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Healthy alternatives for your Christmas feast

With the festive season fast approaching, sticking to a healthy diet can be challenging. With family dinners, cocktail parties and office gatherings in abundance, most of us enjoy a much richer diet and it can seem like temptation lurks around every corner. Whilst there is nothing wrong with a little overindulgence at this time of year, there are also plenty of ways to take the guilt out of your festive feasting. 

We have compiled a list of our favourite healthier seasonal recipes that are sure to delight all the family!

Cheesy Figs

These cheesy figs make a fantastic starter for your festive feast, or a wonderful canapé for your seasonal soirees.

 

  • 12 fresh figs 
  • 110g soft goat’s cheese 
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 85g Forever Bee Honey

Preheat the oven to broil and start to trim the fig stems. Cut diagonally across the top of each fig to make an X shape, making sure that you only cut a third of the way through – you don’t want the fruit to fall apart! Place the figs upright on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper; if your figs fall over gently flatten the bottom using a sharp knife. Fill a piping bag up with the goat’s cheese, making sure that it is soft before piping equally into each fig. Lightly brush the figs with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cover with a generous helping of cracked black pepper. Broil the figs for about four minutes or until the cheese begins to brown. Gently warm Forever Bee Honey in a saucepan but do not boil or overheat. Remove figs from oven and drizzle with the Forever Bee Honey. Best served warm or at room temperature.

Find more of our canapé ideas here

Low-sugar Christmas biscuits

These low-sugar festive biscuits are not only delicious, they also make a fantastic activity to decorate with kids, or why not turn them into an edible Christmas tree decoration?

 

  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 60g/2¼oz soft brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 275g/9¾oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped candied peel
  • halved blanched almonds, to decorate (optional)
  • royal icing, to decorate (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. 

To make the dough, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and beat the mixture. Mix in the flour, cinnamon and candid peal until the mixture comes together to form a dough. 

Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough out to a thickness of 1cm. Using biscuit cutters, carefully cut shapes out of the dough and place onto your backing tray, making sure to leave space between each biscuit. If you are using almonds to decorate, add them to the middle of the biscuit. To make Christmas decorations, cut a hole in the top of your biscuits using a straw. 

Bake in the middle of your oven for ten minutes until deep golden brown. Leave on the tray for five minutes to harden, and transfer to a wire cooling rack. If you are decorating with royal icing, make sure the biscuits are fully cool before getting creative.  

Roast parsnip and chestnut salad

Adapted from a recipe on BBC Food 

This rustic root vegetable salad is low-fat, deliciously decadent, and a great accompaniment for you Christmas dinner.  

 

  • 500g parsnips, quartered
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g pack cooked and peeled chestnuts
  • 2 sprigs of roughly chopped 
  • 1 tsp clear honey 
  • 140g bag of mixed leaf salad

Heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. On a baking tray, toss the parsnips with two tsp of the oil, season and roast for twenty minutes. 

Add the chestnuts to the parsnips and stir through with the rosemary. Drizzle with honey and roast for a further ten to fifteen minutes and leave to cool. 

Whilst the parsnips are cooling, toss your salad leaves with the remaining oil and some seasoning, and pile generously onto a serving plate. Top with the parsnips, chestnuts, and drizzle with the juices from the tray. 

Showstopping Christmas pavlova wreath

Adapted from a recipe on BBC Food 

This showstopping dessert is the perfect end to a festive feast, and with less sugar than normal meringue, you can tuck in after your Christmas dinner without all the guilt. 

 

  • 5 medium free-range egg whites
  • 150g/5½oz caster sugar
  • 250g/9oz low-fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 orange, finely grated zest and 1 tbsp juice
  • drop of almond extract
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 200g/7oz raspberries
  • 50g/1¾oz flaked almonds, toasted
  • 1 square of dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 120C/100C Fan/Gas ½, and line a baking tray with parchment paper. In a clean and dry glass bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently add the sugar a teaspoon at a time, and continue to whisk until you have stiff peaks, and the meringue looks glossy. 

On your parchment paper, arrange eight large spoonfuls of the meringue mixture into a ring shape to form your wreath. Bake at 120C/100C Fan/Gas ½, for thirty minutes, then reduce the oven to 110C/90C Fan/Gas ¼ and bake for a further hour and a half. Once baked, turn off the oven but do not remove the meringue. Leave the door ajar until the meringue is cold.

To make the topping, mix together the yoghurt, orange zest and juice, almond extract and cinnamon. Top the meringue ring with the yoghurt mixture, and generously scatter with raspberries and almonds. Finish with a garnish of finely grated chocolate and enjoy. 

These healthy alternatives are a great way to stay on the ‘nice-list’ this festive season! Let us know your favourite healthy alternatives in the comments below! 



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