I love the holiday season as much as the next person, but what I don’t enjoy so much is not being able to fit into my skinny jeans! Although indulgences are there to be enjoyed, enjoy yourself a little too frequently and you will probably find yourself with several extra pounds to lose come January the 1st.

With a few twists and modifications, Christmas doesn’t have to be quite so calorific…so your waistline can breathe a sigh of relief.

Some of the worst culprits for holiday weight gain, are party snacks and desserts: yes, the odd one here and there doesn’t hurt, but as we eat them so frequently over the festive season, it’s worth rethinking your choices if you want to keep weight gain to a minimum.

Lets start with party treats: small but deceivingly naughty! Many dips are laden with cream and cheese and once you start dipping those chips, the calories can load up pretty quickly. Instead, go for spicy tomato or bean based dips with crudites, which can actually be pretty healthy without losing the taste factor.

This White Bean Dip is easy to make and looks great with a festive wreath made from veggies.


For the dip you will need:

1 tin of white beans (butter beans and cannellini beans work well)

1 clove of garlic

Good glug of olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

for the wreath you will need:


Yellow pepper

Cherry tomatoes

Blitz all the ingredients for the dip in a food processor and transfer to a serving bowl.

To make the wreath, very lightly steam the broccoli for two or three minutes so that it still holds its bite, then arrange all the veggies on a plate around the dip to create a wreath.

Pastry Free Canapes

As delicious as canapes are, they are most often wrapped in pastry which again can be hugely calorific. But, they don’t have to be a no go area, if you are being health conscious and know how to get creative in the kitchen.

The canapes above are simple and easy to make and pastry free! Try wrapping bacon around dried apricots, coat with a little real maple syrup and a sage leaf and bake in the oven.

Parma ham tastes great wrapped around blanched asparagus and we made a lighter blue cheese dip to go with them:

Ingredients for Blue Cheese Sauce:

1/2 cup of plain yogurt

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1 tbsp low fat mayonnaise

1 tbs white wine vinegar

Sprinkle of garlic salt

Squeeze of lemon juice

Simply combine all the ingredients together and add to a serving bowl.

Or a firm festive favourite: whizz smoked salmon with low fat cream cheese in the food processor and add as a topping to thick cucumber slices.

Mulled Wine Poached Pears with Vanilla Protein Greek Yogurt

What’s Christmas without dessert, right? This light dessert is may not be completely sin free with it’s generous serving of merry mulled wine, but it certainly beats many other desserts on the health stakes. It also goes a long way to prove that you don’t need rich chocolatey cakes and pots of cream to make a dessert feel indulgent.

Ingredients to serve 4

4 firm pears

1 bottle of mulled wine

50 g dried cranberries

50 g flaked almonds

Cinnamon to sprinkle

8 tblsp Greek yogurt

1 scoop Neat Nutrition Vanilla Protein

To make simply peel the pears, place in a deep pan, cover with mulled wine and poach for around 15–20 minutes. After half way through the poaching add a few dried cranberries to the mixture and continue to poach.

Mix the Greek yogurt with the vanilla protein powder and set aside.

Serve each pear in a bowl with a little mulled wine and a generous dollop of yogurt, sprinkle with cinnamon, flaked almonds and the poached cranberries.

Photos and food styling by Shakira Cliff

Originally published at medium.com