Indulging in festive foods and being mindful of your health can seem like an impossible task during December, but Christmas can be healthier than you think.
When asked to bring the dessert, people normally turn to classic recipes like pavlovas, puddings, trifles and mince pies, but typically these recipes are loaded with sugars.
Generally, it’s the sheer size of the meal — or meals — we consume on Christmas Day, and their high fat and sugar content, that can leave us feeling heavy, bloated and fatigued.
The easiest way to avoid these spells of discomfort is to seek out sweet treats and dessert recipes that have a protein base and only include a maximum amount of half a cup of added sugars. This combination of low sugar and high protein will help to achieve a sustainable release of energy throughout the day.”
Another way you can do this is by adding low-calories, nutrient-rich ingredients to your recipes. Greek yoghurt, for example, adds protein and calcium and can be used as a lower-calorie alternative to ice-cream and cream, while fresh berries, stone fruit and mashed banana can add sweetness to recipes and help to reduce the overall amount of sugars you need.
Finally, remember that much of the enjoyment that comes from eating sweet foods is experienced in the first couple of mouthfuls. For this reason, serving smaller, individualised portions of indulgent treats can slash calorie intake significantly without depriving you of enjoying something yummy.
If you’re looking to cut your sugar intake, here’s some festive recipes that don’t have more than half a cup of sugar.
This recipe can be as healthy as you want it to be. Similar to rocky road or white Christmas, Christmas bark is made with melted chocolate and different toppings of your choosing, like nuts, low-sugar dried fruit or pretzels. I always add some peanut butter to mine when melting the chocolate and a natural spread like Mayver’s Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter adds another delicious texture too. (Scroll down for the full recipe.)
Peanut butter cookie dough reindeers
A festive version of a natural peanut protein ball makes this recipe a winner. They’re super easy to make, can be made ahead of time and the cute reindeer decorations make them a low-sugar winner for children too.
Doubling as an excellent boredom buster for the kids, I only ever add half a cup of brown sugar to my Christmas gingerbread recipe and I add in Mayver’s Skin On Peanut Butter for an extra boost of protein and fibre from the skins of the peanuts that are left on when crushed.
Gingerbread men also make for cute and healthy homemade jars of biscuits to be dropped at family and friends’ homes with a Christmas card.
Christmas mint and tahini chocolates
For something a little different, these Christmas mint and tahini chocolates use tahini as one of the base ingredients and give this recipe an interesting flavour. Tahini is packed full of vitamins and minerals and the only added sugar comes from the dark chocolate and maple syrup, making this recipe a guilt-free treat to share around on Christmas Day.
Mayver’s peanut butter Christmas bark
Makes: 20-25 pieces
- 200g dark or milk chocolate
- 200g white chocolate
- 1 cup Mayver’s Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter
- ½ cup pistachios
- ½ cup low sugar cranberries
- 1 cup pretzels
- Melt chocolate over low heat. Stir in peanut butter.
- Pour into baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Top with a mix of cranberries, pretzels and pistachios.
- Allow to set in fridge for 2-3 hours. Then break and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Susie Burrell and Mayver’s.
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.
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