Alternatives to mince pie temptation!

It’s almost mid-December and many of us are now on the count down to Christmas, with mince pies popping up to tempt us all over the place! It’s lovely to indulge in these treats at Christmas, but also easy to end up on a diet full of fat, sugar and alcohol! Not the way to feel your best, or look your best at Christmas parties! It’s worth trying to pop some extra veg into your meals if you can, to get a boost of vitamins and goodness, in amongst the treats.

One way to do this is to add more veg into dishes you’re already making. Fish or shepherd’s pie for example. I made a big fish pie last night and there was more veg in it than fish! I added in curly kale, spinach, peas and plenty of shredded cabbage. Not only do these add plenty of fibre (to help digestion), but also vitamin A (needed for bone growth, reproduction, and skin health), folate (important for conception and energy release), thiamin (important for growth and development), vitamin C (you probably know about that one already – it is essential in collagen formation , wound healing and is also an antioxidant helping to protect against infection), vitamin K (helps in blood clotting)!

Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are also full of essential fatty acids – essential because we can’t produce them in the body naturally so we have to eat them, and because they’re necessary for all sorts of important things – particularly growth and development. More on these essential fatty acids another time!

Back to the veggies! I’m a big fan of sticking them in in extra quantities into existing meals – I add spinach to scrambled eggs (more folate and iron) on toast, courgettes, carrots and more spinach to bolognnaise or shepherd’s pie (as well as plenty of chopped tomatoes and a good spoonful of cinnamon) and even beetroot into brownies! It gives a lovely moistness and squishiness. Most meals can have more veggies added to them, either obviously, or you can sneak them in if you’re also feeding fussy eaters.

It really is worth keeping up your veg intake, not just to help you look good throughout the party season, but also to feel less bloated by all the sugar, fat and alcohol on offer. Although ‘5 a day’ is the officially recommended number of fruit and veg a day in the UK, your body will thank you for eating a lot more – especially veggies. On top of this, there is also lots of evidence now that diets rich in fruit and vegetables are associated with reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases associated with ageing*. So it’s worth sticking them in when you can…


*Dietary supplements and functional foods, by Webb, 2011; and Food Standards Agency (FSA)