Happy Healthy Holidays

The Christmas season is filled with sweet, and calorie-rich, temptations. Here, Lisa Fuchs gives some advice on how to get through the holidays by looking out for healthy alternatives that don’t spoil the fun.

The last month of the year is the one when we are surrounded with the most temptations. The supermarkets have rows and rows of seasonal chocolate, candy canes and marzipan. Christmas markets are tricky too, and strolling through them with an empty stomach and a cup of tea in your hand might feel a bit bland. And Santa Claus himself, being severely overweight, makes you wonder: How does one stay on track through December?

I am actually not going to give you any tips on how to dilute your wine with water (yikes!). I will also not encourage you to keep track of calories, (boring!) or avoid fat (not working!) Instead I suggest you start looking around and explore all the non-food related joys of December. Start building new healthy traditions and focus on them first.

Hang fairy lights and light candles to set the mood on the dark evenings and play Christmas music on the stereo, or even get together and sing. Get one of these cute advent calendar books with 24 short stories – one for each morning – and gather the family around and read together. Head out to the forest and collect branches, moss and pine cones to decorate your house. Buy a 1,000 pieces Christmas puzzle and build it. Wear a Christmas hat for a full day and enjoy all the smiles you’ll get. Walk through town after dark and be amazed by all the beautiful Christmas lights put up everywhere. In short – enjoy the season!

Avoid having chocolate and marzipan at home, or at least on display. Instead use healthy alternatives for decorating. A bowl of clementine oranges looks inviting and so does a variety of nuts to crack. Red chili pepper tied on a string is beautiful in a window or around your tree. And dried orange slices can be hung or placed in an arrangement.

Of course you still have to eat. Kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts and red cabbage are all in season and you’ll find plenty of festive recipes online for them. Add in apples or dried prunes for sweetness. For meat eaters, get a duck or a pork roast with garlic going in the oven, and snack on plenty of exotic fruits after your meal. In other words, indulge in food! Real home cooked food that is. Just don’t let food be the leading character in your Christmas movie. And remember that sugar is addictive. The longer you manage without it, the less cravings you’ll have. Keep your home sugar free, even at Christmas, and pass the chocolate in the shop without stopping.

Needless to say, you should head into town and spend some time at the beautiful Christmas market too. Even get yourself some Glühwein if that is your thing but be reasonable with the amounts. Where one mug will get you into the mood and two might be a treat if the evening is long – three or more will just give you a headache and sugar overload. As for the food sold there, even if not exactly healthy, mostly the portions aren’t huge so if it gives you joy it might be worth it on one or two occasions. But if you’re a regular visitor I’d suggest you have a big salad to fill you up before you go to the market.


Festive Recipe

Here is a delicious Kale salad that you can pack for lunch or quickly eat before spending an evening in town. Mix 3 or 4 leaves of kale with 1 orange cut in pieces, 3 dried figs also cut in pieces, a handful of walnuts, a handful or blueberries, some fresh lemon balm (in German: Zitronenmelisse) and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. You can add a dressing of 2 tbsp. olive oil, half a freshly squeezed lemon, 1 tbsp. almond butter and salt to taste.

Now go have yourself a healthy little Christmas – come January you’ll be thankful!

Lisa Fuchs is the author of “Delicious grain free baking”. She also writes about healthy and creative baking, under the name Liesel on her blog: lieselathome.com

You will never find sugar or gluten in any of her recipes and most of them are also lactose free.


Article and Food photography by Liesel Fuchs:  lieselathome.com  & @liesel_at_home

This post first appeared in the Luxembourg Wort English – luxtimes.lu