Christmas is infamous for overeating indulgent sugary, fattening foods. This post is my attempt at a healthier alternative – it’s a tour-de-force of the same foods but with a bit of a lighter twist. Perhaps you can just pick and choose a few ideas from it, and as you can see from the picture above, ‘healthier’ needn’t look any less inviting and ‘Christmassy’ ! Click MORE to see lovely pictures of the rest of my meal & get the ‘how to’ Faya
1. STUFFED FIGS WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO
These luscious little fruity parcels are rich in texture and flavour, boast a chewy flesh and a crunchy seed, are high in dietary fibre, high in potassium (to help lower high blood pressure), and have been shown to lower triglyceride (fat) circulation in the blood. When ripe and baked, they’re utterly delicious too, especially with a tiny cube of aromatic blue cheese melted in the middle (only a little needed to boost the flavour!). It’s hard to make a “health virtue” of blue cheese, but I’ll try; calcium and protein are supportive to the cause… but no, it’s mostly fat, so go light on it! The Prosciutto is a great source of protein (27grams per 100 grams), but it’s very high in saturated fats (17grams per 100grams), so I like to trim the fatty veins before cooking.
INGREDIENTS: (serves 4) 1. 4 x fresh figs 2. 4 x 1cm-cubed blocks of blue cheese 3. Prosciutto
1. Slice the fig from the top, until you get three-quarters of the way down.
2. Place a parcel of blue cheese into the incision.
3. Wrap the lean prosciutto around it place in a baking tray.
4. Pop it into a preheated oven 200 degrees and let it bake for circa 5-10minutes (depending on desired consistency and softness).
2) POACHED PEAR WITH DARK CHOCOLATE & ALMOND FLAKES
A fair amount of the ‘deliciousness’ of this dessert stems from the pear. Alongside the natural sugars (10g per 100g, quite high) pears are also hydrating and rich in vitamin C, a strong immune booster during the cold winter. I’ve opted to dip it in super-dark chocolate (less dairy and less sugar, full rich flavour and packed with antioxidants). Believe it or not but two 5g squares of 99% Lindt chocolate are enough to cover one entire pear! Crust the chocolate layer with flakes of roasted Almonds to complete the dessert! Yum.
INGREDIENTS: (serves 4) 1. 4 x ripe Comice pears 2. 1 x pack of 99% Lindt chocolate 3. Roasted almond flakes. 4. 2 x drops of vanilla extract. 5. 1 spoon of Manuka honey
1. Peel the pears
2. Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add 1 generous tablespoon of Manuka honey and 2 drops of vanilla essence.
3. Carefully spoon the pears into the boiling water and leave to poach for 20 minutes.
4. Heat a ‘water bath’ and allow the dark chocolate to liquefy.
5. Dip the pear into the chocolate, festoon with almond crusting, and leave to set.
3) POMEGRANATE, GOATS CHEESE, NUT & GRAPEFRUIT ROCKET SALAD
I love the comically diverse mixture of textures and flavours in this salad – the smooth goat’s cheese, crunchy pomegranate & nuts, the peppery rocket and the sharp citrusy twang of the grapefruit. Sprinkle some balsamic glaze, and voila it’s ready to go!
INGREDIENTS: 1. Rocket salad 2. A whole ripe grapefruit 3. Half a pomegranate 4. 100g goats cheese 5. Balsamic vinegar 6. Assorted nuts
HOW TO? 1. Peel and slice the grapefruit 2. Spoon out half of the grapefruit 3. Crumble the goats cheese 4. Add some nuts 5. Toss it all together 6. Finally sprinkle some balsamic glaze on top.
4) STUFFED TURKEY BREAST
Being pescatarian I’m not too keen on stuffing turkeys. Conveniently, if, like me you had a cosy small party joining you, and don’t want weeks of leftovers, there’s really no need to cook an entire bird; so I went for turkey breasts instead! It’s such a healthy, lean meat that’s low in saturated fat, high in protein (17g per 100g), relatively low in calories (104 in 100g, that’s just 2/3 of an equivalent chicken breast), and is also a good source of riboflavin (aka vitamin B2, which helps protect cells from oxidation processes), phosphorus (important for the development of bones and teeth), and selenium (helps lower the risk of joint inflammation). The downside of turkey is that it’s relatively high in Cholesterol (42mg per 100grams0, and very high in Sodium (1015mg per 100grams), so a limited intake makes sense.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
1. 3 x boneless turkey breast, 2. olive oil, 3. Salt, 4. Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ – toasted chestnut, hazelnut & thyme stuffing.
1. Slice the turkey breast alongside/lenghtwise leaving a strip attached.
2. Spread a thin layer of the stuffing inside the breast. Tightly roll the breast lengthwise.
3. Set it on a roasting pan. Paint it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
4. Roast at 400° for 20 minutes.
1. Empty the content of the sachet into a bowl
2. Add 160ml of boiling water and mix well
3. For a softer texture add 25g of butter & stir well (optional)
3. Let it stand for 15 minutes before cooking.
5) SMOKED SALMON:
As a Swede, this is a classic dish to me. I’m not sure how Christmassy it actually is for the rest of the world, but growing up, my family would always include gravad lax on the Christmas table. Regardless, it’s packed with good fats (omega fatty acids – 3&6) and is rich in protein (18g per 100g), with no glycemic load, and weighing in at a mere 110 calories per 100g. It is high in salt though, so avoid OVERindulging in it…
1. Pop it on a plate
(2. Optional) Squeeze a whole lemon & serve!
6. ROAST SWEET POTATO AND SPROUTS
Rather than traditional spuds, sweet potato has a surprisingly low glycemic load (low GI), and tastes fabulous; the roasting process renders it slightly toffee-ish in texture and flavour. Sprouts, a Christmas classic, are low in saturates, super-low in cholesterol, and are a great source of such minerals as Thiamin, Riboflavin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper… the list is quite long, so it really is worth “eating your spouts”
1. SPROUTS; Empty 400g of sprouts into a saucepan with some salt, cover with boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook, covered, for 5-10 minutes.
2. SWEET POTATO; Peel, slice and chop, sprinkle some mixed herbs if you like, sprinkle with a touch of olive oil, then put them in the oven (200degrees) on a baking tray resting on silver foil, and turn every 10 minutes. Let them roast for 40 minutes until they become delicious.
Hope you have a deliciously happy Christmas!
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