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Top Tips for Healthier Festive Season Eating

Simple tips to healthy eating over the holiday period.




Photo cred: Fit Men Cook

After a hard year of work, diligence, and discipline, it’s always incredibly cathartic to indulge a little during the festive season. Taking some time off and enjoying the finer things in life — whether it’s a few extra drinks, snacks, or braaiing every night (because, why not), the December-January period offers many people a much-needed break from their everyday routine. However, the holidays aren’t always compatible with a healthy lifestyle. When the holiday season rolls around, it’s easy to get a little lax on the healthy eating habits and exercise routine that we typically maintain. Couple that with the stress of the holidays and all those festive parties, and you have a recipe for disaster.

But just because you’ve committed to letting your hair down this festive season, it doesn’t mean your overall well-being has to take a hit in December and January. Fortunately, with a few tricks up your sleeve, it is possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the silly season! We teamed up with Harmony Avs, to bring you these top tips for healthier festive season eating:

Clever swaps

It’s no secret that holiday living doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with a leaner eating plan. But, something as simple as making smart food choices can mean that you’re at least consuming more nutritious meals and snacks. You don’t have to give up your holiday favourites, instead, opt for more nutritious versions of the same dish. For example, you can use less butter in your dishes, opt for Greek yoghurt instead of mayonnaise in your potato salad, or go for grilled fish instead of the fried version.

And for dessert? Why not let the humble avocado be the star of the show, and have a very merry avocado Christmas? One of our favourite dessert swaps for the holidays is a healthier take on chocolate mousse, using avocado. If you’ve never had a dessert made with avocado, don’t worry-this sweet recipe still tastes like a moreish pudding, not like guacamole.

There are many recipes for avocado chocolate mousse online, but this version from Gordon Ramsay switches out the heavy cream for avo, and jazzes it up with honey, cacao powder, and vanilla extract for a decadent dessert that your guests won’t soon forget.

To put a festive spin on your avocado chocolate mousse desserts, try dressing them up by serving the mousse in individual jars and top your creation with coconut cream before sprinkling with crushed peppermint sweets. Add a candy cane or red and white peppermints to garnish and kick up the holiday spirit. While the pudding itself is sure to be a showstopper, topping it with peppermint crunch is going to make it look super festive and add a lovely crunchy texture to complement the smooth pudding.

festive chocolate mousse

Ice-cream fans can also incorporate avos into their beloved treat, indulging in a scoop or three of Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream this holiday season. It’s super simple to make — just a few ingredients mixed up to make an amazingly decadent and healthy chocolate ice cream to rival anything you’ve had at an ice cream parlour. And the best news? It’s also really good for you! This avocado chocolate ice cream is loaded with the healthful goodness of avocados, cocoa powder, coconut milk and sweetener. So no guilt. Just healthy indulgence.

Of course, you can dress it up to make it fun and festive, too. Simply add a scoop of your ice cream to a cone, top it with 2 pretzel halves for horns, and add a red smartie for a nose, and you’ve got an easy Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer to delight little ones and bring some Christmas cheer to your holiday party.

festive ice cream

Chocolately avocado treats are the perfect healthy, yet delicious desserts for your Christmas lunch or dinner. Not only do avocados have a velvety, luxurious texture when blended, (which makes them ideal for puddings and ice cream recipes), but they’re loaded with folate, potassium, and antioxidants. Their abundance of healthy fats and fibre will help keep you full longer, and avocados have also been shown to improve cognitive health. Plus, According to a 2019 study published on Science Daily, eating just one avocado a day can help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and even help improve your total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

With just a few simple tricks, you can keep all your favourites on your plate these holidays, safe in the knowledge that you are feeding your body with much-needed vitamins and minerals, rather than just sugar-laden empty calories.

Add more fruit and vegetables

We all know the holidays are for feasting, and it’s very likely that you will be consuming more calories than usual during the festive season. But, while it’s ok to let your hair down and forget about calorie counting, you also don’t want to be dealing with the struggles of sugar crashes and lethargy from over-eating. One way to avoid a sugar crash or feeling bloated after a big meal is to ensure you’re at least feasting on more nutrient-dense foods, rather than just empty processed sugar and carbohydrates.

A good trick is to add more fruits and vegetables to your meals. If you’re hosting a festive lunch for family friends, then make sure you increase the number of vegetable dishes on the lunch table. Something like roasted asparagus can be beautiful on its own, and roasted carrots or sweet potatoes are rich in taste and a bright pop of colour. Also, focus on delicious salads laden with healthy fats — like avocado, nuts, and olives.

If you’re looking for healthy snack or appetiser ideas for your festive season parties, then you can rest easy knowing that healthy doesn’t have to be boring. We all know the trick to a good snack table at any party is the presentation, and the festive season offers plenty of excuses for fun decorations and cute plating ideas.

Take, for example, this fabulously festive Avocado Toast Christmas Tree; the recipe is as easy as they come and is such a fun way to bring a touch of jingle bell magic to your snack table this holiday season. The recipe calls for delicious homemade guacamole and toast cut into individual mini triangles to make the branches of the tree.

If chips and dip are more your style, then you can also swap out the bread for homemade tortilla chip triangles made with oven-toasted tortillas. Switching out supermarket-bought dips for homemade guacamole is an easy way to increase the amount of good-for-you nutrients in your holiday snacks while still indulging a little!

Practice healthier snack habits

Snacking is a favourite pastime for many people during the holiday season. Because, what is a visit to the beach, a picnic in the park, or a hike with friends without a few good snacks? It may be tempting to toss a few bags of chips, some chocolate bars, and a couple of sugar-packed soft drinks into your bag for your outing, but a little bit of extra thought when choosing your snacks can save you loads of calories, and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

If you’re looking for a quick snack to enjoy before going on a hike, then a homemade smoothie is a great choice. A smoothie that is packed with healthy fats, fibre, and protein, will help to slow down digestion and may even prevent blood sugar level spikes. Try whipping up a quick protein smoothie with protein powder, avocado, and dates to power your hike and get you ready to take on the steepest of climbs.

If you’re enjoying a leisurely picnic this festive season, there are loads of healthier picnic options you can enjoy. A wrap packed with fresh vegetables is a great light meal option for a picnic. It’s easy to transport, and the filling options are endless.

For wraps, we love combinations like grilled chicken and avocado with grated carrot, baby spinach, and cucumber. To ensure your wraps don’t go soggy before you’ve had a chance to eat them, line the wrap with a large lettuce leaf and place the filling on top of the lettuce before folding the wrap closed.

Of course, there’s also room for a little bit of indulgence this holiday season. If you’re looking to treat yourself and your loved ones to a fun festive drink, then nothing says; “deck the halls” quite like eggnog! For a naughty-but-nice healthier alternative to traditional eggnog, we love this recipe for Avocado Eggnog using coconut milk. It’s thick yet airy, frothy and smooth, plus you can make it boozy with a tot of rum if you prefer your eggnog with a kick! Don’t forget to dress up your eggnog with cinnamon sticks and a sprinkle of cinnamon to really feel that festive spirit in every sip.

Eat local these holidays

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily meals and snacks is one of the best ways to stay healthy this festive season. And, while you’re at it, remember to be mindful of eating local produce. Eating fruits and vegetables from local producers is often more affordable, plus, it promotes the local economy and is more environmentally friendly because your produce doesn’t have to travel such long distances to reach supermarket shelves.

Take avocados, for example, we would all love to feast on avocados this festive season, but for most people, forking out R70 for 2 small ripe-and-ready-to-eat avocados at big-name grocery stores isn’t financially feasible. So, if you want to enjoy avocados without paying hugely inflated prices, then you’re best off enjoying locally grown avs when they are in season.

This Christmas choose Harmony Avs

The great news is, there’s no need to check your calendar to see if avocados are in season this summer, ZZ2 Harmony Avs has got you covered! Harmony Avs are in season all year round for South African consumers, so you can rest assured you’ll have the green gold for your morning avocado toast. With a range of 12 varietals of avocados that ripen at different times of the year, Harmony Avs makes it possible for South Africans to have locally grown avocados all the time and at any time!

While South African consumers are mostly familiar with the Hass and Fuerte varietals of avocado, ZZ2 is now releasing ten other varietals so that consumers may buy locally grown produce while it is in season. They have the added benefits of supporting their local market, knowing where their food comes from and knowing that it has not travelled far to reach them. To achieve this incredible feat, ZZ2 has planted trees at various altitudes which come into season at different times. The result is locally grown avocados at prices South African consumers will love.

The 12 Harmony Avs varieties available include: Hass, Maluma Hass, Lamb Hass, Fuerte, Pinkerton, Ettinger, Ryan, Galil, Edranol, Itzamna. Simmonds, and Shepard. Rather excitingly, each of the 12 Harmony Avs varietals in South Africa offer a unique flavour profile for you to enjoy. In December, Harmony Avs fans can enjoy the delicious flavour of Reed and Lamb Hass avocados grown right here in South Africa.

To learn more about the beauty of avocados and how to live #TheHarmonyWay visit the Harmony Avs website here

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