The holiday season is filled with comfort foods, sweets, and indulgent treats. But as a nutritionist, I know you can still enjoy the flavours you love in a more nourishing way. With a few simple ingredient swaps, you can make your Christmas dishes tasty and good for you too!
Go Lean with Your Roast
Skip the prime rib or fatty gammon this year. Opt for a traditional lean, protein-packed roast turkey or tenderloin. Pair it with loads of vegetables and roasted sweet potatoes for added nutrition.
Turkey is packed with the hormone tryptophan which is the precursor to serotonin (happy hormone) and tryptophan (sleep hormone). Chicken is equally good and much cheaper if budget is an issue.
Make Your Stuffing Whole Grain
Stuffing is a staple, but slim it down by using wholemeal bread or quinoa as your base. Add diced mushrooms, onions, celery, and fresh herbs for flavour instead of salt. Cook it separately to avoid bacteria. Wholemeal bread has more nutrients in it and will make you feel less bloated. Quinoa is gluten free and has the benefit of more fibre, iron, magnesium and antioxidants.
Lighten Up Your Casserole
Casseroles tend to be heavy comfort food. Make yours healthier by using reduced-fat dairy, lean protein, and lots of veggies. Skip the canned cream soups and use low salt chicken or vegetable broth instead.
This will reduce the saturated fat and salt which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Bake or Roast Your Veg
When veggies are dripping in butter or cheese sauce, the calories add up. For lighter options, roast, grill or bake veggies to caramelise them. Toss them in a small amount of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, powdered garlic, or herbs.
This will give great flavour without adding fat.
Fruit Your Puddings
Cut back on sugar and fat by incorporating fruit into desserts. Make a mixed berry tart with an almond flour crust. Or bake apples and pears with cinnamon and walnuts for a delectable treat. Swap cream for natural yoghurt.
This will add to your 5 a day, increase vitamins and reduce fat. Almond flour will help you to feel fuller and help to reduce sugar spikes.
Space out your meals
Try not to graze food over the whole Christmas time. Stick to your usual eating patterns.
So that you don’t feel bloated and uncomfortable. If you have allergies or intolerances don’t risk consuming those food just ‘because it’s Xmas’. You will still feel those ill effects and for true allergies these can be life threatening.
Avoid cream and cheese dips and opt for a tomato salsa or guacamole to get more nutrients and less fat
Don’t pile up your plate, take a few bits and then go back for more later. It can take a while for that satisfied feeling to register.
Avoid the deep fried food and choose more fresh food e.g., prawn salad rather than tempura prawns. To have less fat and unwanted calories.
If you are driving or keen to avoid a hangover here are some low or no alcohol drink alternatives to enjoy at Christmas:
Sparkling water - Jazz it up with slices of fruit, herbs, or a splash of juice.
Warm spiced cider - Make with apple juice or cider and spices like cinnamon cloves.
Alcohol free Mulled wine - Simmer red grape juice with oranges, cinnamon, star anise and cloves.
Cranberry or pomegranate juice spritzers - Mix juice with sparkling water and serve over ice.
Virgin mojitos or piña coladas - Mix fruit juices with soda water and garnish.
Hot chocolate or hot toddies - Add cocoa, milk, spices and tea or coffee.
Holiday tea - Serve fruity herbal teas like cinnamon apple spice.
Mexican hot chocolate - Mix warm milk with cinnamon, vanilla, and a touch of chilli powder.
Apple pie mocktail - Mix apple juice with ginger ale and garnish with sliced apples.
Avoid pre-made drinks and spiced lattes as these are usually packed full of added sugar. Check labels.
Take a walk either alone or with your family or pets.
Dust off your bike and take a ride (as long as you’re injury free)
Do a home workout - even 15 minutes several times a week can make a big difference to your health.
Dance around your living room or do ‘Just Dance’ or a physical game with the kids.
I hope these tips help you balance nutrition and enjoyment this season. Let me know if you try any of these tasty alternatives. Here’s to a healthy, happy holiday!
I am a nutritionist and homeopath specialising in hormonal and gut health based in Milton Keynes and online.
If you’re ready to take the next steps to improve your health.
Book in for a free clarity call today at www.energisehealth.co.uk/book.