The traditional Christmas dinner is actually a really healthy and well-balanced meal, which contains all the major food groups. Turkey for essential protein to aid muscle growth and repair. At least two of your 5-a-day from the Brussels sprouts and carrots – and it might even stretch to three of your 5-a-day if you add in parsnips, broccoli or another vegetable of your choice. And, of course, potatoes are the carbohydrates your body requires for fuel.
However, where the traditional Christmas dinner goes awry is with all the tasty, but calorific, additions. If you are working out hard and watching both your diet and your waistline, then you may be a little fearful of the damage your Christmas dinner will do!
Stuffing, pigs in blankets, Yorkshire puddings (yes, that’s right, it has been known!), as well as bread sauce, cranberry sauce and lashings of gravy. Then, of course, comes the Christmas pudding, complete with brandy butter and double cream. And it’s all washed down with plenty of alcohol!
These delicious delights may taste amazing, but they will certainly clock up an array of calories – and that’s not forgetting the salt and sugar content, as well as the dreaded saturated fat, too. So with this in mind, we thought we would give you a helping hand with making your Christmas dinner healthy. You can still join in all the fun and enjoy a delicious meal that is guilt-free and healthy. Let’s take a closer look:
1. Turkey skin smothered with streaky bacon is a carnivore’s idea of heaven! However, the saturated fat and calorie load is off the scale. If employing self-discipline isn’t an option, then go ‘cold turkey’ and select the white breast meat only which offers approximately just 100 calories and 2g of fat per 100g. Turkey meat is extremely lean and low in fat. Plus, it is an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, including iron, B vitamins, selenium and zinc.
2. Crispy roast potatoes cooked in lashings of goose fat, butter or oil are undoubtedly a taste sensation. However, a 100g portion of roasted potatoes contains in the region of 160 to 180 calories and the fat content is a little eye watering too – especially if goose fat is your preferred option. Why not swap the roast potatoes for a baked potato instead as you will almost halve both the calorie and fat content.
3. Gravy made with the cooking juices really does taste good. However, try making it a healthier option by skimming the fat off the cooking juices first (let them cool so the fat rises to the surface). Use low salt gravy granules too as a diet high in salt can lead to a number of unpleasant health conditions, including high blood pressure and a greater risk of heart disease.
4. Stuffing is an essential component of Christmas dinner; however, when it is made with sausage meat, the calorie, salt and saturated fat content goes sky-high. Instead, choose healthier versions of stuffing which include dried fruits, herbs and chestnuts. Make your own cranberry sauce so you know how much sugar is going into it. And also steer clear of shop-bought bread sauce. It’s easy to make at home and you can dramatically reduce the calorie content by using skimmed milk instead of full fat milk.
5. Vegetables are delicious when roasted with butter, and Brussels sprouts laden with double cream and pancetta are a favourite. However, remember that steamed vegetables are exceptionally low in calories and almost as tasty, too.
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