CHRISTMAS 2012 NEWSLETTER
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY’
I simply adore this time of year when preparations are well underway to spend time with family and friends. The www.bariatriccookery.com kitchen is warm and cosy with the enticing smells of spices, citrus fruits and herbs for make-ahead stuffings, sweet treats and savoury dishes.
Stashed away baubles have been dragged from the loft; colourful tree lights and paper room decorations have been hung; and stockings have been stuffed well-ahead and ready for the main event.
It’s almost inevitable that Christmas and food go hand in hand but sometimes holiday eating can take its toll on health and well-being. Statistics I’ve seen claim that people tend to gain on average 2.5-4.5 kg/5-10 lbs in December through to New Year. I don’t want to be one of those statistics!
Preventing holiday weight gain is a challenge for everyone, even those who have had bariatric surgery. Often enough it’s not a huge issue in the first year after surgery but the challenge almost always arrives a year or so later when people can tolerate eating more food and sugar.
Well the good news is that holiday weight gain is not inevitable. You can avoid packing on those unwanted pounds by following some simple tips.
Read and digest some of those tips in this Newsletter and then make some of my newly tweaked festive favourites. It isn’t possible to avoid sugar and some fat in these traditional dishes but I have reduced it to the minimum.
I have poor tolerance with high sugar dishes and have had a little of each recipe without adverse effect…. but that’s just me. I can’t promise you will have the same toleration and won’t risk dumping. Even though most of the dishes have no added sugar the fact that they include dried fruits (concentrated sugar) means they have more than I would recommend for daily eating. Just remember to keep serving/sampling sizes tiny… they are designed as treats for this holiday time not main meal fare!
What I can promise however is that the dishes taste great so will be appreciated by everyone else in the family, are healthier than the usual ones (so better for everyone even if you’re not eating them yourself) and friends will never know from the taste that they’re not eating the full-fat alternative!
I’ve chosen not to do a whole Christmas Day menu this year and concentrated more on those items you say you miss. If you want a back copy of the 2010 and 2011 newsletters with starter, main course and pudding ideas and ways to cook the turkey etc then email me email@example.com and I will send you a couple of back copies from 2010 and 2011.
In between time can I wish you all a wonderful ‘light’ and ‘Return to Slender’ Christmas.
10 WAYS TO AVOID WEIGHT REGAIN AND SURVIVE THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS AND PARTY TIME
* Never arrive hungry. Remember even if you’re going to a party later in the day to still eat every 3-4 hours. It’s also a good idea to take a protein bar, protein shake or healthy snack with you just in case the serving of food is delayed. You don’t want to arrive or try to survive the early stages of the feast famished.
* Drink water or other non-calorific beverages. Often the first thing offered on arrival is a drink. Opt for a diet one or check out the water. Fruit juices can be calorie and fruit laden so if you decide to have one of these then dilute with water to reduce.
* Peruse the buffet table or menu and eat the protein first. The golden rule of ‘eating the protein first’ applies throughout the year… and Christmas is no exception. So eat the turkey, beef, chicken, beans, ham or protein element first and then take a few small bites of some other favourite dishes.
* Chew slowly and pace yourself. Don’t hurry the chewing process….there’s no race to the tape and studies show that eating a meal too quickly inhibits the release of hormones in the gut that induce feelings of being full. If you don’t feel full there is a tendency to overeat.
* Take along a dish you can eat. Non-bariatrics rarely know what weight-loss surgery patients can and can’t eat. Don’t get caught out. Bring something to the party table that you can eat an unlimited amount of so that you won’t go hungry or risk binging on fattening fare.
* Tweak your own family favourites. If the party or meal is being catered by you then look at tweaking some of your yuletide favourites. Replacing sugar with an artificial sweetener, butter for low-fat spread, full-fat pastry for filo etc means that you can often still have a small portion without sacrificing your waistline.
* Socialise. Try to focus more on reconnecting with friends and family at Christmas rather than the food fest.
* Start some new traditions. Why not plan to take a walk when you know temptation calls (like ‘happy hour’) and make it part of a new holiday regime. Alternatively offer to play with any young children in an energetic activity to ensure some exercise is still on the agenda.
* Sit far away from the kitchen or buffet table. We all like ring-side or front row seats (especially on Boxing Day when the sports events are in full flow) but at other times sitting away from the main event is a good call.
* Give leftovers and excess tempting treats away. Don’t keep these hanging around for days on end. Donate to someone more needy, pack up doggy bags for family members and friends or freeze away for another time.
But remember the Christmas holidays are also about forgiveness and kindness to all. So if you do end up over indulging, give yourself a break. Just get back on track the following day by recommitting to a healthy eating regime and some regular exercise. Don’t simply throw the towel in! At the very least make that your New Year’s Resolution!
Beetroot, Raisin and Stem Ginger Pudding/The Alternative Christmas Pudding
I have tasted and tested many a low-fat, diabetic and no-added sugar Christmas Cake and been disappointed with many. This is a recipe for a cake that might not be the lowest in fat, sugar and calories but it tastes infinitely better. Since this is a special treat and you’re only likely to eat a finger-sized portion then I think it’s more than acceptable. I tend to eat the cake plain rather than iced but should you want to marzipan and ice for the rest of the family then you’ll need 500g/1lb marzipan and 750g/11/2lbs ready-rolled icing for this size cake. This cake doesn’t keep quite as long as the traditional type and should be used within a couple of weeks. I’m planning to decorate mine in the style of the M & S ‘Partridge in a Pear Tree’ cake… it looks so chic!
1 kg/62/3 cups mixed dried fruit
100g/4oz glace or candied cherries, halved
150ml/2/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
175g/3/4 cup light butter
10 tbsp Splenda granulated sweetener
2 tbsp black treacle/molasses
finely grated zest and juice of 1 small orange
100g/1 cup ground almonds
300g/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground mixed spice
- The day before baking the cake, put the dried fruit, cherries and apple juice into a large bowl. (NB: The apple juice could be replaced with brandy or dark rum if liked). Stir well, cover and leave to soak for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
- The next day, grease a 20-cm/8-inch round cake tin and line with a double layer of greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 150 C/300 F/gas mark 2.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter with the Splenda until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time then stir in the treacle/molasses. Add the orange zest, juice and ground almonds. Sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice, then fold together using a large metal spoon. Stir in the soaked dried fruit and mix well to combine.
- Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for about 21/4 hours. After 2 hours, cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper or foil to prevent it from cooking too dark. Check if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake…if it comes out free of mixture it is cooked sufficiently. If not, cook for a little longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in its tin.
- Cover with marzipan and icing if liked in the usual way or leave plain. Store in an airtight tin until required.
WLS PORTION: ¼-1/2
CALORIES PER PORTION PLAIN: 310
Ah, Mince Pies, either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Personally I have always found them too heavy on pastry and light on filling. These have been my greatest challenge for bariatrics. It’s hard to come up with a sweet pastry and mincemeat that fits the bill. I have developed a reduced sugar and fat pastry and also a mincemeat that is lower in fat and sugar but they still, in combination, prove unsuitable for some.
I like the shortcrust style pastry and suet-style mincemeat variation for taste but can also appreciate the low-fat mincemeat with filo pastry for the lightest option. Your choice!
So here are a couple of variations:
225g seedless raisins/11/2 cups seeded raisins
225g sultanas/11/2 cups seedless white raisins
225g/11/2 cups currants
150g/5oz candied peel, chopped
25g/1/4 cup chopped almonds
2 tbsp chopped stem ginger
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped
8 tbsp Splenda granulated sweetener
2 tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g/18 tbsp reduced-fat shredded vegetable suet
4-7 tbsp water
- Mix all the ingredients together other than the water, cover and leave to marinate in a cool place for 12 hours to allow the flavours time to develop.
- Preheat the oven to the lowest setting. Transfer the mincemeat mixture to an ovenproof dish and add 4 tbsp of the water. Cover and cook for 3 hours. Check the consistency halfway through cooking and add a little more water if you feel the mixture is too dry. Cool then pack into sterilised jars. Cover with a waxed disc and seal. Store in the refrigerator until required. This method melts the suet and coats all the ingredients to help prevent fermentation.
Traditional Mince Pies
300g plain flour/3 cups all-purpose flour
150g/scant ¾ cup low-fat spread or light butter
2 tbsp Splenda granulated sweetener
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2-3 tbsp cold water
300g/10oz traditional mincemeat (recipe above)
- To make the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl, add the spread or light butter and rub in with the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the Splenda. Add the egg yolk with the water and mix together to form a dough. Chill until required.
- To make the mince pies, preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6). Roll out the pastry to ½ cm/1/4 inch thickness. Cut out 12 fluted circles using a 7 cm/23/4 inch cutter for the bases and a star cutter for the tops.
- Place the pastry bases in a bun/patty tin and place a dessertspoonful of mincemeat in each. Top with the pastry stars.
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold. They can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
CALORIES PER MINCE PIE: 150
Low-fat Mincemeat: Here is a variation for the mincemeat recipe for making Mince Pies. This variation is lower in fat than the one above. The quantity is enough for 12 pies.
Mix a 75g/3oz packet dried blueberries; with a75g/3oz packet dried cranberries, 175g/6oz sultanas/seedless white raisins, grated zest 1 orange, juice of ½ orange, grated zest of I lemon, 1/4tsp ground nutmeg, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 3 tbsp agave syrup. Place in food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week before using.
Use this mixture to fill tartlet shells of filo pastry or spoon onto squares of the same filo pastry and roll up like cigars! Cook both in a 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6 oven for 12-15 minutes until golden and crisp.
Here is the Christmas Pudding recipe that I made on Stir-Up Sunday. It can however be made right up to 2 days before Christmas Day itself and has a lovely rich flavour but fewer calories and a healthier nutritional profile than a traditional one. Serve with low-fat custard, a low-sugar sweet white sauce or low-fat ice cream as liked.
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
125g/4oz soft ready-to-eat prunes, chopped
125g/4oz soft ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
300g/2 cups mixed dried fruit
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
100g/4oz low-fat olive oil spread or light butter
3 tbsp Splenda granulated sweetener
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
75g/3/4 cup ground almonds
100g/4oz porridge oats
1 tbsp ground mixed spice
200ml/generous 1 cup Guinness stout
- Grease a 900g/2lb pudding basin or spritz generously with low-fat cooking spray.
- Mix the carrot with the prunes, apricots, dried fruit, orange and lemon zest. Melt the spread or light butter in a pan over a low heat and set aside.
- In a separate bowl beat the Splenda with the eggs.
- Stir the fruit mix into the egg mixture with the spread or butter, almonds, porridge oats, mixed spice and Guinness. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Spoon into the prepared pudding basin, cover with a pleated piece of greaseproof paper or baking parchment and secure with string.
- Steam for 3-4 hours, ensuring that the pan does not boil dry. Invert onto a serving plate to serve with cream, custard, ice cream or a sweetened white sauce.
WLS PORTION: ¼-1/2
CALORIES PER PORTION: 375
Beetroot, Raisin and Stem Ginger Pudding… The Alternative Christmas Pudding
Here is a good alternative to the traditional Christmas Pudding. It’s still a steamed affair with fruit and spice but somewhat lighter. Serve with low-fat custard, low-fat ice cream or half-fat crème fraiche.
low-fat cooking spray
3 tbsp Sweet Freedom natural fruit sweetener
100g/4oz or 12 tbsp shredded light vegetable suet
75g/6 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
100g/2/3 cup seedless raisins
50g/1 cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
50g self-raising flour/1/2 cup all-purpose flour sifted with ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground mixed spice
125g/4 oz plain cooked vacuum packed beetroot/beets, drained
100g/4oz stem ginger, finely chopped
- Spritz a 900ml/33/4 cup capacity pudding basin with low-fat cooking spray. Pour the Sweet Freedom into the basin and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the suet with the sugar, raisins, breadcrumbs, flour and mixed spice.
- Puree the beetroot/beets in a food processor. Add the eggs and blend together well. Pour into the mixing bowl, along with the stem ginger and mix well to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the pudding basin and pat down well with the back of a spoon. Cover with a layer of baking parchment and tie securely with string, then cover with a double layer of foil.
- Carefully lower the pudding into a large pan of hot water, ensuring the water comes no further than half way up the basin. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 3 hours, checking every now and then that there is plenty of water in the pan and topping up if necessary.
- To serve, remove the pudding from the pan, remove the foil and baking parchment and invert onto a serving plate. Serve cut into wedges with custard, ice cream or crème fraiche.
WLS PORTION: 1/3-1/2
CALORIES PER PORTION: 375
I’m often asked to come up with a fruity punch idea that is suitable for bariatrics to imbibe during the festivities. Here is my latest 2012 version made with red tea, pomegranate juice and spices. If you wish to reduce the sugar content per serving then simply add more water or diet ginger ale to the punch and stir well to release as many bubbles as you possibly can.
2 Redbush teabags
3 tsp Splenda granulated sweetener
1 cinnamon stick
600ml/21/2 cups boiling water
300ml/11/4 cups regular pomegranate or light pomegranate and blueberry juice
sliced plums and lemon wedges to decorate (optional)
- Put the teabags, Splenda, cloves and cinnamon stick into a large heatproof jug and pour over the boiling water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then strain into a serving jug.
- Add the pomegranate juice and stir well to mix.
- Serve in glasses decorated with the plum slices and lemon wedges if liked.
CALORIES PER PORTION WITH REGULAR/LIGHT JUICE: 40/9
PROTEIN WITH REGULAR/LIGHT JUICE: 0.1/0.1g
CARBOHYDRATE WITH REGULAR/LIGHT JUICE: 9.6/1.6g
FAT WITH REGULAR/LIGHT JUICE: 0/0g
www.splenda.co.uk for Christmas Cake; Mince Pies; Christmas Punch
www.lovebeetroot.co.uk for Beetroot, Raisin and Steam Ginger Pudding
www.marksandspencer.com for Partridge in a Pear Tree Cake