Switch up your calories for these deliciously healthy Christmas treats, for the ultimate in guilt-free indulgence
With December’s calendar jam packed with endless invites, it can be far too easy to fall off the wagon during the silly season. All those decadent degustations, canapés and cocktails luring you with temptation can be hard to resist.
But if you’re determined to keep your diet goals on the right side of the scales over the holidays, we’ve got some genius food swaps that are kind on calories yet still pack a punch on flavour. In fact, some of these are so convincing, you’d never even know the difference,
So, to indulge guilt-free over the festive season, switch out the extra calories for these healthy Christmas treats instead. Believe us, your skinny jeans will thank you for it.
1. Choose your drink wisely
Worried you’ll go overboard on the booze this Christmas? Opt for low-calorie alcoholic tipples instead, like a glass of wine, cocktail or a spritzer, to keep those liquid calories in check.
Some of the best low-cal drinks you can go for include:
- Low alcohol wine — 20-55 calories per 125ml
- Tequila, lime and soda — 50 calories per 25ml
- Vodka, lime and soda — 55 calories per 25ml
- White wine spritzer — 80 calories per 125ml
- Champagne — 85 calories per 125ml
- Hard seltzer — 95 calories per can
- Rosé — 100 calories per 125ml
- Light beer — 100 calories per can
- Red wine — 120 calories per 125ml
2. Swap out cream dips for yoghurt and veggie infusions
If you’re watching your calorie intake this Christmas, ditch anything cream based and opt for yoghurt or veggie dips instead. They contain fewer calories and less fat. Plus, Greek yoghurt is packed with protein, calcium and probiotics, for an added health kick.
Other healthy dips you can indulge in include salsas, houmous, sweet potato, butternut squash, pumpkin, eggplant and tahini, tzatziki, guacamole, beetroot, harissa — you can pretty much blend most veggies with a little olive oil, tahini or yoghurt and you’ve got a delicious healthy dip.
If you want to go one step healthier, instead of pairing your dip with tortilla chips, bread or crackers, you can chop up sliced raw veggies — think mushrooms, capsicum, cucumber, and carrots — as dippers.
3. Snack on fresh fruit instead of dried fruit
Dried fruit is still full of nutrients, but it tends to be much higher in sugar than fresh fruit. Plus, certain varieties like cranberries are often dried with extra sugar added to them so they taste even sweeter.
4. Choose your cheese wisely
Antipasto and cheese boards are a must over the festive season, but if you want to keep the calories low, make a few clever swaps with your cheese choices and you can indulge minus the guilt.
Choose fresh cheeses like ricotta, cottage cheese, feta, goats cheese and mozzarella, over hard cheese like Cheddar, Swiss or Parmesan. They tend to be lowest in fats and cholesterol. And don’t forget to load up your antipasto board with lots of raw veggies and fresh fruits.
5. Swap potato chips for unsalted nuts or popcorn
These crunchy snacks, although admittedly delicious, are overloaded with calories and fat, so even just snacking on a few can really throw your diet plans off track. Unsalted nuts or air-popped popcorn are a delicious alternative that will fill you up more on much less calories. And they taste just as good, too! Although avoid roasted, toasted and salted nuts — raw nuts are better source of healthy fats and plant-based protein, so even in small portions they keep you full for longer.
6. Eat zucchini noodles instead of pasta
Eating zucchini noodles over pasta cuts out empty carbs, while adding an extra hit of vitamins and fibre to your diet. They’re honestly just as delicious, and when you know they only contain around 30-40 calories and 30g of carbs per serve compared to the whopping 200 calories and 100g of carbs you’d get in standard flour-based pasta, you’ll enjoy them even more!
You can make veggie noodles with lots of other veg too — think sweet potato, squash, carrots, broccoli, parsnips — just choose your favourite veg and get creative with your sauce topping.
7. Stick with sweet potatoes
Although white potatoes offer some potassium and fibre, sweet potatoes reign supreme in the nutrition department. They’re low in GI and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A large sweet potato is less than 200 calories, contains around 4 grams of protein, 25 percent of daily fibre, and 11 times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.
They’re also high in antioxidants that protect your body from free radical damage and chronic disease. Slice them into wedges and roast them in a little olive oil and paprika. Delicious.
8. Choose dark choc instead of milk
Chocolate is usually a staple come Christmas time, but if you want to make your cocoa binge a little healthier, opt for dark chocolate instead. Whilst milk chocolate contains some cocoa solids, the nutritional quality is minimal in comparison with dark chocolate — the cocoa in dark chocolate contains less calories and is higher in antioxidants and flavonoids, which can help prevent excess weight gain. Dark chocolate is also one of the best anti-inflammatory foods around.
The general rule is the more cocoa, the more flavonoids, and the better for you the chocolate becomes. Plus, dark chocolate varieties often have less added sugar and fat which makes it a much healthier treat.
9. Pile up the prawns
Prawns are a fab low-fat, low-calorie choice when it comes to Christmas canapés, so load them up in a fresh marinade or with a garlic and yoghurt dip. Try to avoid any deep-fried or breadcrumb/batter coated prawns, as these will cause your calories to soar.
10. Crack open the chickpeas
Crispy croutons may taste delicious scattered on top of a summer salad, but you can get the same flavour and crunch kick from crispy chickpeas instead. They’re much healthier, less calorific and a great source of plant-based protein and fibre. Just roast them in a little olive oil until crisp.
11. Go light on the dressing
Potato salads and coleslaw are the classic Aussie accompaniment to a festive BBQ spread, but with most versions drenched in mayo, you might want to switch to a lighter version instead. Move the mayo aside for a yoghurt and olive oil dressing. Just squeeze a little lemon and add a spoonful of Dijon mustard for an extra flavour kick.
12. Swap ice cream for frozen yoghurt
For a low-fat alternative ice cream fix, simply whizz up some frozen fruit, then mix with Greek yoghurt and pop back into the freezer. Frozen yoghurt contains less fat and sugar than normal ice cream and we promise you, it tastes just as good!
13. Switch up sweets for frozen grapes
This genius frozen treat is oh-so-easy to make, and will help satisfy a sweet tooth without any added sugar. Literally pop them in the freezer for a few hours and they’re done.
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