We wish you a healthy Christmas…

Apparently, it's Christmas...

OK, so the starting gun is about to go and your little lovelies are about to disappear into a haze of chips, lollies, chocolates, cakes and all the other sugar and fat laden rubbish that graces our tables at Christmas.

The Vegie Smugglers policy on food crap is that everything is good in moderation. I never actively deprive my children of party food, especially since they eat really well about 85% of the time. The Christmas festival, however, starts to get a bit out of hand as you attend event after event after event where party food is the standard fare.

So how to combat it? Well at other people’s houses, it’s REALLY hard. When the kids are toddlers, it’s totally acceptable to turn up at people’s places with a lunchbox packed for them. Surely your host will be silently commending your responsible parenting rather than thinking that you’re a bit uptight. If your kids are older, you can have a pep-talk in the car and remind them of all the healthy living conversations that you’ve (hopefully) been having throughout the year. Of course after much serious nodding and agreement, they will generally launch into the party and make a beeline for the buffet where a chip, marshmallow and tomato sauce sandwich will probably be the winner of the day. Breathe deeply. Remember, everything in moderation.

So elsewhere it may be a bit of a lost cause, but when you’re contributing or hosting a function there are HEAPS of healthy options that can lure the kids away from crap for a few hours….

FRUIT

Hallelujah, Australia in the summer time is a heavenly place to be. Load up fruit platters and let the kids start there. Cherries, watermelon, lychees, peaches. All delicious and ‘special’ enough to keep everyone satisfied.

beetroot tzatziki dip recipe

Beetroot tzatziki

HEALTHY DIPS

Try this beetroot tzatziki from Vegie Smugglers 1. There’s a classic tzatziki recipe in the Term 4 planner. Here’s another great beetroot dip option. Or make homous. Or just a bit of cottage cheese and sun-dried tomato blitzed together. There are heaps of options for healthy dips. If you buy from the shops, take a moment to check the fat per 100g on the nutrition panel. You will be shocked to see how high most of them are. Of course, you can improve the situation by using raw vegies as dippers. Chopped carrot, beans, celery and cucumber are all perfect. You can cut a huge amount of these a couple of days before (store the celery in water) and it will be just as convenient as opening a packet of biscuits.

Vegetables hidden in these traffic light swirls.

Crowd pleaser, traffic light swirls

OTHER SNACK IDEAS

Try these traffic light swirls. Or these beef triangles. The pastry makes things fun and festive, but there are a few vegies to actually ingest here too. Simple rice paper rolls are easy and can be made ahead and do try out my sushi slice.

Older kids can eat unsalted nuts. Pistachios and peanuts in the shell are fun to crack open and the act of shelling slows down the eating. Much better than a bowl that they can just grab handfuls from.

Other easy to prepare things to munch on are cherry tomatoes, baby bocconcini and cubed cheese. Revert back to the 70s and pop everything on sticks. INSTANT FUN.

Make popcorn (the store-bought stuff is usually really high in fat) and if you are offering chips, give each kid one of the small packs, which lets them know when their share has finished. Again, they’ll eat much less than when there’s just a bowl that they can help themselves to.

DRINKS

Sometimes I will give Miss F one small glass of lemonade. Mr M&P doesn’t like anything fizzy and will stick to an apple juice popper. Leaving my ‘everything in moderation’ mantra for a moment, I just can’t see any good reason to let kids under 10 drink glasses of Coke, ever. The caffeine is terrible for them.

THE MAIN EVENT

While there’s little chance that they’ll want to sit down and eat anything much after a few hours of running around grazing, do make sure you set them a place and serve them a meal with a bit of everything to try. Give them a bon bon with a crazy hat. You never know, a festive occasion full of adults might just be the peer pressure they need to discover the joys of lettuce/roast pumpkin/turkey etc etc. Most things dolloped with gravy get the thumbs up from my kids, especially when eaten in the company of their extended family.

home made ice blocks to smuggle fruit

Yay! Summer on a stick.

PUDDING

And for sweets? Well, I’m not restricting myself and I won’t restrict the kids much either. Just keep the portion size reasonable and you’ll be sweet. If they don’t like any of the traditional Christmas treats, then revert back to fruit and some home-made ice blocks. Again, avoid having a bowl of self-serve chocolates. Maybe give each of them a chocolate coin or something similarly special.

And after all of that, I think everyone will be off for a good lie down.

So that’s my initial ideas list, but I’m sure my clever readers will have a bunch of fantastic suggestions too…

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ant said,

    With older kids I sometimes organise a cherry or watermelon seed spitting competition. The joy of being allowed to spit distracts from the fact they are filling up on fruit and leaving less room for junk….

    I agree with your comment that putting food on a stick somehow makes it more exciting!

    Instead of soft drinks, I sometimes have a jug of mango smoothie in the fridge, which again fills them up. Otherwise juice with a dash of soda water can be nice. The hardest thing is trying to be ‘good’ about my own eating, and ‘walking the talk’!

    • 2

      wendyblume said,

      Watermelon spitting is a great idea. and yes, walking the talk is a challenge for me too. We have our big family dinner on Christmas eve and I usually have a wee bit of a hangover coinciding with the excitement of Santa’s visit. Not a good combination!

  2. 3

    I made up a big batch of orange cordial a few weeks ago, it was really easy, juice as many oranges as you have, then add 3/4 the amount of sugar syrup which is 1 part water to one part sugar. Then to drink dilute it 1 part cordial to two to 4 parts water, depending on how much flavour your oranges had. Yes, it does have a bit of sugar, but you know there are no artificial colour, flavours or preservatives, it also tastes so much nicer. If they really want the bubbles it is nice mixed with soda or mineral water too. It is only meant to keep for a week, but ours was god for a bit longer than that, which is good because I made up a bit more than i had intended.

    I am going to have to try these traffic lights, they look lovely. I remember when I was little at birthday parties the hedgehogs made with cheese, cherry tomatoes and cabana on stick stuck in to orange halves. They were good.

    Haha, love the seed spitting idea! I think i might try your sushi slice this week as a trial run. It looks lovely and the littlies have liked sushi in the past.

  3. 4

    Summer ice lollies are standard fare at our place. A fav with the kids is pineapple and coconut cream blended smooth and then frozen on a stick. You do need a lot of pineapple to make it sweeter, which is good coz mister four doesn’t normally touch the stuff!


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