Christmas Traditional Food and Menu Ideas
On Christmas Day, a special meal of Christmas
dishes is usually served, for which there are traditional
menus in each country. Candy and treats are also part of the Christmas
celebration in many countries.
Christmas food in the United States
- Apple cider
- Candy canes
- Christmas cookies
- Cranberry sauce
- Gingerbread house
- Honey ham
- Hot chocolate
- Apple pie
- Strawberry-rhubarb pie
- Pecan pie
- Pumpkin pie
- Roast turkey (less often roast duck or roast goose)
Christmas Food is served
Start with light appetisers that titillate your taste buds without ruining your appetite.
You could go for a selection of dips made with yoghurt and cucumber, avocado and tomato, or puréed sweet peppers. Serve with vegetable sticks made from raw carrots and cucumber, and toasted wholemeal pitta bread.
Or how about a warming winter vegetable soup for a quick and easy option? If you have time, you could make your own soup such as butternut squash with a hint of ginger.
If you use a ready-made soup why not liven it up with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of herbs? And remember to check the label to look for those soups that are lower in salt.
Turkey and all the trimmings
For lots of people, it just wouldn't be Christmas without a turkey.
But in fact, in this country the tradition of eating turkey at Christmas only dates from the 19th century, when it gradually began to replace goose as the Christmas meal.
This is good news in terms of healthy eating, because turkey contains more protein and much less fat than goose or duck.
Nut roast has become the traditional Christmas dish for many vegetarians. For a festive twist, try adding cranberries (fresh or dried) or chestnuts.
Tasty Christmas veg
Heaps of vegetables are another traditional part of Christmas lunch. Many people will eat more fruit and veg on Christmas day than on any other day of the year. And with so many different varieties to choose from, it should be easy to reach your five daily portions.
At this time of year there are lots of wonderful root vegetables in season. And these can add lots of colour and taste to your plate, not to mention the vitamins.
When you're cooking your veg, remember not to add salt to the water. Flavoursome winter vegetables are easy to make without that pinch of salt.
Carrots can be roasted, boiled, or braised in lemon juice and olive oil. And parsnips are an old Christmas favourite, with their sweet spicy taste. You can boil them, roast them, or use leftovers in soup.
Brussels sprouts are a Christmas staple but they're not to everyone's taste. Try making them a bit more exciting by serving them with crispy bacon, crispy cheese crumbs or sweet chestnut crumble.
Cranberry sauce is great for adding flavour and colour to your festive lunch.
If you find it almost impossible to get your children to eat any veg, especially anything green, try serving some hidden portions. Mix mashed swede or parsnip into mashed potato. Or cook up some bubble and squeak with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Or try topping steamed broccoli with some grated cheese.
And who could forget the roast potato, a vital part of the traditional Christmas lunch? Potatoes are a starchy food containing carbohydrate, which gives us energy, as well as fibre and other important vitamins and minerals. So pile them high!
If you steam your vegetables, rather than boiling them, you won't lose as many vitamins.
If you boil your vegetables, you could use the cooking water to make the gravy and you won't lose the vitamins from the veg. This is also a good way of making a healthy gravy because you won't need to use stock cubes, granules or powder, which all tend to be very high in salt.
Fruity Christmas Dessert pudding
Another Christmas classic dessert is the Christmas pudding, with its rich concoction of dried fruits such as raisins, currants and sultanas.
But Christmas pudding isn't to everyone's taste. If you're after a lighter dessert, try serving a big fruit salad and make it extra special by adding some tropical fruits such as papaya and mango.
Or make your own Christmas compote by stewing your favourite berries with plums, apples and cinnamon, and serve it up with some plain yoghurt.
Grapes and pears make a great accompaniment to cheese.
If you want to avoid that uncomfortably full feeling, try to eat slowly throughout the day. This will give you a better idea when you've eaten enough.
And if you feel full, try to resist the temptation to stuff in another mouthful! Take a break instead.
In the afternoon you could go for a gentle stroll to help burn off a bit of that lunch.
And of course it's a great time for kids (and adults) to try out new presents such as bikes, roller blades and footballs. If it's raining or snowing, you could try playing an indoor game.
Feast on festive nibbles
By the time you sit down in front of the television, you might be ready for a few nibbles.
You could have a handful of unsalted nuts, some dried fruit or dig out that satsuma from the bottom of your Christmas stocking.
Clementines, tangerines and satsumas are all rich in vitamin C.
Nuts and dried figs and dates are good sources of a range of vitamins and minerals.
It's time for tea
For late-afternoon snacks or an early supper, make some turkey or ham sandwiches with thickly cut bread and pickles, or have a crunchy salad made with raw red or white cabbage, peppers and strips of carrot.
Trifle makes a popular dessert and you can bump up your fruit and veg portions by packing it full of fruit such as grapes, pineapple, mandarin segments, strawberries and kiwi fruit.
And don't forget those mince pies or a piece of Christmas cake. Try serving some slices of apple at the same time.
All this goes to show that festive food can be healthy as well as tasty. So this year, make sure to eat, drink and be merry!