1. It’s the perfect balance of nutrients
We certainly know a few things about balance when it comes to nutrition. So, it’s good to know that a traditional Christmas dinner contains the three main macronutrients that provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs – protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Jennifer’s tip: always buy the best quality ingredients you can afford. Organic, seasonal and local produce not only tastes delicious, it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals too.
2. Top marks for turkey
Turkey is a healthy lean protein and a rich source of niacin, vitamins B3, B6 and B12 which support brain health and energy production. What’s more, turkey provides zinc and selenium (good for immune system and skin) and the amino acid tryptophan which can help boost your mood.
Jennifer’s tip: opt for a skinless portion to reduce fat content, and order free-range and organic turkey where possible.
3. Go crazy with the cranberry sauce
A great source of vitamin A, C and K, this ruby coloured jam not only complements turkey, but it can also help lower cholesterol and support your immune system. Cranberry sauce contains proanthocyanidins (PACs) and antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Jennifer’s tip: beware – shop-bought sauces contain loads of sugar. Better to make your own or look for a jar with a lower sugar content.
4. Bravo for Brussel sprouts
Brussels might be giving us a headache with regards to Brexit right now, but the mighty Brussel sprout will do wonders for your gut health. Few vegetables are as divisive as this baby brassica – some people proudly gobble them up, others hide them under a napkin while childhood memories of boiled, bitter school dinners come back to haunt them. But cooked properly they can be delicious which is excellent news as they support gut regularity and support the immune system. Just eight sprouts provide over double the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K and 125% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake.
Jennifer’s tip: roast 450g of halved Brussel sprouts with ½ tablespoons of cider vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup until tender and golden. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds or chopped chestnuts. Delicious and certain to convert even the most ardent Brussel hater.
5. Colourful carrots
Tasty, and highly nutritious, carrots are a particularly good source of beta carotene, fibre, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. They’re weight-loss-friendly food and have been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved eye health. What’s more, their carotene antioxidants can help reduce the risk of cancer.
Jennifer’s tip: carrots are found in many colours, including yellow, white, orange, red, and purple. Use a variety to create a pretty, festive plate.
6. Sweet, earthy parsnips
Low in calories, high in fibre, roasted parsnips introduce a wonderful sweet taste and texture to your Christmas dinner. They contain antioxidants and folates which can help reduce the risk of cancer and high blood pressure
Jennifer’s tip: try roasting your parsnips with a sprinkling of cinnamon and lemon zest. The natural sweetness of cinnamon enhances the earthy sweetness of the parsnips.
7. Versatile chestnuts
Whether you eat them with sprouts or add them to stuffing, chestnuts are a great way to boost your health at Christmas time. Unlike most nuts, chestnuts are surprisingly low in fat and also an excellent source of vitamin C. On top of this, they’re a great source of protein, fibre and nutrients, including iron, B vitamins and folate.
Jennifer’s tip: vegetarian Christmas dinner? No problem. Create a delicious, show-stopping chestnut-based centrepiece. One of my favourites is Leiths Aubergine and Chestnut Pie. Even the carnivores will devour this.
8. Christmas is great for your mental health
The most important thing about Christmas time is the joy that it brings. Although the pandemic means we’re not going out and mingling as much, hopefully, we can still see a few family and friends in person or come together virtually. Now is not the time to be worrying about every single thing you eat, and food should be enjoyed mindfully. Take time over your meal and eat to enjoy, not to excess. Load your plate with veggies first, then add your meat so you’re less likely to over-indulge.
Jennifer’s tip: we like to take our four daughters and three dogs for an invigorating walk after lunch. This helps reduce bloating and prevents an energy slump. Then it’s home for dessert.
We’d like to wish all our readers and clients a Merry Christmas and hope that next year will bring better things. Enjoy the season with your loved ones and remember, there’s plenty of time to get back on track in the new year with Balance Box. We’re taking orders for January now so why not take a look at our nutritionally balanced meal plans here.
Need a little help planning and cooking Christmas Dinner?
Our friends at Leiths have created the Ultimate Guide to Christmas Cooking that gives you time to open your presents and spend time with loved ones on Christmas Day. We’ve added a few Balance Box tweaks to help you stay healthy without missing out on festive fun.