Eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial, but the Festive Season is a perfectly good excuse to indulge in all our favorite Christmas treats (just not too much!)

So you have worked hard all year. Some of you have micro managed your macros, counted calories and exercised like crazy and we applaud you for your dedication. However, as your Nutritionists, we are ordering you to take Christmas day off to indulge and enjoy your food.

  • Besides, Christmas Dinner isn’t so unhealthy after all! Turkey is a low calorie lean meat jam packed with protein, while also containing important nutrients such as Selenium , which is known to help fight the signs of ageing and is great for our immune system.
  • Although high in sugar and calories, Cranberry Sauce is rich in Vitamin C, which will help to keep those pesky winter colds away. Cranberries are also packed with Antioxidants, which are known for their role in protecting against Cancer.
  • Now onto an Irish favourite, potatoes. Whether you have them mashed or roasted, potatoes are a source of Vitamin B6, which maintains a healthy nervous system.
  • A firm favourite of mine, Brussels Sprouts are a Christmas staple, and pack a huge nutrient punch. If you can get past their not so pleasant smell,  sprouts are a nutrition powerhouse, including being packed with Vitamin K, which is crucial for healthy blood, and for transporting calcium around the body.
  • For all those Vegetarians, Pescatarians and Vegans, I’ve good news for you about your Christmas Nut Roast. Packed with protein, which will keep you fuller for longer ( and may keep you from nibbling on the Quality Street after dinner), a nut roast is a great source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which have a whole host of health benefits, such as protecting your heart, benefiting your skin and reducing inflammation.
  • When you are washing your Dinner down with a glass of your favourite tipple and a slice of Christmas Pudding, don’t feel too guilty, filled with sultanas, raisins and mixed fruit, it is loaded with fibre. Fibre can lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lowers your chance of developing colorectal cancer,

So don’t feel too guilty, it’s a special day! If you’re lucky enough to spend time with Friends and Family this Christmas Day, enjoy yourself and give the diet a break for one day, you deserve it!

Head of Food Andy dishes out his best Christmas Dinner Secrets

  • Andy’s Top Tip: ‘Cook your ham the night before and allow it to rest in a cool area, why? Because this makes it easier to carve the next day and is easily reheated in the oven 30 minutes prior to serving. Use your ham stock to cook your sprouts, you’ll never have sprouts like that again!’

  • Butter it up! Andy says the key to a perfect moist Turkey is butter; ‘It stops the Turkey drying up, keeps it succulent until the moment you slice it and most importantly, adds flavour.’

  • Prepare a Vegetable base for your Turkey to sit on top of. A homemade Vegetable trivet means the turkey isn’t sitting in its own juices but instead it will absorb the taste and aromas of the vegetables it is resting on. Onions, Carrots and celery all work well; ‘ The combination of a bed of fresh vegetables and herbs allows good air circulation for a flavourful and evenly cooked Turkey’.

  • We all loved to cook our stuffing inside of our Turkey, but in recent years it is considered not to be the best practice when it comes to Food Safety in the kitchen. Get around this by wrapping your stuffing up inside tinfoil and then placing it inside the bird to cook.  The same Meaty flavour but with no risk! ‘ This gives the stuffing the necessary time to absorb the herbs and butter over a long period, giving it a richer taste.’

  • Most people will be smothering their Turkey with butter, oil, spices, herbs and some streaky bacon, but have you tried Cider?Andy swears by dousing his Turkey with a pint of the good stuff. ‘This is an old trick passed down by my Grandmother, she swore it enhanced the Turkey’s texture and added a unique aroma when combined with the medley of herbs and the bed of fresh vegetables, she’s not wrong!’.

  • For roasties, use large potatoes halved, parboil until tender, coat in duck/goose fat and roast until golden brown.’ Andy’s potato tips don’t stop here: ‘ Rosemary and thyme are potatoes best friends, don’t be shy with them.’

Here’s how the GourmetFuel team enjoy their Christmas.

  • Instead of the usual boiled veg, why not roast your vegetables to get a wintery Christmassy taste?

  • It’s not all about Christmas Dinner, Christmas Breakfast can be equally as exciting! Treat yourself with your favourite breakfast and a Mimosa to start the special day off with a bang!

  • Don’t forget starters! Whether you have the usual prawn cocktail and melon, or put your own twist on it, make sure you enjoy your Christmas Banquet!

  • Maple Syrup is a great sweet addition to your veg! Perfect roasted with sprouts or carrots and parsnips, it will make any vegetable taste heavenly.

  • Make your own dreamy stuffing in a loaf tin with white bread crumbs, softened buttered onions, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper…..and whatever else you want to add!

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Katie Kavanagh

Katie Kavanagh

Katie is a registered Associate Nutritionist with the UKVRN through the Association for Nutrition. Katie completed her Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and Health in Glasgow Caledonian University and her Bachelors Degree in UCD in Health and Performance Science. Before joining the team at GourmetFuel, she worked in a kitchen catering company, and for Our Lady’s Hospice Harolds Cross and is heavily involved with UCD Boxing Club. Her areas of interest are Vegetarian diets, disease prevention and Sports Nutrition.

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