Keeping Christmas healthy

Keeping Christmas healthy

The Make Every Meal Healthier! theme this month is about keeping Christmas healthy – how to celebrate and still feel great.

At Christmas it’s easy to think, “bugger it, I’m just going to eat and drink whatever I want”. That’s fair enough, but the problem is that we might not feel great about that come January. Did you know it’s estimated that adults put on around half a kilo during the festive season, on average?

It’s weight that we can find hard to shed – in fact, it’s part of the reason why many of us grow just that little bit larger with each passing year.

In the manic run-up to Christmas, it’s easy to find your healthy eating habits get side-lined for nibbling on Christmas cake, chocolate and canapés and, to compensate, skipping proper meals. And it’s a time of year too where, with so many social and work commitments, we’re inclined to push ourselves harder and faster than we do all year.

But it doesn’t have to be that way at all. What if Christmas dinner, and the surrounding festivities – Christmas eve, boxing day, new year celebrations etc – was absolutely delicious, and absolutely healthy as well? It’s not hard to achieve, try these ideas to get you started.

Healthy and delicious Christmas meal ideas

Main meals

  • Roast turkey, lamb, beef fillet or pork (one is enough – too much choice often confuses the enjoyment)
  • Whole baked salmon – stuff with lemon slices, dill and almonds and bake in foil on the BBQ or in the oven; serve with a bowl of light sour cream mixed with horseradish
  • BBQ meats – kebabs, steak, lamb cutlets or lean gourmet sausages
  • Seafood and fish – grilled, barbecued or baked (keep these simple to enjoy their delicate flavours).

Delicious side dishes

  • Medley of roast vegetables; drizzle with honey or maple syrup and balsamic vinegar
  • Roast vegetable salad – potato, pumpkin, kumara, yams, parsnip, beetroot, baby onions can all be roasted in advance, then cut up and dressed to make a salad; toasted pumpkin seeds make a delicious garnish
  • Vegetable kebabs – thread pieces of kumara, courgette, mushrooms, pineapple, red onion and cherry tomatoes onto skewers and barbecue
  • Corn on the cob – barbecue in its husk or wrapped in foil.


  • Fresh fruit and marshmallow kebabs (kids love these)
  • Pavlova or meringue crushed and mixed with lemon yoghurt, blueberries and walnuts and served in individual glass bowls
  • Mango jelly garnished with fresh raspberries, strawberries and blueberries
  • Ice cream Christmas pudding made by mixing brandy-soaked dried fruit in softened light ice cream and then freezing in a pudding bowl (or see the recipe in the December issue of Healthy Food Guide magazine for Christmas pudding ice cream).


  • Bowls of roasted nuts, muscatels and figs
  • Chocolate-covered strawberries – mix of white chocolate, dark chocolate and plain strawberries
  • Smoked salmon fillet with crackers or ciabatta bread slices, extra-light cream cheese, lemon slices and fresh dill
  • Hummus or salsa with vegetable sticks
  • Bread cases filled with a mixture of cottage cheese, feta, spinach and chopped sun-dried tomato
  • Mini pikelets topped with extra-light cream cheese, smoked salmon slices and capers.
First published: Nov 2012

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