Did you know we consume as much as three times our recommended daily calorie intake on Christmas day? But it’s not all doom and gloom. Although a traditional Christmas dinner gets a bad reputation, it’s actually a surprisingly healthy meal if we strip it back to the bare bones. You only just need to be careful of how much we have.
Do you remember when you mum was always telling you they are good for you – well she was right all along! They contain more than your daily requirement of vitamin K and plenty of B vitamins, such as folate, which is important in producing energy – you’ll be thankful for that in the mid-afternoon Christmas food coma!
Zasbi’s Tip: Steam them to retain as many nutrients as possible.
Turkey is a great source of lean protein -particularly the white meat – so go for the breast and stay clear of the fatty skin. Turkey also contains an amino acid called tryptophan, important for serotonin production, also known as the ‘happy’ hormone.
Potatoes are a good source of potassium and starchy carbohydrate. However they are best boiled in their skins. Be careful with the potion size of your roasties, just 3-4 will do. The downside of roast potatoes is that when we remove the skins we remove the fibre. Plus lots of calories are added when cooked in fat (not to mention the saturated fat in goose fat).
Parsnips are another source of fibre, potassium, and vitamin c. The cooking methods are where things can wrong. Be mindful about adding honey or Parmesan, which seriously adds calories to an already hearty meal.
Red wine is rich in anthocyanin, an anti-inflammatory. But don’t think this gives you free reign – alcohol is ’empty calories’ and more than a glass or two will add to an already food-heavy day.
Cranberries also contain anthocyanin, giving them their bright red colour, and plenty of vitamin C. Sadly, though not much can be gained from the cranberry sauce, just have a little as possible as it has a high sugar content.
Smoked salmon is full of omega 3 fats, which are good for brain and heart health – also protein and vitamin D, smoked salmon deserves a place on your Christmas menu for sure. Wild seems better than farmed, although just make sure this delicious food doesn’t become too regular on your menu as it does have high sodium levels.
Packed with vitamins and minerals that do much more than just help you see in the dark, carrots are very healthy. They also contain lots of fibre, filling you up for relatively few calories. Not only are soft, washed out carrots unappealing, but you may lose half of the goodness down the drain, so don’t overcook them!
Chocolate, as long as it is rich in coco may provide health benefits as well, thanks to antioxidants like flavanol and resveratrol that justify you keeping the chocolate habit going. So, develop a taste for less sweet, darker chocolate – not the standard Christmas selection tin.
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