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A Christmas party setting at a table

Festive fare: five nutrient-packed Christmas dinner dishes

Most of us look forward to delicious Christmas food but are there healthier alternatives we could be adding to our festive dinner table? Here are five nutrient-packed dishes from clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer to help make this year’s Christmas delicious and nutritious.

CRISPY ROASTIES IN COCONUT OIL

No Christmas menu would be complete without roast potatoes!  However, swap the goose fat for coconut oil and you’ll not only be gaining some of the wonderful benefits of coconut oil, but also have more energy to enjoy the rest of the day!  Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat (just like goose fat), it contains a form of fats known as medium chain triglycerides, which are used by the body as an energy source and, therefore, the calories are burnt more quickly.  Coconut oil will also give you an amazing crispy potato without any of the bad trans-fats that are generated by using other oils, such as sunflower.

GARLIC BEANS

Green beans tossed in some melted butter always make a great ‘side’ to any meal.  However, for a special and healthy treat, why not toss them in some garlic butter?  In fact, the more garlic you can include in your daily diet, the healthier you’ll be (as long as all the family are eating it!)  Garlic is great for the heart, helping to reduce blood pressure, as well as being a powerful anti-fungal – any digestive problems particularly involving yeast overgrowths, can be helped by eating garlic.  Chop some chives and sprinkle over the top, before placing the beans on your Christmas dinner table.

STEAMED SPROUTS

The much-maligned Brussels sprouts are not welcome guests in many households.  However, their nutritional benefits are so fantastic that they shouldn’t be left off the menu.  They’re rich in immune-boosting vitamin A and vitamin C and bone-building vitamin K.  They’re also great for women battling unpleasant menopausal symptoms.  And even better, while they’re low in total fats, they do contain some essential omega 3s (nearly as many as flaxseeds).  Why not lightly steam them and then toss them with some olive oil, the zest of a lemon and some pine nuts ?

CAULIFLOWER WITH TOMATO RATATOUILLE

Cauliflower is a member of the favoured brassica family of vegetables; packed with nutrients, particularly vitamin C, fibre and sulforaphanes (detoxifying enzymes found in cruciferous vegetables like Cauliflower), all of which have many amazing healthy benefits.  So, when mixed with tomatoes (high in lycopene), onions (great for the digestion) and courgettes (rich in beta carotene), you’ve got a powerful and colourful combination on your Christmas dinner table.

HAM WITH APRICOTS

The traditional ham joint is a wonderfully tasty addition to any Christmas menu.  Ham is naturally quite high in saturated fat, but the most important point to remember when you buy your joint of ham is to go for unsmoked rather than smoked; the smoking process potentially introduces harmful nitrates to the meat, but also tends to increase the salt content.

Ham is delicious cooked with dried apricots (a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene); glaze with a mixture of marmalade jam and mustard and cooked for a further 45 minutes.