Christmas is nearly here and if your house is currently filling up with sugar-laden, processed foods and all the packets have really long ingredient boxes and you don’t even recognise half the ingredients, then this is for you!
I’ve chosen 10 healthy snack alternatives for you to stock up with at Christmas so never fear I've got you covered.
I have not included so many wonderful snacks that I usually recommend like vegetable crudités and hummus or guacamole etc instead I’ve just gone for shop-bought simple instant snacks that can replace the big box of chocolates or biscuits that may be sitting under your nose while you watch Home Alone this Christmas.
Now on the ‘health-o-meter’ where no 1 would be, say a doughnut and no 10 would be curly kale, the snacks below come in at varying levels on the meter but all of them deliver more nutrients and less sugar and chemicals than all those milk chocolates, biscuits, cakes etc and if you’re not used to making healthier choices then these are great places to start.
Now remember these are SNACKS!
The key to success in this area at Christmas is to focus on filling yourself up with three healthy meals a day.
Remember the plate proportions? Half plate veg or salad, quarter protein and quarter carbs. Keep that going right over Christmas because if you start skipping meals two things will happen:
A. You won't be getting all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and fatty acids that you need to stay fit, energised and stress-free over Christmas.
B. You WILL fill up on all the chocolates, sweets, cakes, biscuits and anything else you can get your hands on because you're just plain hungry!
Believe me, this REALLY helps to limit the temptations.
So the written list is below but if you prefer to listen to the list in a video...
1. Nuts in their shells & seeds - Shelling nuts is so Christmasy and having to crack them open slows down the amount you can eat in one sitting! Also pumpkin or sunflower seeds are delicious roasted with chilli, garlic, cumin, herbs, extra virgin olive oil or whatever flavourings you fancy.
2. Xylitol or Stevia - For all your home baking or for sweetening drinks. Remember, they are far sweeter than table sugar so you only have to use half or less the amount you would normally use.
3. Added sugar-free sweets - such as the Bear Yoyo range and the Urban Sweet range and , no refined sugar, just the natural fruit sugars
4. Nakd bars, Bounce bars - date based mostly with no added refined sugar. They make great nibbles if you chop them up to bite-size pieces.
5. Coconut - fresh or dried, both make a great snack. Team this with some dark chocolate and you've got a healthy bounty bar.
6. Dried fruit - mango, pineapple, cranberries etc. Don't go wild with these as they contain a lot of natural sugars but you can team them with some nuts or seeds to slow down those sugars racing to your blood stream.
7. Homemade popcorn - cook in coconut oil & flavour with sea salt or spoon of raw honey.
8. Dark chocolate over 70% cocoa - the higher the cocoa, the lower the amount of sugar within so try experimenting with 70%, 85% and 90% cocoa and see which is your favourite. It's worth trying different brands too as some are less bitter than others.
9. Hot chocolate - With a few tweaks hot chocolate can be a healthy snack. The basic ingredients are the same: Milk, chocolate, a sweetener and maybe cream but choose the right ones and your hot chocolate has shot up the ‘health-o-meter’. Use full fat organic milk or a dairy alternative such as coconut milk, sweeten with xylitol, stevia or raw honey and whisk in coconut cream or organic full-fat cream. It's worth putting 'healthy hot chocolate recipes' into a google search, there are plenty around, see what you can find.
10. Crisps - included because I wanted to point out a couple of things to you - start reading the ingredients box on crisp packets and you’ll notice how long some of the boxes are. The smaller the ingredient box the better and plain crisps have just 3 ingredients. So choose plain crisps and you are avoiding all the additives and chemicals. In fact in good health food shops you can find crisps cooked in coconut oil which is a real winner.
So there we have it. Get these onto your shopping list right now and I will be back in the new year bringing you more tips and facts about healthy food and lifestyle.
In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and if you can manage to come up for air from all the santas, the elves, the presents and the trees this Christmas I hope you take another look at the nativity, it can literally change your perspective forever!