get worried about potential weight gain this month, especially when the statistics say that, on average, adults put on about half a kilo during the festive season. But, by maintaining regular exercise levels, planning meals and grocery shopping, and continuing to have plenty of fruits and vegetables each day, you can have your Christmas cake and eat it too - and remain positive both in your health and on the scales.

Take a positive approach to eating in December, despite end-of-year functions and Christmas, and eat and drink in moderation. If you overdo it, don't feel guilty or depressed. Walk a little bit further for a few days, swim a few more laps or go a little harder at the gym.

Being aware of the energy (calorie/kilojoule) content of alcoholic drinks is a good place to start. A very small glass of wine (100ml) has 360kJ, about the same calories as a thick slice of toast, but is much easier to consume. A 330ml bottle of beer contains 481kJ, about the same as 2 1/2 cups of buttered popcorn.

One way to reduce energy intakes from drinks containing alcohol (or large amounts of sugar) is to alternate them with low-energy, non-alcoholic drinks - like a glass of soda water mixed with low-calorie lime, diet or "zero" soft drinks, or chilled water with a few citrus slices added. You will still have a drink in hand and keep well hydrated, especially important if it is hot.

Stick to the good practice of writing a list before you go grocery shopping. There are all sorts of tempting foods available right now, many of which are just not needed. Chocolate must be super-cheap, if the number of $5 chocolate gifts at our recent work do is any indication.

If you purchase chocolate, hide it away for Christmas Day, rather than eating more than you usually would just because it's cheap. Also, purchase ingredients for quick and easy meals which you can whip up in the rush between work and evening activities - tinned fish and bread or rice to serve with a salad; tortilla, chilli beans, a little grated cheese and lettuce to make wraps on the run; or pasta, a bag of frozen veges and a jar of pasta sauce for dinner in 20 minutes.

Eating something healthy and filling before you go to Christmas parties will make it easier to resist energy-laden cheeses, dips, chips and salted nuts. Be wary of dips containing nuts and/or pesto - while they supply healthier fats, with a fat content of around 50 per cent the energy content is also high.

If you are catering, include vegetable sticks and fruit platters, and plain hummus or yoghurt-based dips.

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For Christmas Day itself, portion control is the key. Maybe plan to eat just two meals on Christmas Day.

A brunch of pancakes, scrambled eggs, special breads, yoghurt and fruit (especially berries), can be followed by a more traditional Christmas dinner in the late afternoon. Serve a smaller ham or roast, make a smaller Christmas pudding, but ensure that the servings of fruit and vegetables are generous, and keep the chocolate away from those delicious, fresh, healthy strawberries! Use smaller plates and eat at a leisurely, holiday pace.

Stay safe, relish good food and company, enjoy small portions of cake, and have a fabulous Christmas.

1980S SALMON PATE

1/2 cup hot water

1 Tbsp gelatine

1 chicken stock cube

220g can salmon, no added salt

4 spring onions

1/4 cup lite salad dressing

2 tsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup lite cream

Put hot water, gelatine, and crumbled stock cube in blender or food processor. Blend on high speed for 1 minute.

Add undrained salmon, roughly chopped spring onions, salad dressing, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend for 1 minute.

Add cream and blend for 30 seconds.

Pour mixture into small, lightly oiled, dishes. Refrigerate until set.

Serve with toasted breads or low-fat crackers. Written by Sara Knowles, a NZ Registered Dietitian.

- Taranaki Daily News

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