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Healthy Alternatives To Christmas Dinner Favourites Your Family Will Devour | Box Appetit

| by Drew Middleton

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Our guide to healthy festive food swaps will keep your Christmas dinner surprisingly scrumptious, impress all the family and make perfect lunch box leftovers. It's time to ditch the bacon blankets for sun-dried tomatoes and switch roasted Maris Pipers for something sweeter.

Santa Claus fancied a change this year. He's chucked golden juicy turkey, white potato roasties and mash, meaty stuffing, oily veg, greasy gravy and crispy bacon-wrapped sausages onto the naughty list. Nooo! But hold onto your stockings...

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Receiving the nice list treatment instead are fresh vegetables low in fat, oily and delicious seafood, fruit-based puddings and clean carbohydrates. Why? Because Poland's traditional take on the much loved meal hosted every 25th December is inspiring other countries to follow suit - and of course, nations are more health-conscious than ever in 2016.

Which Country Has The Healthiest Christmas Dinner?

Dietitian Chrisitina Merryfield at Bupa's Cromwell Hospital in London recently ranked the world's healthiest Christmas dinners with interesting findings:

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  • Americans (USA) are the unhealthiest holiday eaters; a diverse selection of plated poultry, pies and puddings are likely to blame
  • The UK is not far behind: the Brits love pigs in blankets - a popular element to the Christmas feast each year - and Yorkshire puddings. Not exactly the wisest options to choose from the menu.
  • Poland has the healthiest traditional Christmas dinner, comprised of a red Beetroot-based soup starter (borscht), carp fish as the centrepiece and a dried fruit dessert. 
  • Seafood, vegetables and fruit food groups are all characteristics of the freshest, cleanest national meals.

So if you're ready to make healthier switches to your Xmas spread that will spice up conversation across the table, try putting these tasty treats together:

Vegan Pigs in Sun-dried Tomato Blankets

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Image Credit: Vegan Recipe Club

The Classic: Pigs in Blankets

Many of us love bacon. The addictive smell, the crispy texture, the supernatural ability to cure any hangover... So when December arrives, it's nothing out of the ordinary when we simply can't get enough of Pigs in Blankets aka pig-on-pig. We'd be telling a huge porky if we said that was entirely healthy. 

The Healthy Alternative

Opt for Quorn/Linda McCartney sausages or veggie-friendly frankfurters instead of animal-based sausages. Use oily sun-dried tomatoes as the blankets instead of your beloved bacon. 

Simply have to use 'real' sausages? Use turkey or chicken instead - the meat is leaner, more protein-rich and succulent when cooked correctly. That (should) keep the table happy.

Get The Full Recipe: Vegan Recipe Club's Pigs with Tomato Blankets - ready in 10m

Roast (Sweet) Potatoes

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Image Credit: Matthew and Emily Clifton

The Classic: Roasted Potatoes in goose fat

One of the most adored elements, and perhaps the trickiest to perfect. You want roast potatoes to be fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, and if the chef on the day isn't up to standards, chaos will ensue. The homemade benchmark is to use good quality white potatoes such as a Maris Piper and roast in goose fat for extra flavour.

The Healthy Alternative

Use sweet potato, the white potato's cousin, that's widely eaten as a cleaner option by carb curbers. They are deliciously soft, and by namesake sweet, but with the right method of roasting they can be served to an uber-pleasant crunchiness.

Cut into wedges if preferred. Season with salt and pepper as a bare minimum. Be adventurous with your roasting by using cinnamon, honey, garlic, peppers, citrus, thyme, nuts and cheese. Don't worry if they appear more 'baked' than 'roasted' out of the oven though; this is perfectly normal.

Get The Recipe: Serious Eats' Butter and Maple Roast Sweet Potatoes - ready in 1h

Fruit and Nut Stuffing

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Image Credit: Eating Well, Victoria Abbott Riccardi

The Classic: Sausage, Sage and Onion Stuffing

Regarded as a dream compliment to your turkey showstopper. It's a glorious mixture of poultry or meat (such as pork), herbs and vegetables; once combined, it is stuffed inside your festive bird of choice. We've really sold it to you, haven't we? But it's a wonderful side to any roast throughout the year.

The Healthy Alternative

Keep this in mind: stuffing is a mixture. Therefore experiment to your heart's content with healthy lean meats, fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, roots and nuts. Keep fat content and grease to a minimum, and try to avoid sugar or too much salt. Finely chop and toast ingredients for hassle-free consumption.

Get The Recipe: Eating Well's Pear and Hazelnut Stuffing - ready in 2h 15m

Carrot and Swede Mash

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Image Credit: The British Larder

The Classic: Mashed Potatoes

Another mention for ye olde white potato. Milky, creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are heavenly. When the texture is smooth and salt and pepper has being added to taste, it's time to serve up. Warning: no chunks. Chunky mash is a big no-no.

The Healthy Alternative

Mash up boiled carrots and root veg. It's as easy as one, two, swede. You can include chipotle pepper, garlic, parsley, chives, grated cheese, rosemary, chilli, leeks or even pesto to the mashing process for an upgraded taste. Or take out milk completely and replace  sour cream.

Get The Recipe: The British Larder's Carrot and Swede Mash - ready in 40m

Whole Festive Salmon

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Image Credit: Jamie Oliver

The Classic: Roast Turkey, Chicken, Lamb or Beef

Your showstopper is historically a golden, juicy, moist, rich, mouthwatering, unforgettably delicious meat which is carved and served on the table for salivating mouths to drool puddles over. Famously, turkey is used: however it is now commonplace for lamb, beef and chicken to be 

The Healthy Alternative

A king size roasted Carp or Salmon. Stuff it with herbs and vegetables, flavour it with citrus and baste it in basil, mayo and salsa. Lie on a bed of crispy veg. Beautiful.

Get The Recipe: Jamie Oliver's Roasted Salmon - ready in 1h 5m

Today's To-Go: enjoy your Christmas breakfasts, lunches and dinners. If you love the smell and taste of turkey, cook it. If you must have roasted white potatoes, meaty stuffing and bacon-wrapped cocktail sausages - please, please do. However, there are plenty of healthier options to choose from that will help you stay trim over the holidays. Keep them in mind when you're food shopping and forward thinking to what great lunch box leftovers you can whip up.

Take our quiz below and let us know if you'll be choosing our suggestions instead...

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