‘Tis the season to indulge, but did you know that we consume three times our daily calorie count on December 25th. That’s an awful lot of mince pies and left over turkey.
We’re not saying you should ditch the spuds or go without because, when you strip it back to basics, a Christmas dinner really isn’t that bad for you. It’s all about how you prepare it that makes the difference. So in our Christmas meal series TRAIN magazine will be bringing you plenty of tips and advice for avoiding splurging on the big day. This week however, we focus on the classic roast.
Turkey: This is the best meat to cook when looking to reduce your calorie intake on the big day. Not only is it low in fat and high in protein but it’s fewer calories per slice than its chicken counterpart. Just keep it to a few slices minus the skin and you can enjoy it without any guilt.
Chicken: If you can’t stay away from your favorite bird on the big day, make sure you don’t let your chicken cook in it’s own juices. Raise it on a rack and pour them off if you’re looking to get lean, or use them to make a gravy if you’re bulking up. Alternatively, cook some chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken to avoid anything that can add calories and fat to your meat.
Roast potatoes: Halve the fat of your normal rosties by using vegetable stock and a tablespoon or two of olive oil to make them crispy. Alternatively, use a Tefal ActiFry instead to make them even healthier with just a small spoon of oil. They will be every bit as crispy and this works for carrots, too. Also, we do a disservice to our spuds when we remove the skin, as this is where that precious fiber is, so leave the peeler in the drawer.
Mashed potatoes: They might not be as crispy, but opting for mash can actually halve the calorie intake from your side spud. Use low-fat sour cream and fat free milk instead of butter to mash your spuds. They will still taste creamy and indulgent, but they won’t be as harmful to your diet.
Avoid using honey to cook your veg in as this will not only add calories and sugars but research tells us that cooking honey results in many scientific changes such as loss of enzymes and probiotics which means that you lose the health benefits that are usually associated with the sweet treat. Also, be wary of how you cook your veg, use dried herbs such as rosemary and thyme that give great flavor and are loaded with antioxidants.
Cabbage: This green is a good source of fiber that’ll keep you feeling full, plus it complements chicken really well.
Carrots: Boil them whole then slice afterwards and you’ll retain many more of their nutrients.
Garlic: Stuff this under the skin for extra flavor as well as a powerful anti-fatigue aid for your training.
Celery: Chuck this in the pan to get a low calorie, high fiber digestive aid that can reduce inflammation as well.
Parsnips: Parsnips are another source of fiber, potassium and also vitamin C. Be mindful about adding parmesan, which add calories to an already hearty meal.
Brussel sprouts: Your mum was right – they are good for you. They contain more than your daily requirement of vitamin K and plenty of B vitamins such as folate, which is important in energy production. Steam them to retain as many nutrients as possible.
And everything else…
Stuffing: No Christmas meal is complete without a side of stuffing, but it can be calorific next to your steamed veg. Here is a great healthy alternative – apple and raisin bread stuffing that doesn’t sacrifice flavor.
Gravy: Even home-made gravy can contain more calories, sugars and fats than we may hope for. The best way to cut down the sugars is to use a low-carb thickener such as whole-wheat, oat or barley flour instead of more sugary filled thickeners such as white flour. Alternatively, you can use a low fat yogurt to pour over your dinner, just flavor with some rosemary and thyme, or whichever herb tickles your fancy.