With Christmas day just around the corner I thought today I would share with you some advice that you can use on the big day. In some of my previous articles I have emphasised the importance of a healthy diet during the festive period. Today I am going to expand on this topic and give you eight tips to help lighten your Christmas dinner.
1) DON’T PUT BREAD ON THE TABLE:- Most people tend to use bread as a pre-dinner appetiser. The problem with this is that people often fill up on bread before the meal adding numerous calories without even realising it. Instead why not try serving your guests a single slice of whole grain toast with turkey pate and spinach as a festive starter. This should satisfy your guest’s appetite before the main meal but also restricts them to a small portion cutting down on the total number of calories.
2) SLICE THE TURKEY INTO APPROPRIATE SIZES:- Turkey is the focal point of most Christmas dinner’s and it is a relatively healthy choice. However, there is a temptation to wolf down slice after slice of this festive meat. To prevent this slice the turkey into appropriate portion sizes before serving. This simple but indirect trick should stop everyone overeating and your guests are likely to appreciate having their food on their plate ready to eat.
3) LIGHTEN YOUR GRAVY:- Most people now use gravy mixes to accompany their turkey. Whilst these are convenient, adding spoon after spoon can quickly lead to lots of additional calories. Instead try making a healthy, natural turkey gravy. Take the bag of giblets that came with the turkey, chop an onion and some carrots (plus any other vegetables you desire) and add them to a large pot of water. Turn up the heat and let them simmer in the pot for about an hour. Once the hour is up drain the turkey stock into a jug or bowl. When the turkey is cooked add the juices from the bottom of the roasting tray to this stock mix. To thicken the gravy add a small amount of whole grain flour to the mix. If you want you can even add pepper and other spices until the desired taste is achieved. This natural turkey gravy will probably taste even better than a gravy mix and be a lot healthier too.
4) PILE ON THE VEGETABLES:- Vegetables are easy to prepare and go well with turkey. However, the biggest plus point is that they’re very good for you providing lots of vitamins and fibre with very few calories. There’s plenty of different choices when it comes to vegetables. You can get out the steamer and use it to prepare peas, sweetcorn, broccoli, carrots, sprouts and any other vegetables you can think of. Alternatively, you can chop up some onions, garlic, pepper or mushrooms and roast them with the turkey. Whichever vegetables you choose loading up the Christmas table with them is sure to stop people overindulging on turkey and stuffing.
5) USE SMALLER PLATES:- If you provide people with smaller plates they cannot fit as much food on them. Therefore, the chances of you and your guests overeating are significantly reduced.
6) PUT WATER ON THE TABLE:- Water does not contain any calories and is essential for keeping your body properly hydrated. However, if you have to leave the room and go to the kitchen sink to get some water then you are less likely to drink it. Put a couple of jugs of chilled water on the table and keep them topped up throughout the Christmas meal. This will ensure that you always have a glass of water at hand should you desire it.
7) KEEP CARBONATED DRINKS AWAY FROM THE TABLE:- Carbonated drinks are often full of sugar and chemicals. However, you are likely to have some guests who want to drink them. Therefore, they will more than likely have to be part of your Christmas dinner. As a compromise keep them away from the main dinner table. There will still be available to people who want to drink them but by keeping them away from the table you and your guests will be less likely to keep your glasses topped up with these calorie heavy drinks.
8) MAKE FRUIT PART OF YOUR DESSERT:- Dessert is often the most calorie laden part of the Christmas meal with cheesecakes, chocolate logs, Christmas pudding, mince pies and more. However, if you use fruit then the dessert can be a much lighter part of your Christmas dinner. Blueberries and natural yoghurt are a simple, tasty, sweet treat which take minutes to prepare. Alternatively, you could make a fruit salad for all your guests. Chop up a some apple, banana, oranges, pineapple and mix it with some fresh fruit juice in a large bowl. Put this bowl in the fridge the night before and leave the fruit salad to soak overnight. You don’t have to force these fruit based desserts on your guests but making them one of the choices at the table is a step in the right direction.
Ultimately, Christmas dinner is just one meal. It is not going to destroy your fitness plans. The meal should be secondary to spending time with family and friends. However, if you follow these tips you should be able to spend some quality time with your loved ones and also enjoy a healthy holiday meal.
Now I’d like to hear from you guys. Do you make an effort to keep your Christmas dinner light? Do you have any further suggestions for adding some nutritional value to your Christmas ? If so please leave me a comment.
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