When it comes to Christmas menus, they are often a mix of healthy and not so healthy dishes; it is the season of treats after all!
However, there are so many foods on the traditional festive menus that are great for supporting wellbeing. Even better, they are delicious!
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five delicious and healthy festive foods.
Turkey has more nutritional benefits than chicken in many respects. Importantly, it is higher in protein and lower in fat than chicken. However, with both meats, it’s important to avoid eating the skin as this is where most of the fat sits and there are no further benefits to eating it (apart from the taste of crispy skin which many of us love!)
From an immune-boosting perspective, turkey contains one third more zinc than chicken, and this is especially rich in the dark meat. Turkey also provides all of the energising B vitamins, together with potassium which is great for the heart, and phosphorus which is essential for healthy bones. There’s no need for any guilt when loading up your Christmas meal plate with turkey!
Any vegetable or fruit that is deep in colour is rich in nutrients, and red cabbage is no exception. Red cabbage is loaded with disease-preventing antioxidants.
However, all cabbage provides a plethora of nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. Uniquely, cabbage also contains a compound called S-Methylmethionine which has been found to help heal stomach ulcers and soothe pain in the gut. And if you’re struggling with acid reflux during the festive season, which is very common, then drinking raw cabbage juice will certainly help. However, there’s no problem with adding some beetroot and apple to make the juice more palatable and even healthier.
Red cabbage makes a delicious addition to any Christmas menu, prepared with apples, raisins, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
No Christmas menu is complete without the addition of parsnips. This slightly sweet root vegetable can be eaten instead, or in addition to, potatoes and provides a great source of fibre. Parsnips are also rich in folate, essential for the production of healthy red blood cells, and help support lung health. Additionally, they contain plenty of potassium which helps reduce blood pressure.
Parsnips clearly deliver on health and taste and are great roasted and flavoured with garlic, Parmesan cheese or coriander. Indeed, they also make a fabulous Boxing Day spicy soup with both turmeric and cumin providing the warming and delicious spices.
Whilst cranberries can be rather sharp and sour in taste, used in cranberry sauce they certainly come alive. And they still deliver on health, providing plenty of anthocyanins – antioxidants that protect the liver from free radical damage. Even better, these antioxidants also have a protective effect on overall health.
Cranberries are also well-known for their ability to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections because they stop any bacteria from hanging around internally.
Every turkey needs some accompaniments and cranberry sauce provides a very worthy and healthy partner.
No nut conjures up feelings of Christmas more than chestnuts! If you’re lucky enough to have an open fire, then you can’t miss out on roasting these delicious nuts. And once they’re roasted, chestnuts are certainly easier to extract from their outer shell.
Chestnuts are naturally rich in immune-boosting zinc, energising iron and bone-loving manganese. They are also rich in complex carbs so will certainly hit the spot if you’re feeling in need of a snack between meals.
Of course, chestnut is the main event in chestnut stuffing which can quite happily be vegan with the addition of mushrooms, onions, garlic, oregano, and sage. All these additional ingredients provide immune-boosting antioxidants, and plenty of warming herbs to help protect the body against any nasty viruses floating around.
And chestnuts don’t just need to feature in savoury recipes; they work really well with chocolate made into a cake or as a cream to pour over some decadent poached pears (also now in season).
So, enjoy your festive feast and include some of these health-giving foods for an extra wellbeing boost!
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