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Foodie Friday: Christmas Time

For me Christmas time is about spending time with family.  Everyone coming together in one, glorious, noisy mess.  Laughing, shrieking, shouting, joking, playing card games and board games till all hours of the morning.  All of this happening around the dinner table, which should be filled with food… but that’s what I fear the most, cooking something that everyone will love.  Well, I asked Heidi to help!  A big thank you to Heidi, my Christmas Elf in the kitchen!

Ah, Christmas time…Christmas is all about love, family and togetherness, and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  We do this by exchanging gifts, spending quality time together and of course, by feasting on glorious food!

A sunny South African Christmas menu can include many different dishes and you can probably remember massive tables laden with ham, tongue, a million different salads and sides, chicken and perhaps even a turkey… That’s what my childhood Christmases were like in any case.  You might even have enjoyed a Christmas braai or 2…  Let’s face it, a traditional South African Christmas is a jolly, sunny affair, most probably spent outside by the pool or at the beach.

Now, when we look at all these traditional things… is a low carb Christmas style possible? Will it be boring? Should you even bother?

In short – yes and no!

Christmas is a celebration, it’s about being together with friends and family and sharing happy memories, good food and creating loving memories and there’s no reason to miss out on a delectable feast!

Having said that, as you know, I’m not a fan of trying to recreate ‘old’ favourites into new low carb treats – there are some that can easily be done and others that are best left alone.

I also prefer to keep things simple and focus on a few really outstanding dishes, rather than making hundreds…

Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

Christmas Snacks

Whether you’re hosting a Christmas get-together or attending one, you’ll need some snacks.

Choose something really delicious and impressive and make it special.  I would go for something like these pumpkin pie blinis – mini little bite-sized nibbles that’ll really make it feel like Christmas and a favourite at Changing Dream!

And do try a boozy eggnog too – it’s like a creamy custard drink, with brandy and it’s the best thing ever!

Or perhaps something a little more South African, bacon wrapped meatballs!

Christmas Mains

On to the main event – I’ve chosen roast chicken. Simply increase the amount of chickens for
every 6 people.  You could go the classic route of a roast turkey, but I feel that a roast chicken is perfect for a sunny SA Christmas – you can make it outside on the Weber or braai and rather add 1 more meat option.

How about a delicious pork belly roast?

Or keep things fresh and simple with a Festive Ham Salad as another main option!

Add a festive salad like this Fried Camembert Salad and you’re good to go!

Christmas Dessert

To end off a lovely meal, and because I’ve a bit of a sweet tooth – here are 3 winner dessert options.  Let’s start with a cheesecake, then coconut ice cream kisses and finish off with a triple chocolate tart!

Have a happy and blessed Christmas and remember what it’s all about – don’t spend unnecessary time stressing over food and slaving away in the kitchen – unless that’s your thing…

Keep it simple and remember that you don’t even need to tell everybody that your menu is low carb – simply let them enjoy the feast, because let’s face it, this is SO NOT a restrictive ‘diet’..!

P.S. As far as other drinks go – dry wine or bubbly is always the best option instead of sugary cocktails or other drinks mixed with sugary cool drinks.  Make sure you have plenty of sparkling water and add a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint for a refreshing drink.

Heidi Visser

 

 

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Foodie Friday: Coconut to the Rescue

I posted our concerns about dairy and today Heidi is giving us an alternative…  Take a look and let us know what you think?  Are you willing to try?

Let’s briefly continue our chat about dairy and then I’d like to introduce an alternative…  Have you given dairy up yet? Or tried to consume less dairy?  Do you feel any differences?

To recap from last week, diary is a great low carb fat source and makes cooking and prepping a whole lot easier and leaves you with a variety to choose from.  However, dairy doesn’t play nicely with everyone and particularly if you battle with PCOS or other fertility issues.  Dairy could also have an effect on weight loss (although published articles in peer reviewed journals are contradictory).

But how easy is it to actually give up dairy?  I’d like to introduce a major player in the LCHF lifestyle – and that is coconut.

Introducing Coconut

Coconut can be used in many forms and it’s an excellent source of healthy fat. In fact, coconut fat is 92% saturated fat and contains very little inflammatory Omega 6, which is what you want!

  • Milk:  Coconut milk and cream can be used as a substitute for dairy in a lot of recipes and even in your coffee!! It’s great in desserts too!
  • Oil:  Coconut oil is an excellent oil to use in cooking, as it is very stable at a high heat and will retain its structure and health benefits.  Most other oils break down into harmful components when exposed to very high heat.
  • Meat:  Coconut meat – dried or fresh – makes for a great snack and is mostly just fat and fibre.
  • Flour:  Coconut flour is a great baking substitute and can be used in many different ways.  {See previous Foodie Fridays post on baking substitutes}

Coconut Benefits

Coconut oil is high in Medium-Chain Triglycerides {MCT} which is basically fat that is very easily digestible and doesn’t need to be broken down to be used for energy. It’s instant energy.  It also aids in weight-loss by increasing your metabolic rate – yes please!  People with gallbladder problems can easily digest coconut oil too, because of these MCT’s.  Coconut oil is also shown to enhance thyroid function. This in turn stimulates the conversion of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol into the anti-aging hormones pregneonolone, progesterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). These valuable hormones not only aid in weight management, but also in preventing heart disease, senility, and other degenerative diseases. It is believed that coconut oil helps convert thyroid hormone T3 to T4, a big bonus for the thousands of people who have sluggish thyroid function that causes weight gain and inhibits weight loss.  Coconut fat is very high in antioxidants and even though it doesn’t contain any micronutrients, it does aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K.

Read your labels!

Beware though, that as with anything, not all coconut products are what they claim to be!  Read your labels.  Watch out for additives and stabilizers in tins of coconut milk and coconut cream – you want the purest form and please stay away from the ‘low fat’ varieties – because heaven knows, why would you go that route?!  When buying dried coconut, make sure it’s not sweetened. It should just be pure dried coconut.

Coconut oil…  There are many different varieties and brands out there and it’s really important to know the differences:

  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is your best bet and is very rich in antioxidants, but has a strong coconut taste.
  • Refined coconut oil has been processed to remove the coconut taste and doesn’t contain any antioxidants. It’s still a great cooking oil and stable at a high heat, it just doesn’t give you the added antioxidants…

I use both, because some food just doesn’t go well with a coconut taste.  Scrambled eggs for example…

Downside

So – yes, coconut is great but there are also a few downsides:

  • Additives in coconut milk: if you’re reacting to coconut milk with guar gum or carageenan in it, it might not be the coconut at all.
  • Coconut allergy. It’s always possible to be allergic to the stuff. Coconut isn’t a “nut” so many people with nut allergies can actually eat it just fine. But some people also have a particular allergy to coconut specifically.
  • Fat causing digestive problems. Yes, the same fats that have so many health benefits can have drawbacks too. Coconut oil in particular can cause diarrhoea if you suddenly start putting back a lot of it when you hadn’t been eating much before. If this is you, it often helps to start slowly and gradually work up to a higher consumption level.
  • Salicylates. Coconut is rich in salicylates, and some people react to them. Compared to cosmetics and medications, food provides a relatively small dose of salicylate exposure, but for people who are very sensitive, it might be enough to trigger symptoms.

I’ll end off with my recipe for a great morning cuppa – Bulletproof Coffee!  It will keep you full and provide a good dose of healthy fats to start off your day – get the recipe here… And remember, you can leave out the cream to make it dairy-free, and blitz it up with a stick blender – pure magic!

Bulletproof Coffee

Heidi Visser

 

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Foodie Friday: Leftovers to the rescue!

What if it’s just been one of those weeks?  And the motivation to cook healthy is just not there?  Don’t give up on healthy eating just yet!  A very dear friend of mine once told me, they have at least one dinner a week that’s mainly leftovers!  That tradition requires two things:

  1. Very good planning
  2. The power to repurpose

Heidi is here to help!  Foodie Fridays to the rescue!

It’s Friday again and this week has just been one hectic blur…  In busy times like these, I’m SO thankful for clever ideas to repurpose leftovers, but also for the power of a properly planned meal plan and prep day!

I don’t know about you, but I welcome any time-saver tips and tricks.

Meal planning and prepping is becoming ever more popular and it makes sense – instead of spending an hour every night on cooking dinner, rather consolidate and spend 2-3 hours on a Sunday (or whenever) and batch cook for the week! This also allows you to cleverly plan for leftovers and using them in new and creative ways.

My husband absolutely hates leftovers – he just won’t eat the same meal twice in a row or even twice in the same week. He’s spoilt like that…  Anyways, I hate wasting, so I often use leftovers in new dishes, without him even realising it – hehe… 😉

My plan of action includes the following:

  1. PLAN your menu for the week
  2. Get the recipes all in one place so it’s easy to access for when you do the cooking
  3. Write a shopping list according to your menu – and remember to include snacks, breakfasts and other bits
  4. Device a prep guide – see which dishes can be made in advance and where possible done in larger batches to be frozen for later, or just save time while cooking, e.g. if you’ll need 3 chopped onions for 3 different dishes, chop them all at once and just split them up, etc.
  5. Block out a 2-3 hour window on a weekend or quiet time that you can spend on prepping and cooking for the week ahead.
  6. Remember what we said last week, that having snacks on hand makes your life SO MUCH easier, especially with kids! It’s all about being prepared!

There are so many ways in which to use leftovers, but a few of my favourites include:

  1. Savoury mince / bolognese sauce – this can easily be used again in a bake or with eggs for breakfast. You can use it with egg wraps or make lettuce tacos – this is always a good leftover to have! I always cook a large batch so that there’s left over.
  2. Cooked meat – any cooked meat can be used in salads, bakes, etc.
  3. Salad bits – my favourite salads are a concoction of stuff in the fridge; bits of leftover chicken or other meat, cabbage, herbs, avocados, toasted seeds, etc.
  4. I also use leftover cooked veggies in salads
  5. Quiches – you can create a quiche out of pretty much any leftovers – just add whisked eggs, cheese and a splash of cream, bake and you’re all set!
  6. Leftover chicken – simply becomes chicken mayo (same with leftover fish)
  7. Another favourite of ours is to create little ‘picnic-style’ dinners from leftover bits. I use colourful ice trays for the kids and literally fill each compartment with a bite of something – they LOVE it!

If you’re in need of some more ideas / recipes for using up leftovers – have a look here! (http://foodiegoesprimal.com/?s=leftovers&submit=Search)

And for more info on meal planning and prep, click right here:   (https://talkfeed.leadpages.co/leadbox/146bf8af3f72a2%3A15ef2df48346dc/5728962252636160/)

Heidi Visser

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