Hand’s up if you’ve ever over-indulged at Christmas?
It happens to all of us at some point. It’s so hard with all of that delicious, yet fattening and often unhealthy food around. Snacks everywhere, cookie exchanges, parties, and huge, heavy meals.
If you’re keen to keep eating healthily over the festive period, we’ve got you covered for Christmas dinner. The key is to load up with protein and vegetables and go easy on the carbs and dessert.
Roast chicken is actually pretty healthy as long as it’s not literally rubbed, stuffed, and slathered with butter at every turn. It’s a pretty pure form of chicken, as it comes without any creamy sauce. There are also plenty of vegetables on offer for Christmas dinner, so go hard on them then just take a couple of roast potatoes.
Here are 26 healthy Christmas dinner recipes to get you started:
Beef often gets a bad rap, but unless you’ve been diagnosed with health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart conditions etc… a little beef won’t do you any harm. It’s packed with iron and protein, making it a good choice for Christmas dinner. Sugar Maple Farmhouse shares this delicious recipe for beef tenderloin.
Layered fresh rosemary over the garlic-rubbed roast beef, Olivia’s Cuisine has created a winner of a recipe. Again with that huge hit of iron and protein from a couple of slices, you’ll be fueling your body with goodness to curb cravings later in the day.
Ham is classic meat to serve on Christmas Day, and then for many, many days after because those things are so darn big. The Wooden Skillet shares a great recipe for ham in the crockpot, making the meat beautifully tender. So tender in fact, maybe you won’t have leftovers!
Honey-baked ham is a classic, and The Food Charlatan’s recipe has the ingredients in perfect proportion. Honey may seem like an unhealthy choice, but as far as sweeteners go it’s an all-natural sugar rather than a refined sugar so your body processes it much more efficiently. It’s also just on the coating, rather than a honey sauce that you’d be consuming more of.
If you’re not all turkey-ed out after Thanksgiving, or you’re just a huge turkey fan, The Food XP shares a recipe they claim to be ‘the perfect roast turkey’. It’s actually Gordon Ramsay’s recipe, and he seems to have a good reputation when it comes to cooking so…
If you want something smaller than another turkey, a roast chicken is a great option. It’s super healthy, lean, and full of protein. Platings and Pairings share how to roast it to perfection and crisp up the skin beautifully (though let someone else eat it as it’s the most unhealthy part of the chicken!).
You need something grand because it’s Christmas, so regular salmon fillets won’t do. Garden In The Kitchen shares how to cook half a salmon in style, with delicious and healthy Mediterranean ingredients (lemon, olive oil). Salmon is super healthy, so you’ll be loading up on protein and omega-3s.
If you want to be even more impressive, this salmon recipe is for the entire salmon. It looks spectacular stuffed with lemon slices and shallot. Hey Grill Hey’s recipe is suited more to those in a warmer climate because it tastes delicious if cooked on the grill. If you’re living in the middle of Saskatchewan you probably aren’t loving the idea of firing up the BBQ in winter. However, for those in Florida, California, or even Australia, this is one for you!
Meat is only a small part of Christmas dinner, the sides get a whole lot of attention. The Chunky Chef shares how to turn sweet potatoes into something yummy enough to serve at Christmas. Basically, roast them with a ton of garlic, and voila, delicious.
Sometimes the sides need to be as fancy as grilling a whole salmon and these pancetta and goat’s cheese stuffed mushrooms meet the criteria. Since mushrooms are so small, the pancetta and cheese content is actually pretty minimal per mushroom so they still remain pretty diet-friendly. Thanks, Foody Schmoody!
Whenever anything is Italian, it’s automatically more healthy, right? Okay maybe not all the pizza and ice cream, but this recipe from Julia’s Cuisine is pretty healthy. These mushrooms are basically topped with vegetables (rainbow peppers and onions) and then sprinkled with a pinch of parmesan. So mushrooms stuffed with vegetables? Eat as many of these as you want!
Diethood shares a side perfect for Christmas that is void of cheese (these days, what side vegetable is NOT coated in parmesan?). Perfect to have on the table, and other guests can ignore it if they want, but a great volume food to fill up your stomach at dinner.
Fried food is so delicious, but just not something we can eat every day. Even Christmas! Simply Homecooked shows us how to use the air fryer to crisp up asparagus so we get that delicious crunchy texture without the added fat. Asparagus goes with basically any meat as well, so perfect to serve as a side dish for Christmas dinner.
Back to adding parmesan to vegetables is Joyful Healthy Eats with this delicious recipe for Brussels sprouts. A sprinkling of parmesan does go a long way though, meaning you don’t actually have to add many calories to get that yummy flavor. This is also cooked in the air fryer, meaning they are lovely and crispy.
I don’t know why, but it’s pretty mandatory to have some form of carrots served for Christmas dinner. The easiest way to make them taste better than just boiling or steaming them is to roast them in honey. It’s a pretty common sauce, and Bake It With Love shows how to pull it off flawlessly.
Roasted parsnips can often sort of shrink in the oven and become a bit chewy, which is not a good thing. Flavor The Moments shares a wonderful recipe for parsnip puree, which is like mashed parsnips but without the lumps because if you try to mash it you’ll end up with a mound of lumps! The garlic takes it to the next level.
How do you make cabbage taste of something? Call Me PMC suggests cutting it into steaks and roasting it with a handful of parmesan and pine nuts. This sure sounds tastier than a pot of boiled or stewed cabbage!
The Healthy Foodie reveals a really easy way to cook butternut squash. Notorious for being an absolute nightmare to peel and chop because it’s an awkward shape and just so rock hard! This recipe merely has you cutting it in half and roasting it on a tray, making it soft to scoop out after cooking.
Eat Well 101 shows us how to slice up a butternut squash thinly, and then arrange it beautifully in a dish before roasting. You can then just serve straight to the table. Yep, it looks that pretty!
Anything with balsamic sauce is going to be pretty healthy because vinegar does not have many calories but packs a huge punch of flavor! Let’s Dish Recipes shares how to use this Mediterranean ingredient to cook green beans and mushrooms delicious enough to serve at Christmas.
What’s one way to make broccoli more exciting? Put the word ‘crack’ in front of it. That’s right, Swanky Recipes knows how to get our attention. It comes together in just 20 minutes, which is great because who wants to spend a lot of time on broccoli on Christmas Day? The crispy charred florets claim to have an ‘outrageous flavor’.
What Should I Make For… doesn’t let you forget appetizers with this festive, edible wreath. One of the best parts of Christmas dinner is all the snacks, erm appetizers, served before the main event. Ditch the cheese and crackers, and opt for this instead because it’s so much healthier to snack on tomato, mozzarella, and basil.
Green beans can be a contentious subject, everyone likes them a certain way at the holidays. Closet Cooking suggests trying something completely different and cooking them in maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and tossing in some scraps of bacon. Oh, there are also candied pecans and goat’s cheese in here too. This dish will spark a fury of conversation!
You’ve got to serve something to start, even though it seems insane to have so many courses for one meal. Opting for a salad makes Christmas dinner more manageable, The Toasty Kitchen shares a wonderful one using wintery ingredients everyone will enjoy for their starter.
Another salad option is this delicious spinach and pomegranate salad from Simply Homecooked. Pomegranates always seem so fun, and add a pop of color. Let’s face it, for Christmas dinner, it needs to look as good as it tastes if you have guests over!
Another option to start is soup, which is perfect in the winter months. Something like tomato and basil works well because it’s not particularly filling on its own but is packed with flavor. Ambitious Kitchen shares this tasty recipe, encouraging the use of plenty of basil to give an edge to the flavor.
And I'll leave you with one of my favorite healthy holiday dishes, sweet and spicy baked chicken.
26 (Mostly) Healthy Holiday Dishes
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast *mine weighed 7-8oz raw
- 1 tablespoon sugar free maple syrup
- 1.5 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon grlic powder
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F, line a cookie baking sheet with some foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.
- Pound out the chicken so it is an even thickness, this will help with overall cooking and keeping it juicy.
- Mix sugar and all seasonings together. Brush the chicken breast with the sugar free syrup, make sure you brush both sides.
- Apply the rub to the chicken covering both sides.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then let cool for 5 minutes, you don't need to turn the chicken over.