May All Your Christmases Be Light!
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It's hard to believe this is my 6th Christmas Newsletter to you from Bariatric Cookery. And, from what started out as a small gathering of bariatric patients in Year 1, we now reach over 8,000 weight-loss surgery foodies intent on having a good time!

Over the years we've looked at the traditional Christmas meal, some ideas for meals around the holiday, some tactics to deal with this tricky time of year, and of course some bariatric useful gifts for giving. The links for the back editions are below if you want to check back on a recipe or two.

This year I am featuring a few new recipe ideas to complement the ones from before but recognise that so many of you stick with the time-honoured and tested turkey meal so loved by all. So you'll find a couple of new accompaniments to that feast (just to ring the changes), a special pudding with the wow factor for that special day or another (a great recipe for those who don't like Xmas Pudding), and a crowd pleaser for Boxing Day or for serving on a relaxed dining day. Did anyone ever refuse a burger (even if served without the bun?). Finally there's a festive re-vamp of one of my most popular recipes that can be made in the slow cooker so that you can get on with just enjoying yourself with friends and family.

Sprinkled throughout there's a bit of advice on strategies to adopt this Christmas, plus our own special 'real life story' that has a great before and after message for those considering WLS. As a patient who had her bypass in late November I recognise only too well that 'this was the best present I ever gave to myself'. So I share Michelle's joyous words about how different Xmas is today compared to those heavily-laden days pre-surgery.

All that remains is for me and the team to wish you a wonderful holiday - we're around pretty much most of the time and so will be regularly posting on the website - do join us when the fancy takes you - you can be sure of a warm WLS welcome.
So pull up a chair and browse these FESTIVE IDEAS:


2011  Christmas Newsletter
2012  Christmas Newsletter
2013  Christmas Newsletter
2014  Christmas Newsletter


Some NEW IDEAS to tickle the Holiday Tastebuds:

Honey Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
Roast Potatoes and Parsnips with Pancetta
Bariatric Cookery Meringue Wreath
Pulled Pork with a Festive Touch
Cranberry Turkey Burgers



 Who said Brussels sprouts need be boring? They can be the highlight of any Christmas meal if given the luxury treatment. In this tasty recipe they are combined with sweet beetroot, creamy blue cheese and crunchy walnuts - everyone will want seconds!
1 tbsp light butter or low-fat spread
675 g/11/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp water
2 tsp honey
250 g/8 oz cooked beetroot/beets, diced
2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
25 g/1/4 cup chopped walnuts
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Heat the butter or low-fat spread in a large non-stick sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and allow them to cook, cut-side down, for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown.
2.  Add the garlic and water and cook for 3 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the sprouts are cooked to your liking.
3.  Add the honey and beetroot/beets and heat for 1-2 minutes or until the beetroot/beets is hot.
4.  Transfer to a warmed serving dish and add the blue cheese crumbles and chopped walnuts. Toss gently together to serve.

V suitable for Vegetarians
FAT: 6.2g


Everyone agrees that it's the potatoes that make or break the main event meal - soggy not crispy potatoes are dismal. Here's a fool-proof way of cooking them with parsnips and pancetta so that they are crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside and have an amazing herby flavour.

1.5 kg/ 3 lb medium-sized potatoes, peeled
900 g/2 lb medium-sized parsnips, peeled
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
low-fat cooking spray or mist
12 shallots, peeled
200 g/7 oz pancetta, roughly chopped
6 whole bay leaves
1.  Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
2.  Cut any large potatoes in half and all the parsnips in half lengthways. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 8 minutes until par-boiled. Meanwhile, cook the parsnips in the same way in another pan for 4 minutes. Drain both well, return to the pan, cover and shake to roughen the edges so that they crisp up well later. Toss both with the thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
3.  Generously spritz a non-stick roasting pan with low-fat cooking spray or mist. Add the potatoes and generously spritz with the low-fat spray or mist. Roast uncovered in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Turn over, add the parsnips and shallots, spritz again and roast for 35-40 minutes.
4.  Turn everything over again, re-spritz and add the pancetta. Increase the oven temperature to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7 and roast for a further 15-20 minutes, adding the bay leaves for the final 10 minutes. Serve while still hot, crunchy and golden.

WLS PORTION:  1/4-1/2
PROTEIN: 14.9g
FAT: 12g


I make my slow cooker pulled pork on a regular basis and vary the flavours by changing the herbs and spices. Looking for something festive I made it in the usual way - see the link below - but after pulling or shredding I mixed it with a handful of dried cranberries. Totally delicious, wonderfully colourful and festive and great served in lettuce wraps as a main meal or mini party hand-out. Some grated orange, tangerine or other citrus zest in the cooking liquid also adds a fabulous warm undertone. 

For Slow Pulled Pork Recipe Click Here


Here's a show-stopping grand finale dessert for over the festive period. I've given 3 alternative ways of preparing - one as the usual sugar meringue; the second as a sweetener type meringue; and the third as an extra speedy version using ready-made meringue nests. The first and third should be eaten with caution if you are very sugar sensitive but fine if only having a very small portion. The sweetener version makes a meringue that is very soft and mallow-like.

All are grand enough to serve on Christmas Day instead of or in addition to Christmas Pudding, and certainly dazzling enough to feature as the top billing on a buffet table. You can decorate as I have done here or run riot with frosted fruit, chocolate leaves, shards of gold edible leaf and curled citrus rind. An extravagant bow would add the final touch!
6 large egg whites
350 g/13/4 cups caster/superfine sugar OR 7 tbsp granulated sweetener
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp dried cranberries
450 g/1 lb Quark or fat-free thick Greek yogurt
salted caramel or vanilla extract to taste
extra dried cranberries, holly leaves, orange zest and a bow to decorate (optional)
2 tbsp low-sugar chocolate syrup/sauce to drizzle (I used choc shot)

1.  Preheat the oven to 120 C/ 250 F/gas 1/2. Draw a 25-cm/10-inch circle on a large sheet of non-stick baking parchment or easy glide as a guide for the wreath circle and place on a baking tray.
2.  Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks then whisk in the sugar or 5 tbsp of the sweetener, 1 tbsp at a time, whisking well between additions until the mixture is thick, stiff and glossy. Fold in the vinegar and vanilla essence with a metal spoon.
3.  Spoon the meringue in ovals onto the paper using the circle as a guideline. Sprinkle over the dried cranberries.
4.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 110 C/225 F/gas 1/4 and bake for a further 11/2 hours. Turn off the oven, open the door and leave the meringue to cool completely.
5.  To serve, beat the Quark or yogurt with the remaining sweetener or a little sugar if liked and salted caramel extract to taste (I like to flavour it strongly and so use 2-3 tsp). Spoon over the meringue in dollops and decorate with extra dried cranberries, holly leaves, orange zest and a bow as liked. Drizzle with the chocolate syrup/sauce just before serving.

SPEEDY VERSION: Use 8 ready-made meringue nests instead of the meringue mixture above and sandwich or position together with a little of the quark mixture, using the remainder to fill the nests. Sprinkle with the dried cranberries then decorate and drizzle as above.
V suitable for Vegetarians
PROTEIN: 7.4g/8.5g
FAT: 0.5g/0.4g



I am somewhat bored with curries on Boxing Day but still want a treat that seems a bit 'relaxed', uses up the turkey and fits in with our sporting activities. This year I am therefore making some burgers with the leftover turkey, cranberry sauce and nuts. My trial run went well and I am of the opinion that these could be made canapé size for a drinks style party too using fresh turkey mince/ground turkey as in the recipe or chopped cooked turkey (as in the tip). Those who don't want the carbs/bread will find they are just as delicious without or can be served in lettuce 'wraps'.
500 g/1 lb turkey mince/ground turkey
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
75 g/1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
100 g/11/3 cups porridge or rolled oats
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 heaped tbsp cranberry sauce
grated rind and juice of 1 small orange
25 g/1/4 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
bread baps or mini rolls with lettuce leaves and fat-free mayonnaise to serve (optional)

1.  Place the turkey, shallot or onion, fresh cranberries, garlic, oats, egg, mustard, parsley and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl and mix well. Divide and shape into 4 large patties or 10 small ones. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
2.  To make the topping, place the cranberry sauce, orange rind and juice and nuts in a small pan and heat until softened and syrupy - about 2 minutes.
3.  Cook the burgers either in a griddle pan or a non-stick pan over a medium heat until cooked to your liking - about 8-10 minutes each side for the large ones and 4-6 minutes for the smaller.
4.  Serve in warm baps or mini rolls with lettuce leaves and mayonnaise and topped with a little of the cranberry and pecan sauce.

COOK'S TIP: To make a version from left-over turkey, simply chop or mince the cooked turkey, add a few breadcrumbs or oats soaked in a little stock/bouillon or water, then bind together with beaten egg or mayonnaise with the chopped cranberries and the seasonings above. Cook until golden and piping hot, about 5-10 minutes depending upon size.

CALORIES (without bread, lettuce and mayonnaise): 360
PROTEIN: 30.5g
FAT: 14.4g



Michelle (who you can see below) is a post-op gastric bypass patient and I asked her a few questions about her WLS journey and how she has negotiated Christmas pre and post-op. I had intended to edit the answers she gave me but they are so meaningful (and dare I say inspirational) that I have reprinted them in their entirety. Read on for some recognisable scenarios and a heart-warming aftermath...

1.  For many the turning point in their weight-loss battles comes in the aftermath of Christmas just before the New Year with a resolve for things to be better. Did this feature in your experience?

Absolutely – every year ………..  I always over ate to extreme at Christmas because I could …… I made the same promise to myself – the coming New Year I was going to lose weight, finally live a healthier lifestyle and look forward to the summer months. However, by mid January my addiction of choice had taken over and my New Year's resolution to become a fitter, healthier, slimmer person would be soon forgotten . Especially in the winter months when you can wrap up to hide the bulges – it was something I then refused to think about until the warmer weather started again and I would go through the exact same experience every few months and indeed every year. 

 2.  Have you found Christmas and the festive season in general a challenge after WLS or has the time of year become easier and better negotiated after surgery?

Quality of food has become more important than quantity – the first year was difficult navigating my way around buffet tables at Christmas events.  However,  I now look forward to Christmas parties and shopping experiences more as I love to glam up and enjoy this time of year for what it is , whereas before surgery I avoided Christmas events because little black dresses are no longer ‘little’  once you reach a certain size.
3. What would you say to anyone considering surgery now on the run-up to Christmas?

Decide whether you can commit to the pre-op and post -op regime within the social period of Christmas as there is a lot of temptation around this time of year and you have to be fully committed to following these regimes for the surgery to be successful and they are restrictive. It may be sensible to consider surgery in the New Year once all the temptation has disappeared and you can really concentrate on 2016– and a New You !
 4.  Have you found the food you eat and socialising you do at Christmas very different post-op to pre-op?  Is it better, worse or just different?

Definitely different - food choices are different compared to before surgery and tolerance levels of certain foods/alcohol are also different but it's doable and totally worth it!
5.  Are there things you can now do and enjoy more during the festive season that weren’t possible before your surgery?

Without a doubt – dancing!  I never had the confidence as an overweight person to strut my stuff on the dance floor and was also the first person to leave Christmas parties IF I had gone to them at all …… Now you can’t get me off it!  I can actively play with my 7 year old son too and there is no special time of year more than Christmas to do this.
6. Is there any advice you can give about what to say to partners/family/friends during this period in terms of providing support through a potentially difficult time of year?

  Great question …… be patient with the patient! This is a very difficult time of year for anyone who has had choices taken away from them and that’s what surgery does tend to do in more ways than one. Therefore don’t forget to remind them and yourself of the reason or reasons why you started the journey in the first place and what you are wanting to achieve – it WILL be worth it!
7.  Finally, can you give anyone newly post-op some tips on how to negotiate the ‘season of goodwill’ so that they are not missing out and yet not bombarded with the sabotaging antics of  well-meaning friends and family at this time of year?

Social occasions may be stressful around people that don't know you have had surgery and even more stressful around people that do know as everyone wants to see what you are eating …… Plan ahead, if you can, eat little and often, tell friends and family you have made the decision to make this lifestyle change and Christmas shouldn't be an excuse to eat more (or drink excessively). Most adverts for alcohol say drink responsibly – Ramsay Weight Loss told me to eat responsibly! As this is your investment to lose weight and for many, to reduce health risks.


It can be a tricky business finding the right gift for a bariatric patient - chocolate, candy and cake is often inappropriate. We have some answers for gifts under the tree and stuffing in the stocking on our shopping page.

New for this year is our set of Portion, Cook and Serve Bariatric Measuring Cups; and our Gift Packs with Journal, Weight-loss Plaque, Book and optional Bariatric Portion Plate. Take a look by clicking through on the blue link below and order soon to ensure delivery before Christmas. 

These are gifts that get you or keep you on track.
Click to Buy Christmas Gifts Here
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