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Healthy Holidays

Dec. 18, 2017 at midnight

The words "Christmas" and "healthy" are rarely uttered in the same breath.

The holidays are a time for indulgence, aren't they? It's simply unavoidable. The average American consumes 7000 calories on Christmas day alone, in addition to all those party buffets leading up to it, and all those leftover treats afterward. However, with an increasing number of people following special diets to improve their health, does the festive season mean you have to sacrifice your wellbeing should you want to join the party?

Not necessarily...

Whether you have allergies, don't eat certain foods for ethical reasons or are just dieting to lose weight, there is now a plethora of alternatives available to satisfy everyone's Christmas cravings. Just think of them as "virtuous vices".

By switching out dairy milk for healthy Cashew milk and replacing sugar for dates, for example, this Eggnog recipe is not only healthier but also good for you! With a good dose of fiber and healthy fats, this vegan nog from Tasty Yummies is super nourishing. Even the sprinkling of cinnamon is a great addition, helping to regulate blood sugar throughout the day. With no alcohol, it is suitable for children too, though grown-ups can always add a cheeky splash of rum, bourbon, brandy or whiskey.

VEGAN EGGNOG

Get stuffed!

For those with allergies, the Christmas table can be a minefield, and the cook for the day can tie themselves in knots, making separate dishes for all - avoiding any cross-contamination with serving spoons and making sure everything is marked.

With this sage and onion stuffing recipe from gluten-free brand Juvela, everyone can relax. It is easy, economical and low in fat. With all the delicious flavors of regular stuffing, this will please everyone - including vegetarians. Adapt it to use a gluten-free bread of your choice.

GLUTEN FREE STUFFING

Pass the potatoes

If you are out to impress with your Christmas table this year, these cute potato stacks from Eating Well are sure to be a talking point. With these on the table, your guests will feel so special that they won't even miss that creamy, fat-laden mash potatoes and fried tots. These can also be made ahead - one less thing to worry about on the day!

CRISPY POTATO STACKS

Ooh - saucy!

Cranberries are known for their health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. But when it comes to Christmas, adding a bucket-load of refined sugar to this bitter fruit to create a delicious sauce turns it from superfood to superbad. Sweetness, though, does not only have to come from sugar. Just take a look at this naturally sweetened recipe from Cookie & Kate, with the addition of Maple Syrup, orange, and spices, creating a yummy treat to fool those with the sweetest of teeth.

NATURALLY SWEETENED CRANBERRY SAUCE

Say "Cheese"!

Perhaps the most common reaction vegans and those intolerant to lactose are greeted with is: "How do you cope without cheese?" With recipes such as this, the answer is simple. Now there are so many dairy-free alternatives on the supermarket shelves and online, that no-one need feel like they're missing out. This particular delight from Vegan Yack Attack is packed full of festive flavors.

CRANBERRY WALNUT VEGAN CHEESE BALL

Paleo Pudding

A paleo diet, with no grains nor refined sugars, may seem like a challenge when it comes to the type of decadent dessert we all associate with celebrations. If it's indulgence you want, you cannot get more luxurious than this Chocolate Truffle Cake from Ditch the Wheat. None of your guests will guess it's free of refined sugar, and by using coconut oil, this is truly is the most virtuous of vices!

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CAKE

Snack time

There comes a time in the proceedings when the after-dinner snacks are wheeled out. These are guilt-free bites that include the familiar flavors of Ferrero Rocher.

FERRERO ROCHER PROTEIN BALLS

With recipes such as these, there is no need for anyone to feel excluded or awkward at the Christmas table!


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