Christmas Ideas!

a number of my clients are following a yeast and sugar-free diet to support gut ecology, and can feel quite daunted about how to enjoy Christmas food without slipping on the diet. This actually doesn’t have to be an issue, as there are plenty of delicious foods that can be enjoyed over the Christmas celebrations, that won’t encourage yeast to thrive, or leave you trying to loose the extra 5lbs in weight that is typically gained over the season!

  • The main Christmas meal of a quality meat such as turkey, with plenty of steamed vegetables, provides a good cross-section of nutrients and is a perfect yeast-free meal.
  • Oven roast potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips with a little extra virgin olive oil, keeping the temperature below 180°C to prevent damaging the beneficial properties of the oil. Don’t over-cook as this may increase the natural sugar content of these root vegetables.
  • Add two onions cut into chunks and a couple of garlic cloves with the meat when roasting. Rather than add extra fat, baste the meat with juices from the pan.
  • Make your own nutritious gravy with meat and vegetable juices, avoiding the artificial flavours, yeast extract and additives in gravy mixes.
    • Place cooking juice from meat in a sauce pan. Skim off the fat. Add enough vegetable cooking water to make a litre of liquid.
    • In a jug mix 2 heaped tablespoons of brown rice flour with enough cold water to form a paste.
    • Stir in ½ cup of the hot meat juices and then tip the paste into the pan with the rest of the juices, stirring all the time to avoid lumps forming.
    • Bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
    • Add more flour, mixing first with cold water and then hot gravy, if you want the gravy thicker.
    •  If you want the gravy thinner or to go further, add some cooking water from the steamed vegetables.
  • Make stuffing with cooked brown rice and chestnuts – either freshly peeled or frozen. See Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook for a recipe or try mixing 3 cups of cooked brown rice with 2 cups of cooked, peeled and roughly chopped chestnuts, and one finely chopped onion, gently cooked with extra virgin olive oil. Combine ingredients with an egg, season with freshly ground black pepper and a little low sodium salt and flavour with traditional sage (1/2 -1 teapsoon of the dried herb) or chives.
  • For canapés try:
    • Cucumber cut into 1/2 cm circles topped with a some red pepper hummus and sprinkled with mild paprika
  • Small oatcakes (home-made or sugar-free shop-bought), topped with a slither of avocado and a circle of hard boiled egg and sprinkled with chopped chives
  • Little gem lettuce leaves filled with salmon (fresh or tinned), mashed with a spoon of natural yogurt and sprinkled with finely chopped red onion. If you are dairy-free, try mashing the salmon with a spoon of hummus.
  • For Desserts try:
    • Mini whole grain pancakes (brown rice flour or buckwheat) topped with natural yogurt or Oatly oat cream
    • Cinnamon custard – in a pan whisk  2 tablespoons of fine yellow maize meal with 1/2 pint unsweetened almond milk (or milk alternative of your choice). Gradually  bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Once it has thickened sprinkle with a little cinnamon and pour into a pretty dish. Top with freshly cracked nuts and another sprinkle of cinnamon. This can be poured into a tall glass and allowed to set before serving cold.
    • Creamy rice pudding – cook a cup of whole grain brown rice with a carton of unsweetened almond milk in a low oven for an hour, or until the liquid has been absorbed. Serve hot or cold sprinkled with nutmeg.

Do refer to  Erica’s Beat Candida Cookbook for a wealth of ideas to help you through this season. Some final suggestions to support gut health during the festivities:

  • Relax! The digestive system reacts with stress, so breathe deeply before starting to eat if you have been rushing around to prepare the meal.
  • Chew your food properly to initiate the secretion of enzymes and hormones which regulate digestion further along the process. If you eat too quickly the normal mechanisms that tell you that you are full are by-passed.
  • Wrap up and go for a torch-light walk after meals (children will love this!) to enhance digestion.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and healthy New Year.