A Nutritionist’s Guide To Healthy Christmas Snacking

By Ellie Smith

8 months ago

Top tips for savvier snacking during the festive season


During the festive season there seem to be sugary snacks everywhere we turn: mince pies in the office, canapes at parties, big tubs of Celebrations in our homes. And while we’re all for enjoying treats guilt-free, sometimes overindulging on nibbles can leave us feeling sluggish and bloated. With that in mind, we’ve enlisted nutritional therapist Lucia Stansbie to share her top tips for healthy Christmas snacking, plus a handful of recipes.

Healthy Christmas Snacking: A Nutritionist’s Top Tips

  • ‘You’re probably going to encounter a lot of snacks at all those upcoming festive parties. So don’t arrive hungry to a party – if you skip lunch or just have a little green salad before an evening do you will be hungry and tempted to dive into your favourite high calorie foods and probably overeat. The best option is to have a balanced meal ahead. 
  • ‘Look for snacks which have vegetables in them – nibbling on hummus and carrots would be an ideal snack as it will fill you up for longer. Also check out purple vegetables which are in season, like cabbage and cranberries as they are packed with anthocyanins, a very powerful antioxidant able to support cardiovascular health
  • ‘If you fancy a snack in the middle of the day, instead of grabbing a mince pie or a festive edition of your favourite crisps opt for nuts, carrots with hummus, a white yogurt with fruit or a boiled egg – all rich in protein and healthy fats which will keep you full and nourished.
Hummus and crudites

Unsplash

  • ‘Don’t forget fibre when having a treat, as this could lead to imbalanced blood sugar levels and the dreaded sugar rush followed by a crush. If having a mince pie or some chocolate, have also a mandarin with it (preferably before). This will spike your blood levels less and also add a good dose of antioxidants from the fruit.
  • ‘Nuts are festive and also a great snack option. Walnuts are particularly rich in the essential fatty acid omega3, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can help balancing cholesterol levels.
  • ‘Opt for good quality raw chocolate over commercial bars. Cacao itself is one of the richest sources of anti-inflammatory antioxidants (catechins, epicatechins, procyanidins) and cocoa powder and nibs can have multiple benefits for the cardiovascular system, including lowering cholesterol levels, improving nitric oxide production and so supporting blood flow, and can also increase good mood supporting serotonin production. The darker the chocolate, the higher the content of cacao and antioxidants. Being raw it means that the cacao beans are roasted at lower temperatures and so retain more antioxidants.’
Rye bread Christmas snack

Getty Images

3 Healthy Christmas Snack Recipes

Butter Bean, Kale, and Pomegranate Festive Dip

‘This butter bean, kale, and pomegranate festive dip not only brings together vibrant colors but also offers a combination of creamy, earthy, and sweet flavors. It’s a delightful addition to your festive table.’

Ingredients:

For the dip

  • 2 cans (15 oz each) butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

For serving

  • Pita chips, sliced baguette, or vegetable sticks

Method:

  1. Prepare the ingredients: drain and rinse the butter beans, remove the stems from the kale and finely chop the leaves. Then cut a pomegranate in half and extract the arils (seeds).
  2. Cook the kale. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the chopped kale in a bit of olive oil until it wilts, about 3-5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool.
  3. Make the dip. In a food processor, combine the butter beans, sautéed kale, Greek yogurt, olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and ground cumin. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste, and adjust the consistency with additional olive oil or lemon juice if needed.
  4. Adjust the seasoning. Taste the dip and adjust the seasoning to your liking. The lemon juice adds a bright, fresh flavor, while the cumin provides warmth and depth.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish. Spoon the butter bean, kale, and pomegranate dip into a serving bowl.
  6. Garnish. Sprinkle pomegranate arils and chopped fresh parsley on top of the dip. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil for a finishing touch.
  7. Serve the festive dip with pita chips, sliced baguette, or vegetable sticks. Enjoy this colorful and flavorful appetizer at your holiday gatherings.

Cranberry and Orange Festive Chia Pudding

‘This cranberry and orange festive chia pudding is not only a healthy and delicious treat but also a visually appealing dessert that captures the flavors of the holiday season.’

Ingredients:

For the chia pudding

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cranberry-orange compote

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the garnish

  • Fresh orange slices
  • Chopped nuts (such as pistachios or almonds)
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Method:

Prepare the chia pudding.

  1. In a bowl, whisk together chia seeds, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, allowing the chia seeds to absorb the liquid and create a pudding-like consistency.

Make the cranberry-orange compote.

  1. In a saucepan, combine cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, and ground cinnamon.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens slightly. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let the compote cool to room temperature.

Assemble the festive chia pudding.

  1. Take the chilled chia pudding from the refrigerator and give it a good stir to ensure an even consistency.
  2. Spoon a layer of the chia pudding into serving glasses or bowls.
  3. Top the chia pudding with a generous spoonful of the cranberry-orange compote.
  4. Repeat the layers until you reach the top of the serving glasses.
  5. Garnish each serving with fresh orange slices, chopped nuts, and mint leaves if desired.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Maple Walnut Festive Bites

‘These festive bites are not only delicious but also packed with the goodness of walnuts, oats, and cranberries.’

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toast the walnuts. Spread the chopped walnuts on the prepared baking sheet and toast them in the preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until they become fragrant. Be sure to stir them halfway through to ensure even toasting. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  3. Prepare the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine the toasted walnuts, rolled oats, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, and ground flaxseed. Mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
  4. Prepare the wet ingredients. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the maple syrup and almond butter, stirring continuously until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until everything is well coated.
  6. Shape the bites. Take small portions of the mixture and shape them into bite-sized balls. If the mixture is too sticky, you can wet your hands with a little water to make the shaping process easier.
  7. Chill the bites. Place the shaped bites on a parchment-lined tray and let them chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This will help them firm up.
  8. Once the bites have chilled and firmed up, transfer them to a serving plate.

Recipes from Lucia Stansbie, foodpowernutrition.com