Healthy Christmas recipes

A range of recipes designed for Christmas that are specifically high in certain nutrients.
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More than 85% of adults in the UK do not have an adequate nutritional intake, according to the Department of Health.

With the expert nutritionists at Healthspan, we’ve looked at the most common deficiencies and have developed a range of recipes to address these. Each recipe uses ingredients that are specifically high in certain nutrients.

Turkey, Spinach & Stilton Patties

Boost Your Calcium

This recipe is a great way to use left over stilton cheese and turkey after Christmas. It is an inexpensive meal for family or friends, especially after festive season indulgences.

While most of us get a good supply of calcium from drinking milk, it is useful to know that other food can provide an extra boost to your calcium intake. Spinach and cheese are both good sources of calcium, but go easy on the cheese as it is high in fat content.

Serves: 8

Time: from start to finish in 25 minutes


  • 250g fresh spinach or 200g frozen spinach, thawed
  • 50g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 500g minced turkey
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 75g stilton cheese
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  1. Put the washed spinach into a steamer and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until wilted, turn the spinach over half way to cook evenly. Remove from the heat and press out as much excess water as possible.
  2. Turn the spinach onto a board then chop into small pieces. This can also be done in a food processor, but be careful not to over process, just pulse or chop.
  3. Transfer into a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, mix together to break up the spinach.
  4. Add the turkey and seasoning, crumble in the cheese and mix together. Form into 8 burgers shapes.
  5. Heat either a heavy based frying pan or griddle pan, lightly brush the burgers with oil or spray, cook the burgers over a medium heat for 5 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Serve with salad leaves and tomato salsa and wholemeal bread baps if desired.

Tip: If using frozen spinach, also squeeze out excessive water once thawed. If preferred use Cheshire or Feta cheese.

Crab Au Gratin

Boost Your Riboflavin

This is an elegant and delicious starter, perfect for festive entertaining, particularly for your Christmas or New Year’s Eve meal.

Riboflavin, otherwise known as Vitamin B2, can be found in meat, dairy products and fish, particularly crab. If fresh or frozen crabmeat is unavailable, canned crab can be used, a useful store cupboard ingredient to have over the festive season.

Serves: 6

Time: From start to finish in 25 minutes


  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 100g small button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 450ml semi-skimmed milk, warmed
  • 40g cheddar cheese finely grated
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 300g fresh white crabmeat or 2 x 170g cans
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 30g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Handful rocket leaves


  1. Heat the oven to 200oC (180oC fan) or gas mark 6.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and mushrooms and cook over a medium heat for 4 -5 minutes, until softened. Stir in flour then take off the heat, gradually add the milk. Return to the heat then gently bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring for 1-2 minutes until thickened.
  3. Add the cheddar cheese, cayenne, crab and chives, season if needed.
  4. Spoon into 6 ramekin dishes; sprinkle the tops with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the tops are golden and crisp.
  6. Serve with a few rocket leaves on each dish.

Tip: when using canned crabmeat, press out the water in which it is packed.

Pumpkin & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Boost Your Vitamin A

Beta-carotene is the pigment found in orange-fleshed and dark green vegetables and fruits, important for body growth and releasing energy from carbohydrates.

This richly coloured soup is rich in carotenes which are converted in the body into Vitamin A. This is particularly useful for vegetarians as the normal sources of Vitamin A are from animal sources.

This warming soup can be enjoyed as a starter, eaten as a light lunch or taken to work on chilly winter days.

Serves: 6

Time: from start to finish in 40 minutes


  • 2 red peppers, halved
  • 1 kg pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium leek, washed well and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • Shredded coriander
  • Pumpkin seeds


  1. Heat the grill and place the pepper halves under the grill to roast, the skin will blister and blacken in about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the pumpkin, discard the seeds and cut into large pieces then pare off the skin. Cut the flesh into smaller chunks. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and leek and cook over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes until softened. Transfer the peppers into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to cool so that you can pick them up in your fingers.
  3. Stir the garlic and chilli (if using) into the pan and cook for a further minute.
  4. Add the stock and prepared pumpkin, bring to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
  5. While the soup is cooking, discard the seeds from peppers and peel off the skin and roughly chop.
  6. Blend the soup in batches adding the peppers, they will retain some texture while the pumpkin will become a smooth puree. Season if needed then re-heat to serve.
  7. Scatter the soup with coriander and a few pumpkin seeds.

Cranberry & Poppy Seed Muffins

Boost You Zinc

Wheat germ is a natural and delicious source of zinc which helps the body maintain energy levels. Seeds, particularly poppy seeds are another great way of introducing zinc into your diet.

Quick and easy to make, serve for a Christmas brunch or take some work to help keep you going during the busy times.

Serves: 16 Muffins

Time: from start to finish in 30 minutes


  • 115g golden caster sugar
  • 150g plain flour
  • 115g wholemeal flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g wheat germ
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 25g poppy seeds
  • 300ml plain low fat yogurt
  • 2 medium free range eggs
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Heat the oven to 190oC (170oC fan) or gas mark 5/6. Line a muffin tin with bun cases (you may need to cook these in two batches if one muffin tin is all you have).
  2. Put all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together.
  3. Beat the yogurt lightly with the egg, oil and vanilla extract. Pour into the bowl and quickly mix together but do not over mix.
  4. Spoon into the cases then bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.

Christmas Chocolate Puddings

Boost Your Iron

The two important ingredients in this recipe to give an extra boost of iron are cocoa and prunes. It’s a great recipe for those who do not like traditional Christmas pudding.

Serves: 4

Time: from start to finish in 45 minutes (plus overnight soaking of prunes)


  • 125g pitted ready to eat prunes
  • 3 tbsp Armagnac or brandy
  • 115g self- raising flour
  • 25g cocoa
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 75g light muscavado sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 4 tbsp milk


Roughly chop the prunes, put into a bowl then pour over the brandy. Cover and leave overnight.

  1. Grease 4 pudding basins and prepare a large steamer.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl, stir in the sugar.
  3. Beat the eggs, oil and milk together then beat into the dry ingredients. When smooth, fold in the prune and brandy.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the four pudding basins. Cover with greased foil and tuck the edges of foil tightly around the basins. Place in the steamer and steam for 30 minutes.
  5. To turn out, run a small palette knife round the edge of the puddings, invert onto plates and serve with vanilla custard.

Tip: if making these puddings for the family, substitute orange juice to soak the prunes.

Pork Parcels With Brazil Nut Stuffing & Cranberry Gravy

Boost Your Magnesium

Magnesium works with calcium to help maintain healthy bones, essential for good health. Including plenty of wholegrains in your diet is a great way to maintain magnesium levels. Nuts, seeds and green vegetables are also good sources of magnesium.

This is an elegant dish, suitable for a dinner party as the pork can be prepared in advance.

Serves: 4

Time: from start to finish in 1 hour


  • 4 slices pork leg meat (escalopes) approx 400g
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 100g fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3 tbsp port
  • grated zest and juice ½ orange
  • 2 tsp corn flour


  • 15g butter
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 50g Brazil nuts, finely chopped
  • 40g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 6 ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped sage leaves
  • 50g soft goat’s cheese


  1. Heat the oven to 190oC (170oC fan) or gas mark 5.
  2. Place a slice of pork between cling film and beat out until evenly thin. Lightly season each one.
  3. To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a small pan, add the spring onions and cook for 2 minutes to soften. Turn into a bowl and when cool add the chopped nuts, breadcrumbs, apricots and sage, season a little and toss together. Add the soft cheese and mix together until the cheese is evenly distributed.
  4. Divide between the 4 escalopes, spreading it over two-thirds of each portion.
    Roll up from the end with the stuffing, then secure with a cocktail stick.
  5. Heat a non-stick frying pan with the oil, add the parcels and fry over a medium high heat, turning until golden brown all over.
  6. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, pour over the stock then cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Strain the cooking liquid into a pan, and keep the parcels warm in a low oven.
    Boil the stock to reduce by a third then add the cranberries, port and orange zest, simmer until the cranberries soften. Blend the corn flour with the orange juice, add to the sauce and simmer until thickened.
  8. Remove the cocktail sticks from the parcels and cut each into 5 slices. Arrange on warm plates and spoon the cranberry gravy around. Serve with new potatoes and green vegetables.

Tip: the parcels can be assembled in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to cook.

Web Links

To find out what nutrients your diet is lacking in, visit

Do you have any healthy Christmas recipes? What’s your favourite Christmas recipe?

Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below, or share your recipes with other readers in the 50connect forums.

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 2:25 pm Food & Drink