Any and all yoga poses while lying on our stomachs were strictly off-limits Sunday night!
- It was our Christmas party open house stuffed with festive appetizers, tables of decadent home-baked desserts, and rooms overflowing with family and friends and friends of friends. We have been hosting the party for years but as my lifestyle has evolved, the menu has been revamped a little too. There is now a designated “Suzanne’s section” on the savoury table which was enjoyed by all! I was even visited by one guest at work on Monday in search of the gluten-free crackers and creamy cranberry orange nut-based “cheeses” that were served. You can bet I was all too happy to stock up her grocery bag!
To navigate this season’s festive Christmas buffet tables abundant with cheeses, breads and cakes is no small feat, but it gets a little easier as a hostess when you have control over what’s served. For all of the upcoming parties you are hosting this season, these are some tips to make it festively healthy and equally indulgent. We want our guests to eat well and leave feeling amazing!
- Cheese is one of our biggest culprits for post dinner bloat, indigestion and lethargy. It is particularly difficult to digest when paired with the concentrated starches of bread which utilizes different enzymes and acidic environments in the stomach than does the animal protein of cheese.
- I set out a selection of nut based cheeses created from a blend of creamy cashews, herbs and spices. These came in a pub style cheese with turmeric, a herb and garlic “cream cheese” and the favourite flavour of festive cranberry orange.
- You can make your own but I used the ones from Boo Moo nut cheese company found at our local health food store, The Peanut Mill. With no preservatives, they are fresh, light, whole food based, soy-free and decadently creamy!
Veggies & Dip
- These fibre rich snacks are staples at our party tables. This year’s veggie platter showcased cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, classic carrots and celery sticks.
- Eat the vegetables first to gain their beneficial enzymes to help digest the rest of your meal with fibre to help fill you up on nutrient dense food. Aim for 50% of your plate to be vegetable based at all times. But not so fast! The health benefits of veggies can instantly be compromised with what we dip them into…
What I served:
- Babaghanouj (roasted eggplant dip) and a red lentil hummus with roasted red peppers and basil pesto. Both were based with tahini (ground sesame seeds) instead of sour cream and were free of artificial preservatives, colours or flavours.
Holistic Life Hacks: look to the ingredient labels first. Aim for fewer ingredients with the most recognizable, whole food ingredients you can find.
Breads & Crackers
What I served:
- We arranged a platter of thinly sliced chia baguettes (preservative free), small pieces of poppy-seed bagels, Mary’s seed crackers and rice crackers. All gluten-free, dairy free and soy free. Though breads are more of a gamble, your guests will hardly know that you are serving gluten-free crackers and will feel infinately better for it.
What I served:
- To satisfy our desire for something crunchy without the oily, fried and processed chips? Trail mix! This one is so festive looking, the moment I saw it in our store I knew it would have to adorn our dinning table. (That is, once I took a closer look and discovered it was food and not a pretty potpourri.)
- This one has zero added salt, sugar or preservatives (except for a little dark chocolate) and is made with chunky coconut flakes, crunchy raw almonds, green pepitas (pumpkin seeds), red gogi berries and those little chocolate chips for a little sweetness.
- All fats in this snack are raw (not fried or baked) to preserve their beneficial properties and are not oxidized so long as they are stored in the freezer.
As you can imagine, our kitchen has been a whirlwind of nuts and coconut, peppermint and chocolate. We’ve had cakes in the garage, freezers overflowing with truffles and a cold cellar with tins of shortbread and cookies, fruit cake and peppermint patties.
I have never had too much of a sweet tooth, though I do love a treat now and again, but I did make a dessert! Can you guess which one? It features raw cacao packed with minerals and antioxidants, coconut for blood sugar stabalizing fats (to counteract the sweets), and festive dried cranberries. As my mother put it: “These are amazing and there is nothing in them!” If I wasn’t able to make this as dessert for a function, I don’t know what I’d do!
What I served:
- Raw cranberry chocolate macaroons made “double chocolate” as I accidentally dumped in extra cacao. But really, could there ever be too much chocolate? 😉
What I served:
- Kombuchas instead of pop. These are naturally fizzy fermented teas that, when flavoured in the second fermentation process, resemble the taste of pop. Yet most are virtually sugar free, are a natural source of whole-food probiotics for gut health and come in a variety of flavours. I had the GT grape flavour as the daring pairing to my white party dress.
- For my grandmother, I bought a case of Zevia, the stevia sweetened cola that she loves and is a much healthier alternative to regular colas with zero artificial caramel colouring.
- Note: though decaffeinated Colas are often worse for us than the standard colas (due to the process used to extract the caffeine), Zevia colas are naturally uncaffeinated, and the caffeine has to be added into the caffeinated version making the decaf version the best choice!
- I had frozen a jug of 100% pure, raw, unpasteurized apple cider from my grandparents’ apple trees and thawed it to serve at the party.
The best part about co-hosting is not in having control over what I eat, but in giving our guests all of the healthy and delicious options they could possibly desire! While enjoying cheeses and cakes and other goodies, they were also savouring nut cheeses, vegetable platters and raw macaroons. And who knows, your guests may leave so energised, you might just be joined in that late night yoga class (minus the backbends)!
With a “taste” of our festive feasts,