When I was very young, we used to have the full Christmas spread. Roast chicken, baked ham, roast veggies, gravy and stuffing. Plus homemade Christmas pudding, fruit mince pies and custard. With nuts, lollies chocolates, crackers and biscuits all around the place for nibbling on.
But as we got older, we realised that using the oven on a stinking hot day was silly and our Christmas habits shifted. Instead, we started using beautiful summer produce, fresh seafood and pre-cooked foods. The bonus of this approach was an easier Christmas lunch, with much less work (and stress).
Now I do understand that if you’re having Christmas in a cold climate, you may prefer to stick with the traditional options. But if you’re looking for a fresher and easier Christmas dinner, than I’ve got a great low FODMAP Christmas menu for you.
Key features of this low FODMAP Christmas Menu:
- Everything is low FODMAP. Of course.
- Everything is dairy-free and gluten-free, or can be easily adapted to make it that way.
- Nearly everything is nut-free, or can be easily adapted, substituted, or omitted (without much loss).
- The dishes have been carefully selected so that the options within a particular sitting of the meal (e.g. nibbles) use different ingredients. This will help to prevent overloading on FODMAPs as the meal progresses. Also, the amounts of moderate FODMAP food items, such as legumes, nuts and dried fruit, have been kept very low across the entire meal.
- The total amount of fat and sugar has been kept as low as possible to prevent them from irritating the gut. But there’s still enough of the fun stuff to keep with the Christmas spirit.
- Most menu items can be made ahead of time and many can be made the day before. That means much less stress on the day – so important for happy IBS tummies.
On a low FODMAP diet, it’s best to keep the nibbles to a minimum so that you don’t add FODMAPs in before you start the meal. So the nibbles have been limited to a trio of dips, served with plain rice crackers, plain corn chips, and veggies sticks (e.g. cucumber, capsicum, raw zucchini).
These 3 dips would make a nice trio:
I’ve chosen this combo of dips for two reasons. Firstly, each dip has its own unique flavour profile, so there’s something for everyone. But most importantly, only one dip contains legumes and the other two choices are very low FODMAP. Because the last thing you want to do at the start of a long meal is eat too many legumes. If however you wanted an alternative for hommus, you could try one of these two dips: Basil Pesto Dip or Carrot Cumin and Chickpea Dip. But keep in mind that these two alternatives are both legume-based, so it’s best not to serve them alongside the hommus.
If you need nut-free choices, the best option is to leave out the Roasted Pumpkin and Walnut Dip and instead have a ‘duo of dips’.
Seafood, and especially prawns, are an essential part of our family Christmas. We always have them. So to me, it wouldn’t be Christmas without having Fresh Prawns with Low FODMAP Thousand Island Dressing.
Now, we usually just toss the prawns on the table and peel them there. It’s part of the fun. But if you want a fancier and less messy option, you could adapt this recipe to make prawn cocktails. Start by putting iceberg lettuce into individual dishes. Then add in some prawns that have been shelled, a couple of thin slices of avocado, plus a dollop of Low FODMAP Thousand Island Dressing. Prawn cocktails are best assembled just before eating.
One of the easiest roasts to cook is a big chicken. Prepare the bird by putting a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme, plus a quartered lemon, into the cavity. Then rub the skin with some garlic-infused olive oil and a little salt. You don’t need a special recipe for this – just roast according to standard guidelines based on the weight of your bird.
If you want gravy, make some from the pan drippings, using gluten-free flour instead of regular flour. And for the stock, try using the Massel Salt Reduced Chicken Style Stock Powder.
Now you might be wondering how this fits into the ‘cooler’ and ‘cook ahead’ approach for Christmas. Easy… serve the roast chicken cold. Roast it the day before, break it up into pieces and serve it on a platter. I wouldn’t worry about gravy though, since cold gravy isn’t very nice. Instead I’d serve it with bottled cranberry sauce.
Or if you want things even easier, get a good quality cooked leg ham, slice it up and serve it cold. This would go well with mustard.
We often have salads or cold sides with Christmas lunch, which means less cooking and heat in the kitchen. The other advantage is that you can prepare most of them ahead so that the only thing you’re waiting on is the meat. Here’s some salads that would work really well:
- Potato Salad with Fresh Herbs and Bacon
- Tomato and Green Bean Salad
- A big green salad, made with mixed lettuce, cucumber and Kalamata olives. Dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
If you wanted stuffing, try making this Low FODMAP Stuffing by A Little Bit Yummy. While I haven’t made these, I’ve heard awesome reviews about them. Plus, you can make the stuffing ahead of time and then reheat it if you’ve chosen to serving your roast hot.
Traditional Christmas desserts have two problems: they need changing to make them low FODMAP and they often take a fair bit of effort to make. But these three options are much easier to make and will keep you going okay, if you keep the portions limited.
- Low FODMAP Fruit Mince Pies with Shortbread Pastry – stick to two pies. These can be baked the day before.
- Spicy Gingerbread Cake with Orange Glaze – stick to a small piece. The cake can be baked the day before, but glaze it on the day.
- Fresh low FODMAP fruit platter, including strawberries, kiwi fruit, grapes, rockmelon and honeydew melon. You can prepare the fruit at the start of the day, keeping it in the fridge until needed. And if you wanted a ‘sauce’ to serve it with, I’d suggest trying this Mint & Lime Yoghurt, which could be made with lactose-free yoghurt or coconut yoghurt.
The safest drink on a low FODMAP diet is water, but that’s boring, especially at a party. An easy option is to add slices of lemon, lime or orange to your water to give it some flavour. Simple, but it works.
For a fancier option, this Fresh Fruity Spiced Iced Tea is a fun choice. And since you actually have to start making it the day before, that’s one less task to do on the day.
But what about alcohol? Fair question. There are quite a few low FODMAP alcohol choices, but it’s important to understand that alcohol is a gut irritant. This means that even if it’s low FODMAP, it could still trigger your IBS. So approach alcoholic drinks with caution, limit how many you have, and drink them only while eating (this helps to buffer the effect).