The Healthiest And Unhealthiest Christmas Foods

Our question is, where do pigs in blankets rank?


by Lauren Smith |
Updated on

Christmas is traditionally the season of supreme indulgence, with the average person reportedly putting on 2-4 pounds at least during the Yuletide period. But rather than freak you about about the calories in your Christmas dinner, we spoke to nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik to give you the low-down on the festive foods with surprising hidden health benefits - and the 'healthy' foods that actually aren't that good for you.

5 Christmas Foods You Think Are Unhealthy But Are Actually Healthy ------------------------------------------------------------------

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Turkey Skin

Good news! Your Christmas roast dinner actually has a lot of health benefits, due to turkey being one of the leanest meats around. It's an excellent source of protein and minerals such as selenium and zinc, which support the immune system and cell repair (very handy around the festive period). But the best bit? That fatty turkey skin is good for you too.

Eve says: "Here’s the really good part - don’t necessarily forgo the skin too. Yes it might be high in fat but its these monounsaturated “healthy" fats that we need to include in the diet. Obviously don’t have tons of servings but don’t be so quick to discard."

Eve also recommends keeping the carcass for that health food favourite - bone broth. "It is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat and both help to support the digestive system that is usually a tad overburdened at this time of the year. Opt for the organic grass fed birds as they will contain increased amounts of anti inflammatory omega 3 oils that we need to take in through the diet and a happy bird usually results in a tastier one too." Now plate up.

Roast Potatoes

roast potatoes
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Slathered with goose fat and full of carbs, potatoes are often shunned by healthy eaters, but Eve insists "your humble spud has a lot more nutritious benefits than you think". Apparently potatoes (ideally organic) are great for digestion (that is increased when they are eaten cold) they help to support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and provide a great source of fibre. They also contain an surprising amount of vitamin C, important for the immune system and healthy skin. And, Eve adds, since potatoes are an excellent source of B6 which is one of the key nutrients for mood and the nervous system, "you could almost think of them as a natural stress reliever".

Pigs In Blankets

pigs in blankets
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You've probably read about the bad rep bacon and cheap meat has been getting in the press recently. But Eve insists when bacon is from a good quality source and organic it can provide nutrients like choline that helps support cognitive processes as well as many of the B vitamins that are needed for energy. She also recommends avoiding the nitrates associated with bacon by baking it in the oven and pairing it with foods containing vitamins A, D & E - like green leafy veg, sweet potatoes, carrots (which you'll find in many a Christmas dinner).


Eve says that stuffing is essentially onion, celery and herb based, so SHOULD be healthy. But once you start adding white refined bread, this offers no nutritional benefit and biochemically speaking acts as sugar in the body. So she suggests "switching up the refined kind to a healthy sourdough, or if you want to go totally grain free then use cauliflower rice (basically using a food processor to get a rice texture) can be excellent alternatives. Flavour with herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, add chestnuts, mushrooms and nuts such as hazelnuts and you have a delicious and healthy stuffing". Yum.


OK, so not a food, but Eve says for our overall wellbeing, we should never underestimate the power of putting your feet up and connecting with family and friends. "Adequate and dedicated rest has massive impact on our health and wellbeing so rethink those all day pyjama clad days as part of an all encompassing healthy regime". We don't need to be told twice to lie in.

4 Foods You Think Are Healthy But Aren't ----------------------------------------

mince pies
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Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce
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Cranberries themselves are one of the most antioxidant rich foods which means they help the body protect against damaging free radicals. But that's forgetting the truckloads of sugar manufacturers put in the sauce to make it taste less sharp. Eve suggests "subbing in some kind of natural fruit juice to cut through the sharpness" or trying cranberry and orange jam sauce "from the lovely Hemsley + Hemsley girls."

Low Fat Sauces And Spreads

As a general rule Eve suggests you avoid these - even more so at Christmas as a last ditch healthy alternative when you're indulging. "Avoid entirely anything hydrogenated or using artificial sweeteners, preservatives and additives. Instead go back to using the original full fat options such as butter, goose fat, cream and whole milk and make sauces from scratch using whole food ingredients. Not only will they be healthier but you can bet they will taste a whole lot better too" she says.

Mulled Wine

mulled wine
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Think mulled wine is "medicinal"? Think again. Eve says that "the caveat with mulled wine is that there is also often a heap of sugar added in. If you want to make your own then do so without the addition of sugar. Or invest in some really good quality red organic biodynamic and natural wine. Check out for more information. Not only do these wines have a lower sulphite content that can often be an issue for many people but they also don’t contain some of the chemicals that can be added into your standard bottle, and that can often result in a much less sore head the following morning". No mulled wine hangover? We're sold.

Gluten-Free Treats

Eve advises not to be fooled by the 'free-from' aisles that glorify some of these products as healthier alternatives. "Yes of course if you are celiac or you have a genuine intolerance to gluten then you should avoid products containing gluten" she says. But "the danger is thinking that these synthetic, artificially substituted alternatives are better for us in general. In fact homemade mince pies with a regular or gluten free flour are going to much better for you never mind the satisfaction you will get from making yourself."

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