The Bird - Most of the fat is held just under the skin of your bird. If you remove the skin before cooking you could save yourself 50kcals per portion. Pricking your bird and cooking it upside down on a trivet will also help excess fat drain away. Dark meat does contain more calories (as well as nutrients) over white meat. I personally prefer the white meat so would go for breast or crown.
Don't be tempted to coat your vegetables with butter, you could be adding another 25kcals per portion. Instead use a sprinkle of chopped herbs, chives, dill, marjoram, parsley, thyme and rosemary all go really well with hot, just out of the steamer vegetables.
Of course our Christmas lunch wouldn't be the same without the obligatory roast potatoes and roast parsnips. But did you know that by adding some sweet potato and butternut squash you'll reduce the overall GI of the meal.
Try and forget the sausages in blankets, they are a classic addition to your meal, but if you added just two to your meal, you could be taking in an additional 120 plus calories! My alternative to this is the following Sausage meat stuffing recipe that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and serves 5 - 6 people.
· 1 tsp butter
· 1 small onion, diced
· 1 eating apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
· 225g pork sausage meat
· 100g fresh whole meal breadcrumbs (or half white, half brown)
· 1 sprig thyme, leaves removed
· 1 pinch cinnamon
· 2 tbsp chopped parsley
· Juice from half a lemon
Method - Cook the onions in the butter and soften over a low heat without colouring. Stir in the apples and continue cooking until they are just beginning to lose their shape. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Combine the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, thyme, cinnamon and parsley. Squeeze in the lemon juice and beat well for about a minute to blend everything together.
Use this stuffing to fill your turkey before roasting, or bake separately in an ovenproof dish, or roll into balls/ patties and cook on a greaseproof sheet. Bake at 180C/gas 4 for about 25 minutes and serve hot, but equally nice served cold on Boxing Day with salad and cold meats.
Lastly Christmas Pud, traditionally served with custard or double cream, instead why not serve it with a couple of tablespoons of Greek yogurt and save up to 50kcals.
Now just a few words on alcohol consumption, as strangely enough it increases during the Christmas period. A recent study showed Britons drink 41% more than the annual average in December. I'm not going to preach too much on this subject, apart from the following;
· Alcohol is high in sugar - 7 calories per gram, nearly as much as fat which is 9 calories per gram. These calories are 'empty' calories and offer no nutritional value whatsoever.
· Alcohol cannot be stored; in fact your body sees alcohol as poison. For this reason your body's priority is to get rid of it. While your body is dealing with the alcohol all other processes will be put on hold.
· Potentially this means anything you eat for the next 8 hours will be stored in your 'fat deposit banks' to be dealt with later.
It's not all doom and gloom, moderation is key. Clear spirits such as vodka, gin and tonic, Bacardi have the least calories. Other options include wine spritzers or shandies. Or why not go mad and a have a 'mock-tail' all the benefits of a 'cock-tail' but without the alcohol. There are some gorgeous ones at drinkaware.co.uk. I would also suggest for every alcoholic drink also have a glass of water to keep you hydrated and help flush out nasty toxins.
All that is left is to say have a Very Happy Christmas and A Sensible New Year!