The festive period is notorious for excess – the classic story of belt loosening eating that is followed by staunch fitness and dietary resolutions in the new year. 

But the holiday season doesn’t have to be about excessive indulgence. You can make a pretty fantastic feast that happens to be healthy too if you put your mind to it. 

Here’s a healthy menu from snacks to desserts that can offer healthier but tasty inspiration for some of your favourite foods. 

The snacks 

While everyone is arriving, settling in, and having a heated debate about who makes the best chocolate cake, serve snacks that are light enough not to fill you up before the main meal. Mixed seed biscuits served with cheese and freshly sliced figs or fruit preserves are a great start. Not only are the crackers loaded with healthy seeds, but they are yummy too. 

The starters 

Starters will help whet your guests’ appetite before the main meal is served. Here you can start to get more elaborate with the appetiser you’re making but still keep it reasonably light. A platter of summer grilled prawns with lime wedges or butternut crostini with sour cream and pomegranate seeds is a fitting choice for a starter. These are modern takes on classic holiday foods but with a healthier twist without compromising flavour.  

The main event 

Turkey is not a particularly popular choice for festive roasts in South Africa. However, a golden roasted turkey may change a few minds. If correctly prepared, it is not only delicious, but it is a healthy choice of protein because it’s lean. It also goes much further than other poultry because of its size, so don’t forget the turkey if you are catering for a crowd. 

The sweet life 

A fruitcake is the height of festively themed food packed full of classic flavours such as currants and citrus peel. Put a healthy spin on your dessert by using xylitol for a sugar-free version of this easy Christmas cake. It’s a treat that will have lips smacking and tongues wagging for all the right reasons.

Always the side, never the main

Until now, the main meal still gets all the attention. Make some out-of-this-world sides that will finally earn their place at the centre of the feast. Try your very own homemade health bread to wow the crowds. Or perhaps offer up Greek lemon roast potatoes and minted garden peas to add flavour and colour to your table. It’s even healthier to prepare these sides using healthy fat spreads that taste great. 

When cooking for your family, you always want to select the most nutritious ingredients. Choose the healthiest margarine for your family to use. There is a variety, from spreads enriched with plant sterols to ones specifically designed for vegans – the choice is yours.

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