Tag Archives: Christmas menu

Your Christmas Survival Guide! (Or “How to have the most Merry, Enjoyable, Jolly Christmas ever!!”)

Survival? Seriously? Is that a word we should even associate with Christmas? What about Merry, Enjoyable, Jolly? Well that’s exactly what we’re aiming for! How to have the most Merry, Enjoyable, Jolly Christmas ever!!

Let’s get the reason why we need this guide out of the way from the outset: if you have insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2), you live in a body that doesn’t deal well with sugar. That doesn’t change at Christmas. It isn’t in your best interests to pretend otherwise. Denial doesn’t change the facts – it puts you at risk. The secret to your best ever Christmas is to work with your body, not against it. Here are my 10 Top Tips to ensure a “treat” for you is the right way to treat your body!

  1. Gotta think carbs! Remember it isn’t just sugar itself that’s going to raise your blood sugar. Every bit of carbohydrate you consume will eventually add to your blood glucose levels. Any glucose that you don’t burn off will have to be stored – mainly as body fat. The wrong kind of body fat. Visceral fat. So do a deal with yourself – think about all the carby foods you might consume, and then choose just a couple of favourites to keep in and plan the rest out of your Christmas menu. There are some easy and delicious alternatives to any of the usual Christmas foods. Let’s go…
  2. Make your breakfast as carb-free as possible: you’ll possibly be indulging later, so get off to the best start. Keeping your blood sugars level at breakfast time means you’ll maintain your energy, focus and enjoyment of the rest of your day. Some of the most luxurious breakfast choices fit into this very well: think smoked salmon; scrambled eggs; poached eggs on a bed of spinach with a dollop of Hollandaise on top; kippers; a middle eastern breakfast of feta, hummus, olives, cold meats… You’ve a lot of choice to go at!
  3. Keep bread off your table – even if you’re having a soup starter. Let’s face it, bread has no place in fine dining (ask Giles Coren, food critic, who says “Lay off the bread. Bread is not a first course, it…will ruin your whole damn meal. And make you fat.” Same goes for that Yorkshire pudding by the way!
  4. There’s nothing much to argue about where a good old roast is concerned – except perhaps the amount of starchy root vegetables that find their way to your plate. Those starches will turn to sugar and your blood glucose levels will be affected! Swap out potatoes for sweet potatoes – superb roasted! Then limit carrots, parsnips and beets to just one or two pieces. rebal-ball-2016-38Go mad for the Brussels sprouts though! Cauliflower, broccoli, peas, mangetout all have a place on your festive plate. And spiced braised red cabbage – oh yum!! Just find a recipe that doesn’t call for sugar – or simply miss it out – it isn’t necessary for health or the taste of the dish. Sign up for my latest newsletter to see my favourite festive red cabbage recipe! I served turkey in this way (above) at The Blue Ball in November – it went down a treat. One of the guests rang later to say how great he felt – not sluggish or sleepy the way he normally does after a roast – lively and up for a spot of dad-dancing to boot!!
  5. OK now, pud. There is a ton of natural sugar in anything made with dried fruits, so puddefinitely choose one – or make your own – without added sugar. They’re well worth hunting out, and, again, you won’t be compromising on flavour! The same goes for Christmas cake. Sign up for my latest newsletter to see my no-added-sugar celebration cake recipe!
  6. Serve your (small piece of) pud with cream. Make it a good quality organic cream. Pouring, whipped or clotted according to your personal preference. There’s no added sugar in pure cream, so it makes a better choice compared with a sugary brandy, rum or custard sauce! For the even better option try it with a full-fat no-added-sugar organic natural yoghurt: the sharpness of the yoghurt beautifully compliments the richness of the pudding. If Christmas cake is your chosen treat a small piece of my no-added-sugar celebration cake (see above) with a piece of traditional Wensleydale cheese is the way we do it in Yorkshire!
  7. Get out!! Christmas happens outdoors too! Research has shown that going for a walk after a meal is beneficial. It helps to regulate blood sugars – by burning off some of that free glucose now roaming around your blood stream – and promotes weight loss. All good then! Make a breath of fresh air a part of your day – you’ll find kids out on their new bicycles, scooters, skateboards, skates; people walking their dogs. Maybe that could be you? 30 minutes steady or brisk walking will set you up for the rest of the day – you’ll be awake, alert, full of life for more fun and games.
  8. It’s snack time? Hmmm. Sounds like the opportunity for a carb-fest, but it doesn’t have to be. Choose nuts. Good healthy fats and plenty of protein. A handful of nuts a day has been shown to benefit blood sugar levels and be a good choice for people affected by diabetes. Why not get the ones with shells? Volunteer to be the person in charge of the nutcrackers – you’ll be nibbling rather than scoffing! 
  9. What about the chocolates? We both know you are not expecting me to give you a green light here! Unless you are into 100% chocolate of course! But assuming you are not, then find a way to keep it to just one or two. Instead of the big box of cheap choccies, why not buy a small box of something really expensive and luxurious? You’ll see every single chocolate as a treat in itself. Last year my lovely hubby bought me some amazing truffles – just 9 in a box. He couldn’t resist telling me the price! At over £2 per. truffle I savoured each and every one: just 9 chocolates lasted 4 days!
  10. Alcohol? Ditto! No authentic green light here either. Sip don’t guzzle. Wine and soda for a longer lasting smaller measure? A nip of something special rather than a bottle of something cheap? Alcohol is especially dehydrating so be sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Hydration is especially important to anyone living with diabetes, as you will already be at increased risk of dehydration as your kidneys may be working overtime to pee out excess glucose today.

You’re special, and you can make your Christmas extra special. Try something a little different and see just how well you can feel this year – and how much more that sense of well-being enhances your day!


But aren’t they natural sugars?

Mince pies? Christmas cake? Christmas pudding? Tis the season to be jolly – and of dried fruits!

And fruit is healthy, right?

So if you find some of these lovely seasonal foods with no added sugar, it necessarily follows they are, if not actually good for you, OK at least doesn’t it?

Sadly it doesn’t necessarily follow.

There is ongoing debate about fructose – the sugar naturally occurring in fruit.  We know now that fructose is processed differently in the body compared with other sugars. Almost ALL the fructose we eat ends up being stored directly as body fat. Belly fat. The kind that settles in and around the internal organs. Visceral fat. Linked with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, strokes etc.

If you want the scientific explanation – here it is.

The issue with these Christmas delicacies, is that, even without added sugars, they contain whopping amounts of fructose because it’s so concentrated in dried fruits compared to fresh fruits. One small portion of Christmas pudding might deliver 50 or more grams of sugar. Add to that the sugar in a mince pie or two, a piece of Christmas cake at tea time, nibbling on the occasional seasonal date, and you might be racking up a considerable amount of sugar – just from naturally occurring fructose found in dried fruits.

All things in moderation, so they say. When it comes to Christmas fayre the crux is knowing how little actually constitutes moderation.

I wish you the happiest festive season, but most of all good health!

Elaine x




Christmas with diabetes – make it easy part 4!

Party food can sometimes be a carbohydrate feast can’t it? It can be the hardest thing to negotiate for anyone living with diabetes. How many times have you been faced with an unimaginative ‘beige buffet’, left wondering how on earth you’ll deal with your blood sugars?

But getting creative with party food can be as much fun as it is a challenge! This can be your chance to really shine – not just for the diabetics in your social circle, but for the benefit of everyone else too. You don’t have to be diabetic to be left feeling bloated, sluggish, lethargic and exhausted after the usual bread and pastry party fayre.

party food choicesTry these ideas out for size: (and let me know what you think to them!)

  • Tomato and Basil Espresso (tiny tiny chilled soups)
  • Mature Cheddar Cheese, Pineapple and Grape Skewers
  • Cherry Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella in Pesto Shots
  • Watermelon and Goat Cheese Skewers
  • Parma Ham, Melon and Strawberry Skewers
  • Smoked Duck, Rocket and Orange Rolls
  • Garlic, Chilli and Coriander Sautéed King Prawns
  • Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Dill Terrine
  • Hummus / avocado dip / tomato salsa & raw vegetable crudites
  • Devilled eggs
  • Devils on horseback (prunes or dates stuffed with cheese or almonds and wrapped in bacon)
  • Angels on horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon)
  • Cheese and herb stuffed mushrooms
  • A selection of olives and antipasti

So be the host with the most or hostess with the most-est this year, and have the healthiest, most creative party food for miles around!


Christmas with diabetes – make it easy part 3!

How will you start your Christmas morning? Do you treat yourself to anything really special for the first meal of your day?

It’s worth thinking about – because it will set the tone for whether you will find yourself indulging in the inevitable nibbles, or whether you will be able to stave off cravings and resist temptation. The reality, as we’ve seen, is that your main Christmas meal isn’t the problem when thinking about blood sugar control. The problem often lies in the things you might pick at between meals – because these can really make for a carb-fest!

You can guard yourself against that with the right breakfast – one that is rich in proteins, which will keep you satisfied right up until your main Christmas meal. This is another opportunity to really spoil yourself too – make your breakfast a special meal too!

Here are some of my personal favourites:

breakfast 1 Smoked salmon with scrambled egg, and a little fresh dill




kippersKippers or smoked haddock topped with a soft poached egg






breakfast 2Eggs Florentine – soft poached eggs on a bed of lightly steamed spinach, topped with a dollop of Hollandaise sauce




breakfastNatural yoghurt with mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are my favourite) and mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, hemp seeds)



Get your Christmas Day off to the healthiest and tastiest start!

Christmas with diabetes – make it easy part 2!

Last week we looked at the Christmas lunch main course. OK – so what about the rest of the meal, and especially the pudding?!

Let’s start with the starters – because this is easy. There is an endless choice of low-carb starters that push all the right blood-sugar balance buttons:

Soup anyone? There is nothing more adaptable for a diabetes-friendly meal than a good soup. If this is a soup to complement a roast dinner then let’s avoid the starchy vegetable varieties – as you’ll be getting your share of starchy (and therefore glucose-forming) vegetables as part of your main course – think the carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes here. So make your soup something without the starches. One of my favourite festive soups is mushroom and walnut. Or how about french onion with melted cheese? Or roasted red pepper soup? Delicious! But steer clear of the bread roll!

If you need any motivation to avoid the bread, then take Giles Coren’s line here. Bread was never intended to be a part of fine dining. It’s original purpose was to fill the bellies of hungry peasants who couldn’t afford better food. So maybe this year it has no place at your lavish Christmas table?

Not a soup person? Nor me really – I find soup too filling as a starter. I’m more for a baked camembert or brie – great with some fresh, sharp seasonal cranberries and a chicory garnish; or garlic mushrooms; or a small Caesar or Waldorf salad.
But I am a Christmas pud fan! There really is no such thing as a truly sugar-free Christmas pudding – how can there be when it’s packed full of dried fruits bursting with natural sugars? But the last thing your pudding needs is any added sugar – why would it? There’s a great recipe, courtesy of Nigella, I would like to share – click here – you’ll find others too I am sure. But if making your own is out of the question, it is perfectly possible to find a good artisan no added-sugar pudding to buy. Take a look at this one. Combine it with cream to slow down the rate at which those sugars find their way into your blood stream!

And enjoy! Just a little piece will do!

Christmas with diabetes – make it easy part 1!

It was a very frosty start in my part of the world this morning – winter is definitely happening. Then it dawned on me that 4 weeks from today we’ll be in the last throws of Christmas panics – Christmas Eve!

Don’t grumble at me for saying the ‘Christmas’ word before December gets underway! The essence of staying on track is be well-prepared and to have a plan! So that’s just 4 blogs to help you plan the best festive food ever – food that will help rather than hinder your blood sugar balance!

Let’s start today with the main event: the Christmas lunch – main course!

This is the easiest meal to get right for anyone with diabetes. For blood sugar control, there is nothing wrong with delicious roast meats and plenty of fresh winter vegetables; or if, like me, you’re vegetarian a luxurious nut roast! Just lots of quality proteins and nutritious veggies – packed with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants – it doesn’t get any better than this!

Just beware the potatoes! Keep your portion size in check. Yes they taste good, but see them as little blocks of carbohydrate waiting to explode into glucose the minute they hit your digestive system! Why not try sweet potato instead – less carby, and packed with so many more nutrients than a normal potato?

Avoid the shop-bought processed trimmings too!

Forget the sugar-fest that is manufactured cranberry sauce. Instead get fresh cranberries a little before the day, and pop them into your freezer or ice-box (mine are already in there!). Just a few minutes before you are due to serve up your meal, spread them out, still frozen, onto a baking tray and pop into a hot oven. The berries will burst to release a lovely sharp juice that is the perfect accompaniment to the rich roast flavours.

Instead of chestnut stuffing (full of bread) how about a few freshly roasted whole chestnuts? Great proteins, the best types of fat and low-carb. Full of flavour. Perfect!

Swap the bread sauce for a home made white sauce – try the roux method of making it – that’s just 25-30g flour between everyone around the table! Make it with full-fat milk too!

Use sprigs of fresh rosemary for an added seasonal flavour!

My mouth is watering already!