It’s December and time to kick-start your health in the run up to Christmas and start eating for the season …..Seriously, forget January when we are often feeling at our worst. Making some healthy changes now, at the very start of December could see us enjoying the Christmas ‘blow outs’ and parties without feeling so awful afterwards. Food shouldn’t ever make us feel guilty, but if you’ve given up with healthy eating at the very start of December you can end up with a whole month of unhealthy behaviours to make up for!
So forget the sweets, cakes, pies and chocolates for just a little while longer, and focus on eating healthily and ‘seasonably’ this winter.
There are SO MANY great foods which are at their best this month and that are so easy to include in the diet. Eating fruits and vegetables in season also means that they will be at their peak and therefore more nutrient dense – so get munching!
There is a full list of seasonable fruit and veggies at the bottom but for now, here are a few of my favourites.
Eating for the season: December –
Apples – These fruits are something that we tend to eat all year round, but in the winter they are at their best and there are so many ways to consume them. I love chopping apples up and having them with a few slices of cheese or with some peanut butter spread on top. They are also great in homemade pies, smoothies and even soups! Don’t forget the fun you can have with apple bobbing too and using them for decorations around the house.
Clementines – Just perfect at this time of year and one of my all time favourite snacks. Leaving them lying around the house in the Christmas holidays is a great way to add colour to your room, as well as encouraging people to eat them, thereby getting plenty of vitamin C and fibre. Helping to prevent the recent scurvy problems we’ve recently been hearing about!
Chestnuts – these, as the song goes, are great roasted on an open fire, but if you don’t have an open fire you can always roast them at home. See here for BBC Good Food’s recipe on roasting chestnuts. These are quite a luxury item too and something that children are bound to love getting involved with.
Leeks, Carrots and Celeriac – So good in soup and these three also go together so nicely too. Celeriac is an odd looking vegetable; but makes a brilliant soup – try it chopped and cooked with an onion and a little seasoning and then liquidised – adding something different to your December diet for the whole family.
Dates – Another good food to include as snack or to add with your cereal in the morning to add some fibre and some nutrients. Remember that dates are high in sugar and the chewy nature of dates means that they are best to consume alongside other foods such as cereals, yogurts and desserts.
Sweet potato – I love using these as an alternative to an ordinary potato or making them into homemade, chunky wedges and sprinkling them with paprika. A perfect winter warming comfort food idea.
Cranberries – Usually great made into cranberry sauce but this can be used alongside roasts, served with pies or even used as a sauce served with breakfasts and puddings. A great way to add a few antioxidants and vitamins into your diet this winter too.
Swede, Turnip, Parsnips – Again great for soups and for an addition to any roast. These can also be used as alternatives to mashed potato, for example on top of shepherd’s pie or with a homemade fish pie. They can also be roasted and sprinkled with herbs to make good alternatives to chips.
Kale, Cabbage and Pak Choi – These are all perfectly in season and great to add as a side to many dishes to make sure you’re getting some leafy greens. Kale – when seasoned well – can be fab used as a side salad and any of these could be used instead of spinach in an omelette or in a stir fry.
Let me know what your favourites are and how you plan to use them when you’re eating for the season in December! And don’t forget my list of healthy dinner ideas, which can be used all year round!
Lastly, a comprehensive list of December’s best fruits and vegetables: