It’s festive season again, and time to wheel out the calorific mince pies, sausage rolls and other festive snacks. But in case you wanted a break from the calorie overload, here are some healthy Christmas dinner recipes.

Christmas is the only time when the whole family gets together for a traditional sit down meal and wow, is it a meal! The average person consumes 6000 calories on Christmas day, three times the recommended daily requirements for a female. To help keep the pounds off this December, here are some healthy Christmas dinner recipes, based on nutritional research published in 2013.

Some healthy Christmas dinner recipes for all the family

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For starters

Happy healthy festive feast  - salmon

Salmon with Dill

Salmon is high in protein and is a lighter option compared to starters with creamy sources. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, that have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also thought to help lower the risk of heart disease.

 

The main event

Nut Roast (Vegetarian Option)

nut roast

Nuts are energy dense and contain fibre, potassium, folate, monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine have identified that nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease. This study suggests as little as one portion a day of raw nuts can help reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer. As nuts are energy dense, try a nut roast mixed with more vegetables and less butter as one of the healthy Christmas dinner recipes.

Meat Roast

christmas turkey for health ychristmas recipes

Duck, chicken, goose or turkey are all rich in protein and B vitamins that are essential for muscle repair and energy production.  Turkey is the leanest meat and possibly the healthier option with significantly less fat compared to duck and goose. To make the meal healthier, remove the skin; prick the bird, so the fat drains out and place on a trivet so the fat is away from the bird.

Chestnut and Cranberry Stuffing

Chestnuts and cranberries are low in fat. Chestnuts contain potassium which helps regulate our kidneys. Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants and many essential nutrients. Studies have also shown cranberries can reduce heart disease, improve mental health and help support a healthy immune system. Eating dried sweetened cranberries has shown to potentially reduce the incidences of urinary tract infections.

Vegetables

cooked vegetables for healthy christmas recipes

Filling your plate with vegetables will help fill you up and reduce the amount of calories eaten. Fresh or frozen vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Healthy Christmas dinner recipes that focus on vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure and cancer. Vegetables are naturally low in fat, although how they are cooked can significantly increase their calorific content. Roasting your potatoes in vegetable oil, not goose fat, and add herbs for extra flavouring. Lightly streaming your vegetables will maximise their taste and colour, while retaining most of their nutrients. And don’t forget to use the vegetable water for the gravy to get the nutrients from it.

A sweet ending

Christmas Pudding

christmas pudding with custard Traditional christmas pudding made with dried fruits and nuts provides a good source of magnesium, potassium and fibre. Along with all these nutrients, it is also very energy dense, so only a small portion is needed. To keep the calories under control choose custard over cream or brandy butter.

 

 

Coffee and dark chocolate

coffee and dark chocolate for a healthy christmas desert

Opt for a dark chocolate as this contains cocoa polyphenols. Studies have shown this has anti-anxiety effects by interacting with GABA receptors in the brain. The first controlled study to trial the effects of cocoa polyphenols on mood states of healthy individuals was published this year in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.  Flavanol-rich dark chocolate may have health benefits for your heart and can lower blood pressure. A small portion is recommended as one ounce of unsweetened, dark chocolate provides, 148 calories and 16 grams of fat. By contrast, one ounce of cocoa powder provides 21 calories and 0.5 grams of fat.

5 top tips for healthy Christmas dinner recipes

1-Have breakfast on Christmas day, to prevent over-eating or snacking later. If you do find yourself snacking, have some fruit available to snack on

2-Eat slowly to allow your mind to register the food in your stomach. This will help stop you over-eating.

3-Make your own gravy from the turkey juices and vegetable water. Don’t add salt and remember to remove the fat that has drained from the meat.

4-Opt for sugar free drinks or water. When it comes to alcohol a small glass of red wine can contain as much as 120kcal. Always remember to drink sensibly.

5-After the meal get active with a brisk walk or play an indoors game to burn off some of those calories.

 

 

(Image credit: Isu, roseandcrownfletching,addapinch, Roaming Roosters, aldovega)

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