Healthy recipes

Healthy Recipes for a Naturally Sweet Christmas

01 December 2020


Whether at home or abroad, the holiday season is a great opportunity to indulge in our favourite foods and sweet treats. That doesn’t mean we have to abandon our healthy eating habits, though: with a few simple tweaks and changes, we can enjoy the best of festive fare without consuming too much sugar — or compromising on flavour.

Many expats are already experts at sourcing substitutes for ingredients and there are lots of natural alternatives to refined sugar, including fruit, molasses, honey and pure maple syrup. New homes often mean adapting traditions and this year, we’ve taken up the challenge of creating a healthier, refined sugar-free festive feast for all the family to enjoy.

Most holiday meals centre around one main dish, whether it’s poultry, meat, seafood or vegetables. For many people, turkey is often the star of the show, and there are lots of ways to enhance its flavour with natural ingredients. Citrus fruit, for example, caramelises beautifully during the roasting process, glazing the turkey with a delicate sweetness. Oranges and lemons go particularly well with earthy herbs such as thyme or rosemary, which help to dress up the dish before serving.

If you prefer a vegetarian main, a great choice is whole cauliflower roasted in rich spices, drizzled with tahini, and sprinkled with almonds and pomegranate seeds for a naturally sweet — and prettily pink — finish.

Of course, no family meal is complete without a range of sides, and every home will have their favourites. Mashed potatoes and herbed stuffing are popular choices, but if you’re hankering after lighter fare this year, root vegetables are a great alternative. If you usually add a sprinkle of sugar to your carrots or parsnips, try roasting them in a little honey or agave instead; it helps them turn deliciously crisp and golden in the oven, and brings out their natural sweetness.

Shop-bought cranberry sauce can contain a lot of additives and refined sugar, but luckily, it’s not difficult to make a healthier version at home. Simply mix cranberries, water and pure maple syrup with a squeeze of orange juice, and bring to the boil. As the mixture cooks down, it’ll develop that gorgeously sticky consistency and slightly tart flavour that makes it the perfect accompaniment to poultry. It’s also ideal for adding to muesli or cereal for breakfast — although you might still be full by then!

Dessert is often the highlight of a special meal, and there are plenty of ways you can indulge your sweet tooth without compromising a healthy diet. Christmas pudding is traditionally a buttery, treacly concoction but it can be easily adapted to your family’s food preferences. Replacing brown sugar with fruit juice or puréed fruit will help to avoid refined sugar, and gluten-free flour options and vegan dairy alternatives are usually readily available too.

One of the easiest vegan holiday treats is a simple riff on traditional eggnog: just combine any homemade or sugar free nut milk with some pure maple syrup and a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Finish with whipped coconut cream, a sprinkle of warming spices and you’re ready to toast a happy and healthy new year ahead.

However you celebrate the holidays, and whatever you like to eat, Allianz Care is here to help: our mission is to keep you well, wherever you are in the world.