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Staying healthy over the holidays

The Make Every Meal Healthier! theme this month is about staying healthy over the holidays.

Even the healthiest people can become unstuck over the holidays – with all those celebrations, parties, barbecues and picnics, as well as lots of lazing in the sun, it’s easy to forget about eating a healthy, balanced diet. But it’s not difficult to stay healthy during the summer break. The key is boosting those colourful, healthful vegetables, which in summer is easy and delicious! Try these easy ways to make every summer meal healthier.

  • At every meal, remember: help yourself to the salad and vegies first, filling half your plate. On a quarter of the plate add some carbs, such as bread or potato salad, and the last quarter is for your meat.
  • At your next barbecue, make a feature of the veges. Include vegetables such as asparagus, courgettes, eggplant, jacket potatoes wrapped in foil, corn-on-the-cob and large marinated mushrooms, which are delicious when barbecued.
  • Add texture and interest to lean cuts of meat and chicken with seeds and crushed whole spices. Sesame seeds add crunch to beef and chicken, fennel seeds go well with pork, and cumin complements lamb.
  • Make salsa to serve with meats or salads. Include an onion ingredient (onion, spring onion or red onion), a fruit (tomatoes, peaches, tamarillos, mangoes), a little acidity (lemon or lime juice) and some zing (fresh or dried chilli or chilli sauce, to taste). Add crunch with celery, cucumber or herbs such as coriander and mint.
  • Mix equal amounts of Greek yoghurt and low-fat mayonnaise, add the juice and zest of a lime and plenty of chopped flat-leaf parsley. Serve with any type of fish.
  • For a simple party snack, take a few slices of soy and linseed bread, trim the crusts and cut each slice into four. Spread with a little extra-light cream cheese and top with smoked salmon. You don’t need to pile on the toppings – it’s a tasty morsel complete with omega-3, calcium and fibre.
  • Falafels (mini spiced chickpea patties) make great finger food and are easy to cook using a ready-made mix. Use a good non-stick pan and spray with olive oil, or bake them in the oven. Low-fat natural yoghurt with chopped coriander makes a delicious dipping sauce.
  • Cook fresh beetroot and kumara. Toss them with feta, rocket, walnuts, walnut oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve as a side salad.
  • When you’re playing host, always provide low-kilojoule alternatives to alcoholic drinks, such as soda water, a 50/50 mix of juice and diet ginger ale, or home-brewed iced tea, which is not only refreshing and stimulating but also full of antioxidants – just watch the sugar. And don’t forget that tonic water contains kilojoules just like soft drink, so choosing a diet variety is a better option.
First published: Dec 2012
Last updated: January 23 2018
Last science review: October 10 2016



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