There’s no denying it – we all like to indulge at Christmas.
A mince pie here, another pig in blanket there, and don’t even get me started on the cheese situation. Before you know it it’s January and we’re all a few pounds heavier and determined that we really will start going to the gym this year.
Rather than going cold-turkey and rejecting all your favourite festive foods, try out our favourite guilt-free Christmas dishes that taste just as good.
Everyone knows if it’s healthier you can eat more of it, right?
Let’s start with the main attraction. While turkey itself is a really good source of protein and vitamins, the way it’s cooked at Christmas can mean it’s quite fatty. It’s the skin that contains most of the fat, so if you’re really looking to go healthy this year try skinless. According to the NHS, 100g of skinless turkey contains under half the amount of fat that 100g of butter-basted skin-on turkey has. If you do opt for the traditional variety, they recommend pricking the skin before it goes into the oven, to let some fat drain out.
With the likelihood being that turkey will be on the menu for a good few days after Christmas, it’s easy to get bored. While turkey sandwiches are yum, I often cram them full with sauces, sausages, bacon, cheese, and anything else that comes to hand, making it not the healthiest of options. There’s a ton of recipes packed with nutrition that are perfect for using up all that meat. Try a turkey curry, turkey and pesto pasta, turkey salad, or even turkey chilli. Jamie Oliver has a recipe for a spicy ‘Turkey Con Chilli’ that comes in at a slimming 439 calories per serving!
Alternatively, why not do away with the turkey completely, and go for a lighter, vegetarian option? There’s all sorts of delicious recipes for nut roasts and the like out there.
My dad isn’t a huge fan of veg, and seeing that it’s usually him doing the cooking, they often end up being smothered in butter or some form of meat. I’m not complaining – they do taste insane, but waistline-wise, they’re not the best. This year my sisters, mum and I are planning a platter of seasonal veg dishes that you can eat your fill of guilt-free!
Rather than using full-fat butter or meat to add flavour, we plan on using herbs and seasoning to give our veggies some kick. There’s loads of different ways to cook and flavour veg in a less-calorific way. For the sprouts we plan on steaming them for 5-10 minutes, then rolling them in a brown sugar/butter* sauce, and sprinkling with walnuts. Nuts are a great way of adding healthy flavour, and a bit of crunch too.
*We don’t use full-fat butter, we use melted butter-style soy spread. It’s healthier and vegan friendly!
And now for my favourite part – pudding. The NHS tell us that Christmas pudding isn’t actually that bad for you! Score. It’s pretty low in fat and provides fibre and vitamins. The only problem is the sugar content, and what you like to drizzle on top. They suggest swapping brandy butter for low-fat custard or fat-free Greek yoghurt as a more nutritious option.
The Queen of food blogging herself, Deliciously Ella, has come up with a Christmas pudding recipe that contains no additives or refined sugar. It’s also free from dairy and gluten! While I haven’t made this recipe myself, I have tried others from Ella’s book (like her sweet potato brownies) which have worked really well and turned out more moreish than I could have hoped for. And they’re healthy! The benefit of making any dish from scratch is knowing exactly what goes in, so you can keep an eye on what you’re eating.
If Christmas pudding isn’t your thing, try poached pears for a warming, fruity pud that won’t break the scales.
By just tweaking your recipes here and there, you can stay healthy this year without missing out on all of your favourite Christmas dishes!