7 sweet treats with none of the guilt
From mince pies to chocolates, gingerbread to pudding, the run-up to Christmas (and when you’re finishing off the treats afterwards) can be a time to pile on the pounds. Try these alternatives to help prevent your waistline from expanding - and don't miss our savoury ideas too.
1. Chocolate-dipped fruits
Wen Tong Neo / Flickr
These are a healthier alternative to chocolates or biscuits. They look festive, and will be more nutritious, as well as being lower in fats, sugars and calories.
You can make them by dipping fresh fruit into melted chocolate, then place on a tray or on greaseproof paper while the chocolate sets. Strawberries, cherries, and sliced apples or pears will all work well.
A scoop or two of sorbet can replace a heavy Christmas pudding, and might be more what you feel like after a big dinner. This is a refreshing alternative that will reduce the calories, fat and sugar.
3. Fruity filo
Cinnamon-flavoured apples baked in filo pastry will bring you the spicy flavour of the mince pies with none of the guilt. Filo pastry is much lower than fat than traditional pastry. Go for whole, cored apples as a pudding, or make small tartlets with apple pieces as a canapé or snack. Or, try a lower-fat apple batter pudding (pictured).
4. Turkish delight
Katy / Flickr
This Christmas favourite is still high in sugar, but may be a better choice than chocolate, as it’s lower in fat and calories.
5. Fruit and custard
Serve baked or stewed fruit (such as apples, pears or plums) with low-fat custard. You can include Christmassy spices and prepare individual pots to serve easily if you are feeding a group.
6. Brandy custard
Khrawlings / Flickr
Add a table spoon of brandy to your low-fat custard instead of using brandy butter. This will taste delicious and Christmassy but have less saturated fat.
7. Something exotic
Catherine Flessen / Flickr
Go Southern French and replace the chocolate or Christmas pudding with a version of the “thirteen desserts” tray which is traditional in Provence at Christmas. A collection of fruit is served in a large round dish that symbolises Christ and his apostles.
It can typically include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts (in their shell), dried apricots, dried figs, dates, dried plums (prunes), green grapes, red grapes, pears, apples, oranges and satsumas, small amounts of nougats and a brioche made with olive oil.
Most people enjoy playing with the nutcracker and end up eating fewer nuts, as it is harder work to break them open! Spray with a bit of golden food colouring for extra festive glitz.