Christmas and calories seem to go together.
But is it essential to undo all the good you did over the last few months by overdosing on calorie-laden dishes?
We give you a fantastic Christmas menu that will keep you within a healthy calorie range and won’t leave you feeling that you missed out on traditional Christmas treats! The total calorie count of this Christmas breakfast and lunch menu – complete with turkey, gravy and the trimmings – is only 1,200.
So get cooking now!
Perfect scrambled eggs
Ingredients: 2 large eggs, 6 tablespoon single cream or full cream milk, a knob of butter
Method: Lightly whisk the eggs, cream and a pinch of salt together until all the ingredients are just combined and the mixture has one consistency. Heat a small non-stick frying pan for a minute or so, then add the butter and let it melt. Don’t allow the butter to brown or it will discolour the eggs. Pour in the egg mixture and let it sit, without stirring, for 20 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon, lifting and folding it over from the bottom of the pan. Let it sit for another 10 seconds then stir and fold again. Repeat until the eggs are softly set and slightly runny in places, then remove from the heat and leave for a few seconds to finish cooking. Give a final stir and serve the velvety scramble without delay.
Scandi smoked salmon
Ingredients: 200g smoked salmon, 1 small red onion (very finely chopped), small bunch dill (roughly chopped), 2 teaspoon fresh or creamed horseradish, a teaspoon lemon juice, 100 ml soured cream
Method: Tip the onion and chopped dill into a bowl with the horseradish and lemon juice. Stir through the soured cream, season with a pinch of salt and generous grinding of pepper, and mix well. Can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Arrange the salmon on a board or plate, scatter with the remaining dill fronds and serve with a grinding of black pepper and the sauce alongside.
Curried squash, lentil & coconut soup
Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 butternut squash (peeled, deseeded and diced), 200g carrot (diced), 1 tbsp curry powder, a pinch of turmeric, 100 gm red lentils, 700ml vegetable stock, 1 can reduced-fat coconut milk
Method: Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the squash and carrots, sizzle for 1 min, then stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 min more. Tip in the lentils, the vegetable stock and coconut milk and give everything a good stir. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15-18 minutes until everything is tender.
Using a hand blender or in a food processor, blitz until as smooth as you like. Season and serve scattered with roughly chopped coriander and some naan bread alongside.
Sesame & Chilli Pancakes with Tzatziki
Makes: 25-30; Serves: 6
Ingredients: 100 gm flour, 1 egg, 150ml soya yogurt, 1 green and 1 red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped), 1 bunch spring onions (finely sliced, plus extra to serve), 2 tbsp chopped coriander, 1 tbsp sesame seeds, a little oil for frying
For the tzatziki: 150g Greek yogurt, 13cm/5in cucumber (deseeded and grated), 2 tbsp chopped mint
Whizz the flour, egg, yogurt and 2 tbsp water together in a food processor to form a smooth batter. Tip into a bowl, then stir in the chillies, spring onions, coriander and sesame seeds. Cover and chill until required.
To make the tzatziki, mix the yogurt, cucumber and mint together, season to taste, then chill.
Heat a small frying pan with a splash of oil, wiping out excess oil with kitchen paper. Fry the pancake mixture a dessertspoonful at a time, for 1 minute on each side, until lightly browned. Tip onto a plate and keep warm. Pile onto a large platter, top with a dollop of tzatziki and some extra sliced spring onions and serve warm.
Lemon & herb-basted simple roast turkey
Ingredient: 4½ kg free-range oven-ready turkey, 100 gm softened butter, grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp chopped thyme, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, hazelnut, pancetta & orange stuffing
Method: Remove the bird from the fridge an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. Wipe the turkey inside and out with kitchen paper.
Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Starting at the neck-end of the bird, carefully push your fingers between the skin and flesh on the breast, loosening the skin. Mix the butter, lemon zest, herbs and garlic together and season. Push the flavoured butter under the skin and spread over the flesh. Smooth the skin back over the breast.
You can now stuff the neck-end of the bird with the stuffing, if you like, and secure the skin underneath with a skewer. Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time – it will need 40 minutes for every 1 kg.
Transfer the bird to a roasting tin, cover loosely with foil and place in the middle of the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for the rest of the cooking time. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes. Check if the turkey is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices run clear, it’s cooked. If they are pink, return it to the oven for another 15 minutes, then test again. If using a meat thermometer, it should read 80C for the thighs, and the breast should be 75C.
Remove the cooked turkey from the tin, and place on a serving platter. Cover with foil and leave to rest for 30-45 minutes before carving.
Calories: 300 for 3-4 slices
Easy red wine gravy
Ingredients: 200 ml red wine, 3 tbsp cornflour, 600ml turkey or chicken stock, 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly, 200 ml turkey juices,
Method: Mix 3 tbsp red wine with the cornflour until smooth, then mix in all the wine.Heat stock in a pan, then pour in the red wine mixture and redcurrant jelly, stirring until thickened. Cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming. Chill for up to 2 days. To serve, reheat in a pan until bubbling, then stir in the turkey juices and transfer to a warm gravy boat.
Ingredients: 5 gm butter, 1 small onion (finely chopped), 2 tbsp plain flour, 200ml full-fat milk, 500 gm spinach, 100 ml single cream, grated fresh nutmeg to garnish
Method: Heat the butter in a saucepan, then add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, then slowly start to whisk in the milk. When it has all been incorporated, gently cook for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Meanwhile, place the spinach in a large colander. Pour over a kettle full of boiling water until the leaves have wilted (you may have to do this twice). Place the spinach in a clean dishcloth, squeeze out any excess liquid, then roughly chop. Stir into the sauce with the cream, gently heat, then finely grate over some nutmeg and season well.
Ingredients: 85 gm dark chocolate (70%), 2 tbsp cocoa powder, ½ tsp coffee granules, ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 egg whites, 1 tbsp golden caster sugar, 50g full-fat Greek yogurt, handful of raspberries/strawberries
Method: Chop the chocolate very finely and put it into a large bowl that will fit over a pan of simmering water. Mix the cocoa, coffee and vanilla with 2 tbsp cold water, and pour over the chocolate. Place the bowl over the gently simmering water, give it all a stir, then remove from the heat. Leave with the bowl of chocolate still over the water, stirring occasionally to check when melted.
Stir the melted chocolate, it will be quite thick. Stir in 2 tbsp boiling water and the chocolate will immediately thin down and become silky smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
Whisk the egg whites to fairly soft peaks, then whisk in the sugar until thick and glossy. Beat the yogurt into the cooled chocolate. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mix using a large metal spoon, then very gently fold in the rest of the whites until they are evenly mixed in – being careful not to over-mix or you will lose the volume of the mousse. Spoon into 4 small cups or (125-150ml) ramekins and chill for a couple of hours, or overnight.
Place each mousse on a saucer or small plate. Top with a few raspberries, then dust with a little cocoa powder. Will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge.