How to eat heart-healthy meals at the most wonderful time of the year

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No need for naughty, thanks to heart-healthy Christmas recipes.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year when we get together with the people closest to us to celebrate friendship, family and the holidays.

The sun’s out, the beach beckons and we’re brushing up on Christmas carol lyrics or backyard cricket skills.

There’s one event that tops all of this: the festive meal that brings family and friends together to celebrate.

The barbecue's heating up. The table features family favourite roast meats and veggies, salads and desserts. And your tummy’s rumbling! (We don’t blame you).

As we wrap up this year and look forward to 2020, the holidays are the perfect time to start building heart-healthy eating habits.

Read on to discover holiday meal tips and recipes that will help you prepare great-tasting food that your family will love. Best of all, these recipes care for your heart too.


Before we give you food envy, let’s look at easy-to-follow tips and ideas on eating well these holidays:

Be mindful of how long the Christmas and holiday season lasts.  It’s party time! At work, at school and at home everyone is celebrating. Plus, there always seem to be invitations to join in the fun with family and friends.

Each get together boasts its own culinary carnival, and this flurry of feasting lasts all the way up to Christmas Day and beyond, through to New Year’s Day!

During this busy time, it can be hard to keep track of what, how much, and how often you are eating. Remember, the holidays are different from the rest of the year: you might indulge now but make it a New Year resolution to get back to healthier eating habits.

Add a heart-healthy twist to traditional Christmas and holiday recipes.  When it comes to holiday foods, we all have our favourites. Maybe you’ve been waiting all year to eat that extra helping of your cousin’s famous Christmas dish.

If you are leading the cooking for your family’s holiday meal, follow these easy tips for cooking with heart:

  • use healthy oils and ingredients like nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil
  • If you need a flavour boost, reach for herbs, spices, citrus and vinegar and skip the salt
  • eat more fish and seafood, rather than red meat or processed meats (deli meats, sausages, salamis) 
  • add smaller servings of other animal-based products, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, poultry (chicken and turkey) and lean meat

Make fresh, tasty vegetables the star of your celebration menu.  When you sit down to eat your holiday meal, plant foods should make up most of your plate. How can you achieve this? Be sure to eat plenty of:

  • fresh vegetables for crisp, refreshing, colourful salads, which are perfect for our hot holiday summer
  • wholegrains including barley, brown rice, millet, oatmeal
  • when it comes to dessert, don't forget about summer fruits such as mangoes, peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums and more

Vibrant, delicious Christmas recipes that are great for your heart too!

If you are juggling invitations, rushing to buy presents and racing to finish the work year, it can be difficult to plan a heart-healthy holiday meal. Save time by cooking up some of these tasty Christmas-style holiday foods: full of colour, bursting with flavour, great for your heart and they’re Santa’s favourites too!

Green and red open tart with lentil salad

Show off the Christmas colours with this vegetarian tart. This starter is ready in around half an hour and boasts full flavours, including garlic, mustard and lemon. Plus, it’s packed with healthy vegetables like spinach, asparagus, lentils, capsicum and cucumber. Get the recipe.

Thai prawn skewers with kaleslaw 

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh seafood. Match the hot sun with this spiced, flavoursome meal that shows off juicy Aussie prawns. Together with capsicum, pineapple and a side of slaw, this meal gets your taste buds party started! Get the recipe.

Citrus turkey breast with carrots and potatoes

It’s just not Christmas without turkey! Taking less than an hour to prepare and cook, this could be the fastest turkey this side of the black stump. The dish also features baby potatoes, carrots and the sweetness of honey and orange. Get the recipe.

Mini berry and yoghurt pavlova

Everyone knows pavlova is Australia’s true-blue national dessert! Finish up your holiday meal with this delightful treat, topped off with fresh summer berries. Get the recipe.

Your delicious Christmas holiday gift from the Heart Foundation

Want to discover even more delicious holiday meals? Get your free Heart Foundation Christmas Celebrations recipe book, bursting with 13 scrumptious tastes to take you through the Holiday Season.

Click here to discover something delicious!