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Try these festive chocolate orange bites

Niamh Hennessy
Lead Dietitian, Cromwell Hospital
02 December 2021
Next review due December 2024

Christmas is a busy time. There can be lots to prepare for with shopping, baking, and decorating to do ahead of the big day. You might have several parties and events to go to. Not to mention tying up all those loose ends at work for the year.

You might find it helpful to have some healthy snacks to hand to keep you going through those busy, festive days. Here I’ll share my top tips to help you snack healthily at Christmas time – plus a simple recipe for chocolate orange bites.

Three tips for healthy snacking

1) Choose well balanced options

When making or buying your snacks, aim to pick a good variety of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrain bread or rice, raise your blood sugar more slowly than refined carbohydrates, such as white bread. So choose wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat crackers or breadsticks, where possible.

Food that are high in protein such as boiled eggs and Greek yoghurt can help to keep you fuller for longer. This may make you less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks.

You could also try smoked salmon on cucumber or a handful of walnuts with half a pear. Salmon and walnuts are a source of omega-3, an essential fatty acid which is important for your heart health.

2) Enjoy seasonal specialities

At this time of year, there’s lots of fresh, seasonal fruits such as oranges and cranberries to choose from. Try dipping satsuma or clementine pieces in a little melted dark chocolate for a special festive snack. Roasted chestnuts also make a tasty snack and are a source of fibre.

3) Go savoury

Try roasting some cashews or peanuts in the oven with a small amount of reduced-salt soy sauce and some chilli flakes for a healthier alternative to crisps. You could also have some ready prepared, crunchy veg sticks to dip into hummus or homemade guacamole.

Recipe: Chocolate orange bites

This is an easy recipe which can be put together in a matter of minutes. And if you have children, they’ll enjoy rolling the balls, making it a fun and festive family activity.

These little bites balance complex carbohydrates with protein, whilst also including the flavours of Christmas.

You will need:
  • A blender or food processor
  • A large bowl
  • A spatula or spoon

 

Ingredients:
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of your favourite sugar-free nut butter
  • 50g of rolled oats
  • 100g medjool dates – stones removed
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • 4 tablespoons of pure cocoa powder

 

Makes:

About 16-20 balls (depending on how big you make them)

Method.
  • Add each ingredient one at a time to your blender or food processer.
  • Blitz or blend your ingredients at medium to full power for around a minute. You may need to stop and stir your ingredients before blending again. You want to make sure everything is well blended and ‘crumbly. (If you’re using a blender rather than a food processer, you may need to add a splash of water to help everything mix together.)
  • Once mixed, pour the contents of your blender or food processor into a bowl.
  • Roll the mixture into small balls with your hands until they feel firm and held together.
  • Transfer to the fridge to chill for around 30 minutes before eating.

 

They should last for around a week stored in a container in the fridge.


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Niamh Hennessy
Niamh Hennessy
Lead Dietitian, Cromwell Hospital

    • Healthy Eating factsheet. British Dietetic Association. www.bda.uk.com, accessed 2 December 2021
    • Simple carbs vs complex carbs. Diabetes UK, www.diabetes.co.uk, published January 2019
    • Healthy eating factsheet. British Dietetics Association. www.bda.uk.com, published January, 2021
    • R.Batterham et al. Critical role for peptide YY in protein mediated satiation and body weight regulation. Cell Metabolism 2006; 4(3):223-233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2006.08.001
    • Omega 3. British Dietetic Association. www.bda.uk.com, published July, 2020
    • Seasonal fruit and veg guide. British Dietetic Association. www.bda.uk.com, accessed 2 December, 2021
    • Chesnut Nutritional information. Sainsburys. www.sainsburys.co.uk, accessed 1 December, 2021
    • Nutrition claims. Europa. www.europa.eu, accessed 1 December 2021

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