Wednesday, July 15, 2020

With or without the trimmings?

Christmas is the time of overindulgence, but it doesn’t have to be. Lincolnshire Today shares some canny tricks and tips to cutting down.

Few among us will deny that Christmas is a period of excess. Considering the parameters of festive celebrations are set wider every year, with decorations, discounts and revelries beginning even before the end of October, we’re encouraged to over-indulge for months at a time. If it wasn’t for the grey austerity of January and feeling beholden to our New Year’s resolutions, why we might never stop.

Indulgence lingers at every turn this time of the year, from the gluttonous size of the Christmas dinner, to the chocolates, sweets and other goodies always within arm’s reach. Foodie presents on the big day are commonplace and so there’s even more temptation in the way – after all, you don’t want to seem ungrateful. But the idea that everything needs to be eaten straight away is a false economy and a pathway to a variety of health complaints. At best, you’ll just need an antacid, but the longer and more systemically one stuffs their face, the harder it is to get back into the groove of diet and exercise. Rather than preaching with the whip and decrying all indulgence this Christmas, we’re instead offering a selection of simple tips to help you curb your gluttonous instincts without going all bah humbug.

One of the biggest pitfalls isn’t during Christmas but after, when the decorations are coming down, the kids are back at school and the dreariness of another January settles in. More often than not, there’ll still be plenty of sugary goodies and salty snacks around the house. If they’re in sight, they can be reached for without much thought. Worse is the obligation that they have to be eaten. Instead, all those chocolates can be put into a tub or bag and popped into the freezer. It’s amazing just how quickly you can forget about sweets when they’re not in plain sight. This way they can be enjoyed a few at a time either straight from the freezer or left on the side to defrost. Frozen After Eights are a particular delight.

Credit: Brian Chase

Leftovers are another bounty that shouldn’t go to waste or eaten for the sake of it. Turkey meat can be turned into a treasure trove of new meals from a post-Christmas curry to a hearty stew. The carcass can be broken down and simmered with some veggies and aromatics to produce a deep and healing stock. For a light a nourishing meal, use this stock as a base broth and add ginger, garlic, coriander, lime and chilli with some noodles and just a dash of soy sauce.

Any leftover gammon, meanwhile, makes delicious pies and soups, or put under the grill as part of a breakfast with mushrooms, tomatoes and eggs. No doubt there’ll be plenty of cheeses hanging around, most of which can be easily frozen. To make life even easier, grate them before freezing, that way all you need to do is tip them straight into whatever you’re cooking or serving. Everything else from the Christmas dinner, including roasties and vegetables, can be whipped up into bubble and squeak. Sure, it’s old fashioned, but paired with an egg and some of those chutneys that you almost certainly wouldn’t finish otherwise, and it’s an absolute delight.

For any food that’s still unopened, consider donating it to a food bank. January is a hard month for many following the big Christmas blow-out, but, unfortunately, there are many who struggle to even afford food. It’s a sad fact of life in modern Britain that so many have come to rely on food banks, but everyone deserves to eat, so consider donating. For confectionery and crisps that aren’t exactly the most wholesome or nutritious food to donate, consider putting them in the top of a wardrobe, in the garage or loft. Often, they have long shelf lives and can be saved for the next celebration, be that a birthday or even Easter. Just because you have tasty treats in the house, doesn’t mean they all need to be eaten straight away.

Credit: Marbury

Even with people reducing alcohol consumption and quality low- and no-alcohol options on the rise, most of us still drink too much especially at this time of year. As with may other products we’ve already touched on, wine can be frozen. Any open bottles can be poured into sandwich bags or jars and popped in the freezer ready to be used in a recipe as and when they’re needed. Just make sure to leave enough air space if you’re using glass gars, as liquids expand when they’re frozen. Unopened bottles can be store away while you take part in dry January. Your budget will thank you, of course, but the real benefit is on physical and mental health. If you’ve yet to give this initiative a try, then make 2020 the year you start.

When it comes to fitting in the exercise over the holiday period, try and be realistic. Most people won’t be bothering with a 5k run on Christmas eve, but the important thing to remember is that every little counts. A walk after dinner is better than nothing and has the added benefit of allowing you to spend more quality time with loved ones. If any family members have received exercise equipment or bikes, don’t tarry on getting started; use the free time as an excuse to get a move on.

Looking ahead, it’s important to set realistic goals for your New Year’s resolutions. This year, you might want to do away with this tradition altogether and simply focus on making small cumulative health changes. It’s never too early or late to make changes.

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