I am a woman who likes to eat 5 animals on a plate on Christmas day! Don't get me wrong. I am not going to prattle on about how to avoid being indulgent and how you can replace sparkling champagne with sparkling mineral water this Christmas Dinner. Why would you want to do that? It's Christmas! Christmas is a time for indulgence. Indulge by all means; but to indulge in its true sense, means to allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of something.This does not have to mean the thing we indulge in is bad for us. There is an array of pleasurable food stuffs that we can enjoy until our hearts content that are life giving. Not only can they be physically jam packed with happy hormone producing proteins, and immune boosting vitamins and minerals, but the act of preparing our Christmas feast should be food for the soul, bringing together your family to share the moment. You cannot buy this at the supermarket in a packet! You will not find it in a microwave! There is a difference between indulge and OVERindulge, however.
The golden rule to avoid overindulgence.. Practice hara hachi bu!
Hara hachi Bu is a Confucian teaching that instructs people to eat until they are 80 percent full. There is an old Japanese proverb: "eight parts of a full stomach sustain the man; the other two sustain the doctor". Okinawa in Japan have the world's highest proportion of centenarians, at approximately 50 per 100,000 people. Okinawans, through practicing hara hachi bu, are the only human population to have a self-imposed habit of calorie restriction. Their typical body mass index (BMI) is about 18 to 22, compared to a typical BMI of 26 or 27 for adults over 60 in the United States and they are the longest living people on the planet! Don't overeat this Christmas because remember, diabetes is not a treat. Leave some for Jah rastafari!! Detox however should come in January :)
The Healthy Christmas Breakfast
Well the most important thing about Christmas Breakfast is that it should be easy to prepare.
The Tropical Fruit Platter
Christopher Columbus.called paw paw the "fruit of the angels"! How lucky are we to be able to indulge in fresh local paw paw. Paw paw is a rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and bioflavonoids, B vitamins including folic acid (B9) and pantothenic acid (B5), the minerals, potassium and magnesium and are high in soluble fibre.
Paw Paw protects the heart
Folic acid helps break down a protein called homocysteine that, when accumulates in large amounts, causes heart disease by damaging the inside of the veins and arteries. Basically high homocysteine means low sulphur for the disulphide bridges that cross-link collagen and elastin to make up connective tissue. Weak connective tissues means weak veins and arteries. Connective tissue everywhere is affected also. Paw paw is an incredible source of vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids, a pro-vitamin to vitamin A, three powerful antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease.
Paw Paw protects the bowel
Paw paw also contains contains the digestive enzyme, papain which not only assists the digestion of proteins when taken after meals, but is strongly anti-inflammatory and is used by nutritionists to treat sports injuries and allergies. Paw paw's high amount of folic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E reduce the risk of bowel cancer.'
Paw paw protects the prostate
Paw paw contains the caretenoid lycopene which has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer and eye disease in particular.
Mossman Pineapples. How lucky are we?! Pineapple is similar to paw paw in that it also contains an enzyme that assists protein digestion called bromelain . Bromelain however has been shown to have an even larger array of positive health effects. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, anti-cancer effects and to thin the blood. Pineapple is an excellent source the trace mineral manganese which increases production of our own antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD).
Red Dragon Fruit
Also known as Pitaya or huo long gou in Chinese (fire dragon fruit), red dragonfruits are rich in vitamin C, B vitamins and the minerals calcium and iron. Dragon fruits are high in antioxidants. The red colour of Dragon fruit is attributed to an antioxidant called betacyanin which is also the pigment that colours beetroot. Dragon fruit also contains the antioxidants lycopene and phytoalbumins, both anti-cancer phytochemicals.
Salmon and cream cheese on rye bread
Throw some smoked salmon and cream cheese on Rye bread as you watch the kids plays with their presents or you lay with yours :) Salmon is extremely high in omega 3 which lowers risk of heart disease and cancer. Rye bread is Low GI and will sustain your energy throughout the day.
The Healthy Christmas Dinner
Turkey is an excellent source of protein and is also rich in a the B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, biotin, and choline. Turkey also contains good amounts of Zinc, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
Turkey is a superfood!
Turkey is richest in selenium a powerful anticancer nutrient as it is a precursor to our own antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase (GPOX), and glutathione s transferase (GST). Turkey contains a protein called tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin, a calming feel good neurotransmitter. There is a myth that turkey makes you sleepy. In order for serotonin to be converted to melatonin darkness is required. So in daylight turkey should makes you happy :)
Stuffing is only unhealthy if you use unhealthy ingredients!
Stuffing can lower blood glucose to prevent diabetes.
Use a heavy Low GI bread such as a Polish Rye or German Pumpernickel. This will slow down glucose absorption. Add a whole onion and a bulb of garlic. Onion and garlic both are also hypoglycaemic, that is, slow down glucose absorption and hypocholesterolaemic that is lower cholesterol. They also thin the blood.
Use the turkey giblets including the liver and kidneys. The turkey necks are rich on glucosamie and minerals that make your bones strong. Most people aren't aware that offal is actually good for you. Offal is a rich source of 2 nutrients that prevent cardiovascular disease, omega 3 and Co enzyme Q 10. The omega 3 in offal is DHA the type of fat found in our brains, Many sources of Omega 3 are alpha linoleic acid (ALA). ALA is typically found in most vegetable sources such as hemp, flax, soy and canola oil. The human body can convert ALA and EPA to the more crucial DHA. However the conversion rate is inefficient. From ingested ALA, 2.8% is converted to EPA and only 0.04% to DHA. In many people, particularly the elderly, this conversion process is even less efficient. That is why animal sources of DHA are so crucial in my opinion.
Omega 3 fatty acids lower high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reverse hardening of the arteries to prevent and treat heart disease. Omega 3 also treats rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, diabetes, renal disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. Other uses include treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), migraine headache, skin cancer, depression, and allergic and inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Co enzyme Q 10 is actually a component of heart liver and kidney hence why it is found in offal. It is the reason that eating offal is good for your organs. Eating the whole animal is also good for the planet.
The healthy stuffing recipe
Cook the giblets. In a blender blend 2 toasted ends of a good heavy bread, add one onion a whole garlic bulb, the turkey liver and kidneys, handful of fresh sage and a generous knob of butter. (yes butter is better than sythetic margerine) Stuff in the bird with half a lemon.
Healthy Christmas trimmings
Rather than simply roasting the humble potato why not roast a rainbow of root vegetables including beetroot and sweet potato.
The pigment that gives beetroot their rich, colour is betacyanin. Betacyanin increases the activity of two antioxidant enzymes in the liver, glutathione peroxidase (GPOX) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST). The liver is the body's primary detoxification organ where toxic substances such as alcohol are broken down and eliminated, a process that generates a lot of free radicals. Glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase are the bodyguards for liver cells, protecting them from free radical attack from the onslaught of alcohol. at Christmas for example ;)
The carotenoids, especially ß-carotene make the sweet potato orange. Carotenoids strengthen eyesight, boost immunity and are powerful anticancer and antaging antioxidants. Sweet potato is high in vitamin B6 which lowers homocysteine to prevent heart disease. Seet potato is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin D and betacarootene a Vitamin A precursor, all critical for a healthy immune system. Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium, potassium and iron.
Most importantly in regard to avoiding overindulgence, sweet potatoes are low GI compared to normal potato. Therefore they do not raise the blood sugar as much which causes insulin resistance and fat around the middle.
The cranberry sauce
Cranberries are incredibly rich in polyphenolantioxidants called proanthocyanidins, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, flavenoids and triterpenoids which have antioxidant, antiinflammatory, and anticancer properties. Proanthocyanidins are particularly high in red wine and it is hypothesised that it is the intake of proanthocyanidins and other flavenoids from regular consumption of red wines that prevents the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in French citizens on high-fat diets. This is known as The French Paradox.
The healthy cranberry sauce recipe
Simmer for hours some fresh cranberries in a little water, a good amount of brown sugar and a generous dash of mixed spice or if you feel really fancy make a little bouquet garni of crushed cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove.
The healthy Christmas gravy
Real gravy is actually good for you. "Rooster booster" ie something that contains MSG is not. By a real gravy I mean use the water from the steamed brussel sprouts and carrots and water from the giblets, add the juices from the turkey pan and thicken with corn flour.
The healthy Christmas dessert
Forget the pavlova, the trifle and the mince pies. That was so 70s! The Christmas Pud is good just not too much and make a homemade custard. Try this instead though if you want a healthy Christmas
Sweet fruit salad
Cut a paw paw or pineapple in half. Add sliced macadamia nuts, natural yoghurt and honey. How nice would that be to serve after Christmas dinner? Not only is it incredibly fancy but will actually help you to digest your meal, thin your blood and keep your prostate happy :)
Pear and rhubarb crumble
Or while the oven's on, in a pot cook up rhubharb and pear with a little water and mixed spice or if you feel really fancy make a little bouquet garni of cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove and a jigger of brown sugar. Top with oats rubbed with brown sugar and enough butter to make it stick. This desert is high in a soluble fibre called pectin which lowers blood sugar and cholesterol.
Tropical Christmas salad suggestions
Perhaps serve your turkey and ham cold with salads.
Green papaya salad / som tam
1 small green papaya, OR 1/2 large (see recipe)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts or cashews
2 cups bean sprouts
1 to 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges or long strips
3 spring onions, cut into long matchstick-like pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil, leaves left whole or chopped
handful of fresh coriander
1 red chili, sliced, seeds removed (reduce or omit, to taste)
optional: 1 cup blanched green beans
optional: cooked baby shrimp OR cubed fried tofu
1/2 tsp. shrimp paste
2 Tbsp.peanut oil
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
Caribbean papaya salad
1 ripe papaya (2-3lbs)
2 tablespoon coriander (cilantro)
juice of a lime
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 bird pepper (chili pepper)
red onion (optional)
The healthy Christmas booze
Aside from drinking proanthocyanidins rich red wine which is actually good for you ie French Paradox and Mediterranen diet.
Some drinks give you worse hangovers than others due to the actions of impurities called Congeners. Alcohols with higher concentrations of congeners will cause a worse hangover. Unfortunately though, congeners also give flavour, smell and appearance to alcohol. Vodka and gin (clear liquors) are generally lower in congeners than whiskey, rum and bourbon, due to the filtering process involved, and hence usually give a less intense hangover. Make yours a G&T or V&T this Christmas Party. Chin Chin! Then makes your next one a Rock Shandy.
Boxing day hair of the dog (if need be ;)
The belief that consumption of further alcohol after the onset of a hangover will relieve symptoms, based upon the theory that hangover represents a form of withdrawal and that by satiating the body's need for alcohol, symptoms will be relieved. Traditional choices include Fernet Branca and Bloody Mary. Fernet is made from herbs and spices including myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile cardamom, aloe, and saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits. A Bloody Mary contains tomato juice of course, which contains fructose, a type of sugar that helps your body metabolise alcohol more quickly. This is probably why the morning-after Bloody Mary seems to work.
By 1938, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel provided a hangover remedy in the form of a mixture of Coca-Cola and milk! Alcoholic writer Ernest Hemingway relied on tomato juice and beer. Certain mixtures were developed specifically for the purpose. The "Black Velvet" consists of equal parts champagne and flat Guinness Stout, while the "Prairie Oyster" restorative, introduced at the 1878 Paris World Exposition, called for raw egg yolk mixed with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. A 1957 survey by a Wayne State University folklorist found widespread belief in the efficacy of heavy fried foods, tomato juice and sexual activity!
sugar syrup -simmer equal amount sugar and water, allow to cool
Crush a generous amount of meat leaves with lime juice and sugar syrup using a mojo stick
add crushed ice and soda water, stir with a twizzle stick.
150ml tomato juice
15ml lemon juice
5ml Worcestershire sauce
2 or 3 drops Tabasco suace
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with celery lemon slice
15 ml lime juice
60ml tonic water
stir the ice and strain
serve with green olive on toothpick
150 ml pineapple juice
50ml Coconut cream
10ml rum extract
150ml Cranberry juice
30ml pineapple juice
15ml lemon or lime
12 crushed ice cubes
Garnish with strawberry ans swizzle stick