Nutrition: Low-fat Christmas leftovers

Enjoy festive fare without piling on the pounds

It’s Christmas time, and once again we face the battle of excesses – especially Christmas dinner. But don’t despair: despite many of the ‘naughty’ full-fat, high-sugar add-ons, the biggest meal of the year actually contains many superfoods that will make highly nutritious, low-fat meals well into January.


Take turkey for example, the main ingredient. “Turkey is one of the lowest fat mainstream meats around,” says Emma Turner from “There’s just 155kcal, 1.7g fat and 22.6g protein in 100g of skinless grilled turkey breast meat. It’s also a good source of zinc, which is needed for a healthy immune system.”

Performance nutritionist and sports dietitian Becky Stevenson, of, adds: “Turkey is a rich source of lean protein, making it ideal to incorporate into your diet when you’re training to meet protein requirements and provide dietary protein for muscle recovery.”

It also contains niacin, vitamin B6, zinc and potassium, which Stevenson says are all-important vitamins and minerals for athletes in training. “Turkey is a rich dietary source of beta-alanine,” adds Stevenson, “which can up muscle carnosine concentration and may improve high-intensity cycling performance.”

So go forth and indulge in your fat Christmas bird without feeling too much guilt! Read on for two recipes using leftover turkey meat, along with nutritional information for some other festive favourites.

Cajun turkey steaks with rice and beans

  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 1 small red onion (chopped) 450ml chicken stock
  • 560g turkey steak
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 4tbsp olive oil

Nutritional value: 374kcal, 38g protein, 5g fat, 0.8g saturates, 44g carbohydrate

Fry the chopped onions in a little olive oil in a pan until golden, then add the red pepper and cook for a further few minutes. Add the stock, kidney beans and a pinch of salt, and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 15 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Season the turkey steaks with the Cajun seasoning and then grill them on a nonstick griddle for 4-5 minutes each side. Serve with the rice and salsa dressing.

Cajun turkey steaks with rice and beans:
Paul Smith -
Turkey bolognese (serves 6)
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 500g turkey mince
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp tomato puree
  • 350g spaghetti
  • 15g grated parmesan

Nutritional value: 339kcal, 29g protein, 4g fat, 1g saturates, 48g carbohydrate

 Fry the onions until golden, then increase the heat slightly, add the turkey mince and cook for one minute, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Add the crushed garlic and cook for two minutes, then add the carrots and celery and cook for six minutes until softened.

 Add the tomatoes, puree and herbs and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste. Cook the spaghetti for about 10-12 minutes until al dente.  Drain and serve immediately with the bolognese topping and grated parmesan cheese.

Turkey bolognese:
Paul Smith -

Gobble up!

Turkey isn’t the only Christmas leftover that you can use to fuel your Yuletide rides – just make sure you control your portion sizes…

  • Mulled wine (per 120ml glass): 227kcal, 0g fat, 29.2g carbohydrate, 0.1g protein
  • Christmas cake (per 100g): 190kcal, 6.9g fat, 29.4g carbohydrate, 2.6g protein (taking off the icing and marzipan removes 60kcal and 1.5g fat)
  • Christmas pudding (per 100g): 352kcal, 9g fat, 63g carbohydrate, 3g protein (not drenched in cream and brandy butter though!)
  • Roast potatoes (per 100g): 149kcal, 4.5g fat, 25.9g carbohydrate, 2.9g protein
  • Roast chestnuts (per 100g): 245kcal, 2.2g fat, 52.96g carbohydrate, 3.17g protein
  • Sprouts (per 100g): 37kcal, 1.1g fat, 3.3g carbohydrate, 3.5g protein