Healthy Holidays: 6 Nutritious Christmas Dinner Entrees

Fatty dishes, calorie-packed courses, and sodium-riddled sides are commonly served at Christmas dinner, creating a diet disaster for anyone who’s trying to avoid packing on the holiday pounds. But you don’t need to spend your entire festive feast fretting about your weight. Instead, use vibrant seasonings and spices, lean meats, vegetables, and low-fat sauces to prepare a nutritious holiday entree that contains fewer calories and less fat than traditional Christmas dishes. Your tastebuds and waistline will thank you for making these six healthy Christmas dinner entrees.

Source: iStock

1. Seven-Hour Leg of Lamb

Slow cooking this dish creates a luscious lamb entree that will melt in your mouth. Garlic, lemon, and fresh herbs enhance this meat’s flavor without adding unnecessary calories. Eating Well’s recipe yields 12 servings, with each containing 268 calories, 12 grams of fat, 382 milligrams of sodium, and 25 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 pound) bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 5 bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub lamb with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place a large roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Add lamb and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. After about 5 minutes, add lemons and cook, cut-side down, until well browned; transfer to a plate to cool. When the lamb is browned, squeeze the juice from the lemons over it.

Add the juiced lemons to the pan along with wine, leeks, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Tightly cover the pan with foil. Roast the lamb for 3 hours, turning over every hour or so. After 3 hours, turn the lamb over once again. Add broth to the pan, stirring to combine with the vegetables, herbs and liquid. Cover with foil and continue roasting, turning and basting the lamb every hour or so, for 4 hours more.

After 7 hours of cooking, transfer the lamb to a warmed platter and tent with the foil to keep warm. The lamb will be practically falling off the bone at this point. Place the roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes while the lamb rests. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, pressing on the solids. Season with pepper, if desired, and serve it with the lamb.

Source: iStock

2. Glazed Ham with Blackberry Sauce

Health’s Glazed Ham with Blackberry Sauce has one-tenth the sodium of a traditional cured ham. It is also filled with fantastic flavor, thanks to the glaze, which consists of Dijon mustard and blackberry jam. The recipe yields 16 servings, with each containing 337 calories, 12 grams of fat, 143 milligrams of sodium, and 31 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

Ham:

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup seedless blackberry jam
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (8- to 9-pound) smoked, bone-in ham shank, trimmed
  • Cooking spray

Sauce:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup seedless blackberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare ham, combine 2 tablespoons mustard, sugar, ⅔ cup jam, and pepper in a small bowl; spread half of jam mixture over ham. Place ham on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; insert a thermometer into thickest portion of ham. Bake at 350 degrees for 2½ hours or until thermometer registers 160 degrees, basting with remaining jam mixture occasionally.

To prepare the sauce, combine the cider and wine in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Stir in 1 cup jam and 1 tablespoon mustard. Reduce heat to low, and cook until jam dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and stir in juice. Serve with ham.

Source: iStock

3. Roasted Chicken with Lemons and Thyme

Cooking Light’s Roasted Chicken with Lemons and Thyme is a classic Christmas dish that will delight your dinner guests. The recipe yields 8 servings, with each containing 174 calories, 6.7 grams of fat, 417 milligrams of sodium, and 23.5 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6-pound) roasting chicken
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 lemons, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dry white wine (such as sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Lemon slices (optional)
  • Thyme sprigs (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine the paprika, 1 tablespoon thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; rub under loosened skin. Thinly slice 1 lemon; arrange slices under loosened skin. Cut remaining lemon into quarters. Place lemon quarters inside chicken cavity. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon thyme to chicken cavity.

Place chicken on the rack of a broiler pan or roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Brush oil over skin. Cover chicken with aluminum foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thigh registers 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a cutting board; cover with foil, and let stand 15 minutes before carving. Place a zip-top plastic bag in a 2-cup glass measure. Pour drippings into bag; let stand 10 minutes. Seal bag; carefully snip off one bottom corner of bag.

Drain drippings into measuring cup, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Place pan on stove top over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into pan. Add wine; bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add drippings, broth, juice, sugar, remaining ¾ teaspoon pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Remove skin and lemon slices from chicken, and remove lemon wedges from cavity; discard. Carve chicken, and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with gravy. Garnish with additional lemon slices and thyme sprigs, if desired.

Source: iStock

4. Mushroom Tart

Martha Stewart’s Mushroom Tart will appease vegetarian and meat lovers alike. It is chock-full of mushrooms and spinach, ensuring you have a nutrient-rich dish that is packed with vitamins and minerals. Best Health explains that mushrooms are able to boost your immune system and contain iron, vitamin D, and antioxidants.

Ingredients:

  • Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
  • 1 (from a 17.3-ounce package) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 package (10 ounces) fresh baby spinach
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place the pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score dough to form a 1-inch border. Using a fork, prick dough inside the border every ½ inch. Bake until golden, rotating pan once, about 15 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, toss onion with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.

Stir. Continue cooking with cover on for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Set aside. In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat remaining oil. Add mushrooms; cover and cook until tender and all liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Fold in spinach; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes more. Drain any liquid. Top dough with mushroom-spinach mixture. Scatter onion and goat cheese on top. Bake until cheese is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Source: iStock

5. Christmas Recipe for Salmon

If you are looking for a unique and festive dish to serve your loved ones, Food.com’s recipe is a must-serve at your Christmas supper. Cranberries, vibrant seasonings, white wine, pepper, and lime juice create fantastic-tasting salmon fillets. The recipe yields 4 servings, with each containing 323.5 calories, 7.9 grams of fat, 175.5 milligrams of sodium, and 45.5 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups diced fennel
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon onion, diced
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • ½ teaspoon jalapeño or ½ teaspoon green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 (8 ounce) salmon fillets, boneless and skinless
  • Court bouillon or white wine or beer, for poaching

Directions: Cook cranberries in the water until the berries pop and the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. Dice the fennel, removing the outer layers first. In a bowl, combine the cranberries, fennel, allspice, wine, onion, lime juice, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Poach the salmon fillets in a basic court bouillon, white wine or beer, allowing 8 minutes for each inch of thickness. To serve, place the cranberry relish on individual plates, top with a salmon fillet, and circle with accompanying vegetables of your choice.

Source: iStock

6. Chicken Chasseur

Food Network delivers a Christmas dinner entree that is nutritious and and easy to prepare. The recipe yields 4 servings, with each containing 425 calories, 21 grams of fat, 447 milligrams of sodium, and 50 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4-pound) chicken, quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  • Clarified butter
  • 5 ounces cremini mushrooms, emincer (thinly sliced)
  • 1 large shallot, ciseler (fine dice)
  • 2 ounces Cognac
  • 2 ounces dry white wine
  • 1½ cups enriched chicken stock
  • ¼ cup tomato concasse (peeled, seeded, and diced tomato)
  • 1 ounce cold butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chervil leaves or flat-leaf parsley

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Season chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of clarified butter in a Dutch oven over high heat. Place chicken in skin side down and cook until golden brown. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side. Remove chicken to a baking sheet and bake in the oven until just cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and saute until golden brown. Add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Cognac and cook until completely reduced. Add the wine and cook until completely reduced. Add the stock and tomato and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and then swirl in the butter. Once the butter is added, the sauce can not be further reduced because it will break. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the tarragon and chervil.

Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the breastbone from the breast. Cut each breast into 2 even pieces on the bias. Cut the legs into 2 pieces at the joint and on the bias and remove the thighbones. Serve one leg piece and one breast piece. Make sure only one piece contains a bone. Serve on hot plates, napped with the sauce.

More from Life Cheat Sheet: