The Christmas season is a joyous time for Christians, celebrating the birth of Jesus. It is certainly not a time to put a damper on the fun with foods that have nothing to recommend them, besides being good for you. Most of us pull out all the stops, enjoying every little goodie that passes our way. ‘Tis the season!
The very idea of healthy Christmas recipes seems to take all the fun away! However, as we all know, ’tis also the season where we put on ten pounds and have to make that inevitable New Year’s resolution. Another problem arises when you’ve got health conditions that will only get worse if you overindulge. Here we’ve got some ideas for some healthy Christmas recipes and strategies to enable you to celebrate, scarf up some delicious, albeit healthy food, have plenty of fun and perhaps only gain three pounds.
Let’s start with some general strategies that help you avoid general overindulgence. When you consider the number of occasions put before you, it’s amazing we don’t all gain twenty pounds! Office parties, neighborhood gatherings, brunches, the church bake sale, cocktail parties and the Christmas dinner are filled with temptations.
An hour or so before you leave for a party, eat a small meal of healthy snacks to quell your appetite a tad. For example, a healthy Christmas recipe made of an attractive platter of dipping veggies and a spinach and sour cream dip gets you in the spirit of the festivities to come, while filling you up just enough to take the edge off your appetite. When you arrive at the party, you’ll be satisfied with smaller portions of the goodies spread out before you.
Alcoholic beverages are plentiful during the round of parties and can really help pack on the pounds. For every glass of wine or cocktail you have, have two beverages that are non-alcoholic, yet festive. Fruit punches and spiced ciders are good substitutes.
Cookies and sweets are a traditional part of the Christmas festivities. For some of us, not spending a couple of weeks baking up fudge, cookies and sweets is unthinkable. The kids would never be the same! Try making half as many sweets, using the other half of your time making salt dough ornaments and decorations to hang on the tree and to give as gifts. The kids will love these activities and everyone will eat less of the stuff that’s bad for us. Take a walk around the neighborhood to check out the Christmas lights. You’ll have a good time, in keeping with the spirit of the season and burn off a few calories too.
Now, on to the nuts and bolts of healthy Christmas recipes that are so tempting, you won’t even know they’re good for you. Let’s start with the Christmas bird. Some people live for the skin on the turkey. If that’s not your thing, consider roasting a skinless turkey, much as you would a skinless chicken breast. This single modification saves about 3 grams of fat per serving, a healthy Christmas recipe indeed. How about the stuffing? Try using less bread cubes and more veggies. Whatever your favorite veggie addition to your stuffing may be, double it and reduce the bread accordingly. Chop up some onions, slice up a good quantity of mushrooms, celery or water chestnuts and moisten with a low sodium, low fat chicken broth and your favorite spices and fresh herbs. Voila! You’ve transformed a starchy, high calorie stuffing into a healthy Christmas recipe!
Use herbs and spices, rather than sugar or excessive amounts of salt, to spark the flavor of your dishes. If you’re unfamiliar with seasonings, you’ll find plenty of guidance online, at the library or bookstore. Sweet spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger can stand in for sugar in many a recipe. For example, carrots in an orange and ginger sauce is a dish even a kid can love. Pearl onions, spiced with a dash of nutmeg, in a low fat cream sauce are heavenly. Both are healthy Christmas recipes that have your diners asking for seconds!
A diverse assortment of brightly colored, well-seasoned foods produces the festive look and feel of the Christmas party, not the number of pounds of fat, salt and sugar! Healthy Christmas recipes are not an oxymoron. You just need to put on your thinking cap. Merry Christmas! Here’s to one less New Year’s resolution!