Have a healthier Christmas

Posted on December 2, 2019 by Brynna Gabrielson

Family eating Christmas dinner

The average person consumes upwards of 6,000 calories on Christmas Day - more than two days' worth of recommended calories for a man, and the equivalent of three days' worth of recommended calories for a woman! While calorie consumption will be spread throughout the day, Christmas dinner is sure to be one of the bigger culprits. If the thought of consuming 6000 calories in one day makes you feel a little unnerved, try some of the below tips to limit your calorie intake while still indulging in a delicious Christmas meal.

Make it a turkey of a day

If you're trying to decide which meat to serve at your Christmas meal, look no further than the common Christmas staple of turkey. Lean but high in protein, turkey is delicious and healthy. Of course not all turkey meat is made equal and depending on where on the bird you get your serving from, you may be consuming higher amounts of fat and calories. Avoid the darker meat and skin, and instead aim for a slice of white breast meat. At just 104 calories per 100g it's your best bet.

Bowl of cranberry sauceMake your own cranberry sauce

On their own cranberries can taste incredibly bitter, which is why most cranberry sauces contain a great deal of sugar. Some store bought sauces can have up to 38g of sugar per 100g of sauce. By making your own cranberry sauce, you can control the ingredients and limit the amount of sugar in your recipe. If you make your own sauce, try halving the sugar. And if that leaves the sauce too tart for your liking, try adding a sweetener like agave syrup. Another great way to use agave to cut back on your holiday sugar intake is to add it to mulled wine.

Mash your potatoes

Potatoes are a must have at any festive feast, but perhaps it's time to rethink how you prepare them. While delicious, roast potatoes can be quite a calorie hog thanks to all the oil and fat they're prepared in. This year why not try mashing your potatoes? Mash is a delicious alternative to a roasted potato (and is fantastic for building gravy moats), but with far less fat. When preparing just make sure to use milk instead of cream, and go light on the butter!

Make your cauliflower cheese sauce with cauliflower

If cauliflower cheese is a staple at your Christmas dinner, we¿ve got a delicious way to keep your dish creamy and tasty while cutting back on the less healthy ingredients. Instead of making your cheese sauce the traditional way with milk, butter and flour, try making a sauce out of cauliflower itself. For approximately 3 cups of sauce simply boil a half a head of cauliflower until tender and then transfer to your blender or food processor. Add a quarter cup of milk and a half a cup of hot water or chicken stock and pulse until the mixture is smooth. For extra flavour add minced garlic (sautéed or fresh) and salt and pepper. Return to the pot, place over low heat and add grated cheddar to taste, stirring until melted. Extra mature cheddar will give you a richer flavour with less cheese.

Roast your sprouts instead of frying with bacon

If Brussel Sprouts are a staple at your Christmas dinner and you're keen to add a bit of flavour over the less than exciting boiled variety, you might be tempted to try frying them with butter and bacon. While delicious, it's not exactly the healthiest way to eat your sprouts. If you haven't tried it yet, why not give roasting your sprouts a go? It's easy and delicious. All you need to do is trim your sprouts and cut in half, removing the outer leaves. Next toss your trimmed sprouts with 1tbsp of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Spread evenly in a tray and roast in the oven at 180C (with fan) for 15-20 minutes. Toss the sprouts once or twice while cooking. They should come out lightly browned on top!

Plate of Mince PiesLet your mince pies go topless

Christmas isn't complete without a tasty mince pie, but all of that pastry casing isn't great for you. Just 50g of shortcrust pastry contains approximately 217 calories at 17g of fat. 

To make your pies a little healthier while still indulging, try preparing them without the pastry tops! You could also try making your pies with filo pastry instead of shortcrust. Here's a recipe to try from the British Heart Foundation!