A healthy Christmas menu is not about going without the foods you love, depriving yourself or missing out on family traditions. Balance your festive treats by keeping your options light and enhancing the show-stopper (be it a roast or seafood or another signature dish) with fresh salads to add flavour and colour without leaving you feeling heavy and tired.
Try substituting condiments for healthier alternatives. Drizzle yoghurt over puddings and fruity pies, serve ‘nice-cream’ for a fresh and fruity treat.
Finish the meal with an iced fennel and lemon tea in the shade, go for a walk around the block and count all the new bikes in the neighbourhood before returning to the backyard for a game of cricket. It doesn’t get more Melbourne than that! Here are some summertime meal ideas for you to try…
Canapes are a great addition to start off the culinary festivities – few little morsels to whet the appetite and nibble on whilst friends and family are welcomed and presents shared. Load antipasto platters with grilled or barbequed vegetables, fruits such as pears, figs, grapes and berries and add in some nuts and seeds.
• Caprese salad bites (skewered cherry tomatoes, bocconcini, basil)
• Crostini with figs and pecans
• Mushroom patè
Entrées can be a bit more substantial but don’t have to be intense. Seafood is a delicious choice that is packed with nutrients and a great source of protein whilst being light in both flavour and calories. Serve with a simple squeeze of lemon or lime juice or a vinaigrette and let their natural flavours do the talking.
• Grilled seafood platter with sauces and salad
• Grilled vegetable stack with Persian feta
Mains are usually the show-stopper, and rightly so. Gorgeous aromas of roast vegetables, fish, meat or poultry wander from the oven long before lunch is ready.
• Roast turkey with cranberry sauce and lemony quinoa stuffing.
• Whole roast cauliflower
• Whole baked snapper
Sides are the perfect place to bring colour and diversity to your table that can enhance the flavours or your main dish. If you play your cards right and have some leftovers after your meal, a gorgeous salad with cold-cuts is a perfect late dinner (or Boxing day breakfast!)
• Roast sweet potato salad
• Tomato garden salad
• Watermelon, mint and feta salad
• Watercress, pear and walnut salad
Dessert can be balanced with fruits and yoghurt so you are still getting your favourite Christmas flavours, but not overindulging with lashings of cream and custard.
• Fruit salad with gingerbread ‘croutons’
• Christmas cake parfait (layered cake, yoghurt and fruit)
• Fruity Nice Cream
Written by Melbourne Naturopath Bree Jenner