When it comes to Christmas it’s easy to fall off the healthy bandwagon – family sized tins of Roses and Quality Street from well-meaning friends, it seems like calories are everywhere. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with treating yourself, in fact, I recommend you do. But, if you’re looking for something healthier, here are some of my favourite alternative snacks so you can still indulge but cut the calories.
Whilst mulled wine smells great and is full of fragrant herbs and spices, it’s also packed with sugar. An alternative is to make your own – a decent red wine, the usual spices and a dash of fresh orange juice will cut the sugar levels. To make it even more traditional, add a splash of brandy and some cinnamon sticks. You won’t be able tell the difference from the shop bought version but you’ll save on the calories.
Popcorn is naturally low in calories, it’s the flavours that are the unhealthy part. All those Christmas film nights can be an excuse to mindlessly eat a lot of chocolate, so why not replace the tins of sweets with bowls of fresh popcorn and seasonings of your choice – ground garlic and herbs are great as is cinnamon or powdered freeze dried fruit. The list is endless.
Topless Mince Pies
Why not try open top mince pies? Using less pastry cuts down on calories and fat. Alternatively use filo pastry which is must thinner so you’ll use less and pad out the mincemeat by adding finely chopped apple so you’ll use less filling.
Don’t wrap sausages in bacon or pastry and when cooking opt for grill, dry fry or bake on a wire rack so the fat drains off.
Nibbles with Drinks
Serve mini rice cakes, oatcakes or as previously mentioned, popcorn as a tasty alternative to crisps and salted nuts. If you do want nuts, then have bowls of nuts in shells – the time it takes to shell the nuts will cause you to eat less.
Rather than having dips with cream or cream cheese, choose tomato based dips such as salsa or plain low fat yoghurt which you can season yourself with garlic and herbs.
Forget the After Eights or Stollen bread after a meal, jelly is a great low sugar food and you can pack it with fruit for added nutrients. Also, if you’re feeling in the party mood you can add a splash of gin or vodka and create jelly fruit cocktails.
If you’re desperate for that chocolate fix, then go for dark chocolate. Not only will it curb your cravings but dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and contains less sugar than milk chocolate – it’s less processed too.
Some are Already Healthy
Some festive favourites do make a healthy festive snack. Satsumas are high in vitamin C and great for warding off colds and roast chestnuts are a good source of protein and low in fat.
Going for alternative choices will help keep your healthy eating on track over the holidays, which means achieving those fitness goals in the new year will be less of a challenge!