Preparing a healthy meal this Christmas

By Kamara Daniel

Christmas is a large festive season celebrated by thousands of people globally and as people converge together for days weeks and stay together, this means animals will be killed, matooke will cooked and so much more of different diversity are prepared to fully enjoy and celebrate the festival season.

Therefore different cooking methods are employed to bring out spiced and appealing foods that may be essential to meet their health needs and well-being.

However for individuals and families to benefit from the nutritional value of foods, and drinks and prevent themselves from common illnesses at Christmas, it’s very important to observe key aspects while preparing, handling, storing, serving and eating food.

Key points to note.

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  • Hand hygiene every minute should be ensured at all points.
  • Food must be stored in a cool dry place 
  • Food served must be eaten and completed, especially vegetables and fruits
  • Don’t wash chicken products 
  • Always remember to prepare food covered properly
  • Leftover foods should be re-warmed first before re-serving again if possible, discard them.
  • People with flue cough or common cold should not prepare food for the rest.
  • Observe a healthy eating plate that’s half a plate covered by fruits and vegetables, ¼ proteins and ¼ carbohydrates.
  • Eating 3 hours before bedtime allows your body to exercise, through jogging, walking, simple house chores, playing with children and having enough sex.

Let’s look at Common foods prepared on Christmas.

A. Local dishes; These are local organic dishes that must be prepared using the local methods that are so nutrient-composed and can secure our intake and prevent excess fats and unnecessary storage.

Most local dishes are; Carbohydrates; rice, matoke, yams, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, Karo, Posho and wheat. 

Most of the above foods are best prepared by steaming, boiling to preserve their nutrients.

Refrain from deep frying of irishes, Yams and other food stuff, to avoid the addition of cooking oil that is not healthy to the heart and also taking of healthy fat sources like ovacado adding them to the foods above would be so appealing and and more value to the body.

Some other local dishes require old methods of preparation such Karo, this will be the most served since most elderly persons and mature people like it, this is mingling of using boiled water,cassava,sorghum and millet flour to make it, rich in iron and carbohydrates.

Other carbohydrates need boiling and steaming, refrain from the modern methods of cooking that deprive the nutrients from the local foods and make it 

B. Vegetables; These include nakatti, sukuma, spinach,carrots,pumpkins,dod and buga, all these must prepared so fast heat, and should be served immediately after preparation not lose the intended nutrients. These shouldn’t be left over and served in the next day because they are less nutritious and no value in them.

Its key  to prepare them while the pans are fully covered to ensure the heat is not lost in them, because this heat can easily evaporate with the vapour especially the water soluble vitamins.

Steaming especially on top of matoke and other foods to ensure the vegetables are fully cooked too maximum.

Whereas vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers can be taken as free kacumbali, dressed with vineager , mayonnaise or half cooked or taking them raw. This is important for the person to fully benefit from these vegetables.

C. Protein sources especially beef and chicken; Chicken can be prepared in different ways like steaming, boiling and shallow frying. If it is roasted, make sure it does not overheated and absorbs the smoke that can be cancerous in the long run.

Meat especially red meat like beef and goats meat must be taken cautioned, and ensured the fats are removed very well and cooked as lean meat not fatty meal.

Fish can be boiled or steamed to ensure the nutrients are fully exposed to be consumed by the body and the body be able to benefit from them.

Don’t forget about  pulses such as peas, beans and ground nuts. Remember they have essential nutrients that are key for the body too in this Christmas festive.

  • Avoiding and reducing food poisoning rate in the festival season.
  • Serve water and soap for washing hands before serving food to ensure people wash hands fully.
  • Ensure proper cooking of food to the minimum boiling points.
  • Dont cook food in a dumpy or water logged area.
  • Avoid the habit of tasting food before its ready, checking salt among others. This can lead you take microbes before they are dead and get the poisoning.
  • Ensure utensils are fully dried up and cleaned up before serving.
  • Juices made must be fully made with boiled water, with no added additives.
  • Separate food, cooked from raw in the food stores .
  • Elderly, children below 5 years and people living with chronic diseases are most at risk, therefore should be paid attention to their needs.

Avoid abdominal bloating by doing the following,

Wheat; This is most complaint experienced when people eat wheat mixed. This can easily lead to the abdominal bloating.

Sugar; Eating a diet high in sugars, natural or not, can wreak havoc on your bowels and really bloat you out.

Dairy; Believe it or not, a vast majority of the population really struggle to break down dairy and when your system is struggling to deal with a food group it slows down and fermentation goes a bit crazy. Despite what you may have been lead to believe, we don’t need dairy in our diet, you can get all the calcium you need in a well balanced, dairy free diet.

Stop, Sit, Eat; The chomp, chomp, swallow lifestyle isn’t doing your waistline any good. Remember, digestion starts in the mouth, chew your food and allow those naturally produced enzymes in your saliva do their thing, before you swallow.

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Slow Down; Stress is a massive trigger with digestive issues. We need to take the time to slow ourselves down, especially when we eat. Take the time to enjoy your food, away from a stressful environment.

Time Out; We work hard, much harder than our ancestors did when it comes to pressure on our systems, which these days let’s face it is pretty much constantly. You absolutely must take some time out to relax.

Kamara Daniel, is a Clinical Nutritionist at Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre-Kampala. Reach out to him via X on @KamaraDaniel3, or Tel: 0789407848

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