Festive Feasting Made Healthier

Festive Feasting Made Healthier

Contributed by Eve Persak, Nutrition Advisor, MS RD CNSC CSSD

From rich, creamy casseroles to classic Christmas puddings and sweet pecan pies, indulgent dishes are aplenty this time of the year. 

It’s fine to be a little naughty and take delight in the holiday offerings with friends and family, after all who wants to be the Grinch that kills the joy of festive feasting, right? Rather than sit out on the festive favourites, make a couple of small tweaks to your holiday meals to add some nutrition and subtract some guilt!  

1. Start smart

No party is complete without the little nibbles to go along with the tipples. Here are some common appetisers that you can easily swop up:

Charcuterie board

Instead of serving a meat platter that’s laden with fat, salt, preservatives, curing agents and artificial flavourings, offer a board of sliced organic cheese, olives and fresh fruits. Your guests will thank you for the tasty but healthier option!

Roasted and salted mixed nuts

Not all nuts are equal. Give conventional roasted or baked nuts a miss and opt for organic raw or activated nuts as snacks. Your guests will enjoy more nature-made nutrition, without the pesticides.  Watch out for the excess sodium in salted mixed nuts, too. Nix the salt but not the flavour with nuts that are seasoned with spices and herbs.

2. Get fresh

Most traditional recipes feature cooked dishes. While they may contain healthful ingredients, cooking can reduce the concentration and potency of many antioxidants, as well as denature beneficial enzymes. Put the nutrients back on the table, starting with the snacks and sides. Instead of chips and crisps, serve vegetable crudité with your dips. Offer a mixed salad that features a rainbow of fresh, raw organic produce.  

3. Add fibre

‘Tis the season to savour buttery mashes, roast potatoes and baked pastas.  However, as these dishes are often rich in carbohydrates, refined grains and calories, they can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and substantially increase your calorie intake. Counter this issue by adding fibre-rich ingredients. Use whole grain flour instead of all-purpose flour in any baked recipes. Rather than mashed potato, consider making cauliflower mash.

4. Switch sweetener

Christmas cakes, puddings, trifles and eggnog. What’s Christmas without the quintessential sweet treats, right? Instead of adding white or brown refined cane sugar and processed syrups, naturally sweeten your desserts with raw organic syrups such as honey, maple syrup or molasses. Dried fruits and purees can also be added to boost the fibre and micronutrient content.