Christmas dinner is normally filled with tasty treats. Roast potatoes, stuffing and thick gravy are all regular fixtures in this festive meal. Whilst these are delicious foods they are often rich in calories and low in nutrients. That is why today I am providing you with eight healthy Christmas dinner ideas.
1) BEEF:- When it comes to the Christmas roast, turkey is by far the most popular choice. However, if you fancy something a little different this year I highly recommend a nice succulent joint of beef. In recent years people have avoided red meats because of their relatively high saturated fat content but evidence suggests they may not be as bad as people think. In fact saturated fats have a number of health benefits that other fats cannot provide. They improve the health of your brain, liver and lungs, help your body absorb essential fatty acids, promote strong bones, support your immune system and can actually lower your heart disease risk. Beef is also rich in B vitamins, iron, phosphorous, protein, selenium and zinc which can help protect against colon cancer and osteoporosis (reduced bone density).
Timing is everything when roasting beef. When cooked to perfection a beef joint can be just as tender as turkey. However, overcooked beef is chewy and difficult to eat. Delia Online has a great guide to getting your roast just right so if you decide to go with beef this year you should check it out.
2) CARROT MASH:- Mashed carrots offer a lower calorie, more nutrient rich alternative to mashed potatoes. They are rich in fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K. The main health benefit of carrots is that they support strong vision and strong night vision through their extremely high vitamin A content. They also promote good colon and lung health plus they can help keep your blood glucose levels under control.
3) GREEN BEANS:- Green beens are a nutrient filled powerhouse. They are rich in calcium, copper, fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorous, potassium vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B9, vitamin C and vitamin K. Green beans are a great vegetable for Christmas dinner as they add some texture to the meal. Their main health benefits include improved calcium absorption, reduced heart disease risk and a stronger immune system.
4) HOMEMADE GRAVY:- Gravy is a key fixture in most Christmas dinners. However, most people go for the easy option and use gravy mixes which are often high in calories and salt. Making your own gravy is relatively simple and gives you full control over the ingredients. Whilst homemade gravy is not exactly a healthy food it is a much healthier, lower calorie alternative to packaged gravy mixes.
To make your own gravy you will need stock, pan drippings (from the meat you are cooking) and some flour or cornstarch (to add thickness). You may also want to throw in some salt, pepper, herbs or spices to give your gravy that little extra kick. To begin put the stock and pan drippings into a saucepan. Then slowly heat the saucepan until the mix is simmering. Next add the flour or cornstarch to the saucepan one spoon at a time and whisk the mixture until the desired thickness is achieved. For more detailed gravy recipes check out this post from the Healthy Eats blog.
5) MUSHROOMS:- Mushrooms are not a typical Christmas vegetable but they are very nutritious and go well with most roasted meats. They contain high levels of multiple B vitamins, fibre, potassium, selenium and zinc. Mushrooms have multiple health benefits which include protecting your body’s cells from free radicals, supporting a strong immune system and reducing your risk of developing certain types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer).
6) PEAS:- Peas are nutrient packed little pods. They contain high levels of copper, fibre, iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, vitamin A, multiple B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin K. The health benefits of peas include keeping your bones strong, keeping your heart healthy, reducing your risk for a variety of cancers and supporting energy producing cells of your body.
7) ROASTED PARSNIPS:- Roasted parsnips are a nutrient packed, low calorie alternative to the festive favourite roast potatoes. They are rich in copper, fibre (particularly soluble fibre), manganese, magnesium, multiple B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin K. The particularly high soluble fibre content in parsnips means that they can improve improve your absorption of vitamins and minerals, improve blood glucose control in your body and lower your risk of heart disease.
8) TURKEY:- As I mentioned above turkey is the traditional choice when it comes to the Christmas roast. Not only is it traditional but nutritionally it is a very good choice too. Turkey contains high levels of protein, phosphorous, selenium, tryptophan, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6. Turkey offers multiple health benefits for your body with vitamin B3 and B6 supporting both heart health and energy production whilst selenium offers strong cancer protection.
As you can see, healthy eating does not have to go out of the window just because it’s Christmas day. Try adding some of the above foods to your Christmas meal this year and you can enjoy food that is both tasty and nutritious.
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