Christmas recipes don’t get more calorific than the Christmas dinner. So how can we enjoy the best meal of the year without piling on the pounds?
There is no doubt that the Christmas dinner is traditionally a fatty feast of gargantuan portions, doused in either alcohol or cheese, or both, and most of us spend the next six months working it off. So how can we enjoy festive food without breaking the scales? NHS Livewell has some excellent and not-so-excellent advice for sticking to the traditional food but cooking in a leaner, healthier way.
Whilst turkey is actually a decent source of protein, and B vitamins, the skin is where most of the fat is and if you cook it without the skin, you will save approximately 40kcal per portion. Light meat is healthier than dark meat, so go for the breasts rather than the legs or thigh.
Be sure to prick the turkey properly so that the fat will drain out as it cooks. Even better is to cook it on a raised platform so that it’s not sitting in the fat as it cooks, soaking it back in. Don’t baste in butter, use olive oil!
Vegetables, fruit and nuts are far healthier than sausage meat, so choose roasted chestnuts, cranberry and orange instead
This is where NHS Livewell and I have to part ways. They say bake your Christmas potatoes as potatoes are a good source of carbohydrate, almost fat free and so have about 109kcal per 100g whilst roasted potatoes are 149kcal. I say, just have fewer roasted potatoes, don’t be greedy! Baked potatoes are for every day lunch, not Christmas dinner. Bah Humbuh NHS Livewell!
NHS Livewell suggest pouring your turkey juices into a jug then waiting for the fat to rise to the surface so you can spoon or pour the fat off and use only the juices to make your gravy. Also, try not to add salt to it, remember you’ve probably got salt in the meat juices already. This could be acceptable as the flavour’s in the juices and greasy gravy is gross (loving my alliteration there!).
Christmas pud is full of fruit so low in fat but high in carbohydrate. I say eat as much of it as you like, then go for a brisk walk after lunch! NHS Livewell suggest using low-fat custard, made from semi-skimmed milk or using Greek yoghurt instead of brandy butter or double cream. Nah, trainers, walk.
A scary reminder though is just 1tbsp of brandy butter has a whopping 81kcal and 5.8g fat whilst 2tbsp of double cream has a shocking 133kcal or 14.2g fat. Hmmm.
There are more suggestions on the site here and they say that if you make them all, you could potentially cut out 500calories and fat too to prevent that Christmas weight gain we all dread. They don’t mention the sausages in blankets, the cheesy cauliflower or roasted parsnips. I reckon it’s all a lot of hot air. Christmas comes but once a year and you should indulge, enjoy it, then get your trainers on and exercise and remember, we’re all really skint in January, so on enforced diets anyway!
photo credit: Budget Batteries