Christmas is a wonderful time to sit down with loved ones to enjoy delicious foods and drinks. It may also be a time for unwanted extra kilos, bloating, mood swings, sugar spikes and unbalanced hormones. With our hormone balancing Christmas recipes, some planning, mindful eating and keeping moderation in mind, we can have the jolliest time of the year without any unpleasant side effects. It is the festive season after all and you have worked very hard to have a healthy and happy Christmas!
The gut has a bigger impact on your hormone health than you may realise, and keeping it balanced is vital. This means being conscious of what you consume so that you avoid disrupting the delicate equilibrium of the gut microbiome. This is a collection of microorganisms that has a range of functions. It:
- Supports the synthesis and regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters (the body’s chemical messengers)
- Facilitates absorption of macro and micronutrients
- Has an essential role in the immune system, which protects you against disease
- Contributes to regulation of estrogen levels in the body
There are many elements of a human diet that can affect the gut microbiome positively or negatively. However, in order to maintain general balance, one should aim for a low GI (glycaemic index) diet consisting of a range of fruit, vegetables and fibre. These food groups are part of a ‘rainbow plate’, which can encourage microbial diversity, increasing your gut health and contributing to better hormone health.
The Menu By Tiina Lemmik
Our Christmas recipes will help to balance your hormones this festive season.
A pate is the perfect hors d’oeuvre before a Christmas meal, served with low-salt crackers or fresh vegetables to dip into the mix. Artichoke, a species of sunflower, is an excellent vegetable for lowering blood sugar levels, as well as improving digestion and maintaining liver health – ideal if you’re also planning to sip on your favourite drink during the holidays.
Avocado With Prawns & Caviar
A refreshing starter to eat before your festive main course, this avocado entrée is packed full of vitamins and minerals that are crucial for hormone balancing, such as magnesium and potassium. Plus, avocado contains beneficial fats that help you feel fuller between meals, as well as blocking estrogen absorption which helps with reducing menopausal symptoms.
Lentil & Veggie Terrine (scroll down for recipe)
This terrine is ideal for many different dietary requirements, but especially for vegetarians as an alternative to the meat part of your Christmas dinner. It contains garlic, which enhances protein synthesis; flaxseed, which combats estrogen dominance; walnuts,which are an excellent source of phytoestrogens as well as melatonins (aids better sleep) and serotonin (boosts mood); and lentils, also a great source of phytoestrogens. This main course works well with refreshing, green sides to add a range of nutrients to your meal.
Fennel & Orange Salad
Brighten up your Christmas meal with this tangy, colourful side dish sure to impress. Not only do oranges help with secretion of hormones from our glands, studies have shown that fennel may also provide some relief to menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness and poor sleep. Regardless, it tastes delicious and you’ll feel refreshed having eaten it!
Brussel’s Sprouts With Pomegranate Seeds
Is it Christmas without Brussel’s sprouts on the table? These magnificent ‘mini tender cabbages’ don’t have to be bitter or boring. Cook them well and pair them with ingredients like pomegranate seeds to both sweeten and brighten up the dish. Sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable and contain lots of antioxidants, which help with hormone balancing.
Spinach With Onions & Pine Nuts
Spinach is a superfood that contains phytoecdysteroids, a chemical which can help build muscle mass and strength. Meanwhile, a splash of lemon juice (containing vitamin C) helps to increase the absorption of plant-based non-heme iron, as the iron from plant sources is not as bioavailable to humans in comparison to iron from animal sources (heme iron).
Lentil & Veggie Terrine Recipe
Makes: 4 portions
Takes: 2 hours
- 90g walnuts
- 310g tin lentils
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery, finely chopped (use the rest of the celery to dip into your artichoke pate)
- 1 carrot, finely grated
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 very small apple, grated
- 25g dried cranberries
- 1.5 tbsp freshly ground flaxseeds
- 125g breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried
- 2 tsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
2. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, checking and shaking occasionally. Once ready and cooled, chop them coarsely.
3. Rinse and drain lentils in a sieve. Tip ⅔ them into a food processor and process slightly, leaving about ⅓ whole.
4. Heat the oil (leave some for brushing onto the terrine before baking) in a heavy-based pan and sauté the onions with a tiny bit of salt for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the celery and carrot and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the apple, cranberries, thyme and oregano. Season with more salt and pepper and heat for another minute or two.
5. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the lentils, nuts, flaxseeds and crumbs. Mix everything using hands (the easiest). Check seasoning and adjust if needed.
6. Line a loaf pan with baking paper (bottom and sides). Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan and press down. Brush with some olive oil.
7. Increase the oven temperature to 180C and bake the terrine for one hour until the sides are starting to brown.
8. Take the tin out of the oven and leave for 15 minutes. Lift out of the tin and onto a chopping board, cut and serve. Some cranberry sauce would go very well with this dish, if you happen to have some.