25 Jun 2022

Laurann O'Reilly: Your six top Christmas recipe ideas -everything from breakfast to sauces

Laurann's column in this week's Nationalist

Six top nutrition tips for boosting your immune health with Laurann O'Reilly

Laurann O'Reilly

With Christmas just around the corner many of us are picking our brains for healthy and delicious meal ideas to get us through the season.

Here, nutritionist Laurann O’Reilly and owner of Nutrition by Laurann, provides us with her top Christmas recipe ideas, with everything from breakfast, sauces, the perfect sandwich and a delicious healthy treat that everyone can enjoy.

1) Breakfast - Ginger Bread Porridge Oats (Serves 2)

- What Makes This Healthy: 1) Flaxseeds: Rich in soluble fibre and are a great source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, 2) Pecans & Walnuts: A great source of plant-based protein and healthy fats, 3) Blackstrap Molasses: Not only does it add sweetness but also provides that traditional gingerbread flavour to this recipe. It also contains some important vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin B6.

2 Cups Porridge oats
2 ¾ Cups low fat milk
2 Teaspoons Molasses (optional)
¼ Teaspoon Ground cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon Allspice
¼ Teaspoon Ground ginger
⅛ Teaspoon Ground cloves
1 Teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon Almond butter
1 Tablespoon Chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon Chopped walnuts
Pure maple syrup for serving
Optional add-ins & toppings: raisins, raw cacao nibs, chia seeds

Add the ingredients (except the almond butter, pecans, walnuts and maple syrup) to a pot over medium heat, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
Simmer for about 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly
Remove from heat and stir in the almond butter
Split between two serving bowls and top with chopped pecans and walnuts.
Drizzle with pure maple syrup and enjoy!

2) Healthy Sauce 1 - The Perfect Christmas Glaze

- What Makes This Healthy: 1) Apple Cider Vinegar: Not only is it antibacterial and anti-fungal it also helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels, 2) Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg & ginger: Contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and are also effective at stabilising blood sugar levels.

½ Cup water
½ Cup Dijon/wholegrain mustard
½ Cup Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Apple cider vinegar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ground cloves
½ Teaspoon Nutmeg
½ Teaspoon Ginger
½ Teaspoon Ground black pepper

Place all of the ingredients for the glaze into a small saucepan over low to medium heat and stir until well combined and the brown sugar substitute has melted
Remove from the heat and it’s ready for glazing

3) Healthy Sauce 2 - Easy Cranberry Sauce

- What Makes This Healthy: 1) Cranberries: Containing ‘flavonoids’, they are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, 2) Maple Syrup: An alternative to sugar it rich contains Vitamin B2 also known as riboflavin, 3) Chia Seeds: A great source of soluble fibre, antioxidants, minerals (manganese, copper, phosphorus, selenium, iron, magnesium and calcium) and omega-3 fatty acids

3 ¾ Cups Fresh cranberries
1 Cup Maple syrup
½ Cup Freshly squeezed orange juice
3 Tablespoons Chia seeds

Add the cranberries, orange juice and maple syrup to a pot on a high heat, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously (the cranberries should begin to soften)
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and mash the cranberries
Start adding in the chia seeds, stirring in a little at a time until combined
Cover the sauce, place in the fridge to set 1-2 hours and enjoy!

4) Sandwich – Turkey Cranberry Sandwich Recipe (Serves 1)

- What Makes This Healthy: 1) Wholegrain Bread: Not only is it a great source of fibre which can aid your digestion, being wholegrain it’s higher in fibre which helps your blood sugar levels stable, 2) Cranberry Sauce: (see cranberries above)

2 Slices Wholemeal/wholegrain bread (toasted or un-toasted)
1 Tablespoon Light cream cheese
1 Tablespoon Cranberry sauce (see recipe)
½ Cup Shaved turkey slices/turkey sandwich meat
Handful Iceberg lettuce
Optional Fillings: Sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onion

Spread the cream cheese on both slices of bread
Add the lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onions, turkey slices, cranberry sauce and enjoy

5) Healthy Side – Healthy Christmas Coleslaw (Serves 6)

- What Makes This Healthy: 1) Red Cabbage: A great source of fibre, good source of Vitamin K and minerals calcium, magnesium and zinc, 2) Carrot: High in Vitamin A and beta-carotene as well as calcium, 3) Cranberries: See cranberries above, 4) Walnuts: A source of healthy fats, protein, fibre Vitamins E, B6 and Folic Acid as well as the minerals copper, phosphorus and manganese, 5) Apple Cider Vinegar: See above

1 Small head red cabbage, thinly sliced and chopped
½ Cup Grated carrot
½ Cup Light mayonnaise
¼ cup Dried cranberries
¼ cup Chopped walnuts
1 Tablespoon Low fat milk, or more as needed
1 Tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
1 Teaspoon Xylitol (sugar alternative), add more to taste

Combine cabbage, carrot, mayonnaise, cranberries, walnuts, milk, cider vinegar, and sugar in a bowl and stir well
Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours

6) Healthy Treat – Christmas Carrot Cake Cupcakes (Serves 10)

- What Makes It Healthy: 1) Coconut Sugar: contains a small amount of inulin, a type of soluble fibre which causes less of a sugar spike than regular sugar and contains the minerals iron, zinc, calcium and potassium,
2) Healthy Spices: Have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which also help to stabilise blood sugar levels,
3) Carrots: (see carrots above)
4) Frozen Yogurt: A healthier alternative to ice-cream and rich in calcium.

All-purpose flour
¾ Cup Coconut sugar
2 ½ Teaspoons Baking powder
½ Teaspoons Sea salt
2 Teaspoons Ground cinnamon
¼ Teaspoons Ground nutmeg
½ Teaspoon Ground ginger
2 Eggs
¼ Cup Low fat milk
1 Teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
⅓ Cup Coconut oil, melted
140g Vanilla flavoured yogurt
1 Cup Grated carrots
Frozen yogurt for topping

Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius and line a muffin tin with muffin liners
Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add the milk, vanilla, melted coconut oil, and vanilla yogurt
Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until clump-free
Fold in the finely grated carrots
Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling ¾ of the way full.
Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean
Cool and enjoy with a dollop of oat milk whipped cream, almond-based cream cheese, or unsweetened dairy-free yogurt

About Laurann: Laurann O’Reilly is qualified and experienced nutritionist with a BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from University of Nottingham and a Master’s in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin. She has over 10 years of experience including working community and clinical care, research, personalised nutrition consultations (dealing in healthy eating, weight loss, digestive health and sports nutrition), teaching and developing nutrition courses at FETEC level, nutrition education talks and workshops (corporate wellness, schools, sports teams, public and private talks), previous food manager of the Coeliac Society of Ireland and is part of the roll out team for the Healthy Ireland Smart Start health promotion programme for pre-schools.

For further information see or contact Laurann at

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