Healthy and Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas
As the holiday season approaches, many of us eagerly anticipate the joyous traditions and gatherings that come with it, including the much-anticipated Christmas dinner. While this celebratory feast is often associated with indulgence and decadence, you might be surprised to learn that many components of a traditional Christmas dinner can contribute to your overall wellbeing. In this blog post, we’ll explore the various health benefits of Christmas dinner, highlighting how the festive spread can be a wholesome and nourishing experience. We also have some delicious and nutritious recipe ideas that are so easy to prepare and will leave a lasting impression on your guests.
What is the Best Food to Eat on Christmas Day
- Turkey, the Lean Protein Powerhouse: Rich in lean protein, turkey is essential for muscle maintenance, repair, and overall body function. Protein is also known for its satiating effect, helping you feel full and satisfied, which can be particularly beneficial during a festive feast. Opt for a roasted turkey seasoned with a mix of herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage. This not only adds a festive aroma to your kitchen but also provides antioxidants and essential nutrients.
- Nutrient-Packed Vegetables: Christmas dinners often feature an array of colorful and nutrient-dense vegetables. From brussels sprouts to sweet potatoes and green beans, these veggies provide a plethora of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients play crucial roles in supporting immune function, promoting skin health, and aiding digestion. Upgrade your vegetable sides by roasting a medley of colorful veggies such as carrots, brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes. Toss them in olive oil and herbs like thyme and garlic before roasting to perfection. These nutrient-rich vegetables will add a burst of flavor and vitamins to your Christmas spread. Try our delicious vegetarian recipes or see below for an irresistible roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes dish that will leave your guests thinking it’s the main event.
- Cranberries and Their Antioxidant Punch: Cranberry sauce, a staple on many Christmas tables, is not just a flavorful accompaniment. Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, which have been linked to various health benefits, including cardiovascular health. The natural compounds found in cranberries may contribute to reducing inflammation and supporting urinary tract health. Swap out traditional carb-heavy sides with a light and nutritious quinoa salad. Combine cooked quinoa with dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and a zesty vinaigrette made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This dish is not only colorful but also packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
- Healthy Fats in Nuts and Olive Oil: Many Christmas recipes incorporate nuts and olive oil, both of which are excellent sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Pecans, walnuts, and almonds, often featured in festive dishes, provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with improved heart health. Olive oil, used in dressings and roasting, is rich in antioxidants and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Fiber-Rich Stuffing and Whole Grains: Whole grains, whether in the form of whole-grain bread in stuffing or brown rice in side dishes, contribute essential dietary fiber to your Christmas dinner. Fiber aids in digestion, helps maintain a healthy weight, and supports gut health. Additionally, whole grains provide a steady release of energy, preventing blood sugar spikes.
- Mood-Boosting Dark Chocolate: The inclusion of dark chocolate in Christmas desserts is not just for its irresistible taste. Dark chocolate has many health benefits is known to contain mood-enhancing compounds, such as serotonin precursors and endorphin-releasing substances. Indulge your sweet cravings with a healthier dessert option. Try our overnight chocolate chia seed pudding or simply dip fresh strawberries in dark chocolate for a decadent treat that’s rich in antioxidants.
Easy and Healthy Christmas Dinner Recipes
Herb-Roasted Christmas Turkey Recipe
- 1 whole turkey (12-14 pounds)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 onion, quartered
- 4 cups chicken or turkey broth (for basting)
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C).
- Prepare the Turkey: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavity and pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.
- Herb Butter Rub: In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, chopped rosemary, thyme, sage, minced garlic, salt, and black pepper. Mix well to form an herb-infused butter.
- Season the Turkey: Gently lift the skin of the turkey, being careful not to tear it. Spread half of the herb butter mixture under the skin, directly onto the breast meat. Rub the remaining herb butter over the outside of the turkey, covering the entire surface.
- Add Citrus and Aromatics: Place the halved lemon and quartered onion into the turkey cavity. These will add extra flavor to the bird as it roasts.
- Truss the Turkey: Truss the turkey with kitchen twine to help it cook evenly. This involves tying the legs together and securing the wings to the body.
- Roasting: Place the turkey in the preheated oven. Roast the turkey, basting every 30 minutes with chicken or turkey broth, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the thigh. Cooking times will vary based on the size of your turkey.
- Resting: Once the turkey is done, remove it from the oven, cover it with foil, and let it rest for at least 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a moist and flavorful turkey.
- Carving: Carve the turkey into slices and serve with your favorite side dishes.
Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Caper Vinaigrette
- 4 parsnips
- 4 medium red onions
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
- salt and pepper
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 30 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp small capers
- 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Prepare the Parsnips and Onions: Cut your parsnips into two or three segments. Then cut each piece length ways into two or four. You want it to look like a chip. Peel the onions and cut each into six wedges. Place the parsnips and onions into a large mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of olive oil, thyme, rosemary and garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Mix well and spread into a large roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes.
- Prepare the Sweet Potatoes: Trim both ends of the sweet potatoes. Cut them with skin on, widthways in half and then each half into six wedges. They should be approximately the same size as the turnips. Add the potatoes to the pan with parsnips and onion, and stir well. Return to the oven to roast for a further 40-50 minutes.
- Add Tomatoes: When all the vegetables are cooked through and have taken on a golden colour, stir in the halved tomatoes. Roast for a further 10 minutes.
- Prepare the Dressing: Whist together the lemon juice, capers, maple syrup, mustard, 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Combine Vegetables and Dressing: Pour the dressing over the roasted vegetables as soon as they are out of the oven. Stir well and adjust the seasoning.
How to Be Healthy in the Christmas Season
Navigating the holiday season with a focus on healthy eating is not about deprivation but rather about making conscious choices that support your wellbeing. The holidays are a time to celebrate, and occasional indulgence is a part of that celebration. If you find yourself enjoying a treat, savor it without guilt. Balance is the key to a healthy and happy holiday season. Be mindful of your alcohol consumption and opt for lighter choices. Consider diluting wine with sparkling water or choosing lower-calorie cocktails. Remember to stay hydrated with water as well and maintain an active lifestyle by incorporating physical activity into your holiday routine.
From all of us at Shanti-Som Wellbeing Retreat, we wish you a healthy and joyous Christmas season!