Are you wondering what to cook for Christmas this year? If you are fed up with your usual roast dinner and you want to experience something new, original and with a taste that is out of this world, then you should keep reading.
You might want to know that there is plenty of delicious foods available which are not necessarily traditional for your country but are used as traditional symbol of Christmas in other parts of the world and they are worth a try.
Christmas dinner is a central part of the festive celebrations, but what counts as a “traditional feast” varies across the world in terms of what is on the plate, when it is eaten and how it came to be tradition.
It is interesting to know that in Sweden, Christmas dinner begins with cold fish dishes, then meat, hot foods and desserts. The symbol is ham which is boiled and then glazed with eggs, mustard and breadcrumbs and it is served cold.
In Japan, people eat Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) which has become a staple of the Japanese Christmas experience. People need to order the bucket of fried chicken at least one week before to secure their fried chicken meals.
In Ethiopia, the traditional meal is wat, a spicy meat and vegetable dish served with a flatbread called injera.
In Madagascar, lychees are considered a special Christmas treat and they are not only enjoyed as a fruit dessert, but they are also used in shops and houses as decorations.
In Italy, people cook warm pasta dishes such as lasagna, cannelloni, pasta al forno and they always finish off the meal with panettone or pandoro, which is the typical Christmas dessert.
No matter where you are in the world, Christmas is a festivity for family, tradition and food. If you have always followed your family traditions, it is time to be brave and try new ingredients that you may have never eaten for Christmas.
We would like to give you some ideas of ingredients that are highly nutritious and that you should include at the dinner table this year:Chestnuts: are edible nuts seasonal in the UK from October to December. They have a low-oil, high-water and high fibre content. They are a rich source of potassium which helps regulate fluid balance, blood pressure and water retention. They contain two compounds (polyphenols) called gallic acid and ellagic acid which have heart-protecting properties and improve cells’ response to insulin, making overall blood sugar control more effective. Chestnuts are also very high in fibre. The high fibre content acts as a prebiotic and supports the functioning of the gut. The only downside of chestnuts is that they can cause digestive problems if eaten raw. We recommend enjoy them roasted or make a stuffing with them!
Cranberries: are fruit native of North America rich in bioactive compounds such as flavonoids and anthocyanins which are strong antioxidants. 80 g of cranberry or a single glass of 150 ml of cranberry juice counts as one of your 5-a-day. Cranberries are known for their management of urinary tract infections. They contain specific compounds called proanthocyanidinis which have natural antibacterial benefits and prevent the bacteria Esterichia Coli from colonising the urethra and causing infection. A daily consumption of cranberries of cranberry juice is recommended if you suffer from urinary tract infection! Cranberries are also rich in vitamin C which is essential for maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, cartilage and bones. Cranberries are used for Christmas as a sauce with turkey, in pies and in puddings.
Brussel sprouts: Brussel sprouts are named after Brussels, capital of Belgium, where it is believed they were first cultivated in the 16th century. They have naturally a bitter flavour, but it’s possible to cook them in a way that masks their flavour. For example, you can season them with chilli oil and sesame seeds or with butter and parmesan which help to enhance their nutty sweetness. They are part of the Brassica family which includes vegetables containing sulphur compounds which are known for their anti-cancer effects. They protect cells from DNA damage and prevent new blood vessels from growing in tumor cells. They are also very high in fibre, so they support digestive health. You can roast the brussel sprouts in the oven and garnish with pomegranate, pistachios and cranberries. You can also wrap them in crispy breadcrumbs and serve with Aioli dip.
Persimmons: are fruit widely consumed in Asia and are used in Jordan for the Christmas pudding. They contain twice as much dietary fibre per 100 g as apples and they are very high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for maintaining a healthy eyesight and healthy skin. They contain a lot of carbs and sugar, and they are recommended for breakfast or after your workout. Although rich in natural sugar, they are recommended for people with type-2 diabetes, as they contain proanthocyanidin which are compounds that ameliorate the diabetic condition by decreasing serum glucose and improving insulin response. You can make delicious desserts with persimmon such as a persimmon apple pudding or persimmon and ginger gallette!
Mulled wine: Wine and particularly red wine is full of antioxidants and a moderate consumption is recommended by the NHS. It’s important not to have too much alcohol however, which means not more than 14 units a week but one/two glasses a week are recommended to regulate blood sugar and lower the bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). Wine contains a polyphenolic compound called resveratrol which helps to slow down aging and boost your memory. So, why not get a little tipsy for Christmas?