Festive food – is it really possible to enjoy a healthy Christmas dinner?

Our blogger Lindsay shares her advice on festive portion sizes, healthy recipes and tasty alternatives…

The festive season can be a very tempting way to eat into old habits and overload on too much food. Of course, you’re off university and work, you want to enjoy yourself – it’s allowed! However, you don’t need to pile your plate high to enjoy your Christmas dinner; see below for an easy guide to portion sizes and how to only cook what you need.

xmas dinner portions

Since you have time off, Christmas is actually a great opportunity to make an effort with your food, to make it healthy and enjoyable for the whole family. Even the Christmas dinner favourites such as roasties can be made just as tasty without coating them in gallons of oil and fat, and I guarantee you’ll still get that ever-so satisfying crisp when you bite into them.

A tasty alternative to stodgy sprouts (because really, is there anyone who likes sprouts?)sprouts

Brussel sprouts with bacon and chestnuts (Serves 4)

500g sprouts
3 bacon rashers
100g chestnuts
25g butter


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and then add the sprouts. Once boiling, cook for five mins. Drain the sprouts and run under the cold tap until cold. Add the bacon to a heated frying pan and gently fry for ten mins until crisp and golden, then remove from the pan. Add the chestnuts, fry over a high heat for about five mins and then remove from the pan.

Add the sprouts back to the pan with a splash of water, cover and finish cooking over a medium heat for about five mins, stirring occasionally. Uncover, turn up the heat and add most of the butter and sauté the sprouts for two mins. Finally, add the bacon and chestnuts to the sprouts and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with the last of the butter on top.

A healthier version of crispy roasties:

Crispy Roast Potatoes (Serves 4)

1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 4cm chunks
4 bay leaves
3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Add the potatoes to a large pan of cold water with the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for eight mins. Drain and return to the pan with the oil. Shake the pan and then season with black pepper. Transfer the potatoes to a very large baking tray and roast for around an hour (or until crisp and golden). Remove the bay leaves to serve.

Just for good measure, I have added a recipe for the sauce that tops off your Christmas dinner. With much less sugar and calories in this homemade version, you have the go ahead to eat even more of it!

Try a healthier alternative to sugary shop-bought cranberry sauce:

Homemade Cranberry Sauce (Serves 4)             cranberry sauce

50g light muscovado sugar
50ml orange juice
125g fresh or frozen cranberries


Pour the sugar and orange juice into a pan and bring to the boil. Stir in the cranberries and simmer for five mins until they are tender but still hold their shape (or ten mins if using fresh cranberries). The sauce will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature.


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