By Dr Pooja Sharma
Christmas 2019: Have you ever wondered how a working mom maintains a balance between responsibilities and celebration at the same time? Juggling between work, motherhood and preparing delicious meals in advance is not an easy task. Working mothers constantly seek easy options, especially in the festive season, which can fit cooking into their busy schedule.
Christmas is here and whether moms – or dads – are planning to cook for themselves, for children and family members or for a large crowd, mapping out the menu can be daunting. The biggest dilemma is selecting the right meal, which can be luscious as well as quick and filling.
Don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered! Eat, drink and be merry with these quick and healthy Christmas recipes.
Healthy chocolate balls
· 100 grams fresh dates
· 140 grams roasted almonds/hazelnuts
· 75 grams of oats/digestive biscuits
· 3 tbsp of raw cacao powder
· 1/2 teaspoon of raw vanilla extract
· 150 grams of dark (78%) chocolate, melted, cooled slightly.
· Place dates in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes. Drain.
· Mix 60 grams of almonds, biscuits and cacao in the food processor. Add dates and vanilla, process until smooth.
· Line the baking tray with baking paper. Roll 2tbsp of mixture into balls. Press an almond into centre.
· Coarsely chop the remaining almonds. Place melted chocolate in a bowl. Dip the balls in chocolate and sprinkle chopped almonds. Place in the fridge until set or ready to serve.
Turn Fresh Watermelon & Creamy Feta into a savoury Christmas starter
· 1/2 watermelon, cut into 1cm slices
· 60 grams smooth feta.
· Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
· 1/4th cup of mint leaves
· black pepper to season
· Using 5 cm star cutters, cut 21 star shapes from watermelon slices.
· On a large platter, arrange watermelon stars into the shape of a Christmas tree. Crumble over feta, drizzle with oil, sprinkle mint leaves and black pepper.
Healthy Coconut and Banana Christmas Fudge
A super simple healthy Christmas fudge made with two natural ingredients. It’s dairy and gluten-free with no added sugar.
· 3 cup coconut flakes
· 1 medium banana
· 3 tablespoon sprinklers or nuts (optional)
· Place this shredded coconut in a high-speed blender and blitz until it reaches a butter consistency. Add a dash of coconut milk and oil to make it moving.
· Add banana and blitz again until it combines.
· Spoon the mixture into a small dish, lined with parchment paper. Top with sprinklers/nuts and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours until the fudge has hardened.
· Cut the fudge in square pieces and serve immediately or keep for 5 days in an air-tight container.
Nutritional info per 2 square piece: Calories: 126 kcal | Protein: 1 grams | Fat: 7 gram
Vegetable Cauliflower Pizza Crust
This Vegetable Cauliflower Pizza is naturally grain-free, dairy-free and egg-free. I love how easy it is to make it, using fresh cauliflower rice and ground flax seeds for a healthy pizza night.
· Prep time: 15 minutes
· Cook time: 45 minutes
· Total time: 1 hour
· Servings: 4
· 1 1/2 pounds cauliflower rice/florets (fresh or frozen)
· 3 tablespoons ground chia or flax seeds
· 1/2 cup almond flour or meal
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
· 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
For Toppings: Salsa, mushrooms, tomato, olives and feta, basil leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 204 degrees Celsius and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Use fresh cauliflower; you’ll need to steam it first. Fill a large pot with an inch of water, then place a steamer basket over that. Fill the basket with the fresh cauliflower florets and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and transfer the cauliflower to a food processor. Process it briefly to make cauliflower “rice”.
3. Transfer the thawed or cooked cauliflower rice to the centre of a thin dish towel, or place it in a nut milk bag. Use your hands to squeeze the rice, removing all of the excess moisture from the cauliflower. There should be quite a lot of liquid that comes out, close to half cup.
4. Place the drained cauliflower in a large bowl, then add in ground flax or chia seeds, almond flour, salt, garlic and dried oregano. Stir well to mix, using your hands if needed to make it stick together.
5. Press the mixture into the parchment-lined baking sheet, using your hands to shape the crust into your desired size. The thinner and flatter you can press the crust, the better.
6. Bake the crust at 204 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes, checking on it after 30 minutes to make sure it’s not starting to burn. You want the crust to be dry to the touch and nicely golden. (Tip: You can roast vegetable toppings for your pizza at the same time! I put sliced tomatoes, red onion, and mushrooms on a separate pan, and take them out of the oven around the 25 minute mark so they don’t burn.)
Once the crust is firm and dry, add your favorite pizza toppings and return to the oven briefly to let everything heat up, about 5-10 additional minutes. Serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freeze for up to 3 months.
(The writer is a dietitian, nutritionist and healthy lifestyle evangelist.)
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