By Naini Setalvad December 2011 Enjoy this Christmas with a range of festive foods that are healthy, wholesome and tasty, says Naini Setalvad The world over, Christmas is a time for fun, festivity, and food. However, all that feasting inevitably ends in loss of health and, therefore, well-being. How about a festive season that nourishes you instead of dissipating you? How about reaching the end of the year and vaulting into the New Year feeling physically and mentally vibrant?Here’s what you need to do. Take a break from rich and unhealthy fare such as cookies, brownies and cakes and switch to nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts) and dry fruits (prunes, dry figs, dry apricots and raisins). Seasonal fruits such as oranges and strawberries are always wholesome. Bake anything you would fry, and switch from white flour to whole wheat. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!Barbecued Popcorn Popcorn is extremely high in fibre and low in calories. It makes for a great dieter’s snack and also contains some quantities of B vitamins. Popcorn is best air-popped. Avoid readymade popcorn which contains hydrogenated How about reaching the end of the year and vaulting into the New Year feeling physically and mentally vibrant? vegetable oils (in other words: trans fat). Here’s a simple way to make your popcorn more flavourful! Peppered Pistachios Here is an interesting twist to the regular salted pistachios. Pistachios are low in calories; 30 pistachios give only 100 calories! They contain fibre and are therefore low in the glycemic index. They are great for diabetics and keep you full for a longer time. High in antioxidants, pistachios are good for the heart, for cancer and offer protection against various diseases. The pepper in this recipe makes it a winter-friendly recipe too! Garlic Mashed Potatoes Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist,specialising in lifestyle and immunitydisorders. Her foundation, HealthFor You, throws light on healthyfood habits. Garlic contains anti-cold properties because of its antioxidant content and is therefore a winter-friendly food. Garlic belongs to the alumi group. Therefore it is good for the heart, for cancer and for inflammation (such as in the joints). Potatoes are rich in good carbohydrates and also contain a certain amount of vitamin C and phytonutrients. Potatoes are known to lower blood pressure and are a source of vitamin B6. Garlic mashed potatoes can be creamy and flavourful without butter and cream. Try this version for your holiday table or as a side-dish for any occasion.Chocolate Oats Pudding Oats are rich in fibre and in B vitamins. They are a heart-friendly grain and provide sustainable energy. Raisins contain zero fat and are naturally sweet. They also provide energy and cut down sweet cravings. Walnuts are rich in Omega 3 which is a healthy fat that lowers “bad” cholesterol. Brain-boosting fare, walnuts are also great for the hair, skin and eyes. This pudding tastes as good as any chocolate pudding, but it’s much healthier. Use jaggery instead of sugar and oats instead of flour to make a yummy, calorie-conscious pudding. Prune compost Prunes are traditionally served at Christmas. They are usually marinated in alcohol a month in advance. Prune compost can also be made without alcohol. Prunes are an excellent source of iron and fibre. They are packed with antioxidants, are great for cardiovascular health, and can lower blood pressure. They prevent constipation and provide sustained energy. Prunes are high in natural sugar and contain zero fat content. Additionally they are safe for diabetics. Prunes are great for men, women and children! Barbecued Popcorn Ingredients 2 tsp melted butter8 cups popped popcorn, unsalted1/2 tsp chili powderSalt to tasteMethod1. Combine the butter and chili2. Pour the mixture over the popcorn3. Mix well and serve warmGarlic Mashed Potatoes (Serves 6)Ingredients2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces6 garlic cloves, peeled1/3 cup skimmed milk, warmed1/3 cup low fat yoghurt1/2 tsp black pepperChives, freshly choppedSalt to tasteMethod1. Boil potatoes and garlic cloves in a large saucepan for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. 2. Drain and return to pan. 3. Add heated milk plus yoghurt to potatoes and garlic, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. 4. Use a little more milk if you prefer thinner mashed potatoes. 5. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Garnish with some chopped chives or spring onionsPeppered Pistachios Ingredients200 gm pistachios, unsalted1 tsp melted butter1 tsp pepper, coarsely groundSalt to tasteMethod1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.2. Add butter to a baking pan and put it in the oven.3. Remove after a minute and add pistachios, pepper and salt to the butter.4. Mix well5. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.6. Serve warm, or store in an airtight container and serve at room temperatureChocolate Oats Pudding (Serves 4)Ingredients200 ml skimmed milk100 gm raw oats4 tbsp cocoa powder4 tbsp raisin8 tbsp jaggery powder2 tbsp chopped walnutsMethod1. Heat the milk in a saucepan. When it boils, add the oats. 2. Add cocoa powder, raisins and jaggery powder and cook till oats are well done3. Divide into small bowls and top each bowl with chopped walnuts4. Refrigerate and serve cold.Prune compost (Serves 6) Ingredients 12 prunes2 cinnamon sticks – 1/4 inch each WaterMethod1. Take a bowl and soak the prunes in the same amount of water2. Place both the cinnamon sticks on either side of the bowl3. Soak this for at least 12 hours4. Serve warm or chilled5. Optional: Add a dash of alcohol when serving.
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