Here’s how you can prepare a healthy Christmas meal (bonus recipe)


While we are all gearing up for prepping the menu for the Christmas weekend, there are a few things you can keep in mind before overindulging and feeling guilty thereafter. This is important considering a few days of overindulgence can lead to a gap on our fitness goals which can make you even more lethargic and uninspired as we step into the new year. This is why, mindful eating, and even before that, mindful preparation can help you have a good time without going overboard on high calorie foods.

Nutritionist and lifestyle educator Karishma Chawla shares some cooking hacks one can use to prepare a delectable Christmas meal.

*Keep recipe recommendations ready and most importantly keep a list of healthier options that can replace the high caloric ones.

*Use better cooking options like steam, bake and stir fry rather deep fried.

*Use lean protein options such as chicken, fish, turkey, low fat paneer or vegan options such as tofu, jackfruit and legumes.

*Can replace heavy sauces made with sugar, cream or cornstarch with sauces made with onion, tomato, bell peppers and mushrooms with herbs and spices. The idea is to prevent high blood sugar spikes and insulin.

*Can replace fried potatoes with baked potatoes, or even better with baked turnip fries.

*Replace corn and refined flour wraps with celery wraps with lean protein and vegetables.

*Use a liberal amount of colourful vegetables high in phytonutrients. “These compounds are powerful defenders of health,” said Chawla.

*You can add nuts like cashews, and almonds to thicken the gravy rather than cornstarch and full fat cream.

*Replace white rice with brown or red rice.

*Can use almond flour for binding vegetables instead of corn or bread.

*Replace refined noodles with zucchini noodles.

*Use anti-inflammatory oils such as olive oil and rice bran for cooking.

*Use herbs such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon and others to flavour food and avoid excess usage of salt.

*For those on keto prep, replace whole grain with almond flour and flax, sugar with stevia, butter with nut and seed butter, and can experiment with guacamole spread on foods or avocado salad.

*Can use olives as a side snack and replace refined flour sticks to whole grain options or vegetable sticks such as carrot and cucumber sticks with guacamole, hummus, or hung curd dip.

*Use apple cider vinegar, spices, herbs, lime, low fat curd, avocado, hummus as salad dressings instead of heavy dressings. Can also use nut and seed butters or grated nuts and seeds to add the crunchy taste.

*For desserts, use whole grain flour and get creative with vegetables instead of all-purpose flour and use natural sweeteners like honey, jaggery and stevia instead of sugar. Can also add fruits, dried fruits and nuts.

Chef Gauri Varmam founder, Confect shares a perfect Christmas cake recipe

Here’s a recipe you must try (Source: Chef Gauri Verma)


Soaking the fruits

100g – Raisins
150g – Pitted dates
100g – Dried apricots
100g – Tutti frutti
100g – Crystallised ginger
125g – Orange/mixed peels
180ml – Dark rum/whiskey/brandy

For baking the cake

275g – Flour
275g – Salted butter (softened; extra for greasing)
275g – Brown sugar
5 no – Eggs
75g – Almonds
40g – Cashew nuts
40g – Pistachio
Zest of one orange
8 pcs – Cloves
4-cm stick cinnamon
1/4tsp – Nutmeg
15 pcs – Allspice berries (optional)


Soaking the fruits

*Chop dates, apricots, ginger, and orange peels into 1 cm chunks.
*Put the chopped dates, apricots, ginger, and orange peels along with the raisins, and the tutti frutti into an airtight glass jar.
*Pour 180 ml of dark rum (we are using Old Monk), or brandy, or whiskey or a mixture into the jar over the fruits.
*Cover the jar and leave it in a cool, dark place.

Baking the cake

*Grind the cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to a fine powder. Also grind up the almonds separately. Set these aside.
*Zest an entire orange, making sure not to grate any of the white pith as it is bitter. Chop up the cashew and pistachio into 5 mm pieces.
*Prepare the tin as explained above and set your oven to preheat at 150°C.
*In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until it is airy and pale. Add in the brown sugar and cream again.
*Now whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Follow this with the ground almond, spice mix, and orange zest. Incorporate everything thoroughly. *Sift in the flour and fold it in using a rubber spatula. Make sure to not overmix the batter after you add the flour as the cake may turn chewy.
*Add the chopped cashew and pistachio. Also add your rum-soaked dried fruits. The fruits should have absorbed all the alcohol, but if they contain excess liquid, strain and add just the fruits.
*Mix everything until well combined, but don’t overwork the batter.
*Spoon the batter into your prepared cake tin, pushing it into all the corners and leveling the top.
*Tap out any trapped air bubbles.
*Place it in the preheated oven and bake for 3.5 hours, checking on it regularly after the first two hours. Your cake is done when a thermometer inserted in the centre registers a temperature of 95°C, or when a skewer comes out clean. Your cake should develop a rich brown colour.
*Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the tin. This should take about 5 hours or so.

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