Suzie Sawyer – Nutritionist
Christmas is not always known for being the healthiest time of year but it’s quite possible to change the conversation. Whilst most people don’t want to be watching calorie intake too closely over the Festive period, if you’ve got lots of socialising planned over the whole period, then you might want to read on and get swapping …..
Pigs in blankets for Parma ham and asparagus
Believe it or not, it’s possible to serve up some delicious Parma ham wrapped around asparagus instead of pigs in blankets and not feel deprived! Whilst those traditional pigs are often one of the mainstays of the Christmas table, there’s nothing wrong with changing it up a little and enjoying healthier fayre at the same time. And don’t forget, there’s around 800 calories per 100 grams in pigs in blankets.
Asparagus is often forgotten when choosing vegetables. However, it’s packed with energising B vitamins, plus it feeds the friendly bacteria that naturally live within the digestive tract. This is going to massively help reduce digestive upsets which are common over the Christmas period. Treat yourself to some traditional Italian Parma ham and wrap a slice around three asparagus sprigs. Gently roast in the oven and sprinkle with a little fresh Parmesan cheese and those pigs will be a dim and distant memory.
Sausage meat stuffing for plant-based
Including more plant-based foods into the diet is essential for environmental reasons even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian. And if you change your stuffing choice, then you’ll be massively reducing fat intake from around 22 grams per portion to about 9 grams. What’s not to like?
There are plenty of options for stuffing recipes but using lentils, onions and sage is really going to bring some festive cheer. If you’ve never eaten traditional chestnut stuffing, then you’ve missed out on something really special. There are lots of variations, but using cooked chestnuts, rice, onions and sage as a base for your Christmas stuffing balls, makes a great nod to plant-based dishes.
Smoked salmon for avocado and poached egg on sourdough toast
Whilst scrambled egg and smoked salmon might be your favourite start to the day over the holiday season, it can often feel heavy on the stomach. Much better for the digestion would be a lightly poached egg on sourdough toast with some avocado slices. Farmed smoked salmon is especially high in fat and scrambled egg is frequently made with milk and butter which can be difficult to digest for many people.
The other downside to eating any smoked foods is that they have a high salt content; salt is added to reduce the moisture content of the food to help prolong shelf life, prior to smoking. For people who have to be mindful of high blood pressure, eating foods loaded with salt will often exacerbate the problem.
Avocado is also a wonderfully healthy ‘fruit’, packed with skin-loving vitamin E to help you glow through the festive season.
Canapes for crudities
Christmas lunch or drinks parties often feature canapes. However, goat’s cheese tarts, mini quiches, vol-au-vents and smoked salmon blinis might look lovely but they’re really going to impact on the digestive system. And that’s before we even consider any impact to the hips!
You can still enjoy some party nibbles but why not serve up a plateful of crudités with hummus or guacamole? A plateful of chopped vegetables including celery (great for reducing blood pressure), cucumber (excellent internal cleanser), carrots (packed with vitamin A for the immune system) and peppers (loaded with vitamin C) is colourful and appetising and even better with some delicious dips.
Chocolate yule for lemon polenta cake
Whilst a chocolate yule log might look very tempting, you may regret eating it even hours later! Foods containing gluten tend to be eaten more frequently over the festive period, which can contribute to bloating and flatulence. Plus, chocolate yule log is high in fat causing further digestive distress.
A lemon polenta cake still looks great on the table, can be dusted with icing sugar to look like snow, and is gluten-free. You can even make it dairy-free by substituting the butter for mild olive oil. Even better, lemons provide powerful antioxidants so you’ll be supporting your immune system at the same time.