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December 2020 Food Challenge: Healthier Eating During the Festive Season

The Festive Season is here: a time of gathering of family and friends, a great reason to get together and share meals and celebrate.

But, usually the many traditional dishes for this time of the year consist of rich, calories laden treats.

However, we could modify those recipes and substitute the rich ingredients with lighter, easier to digest ones; or make new food traditions more suited to our climate and way of life, while still retaining the ‘Festive’ appeal.

For the December 2020 Food Challenge
Please share with the community your ideas, tips, and suggestions for making healthier eating during the Festive Season.


Big round of applause to all contributors and many thanks for making November’s challenge a great and interesting one.

Congratulations to the Food Challenge Badge Winners :

@Bubblinky @CharisAnn @edwinab
@Foxihuahua @gordon @jasward
@jmclune @Knuckles @kpa26287
@mike111 @Natalie71 @samsa
@sandy.rigby @ScottOKeefe
@Silvereye @sydneydowers

Special mention to @gordon for taking the time and trouble to post pics of the yummy cherry-chocolate cake.
And to first time poster @jasward for his meticulous and interesting input.

Peter, Mike, and Gaby, would like to extend their best wishes to all for the
Festive Season, and a special wish of a
Happy New Year!


My attempt at some control works in two ways. Both are a compromise between health and sensible weight and enjoying a good time and some indulgence. The idea that a fine gathering can feed people nothing but cuisine minceur is just ridiculous.

First the personal, I set myself the guideline that I don’t need to have a full serve of everything. Just a taste will do, no chance of starvation, or even hunger, on that.

Second, as chief cook and (not) bottle washer, I establish a time limit on feasting. It starts at Christmas day when the family arrive and ends a week after new year, or when the last leaves, whichever is the sooner. After that the vege garden and orchard will be in full swing, breakfast and lunch can include fresh fruit and dinner can feature salad with top ingredients … as long as the river keeps flowing and I can irrigate.


For me, it doesn’t matter. Christmas, Easter and a few birthdays or other random occasions is not what does the damage, it’s what one does on the other 350 or so days of the year that I try to focus on, with reasonable but not complete success …


For some of us the Festive Season seems to run a lot longer than just the
‘twelve days’: at least one week prior to Xmas day with parties and BBQs and well into the new year with lots of leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

I usually prepare dishes that are less heavy on the fat and sugar content,
for example:
making appetisers using ricotta cheese,
patê of olives, fresh herbs for fragrance, instead of using butter and mayonnaise.

I substitute bruschetta topped with cherry-tomatoes to buttery puff pastry.
And wedges of fresh fruit half dipped in melted chocolate can be offered with the boxed chocolates.

All of these healthier solutions can be mixed with the traditional dishes to make it still a Festive time of the year.


Perhaps those people on even tighter budgets than ours might actually be able to eat more healthily during the festive season if they score well on the excess food stocks that supermarkets occassionally have during this season.

My suggestion is to eat for our climate, and not indulge in the traditional stodgey northern hemisphere winter repasts. We should be having light summer (Mediterranean diet) food utilising lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Whatever you eat, eat it slowly to give your belly a chance to signal “I give up - I’m full” before packing in another helping.

Happy holidays everyone.


As it is the season of summer fruits, if we get together with family and friends, we make a festive season fruit salad. Very easy to make with fresh fruits which are available, such as:

  • diced mango
  • de-seeded and quartered lychees
  • diced peaches
  • diced nectarines
  • quartered apricots
  • de-seeded and halved cherries
  • slices of dragon fruit
  • diced watermelon/rockmelon

Prepare immediately before serving and serve with home made custard or natural set yoghurt. If one feels decadent, a slosh of ones favourite tipple (a portion may need to be put aside before dosing if one has children) and/or some hand crumbed Christmas cake mixed through gently.


Seafood is my favourite food for Christmas. Good seafood is expensive and delicious, so it’s a treat but not a heavy one. Apart from that, veggies and salad served in many permutations. And some berries as a treat for afters.


I cook skinless Turkey breasts for Christmas dinner . I roast them . The reason being is that Turkey has less cholesterol than other poultry . That being Chicken , Goose and duck . Pheasant has the least fat and Cholesterol of all the poultry or game birds but I don’t particularly like it .


It’s all in the quantity.
Less is more.
Quality also counts.

This usually requires an early morning dash before the rush at 6am on the 24th to the Mooloolaba seafood markets. Fresh whole BBQ or baked fish is a healthy main. Oysters and prawns or bugs in moderation. We tend to avoid heavy dressings and sauces. All great cold or for the bugs with a drizzle of warm garlic and herbs in butter. A good excuse to start the party Xmas eve with salads and fresh greens. Yes there is always a chook and some ham spread over two days and more the favourite of those not quite so seafood enthusiastic.


My wife and I always manage to eat at least 2 half-leg hams each Xmas season between December and January even when we are at home by ourselves.

I bought the first one at our local Coles today with their offer of $10 off the total price of a Coles half-leg single beechwood smoked ham.

The ticketed price of $9/kg effectively reduced to just $7/kg, by far the best deal ib town.

Xmas starts early at breakfast time tomorrow.



Hmmm Fred123, I’m not sure that this meats/meets the healthier eating challenge.
Certainly not for pigs (no implied reference to humans).
At 20 I did several days work removing old fibreglass insulation bats from a piggery.
Pigs have a similar intelligence to dogs. I haven’t touched ham since.
After 40 years I’ve commented on my mother’s Xmas ham tradition with this reflection, click for an insider look at what you are supporting:


For me, Christmas food looks a lot like this, caught last night

along with plenty of fruit, vegetables and salads


When my children were young I would prepare the original Christmas dinner - hot roast with vegetables, Christmas pudding etc. One year, when they were about 8, it was very hot (as usual) we sat down and my daughters asked “Why are we eating hot food when it’s sooo hot ? :hot_face:
Because it’s a tradition didn’t seem to make sense, so we changed the rules! Next year Christmas was cold ham, smoked turkey breast, prawns, avocado, salads, and pavlova. This is now our tradition. Breakfast on Christmas Day is bacon, eggs, hash browns on the barbie.


… looks amazing! There are times I think you shouldn’t be allowed to post in food related topics, but then, rather than be jealous we can but be mouth-wateringly envious :wink:


Ham and a poached egg on toast for breakfast.

This ham is an absolute corker, but as always, I buy the chump end half instead of the hock end as I find them easier to carve.

I also check every ham in the store to ensure it has some fat but not an excessive amount under the rind, no discolouration, and a nice even pink colour and succulent appearance right across the cut face, as well as being long dated.

After our little dog had some, yesterday morning he just looked at his breakfast consisting of True Origin Duck & Chicken dry food topped with some chopped fried egg but left it until a bit of ham was added.

Prior to this, he always ran out of our bedroom as soon as he heard the egg being put in his bowl.

Good job he isn’t spoilt.



My first xmas in Oz for 7 years. Our suggestions for xmas lunch - my son chose oysters, and home made bread if he has time. I said fish, cheese, local fruit (nectarines !) Being together is more important than anything else, so i am thankful for that much.


Very nice to know that you’ll be here in Oz, with us, this Xmas @mudpuppy.
Best wishes, enjoy the Festive Season with your son!


Thanks Gaby!


First time in forever, I am not buying ham tis year. too much salt will kill me. So it will be chicken and salady stuff, Maybe pork if I am in the mood to cook it. So far, failing motivation suggests I won’t. No sweets, no pudding, no cake. I might lash out and make a pineapple and mint thingy like Mum used to. crushed pineapple, some p juice, and fresh mint chopped into it.