Every Monday during our Christmas countdown, Le Cordon Bleu London’s renowned Master Chefs, lecturers and wine experts, will be providing you with healthier alternatives to your classic calorific Christmas foods and drinks, so you can have just as much festive fun without the added guilt!
Today we are kicking off the Healthy Christmas Challenge with a bang. Our Wine Development Manager Matthieu Longuere MS, who teaches our Diploma in Wine, Gastronomy and Management, will be sharing three low-calorie festive beverages that are sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.
- Non-alcoholic Gin and Tonic
Even though Gin & Tonic is relatively low in calories compared to many other alcoholic beverages, Matthieu has come up with some ways in which to reduce that calorie content even further.
Matthieu suggests replacing the gin with Seedlip, which is a non-alcoholic spirit that is free from sugar, sweetener, and contains no calories, without sacrificing the flavour. This can be served with a tonic water such as the botanically brewed Fentimans Light Tonic Water or the all-natural Fever Tree Naturally Light Tonic Water.
For a more Christmassy alternative the tonic can be replaced with a low sugar ginger beer, which is spicy and strong in flavour. Matthieu suggests adding orange peel, a cinnamon stick and nutmeg to the ginger beer and light tonic water, and serving it over frozen sloe berries, for a quick and easy, cold festive treat.
- Festive Chai Tea
If you are after a hot drink to warm yourself up in this cold December weather then tea is definitely the perfect solution. For something a bit different, you can try chai tea which is a flavoured milky beverage that originated in India and can be made into a festive drink with the addition of the right herbs and spices. Usually laden with full fat milk and plenty of sugar, Matthieu suggests ways to cut back on these high-calorie components.
To make chai tea you need to start with a good quality, strong tea such as Assam and add it to some cold milk. For a lighter version you can use skimmed-milk which cuts out a lot of the fat. You add these ingredients into a pan along with a cinnamon stick, grated nutmeg, lemon peel, clove (just one so that it’s not too strong), orange peel and star anise, and marinate for a day to allow the flavours to infuse into the milk. You then warm it up in the pan over a lower heat until it’s ready to be served.
There are many sugar substitutes that can be added to your chai tea, such as honey or agave nectar, but these are still quite calorific. Matthieu suggests using liquid stevia as an excellent natural, zero-calorie alternative. And because of the use of skimmed milk your chai tea may be a bit thin, so in order to thicken it up you could use xanthan gum. Just add this thickening agent to the pan and stir through for the perfect festive (lighter) chai tea.
- Classic Red Wine
If you absolutely cannot fathom the thought of a Christmas with no alcohol than Matthieu suggests you stick to red wine with a moderate level of alcohol, 12.5% or 13% maximum. In terms of calorie intake red wine is fine in moderation, and it also has numerous health benefits that you can use to justify having a little tipple during the festive season, which include lowering the risk of heart disease and even aiding in weight loss!
Matthieu’s top choices for the perfect red wine for Christmas are as follows:
- Pinot Noir Thea’s Selection, Lemelson, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA 2013 - This is an elegant New World Pinot-Noir, which is smooth, soft and plumy.
- Saumur Champigny, Clos des Cordeliers Cuvée Prestige, Domaine Ratron, Loire Valley, France 2009 – This is a Cabernet Franc from a warm vintage with a lot of complexity and a lovely structure. It should be decanted to avoid too much sediments.
- Moulin-à-Vent, Cuvée Château du Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, France 2010 – This is a Gamay that tastes very much like a red Burgundy and has the same potential for ageing.
So there you have it, three healthier options to enjoy over the festive period. What will you be drinking this Christmas? Tweet us @LeCordonBleuLDN