It’s almost time to start opening the doors on your advent calendar.
This year we could all do with a little more festive spirit after eight months now of coronavirus restrictions.
Finally, we can be reunited with two other households of loved ones for five days from December 23 as part of the Government’s Christmas “bubble” plan.
And to get you in the mood long before then, nutritionist Juliette Kellow has a few fun festive food facts in the build-up to the big day.
- 1 – The number of Olympic-size swimming pools that can be filled with leftover gravy each Christmas. It adds up to 3.6 million litres or 130ml per household. Make less, or use leftovers to make soup, or reheat and serve with Boxing Day’s turkey and mash.
- 2 – The number of days you can eat up (or freeze) leftovers such as turkey, stuffing, roasties and veg. After serving, let food cool, cover and refrigerate within two hours. For leftovers’ inspiration, visit lovefoodhatewaste.com.
- 3 – The typical number of Christmas dinners we eat in December – our own, plus two with friends. It can have a big impact on waistlines. A roast turkey dinner is estimated to contain 2,128 calories – and that’s without drinks, a starter or dessert. Stick to 2,000 calories a day.
- 4 – The number of food hygiene Cs we should follow to reduce the risk of food poisoning – that’s cleaning, chilling, cooking and avoiding cross-contamination. Don’t wash your turkey either – it spreads germs by splashing them around. Find food safety advice at food.gov.uk.
- 5 – The number of portions of fruit and veg we should eat each day. Satisfy a sweet tooth and boost fibre with festive fruits such as clementines, tangerines, dried cranberries, dates, pomegranates and figs rather than chocolate.
- 6 – The maximum daily grams of salt to stay healthy. But, says Action on Salt, pre-dinner crisps, olives and peanuts, plus a typical Christmas meal with smoked salmon to start, and sides including pigs in blankets, sausage meat stuffing and bread sauce, contain 15.7g salt. Visit nhs.uk for tips on cutting back
- 7 – The number of minutes some of us wait to tuck into our Christmas meal while others take photos of it. The upside: many of us are livening up the beige with bright foods such as red cabbage and purple broccoli – and that means more health-promoting phytochemicals.
- 8 – The number of Brussels sprouts to get one of your 5-a-day. One in three Brits says it wouldn’t be Christmas without them, but we throw away 130 million over the festive season. Find recipes at loveyourgreens.co.uk.
- 9 – The number of alcohol units in a bottle of champagne or prosecco. There are also 650 calories in a bottle – drinking five bottles over the festive season is enough to gain 1lb.
- 10 – The millions of turkeys we roast at Christmas. Turkey is high in protein, low in fat and contains immune-friendly zinc, bone-strengthening phosphorus and B vitamins for mental wellbeing. Find cooking and defrosting calculators at britishturkey.org.uk.
- 11 – The grams of fat in a tablespoon of oil. We use a lot when preparing Christmas lunch. For healthier roasties, keep potatoes and parsnips in large pieces (they’ll absorb less fat) and brush with veg oil (goose fat is high in saturates) rather than pouring from the bottle.
- 12 – The number of days of sugar – 366g sugar or 92 teaspoons – in a 650g tub of Quality Street (we shouldn’t have more than 30g daily). That sugar comes with 2,963 calories and 74g saturates (almost four times the recommended daily max of 20g).
- 13 – The percentage of us who make our own mince pies. To make them healthier, roll the pastry thin and make tarts. Losing 10g of shortcrust pastry saves 55 calories and 4g fat.
- 14 – The maximum weekly number of alcohol units recommended for men and women! A large glass of wine can contain three units. Visit drinkaware.co.uk to calculate units in your favourite tipples.
- 15 – The equivalent number of whole chocolate bars in a 600g tub of Cadbury Heroes. Each bucket gives roughly the same amount of fat and calories as if you’d eaten the following full bars: a Twirl, a Double Decker, 1.5 Wispas, two Crunchies, two Dairy Milks, two Caramels, two Crème Eggs and 3.5 Fudges – plus, nine Eclairs…
- 16 – The millions of mince pies we leave for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Help him – and your family – cut calories by buying mini ones. They contain 85 calories each, compared with 250 calories in a regular pie.
- 17 – The percentage of Brits who eat prawn cocktail on Christmas Day. Prawns are low in fat, high in protein, contain immune-friendly copper and selenium for healthy hair and nails. Skip the bread and butter, and use reduced-fat dressing. For more fish starters, visit loveseafood.co.uk.
- 18 – The percentage of us who demolish a cheese board over Christmas. Cheese is rich in protein and calcium, but it’s packed with calories, saturates and salt, so stick to 30g portions. Choose brie or Camembert, edam and goat’s cheese – they’re naturally lower in fat than stilton and Cheddar.
- 19 – The grams of fat in two tablespoons of clotted cream. We shouldn’t have more than 70g a day, so serve single cream (6g fat) with mince pies and Christmas pud.
- 20 – The percentage of people who say cooking Christmas lunch makes them stressed. Plan what you need, and shop early to avoid last-minute panics.
- 21 – The percentage of us who catered for vegetarian or vegan diets last year.
- This year it’s expected to be even higher, at 24 per cent. For festive recipes visit The Vegetarian Society vegsoc.org.
- 22 – The number of calories in a clemantine or satsuma. That’s 800 calories fewer than in a Chocolate Orange. Choose fruit over chocolate and you’ll also save 46g fat, 27g saturates and 88g sugars – and get 39 per cent of your daily vitamin C needs.
- 23 – The amount of almonds in a handful. Low sugar, high fibre and packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals, they’re a healthier festive snack to sweets and crisps. Find snack recipes at almonds.co.uk.
- 24 – Well, 24 hours and 33 minutes to be precise. That’s how long we need to walk to burn off the 6,000 calories typically consumed on Christmas Day.
- 25 – Enjoy the big day!