Christmas dinner table

What can you do to make Christmas dinner healthier?

If you’re trying to lose weight or simply don’t want to put weight on over Christmas, you should aim to make your Christmas dinner as healthy as possible.

If you’re in charge of cooking for your family or loved ones, you’ll have complete control but if you’re only a guest, you’ll probably have to make some hard decisions when you head to the table.

Choose a healthy starter

With a typical prawn cocktail having around 300 calories, you may want to see if you can serve up something that is just as delicious but has less calories. There are many different homemade soups that you could make which have between 150 – 180 calories per portion or you could opt for a melon boat which only has around 50 calories.

Don’t add much salt

A typical Christmas dinner can contain 15g of salt if you’re not careful. That’s twice the recommended maximum daily amount. To cut down on salt you should avoid pre-prepared vegetables and meat joints. Cooking fresh is much better because you’ll know exactly how much salt you’re using.

Think about portion sizes

It can be easy to cook enough food to feed an army but you should try your best to only cook what you need, otherwise you’ll be encouraging your guests to overeat. If you’re only having five guests over, you shouldn’t need to cook more than ten pigs and blankets as they’ll have plenty of other things to eat.

Cook lots of different vegetables

If you don’t smother vegetables in butter, they’re low in fat so try to give your guests a wide selection. If you’re going to be sending out food to the table and letting people help themselves, send the vegetables first so they take bigger portions.

Limit the roasties

Instead of offering a mountain of roast potatoes, which have 149 calories per 100g, serve up a smaller amount alongside baked potatoes (109 calories per 100g) or mashed potato (98 calories per 100g).

Watch how you cook your turkey

Turkey meat is low in fat but you need to cook it in its own juices if you want to avoid adding on extra calories. Not putting butter under its skin and not cooking it in goose fat can make a big difference. Before you serve your turkey, make sure you cut off all the skin which is high in fat and pop it straight into the bin so you’re not tempted to eat it later.

Dessert or cheeseboard

Having several dessert options and a cheeseboard straight after the main course can be a bit excessive because your guests will be feeling full from their starters and main courses. Why not let everyone relax for an hour or two and then serve the cheese board and desserts? Alternatively, why not opt for one or the other.

Instead of buying a Christmas pudding, you could serve up a healthy homemade one with low-fat yoghurt or custard instead of brandy sauce. Try to read the labels when choosing which cheeses to include on your board. For instance, blue stilton has more calories and salt per portion compared to wensleydale with apricots.

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