Nutrition,  Top Tips

Santa snacks

Whether you’re venturing out for a chill swim or rushing in from a Boxing Day Dip, these portable Christmassy snacks are perfect for pre and post swim nibbles and contain all you need to fuel up and recover well… in moderation of course!


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2 sweet potato peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks

1 x 400g tinned kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 red onion, finely chopped

2tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp ground cumin

30g parsley, leaves chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp tomato purée

Large handful black olives, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

2 x 320g sheets of ready-rolled puff pastry

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sesame or poppy seeds


1) Preheat the oven to 220°C and line two baking trays.

2) Put the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, cover and boil for about 10 minutes until completely cooked.

3) Mash the sweet potatoes, then tip in the kidney beans and mash again to roughly break them up.

4) Stir in the red onion, smoked paprika, cumin, parsley, lemon zest, tomato purée, black olvies and garlic.

5) Season generously.

6) Unroll the first sheet of puff pastry and cut in half lengthways into two long rectangles. Form a quarter of the sweet potato filling into a sausage shape along the middle of one of the rectangles. Brush the borders with a little oil, then roll the pastry over the filling to enclose. Use a fork to firmly press the edges of the pastry together, then using a sharp knife cut the roll into six pieces.

7) Transfer to your baking tray, then repeat the process with the remaining pastry and filling, until you have 24 rolls.

8) Brush the tops and sides with the remaining oil and sprinkle over the seeds. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until a deep golden brown.


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150g sultanas

50g sliced apricots

1 apple, peeled and diced

60g vegan butter

4 tbsp maple syrup

50g muscovado sugar

50g pecans

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1 clementine, zest and juice

1 lemon, zest and juice

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

75ml rum

Pinch of salt

2 blocks of ready-made vegan shortcrust pastry

Icing sugar for dusting


1) Put the pecans on a baking tray and roast for 5 minutes.

2) Put the sultanas, apricots, apple, butter, maple syrup, muscovado sugar and pecans in a pan on medium heat and stir for 5-7 minutes.

3) Add the cinnamon, mixed spice, clementine zest, lemon zest and stir for 2 minutes.

4) Add the clementine juice, lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt and rum to the pan and stir to combine. Reduce the heat and leave the mincemeat to simmer for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent catching.

5) Take the pan off the heat and allow the mincemeat to cool to room temperature.

6) Put the pastry block on the work surface and roll it out so the pastry is 1/2 cm thick.

7) Cut 12 large circles out of the rolled pastry and push the pastry circles into greased mince pie tin holes.

8) Re-roll the pastry as needed. Roll the second pastry block and cut 12 more circles, this time with a small fluted cutter for the lids.

9) Build the mince pies with the mincemeat then use a knife to make a cross in the middle of the pies to let the steam out.

10) Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden.

11) Dust with icing sugar


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200g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

240ml almond milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

60ml oil of tasteless oil

60ml molasses

100g granulated white sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1) Pre-heat oven to 180°C and spray an 8×4 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

2) Add all purpose flour, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a medium sized bowl.

3) Add the milk to the bowl and then add the apple cider vinegar to it and stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

4) In another large bowl, add oil and molasses and mix until combined. Then add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.

5) Now start adding the milk-vinegar mixture (after it has rested for 5 minutes) and the flour mix in parts to the oil-molasses-sugar mixture. Add half of the milk mixture and mix until combined.

6) Then add half of the flour mix and mix until combined. Add the remaining half of the milk mixture followed by the remaining flour mix.

7) Mix until you have a smooth batter, but remember not to over-mix.

8) Transfer batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake at 175°C fro 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Once done, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cake has cooled down, cut into slices.

9) Dust some icing sugar on top and enjoy a slice of this vegan gingerbread cake with a cup of coffee!


Kathy Findlay is an open water swimmer, nutritional therapist and advanced sports and exercise nutritional advisor providing personalised nutritional advice and plans to athletes.

See Kathy’s Instagram account for more recipe ideas: food4sport_

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