Christmas Dinner Tips

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This year The Food Doctor’s consultant nutritionist Azmina Govindji shows you how to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner that’s packed with health-promoting vitamins and minerals. Check out our surprising facts and recipe ideas to help you make the most of the hidden benefits in your festive fayre.

12 Foods of Christmas

 

  1. Smoked salmon – This tasty treat is a good source of protein and health promoting omega-3 fatty acids. Try these 3 ways to enjoy smoked salmon:
    • At breakfast time, how about mixing small slivers of smoked salmon into scrambled egg, mashed avocado or crushed tofu?
    • Ideal as a starter with some coarse grain mustard and lemon wedges.
    • Want a snack? Try a matchsticks of smoked salmon with fresh dill on warmed pitta strips.
  2. Roast Turkey – here are 3 surprising facts:
    • Did you know that around a third of the weight of turkey is protein? So, if you have three slices of turkey breast you can be sure that the equivalent of one slice is good quality protein. And if you’re choosing the breast meat without the skin, it will be low in saturated fat too.
    • Selenium contributes to the maintenance of normal skin and hair and 100g portion of your Christmas turkey will carry with it around 20% of your daily selenium needs.
    • Phosphorus which helps maintain bones and teeth is abundant in turkey and a 100g portion will give you a third of your daily phosphorus.
  3. Potatoes – Although not a citrus fruit, potatoes are a rich source of vitamin C and can make a real difference to vitamin C intakes for some people in the winter months. Here are our top tips for healthier roast potatoes:
    • Keep the skin on so you hang onto the fibre
    • Cut them big so they absorb less fat
    • Par-boil and toss in semolina to add a rough texture
    • Roast in rapeseed oil or spray oil to keep saturated fats down whilst dialling up the flavour and crispiness.
  4. Brussels Sprouts – An average serving (9 sprouts) provides about half of your daily needs of folic acid and all the vitamin C you need per day. We have some imaginative ways to enjoy your sprouts this year:
    • Slice them thin, stir-fry in a little olive oil and toss in caraway seeds
    • Mix cooked sprouts with mashed chestnuts and crunchy spring onions
    • Use leftovers for Boxing Day bubble and squeak
  5. Carrots – Rich in beta-carotene, which give them a bright orange colour. Have them as part of your meal or enjoy them as crunchy crudité before you reach for the main course. Here are our nutritionist’s 3 surprising facts about carrots:
    • You need fat to absorb beta-carotene so if you’re having a carrot salad, it’s better to add a little olive oil dressing or throw in some pumpkin seeds to bring in some healthy fats.
    • Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene is not an essential nutrient, but vitamin A is.
    • Cooked carrots will give you significantly more beta-carotene than raw carrots. Yes, it’s true, cooking makes you absorb it better! At Christmas try steamed baby carrots flavoured with fresh curly parsley.
  6. Peas – Just three tablespoons count as one of your 5-a-day. Cook them this way to help preserve vitamin C:
    • Steam them straight from the freezer, don’t let them thaw
    • Use the minimum amount of cooking water
    • Make sure you have a tight-fitting lid and cook over a high heat
    • Serve immediately as they will lose vitamin C if they’re lying on the dining table for too long.
  7. Gravy – it’s often the gravy that brings turkey to life and heats up your plate as well as your palate. Here are our top tips:
    • If you want to be virtuous, avoid gravy made from the turkey juices and opt for an instant version
    • There’s enough salt in gravy granules so no need to overdo the salt in your cooking.
    • Or make a fresh vegetable gravy in advance and freeze it for a no-fuss steaming tasty gravy on the big day.
  8. Christmas Pudding – Still got room for pudding? This might surprise you:
    • The dried fruit gives plenty of potassium, which contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system
    • This festive dessert can be a reasonable provider of iron and fibre depending on the amount of dried fruit.
    • There’s so much natural sweetness in dried fruit that you may not even need to add any sugar if you’re baking your own.
  9. Custard – A comforting and lower fat alternative to brandy butter, and a good source of calcium too. Want a lighter version?
    • Make your own with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
    • Cut down the sugar – there’s plenty of sweetness in Christmas pud
    • Or take short cuts and buy a can of light custard.
  10. Walnuts – A tasty source of healthier unsaturated oils, fibre and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.  Enjoy a handful or an ounce of nuts a day as part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are 3 novel ways to serve walnuts this year:
    • Flavour lower fat soft cheese with a few cranberries, make into balls and roll in chopped walnuts.
    • Transform veggies by topping them with toasted walnut halves.
    • Toss par-boiled potatoes in crushed spiced walnuts before roasting.
  11. Satsumas – Each of these handy stocking fillers provides half your daily needs for vitamin C. We’ve come up with some fun ways to use satsumas to brighten up your home over Christmas:
    • Dot satsumas on the mantel piece to bring in festive colours and citrus cheer
    • Hide them and keep the kids busy as they go on a Christmas satsuma hunt
    • Make edible tree decorations with threaded satsuma segments
  12. Chestnuts – The only low fat nut in existence and great for roasting by the fireside. Try some in between meals, or use our 3 top tips:
    • Serve them on cocktail sticks with melted chocolate dip
    • Caramelise roasted chestnuts by grilling them with honey and sesame seeds
    • Use up leftover chestnuts, parsnips and sprouts by making a warming Boxing Day hotpot.

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