Let’s face it, if you’re eating clean, are gluten free, dairy free or vegan, the thought of Christmas and all the food and drink it involves, it can seem like quite a complex time when you want to join in and enjoy all the season has to offer but also still avoiding all the food that you don’t usually eat.
Well, why should we miss out? There’s always alternative ingredients and recipe adaptations which mean we can still enjoy all of the food, and God forbid, serve it to visiting friends and family who I bet won’t even notice the difference.
So, sit back and take a look at my ten best recipe suggestions covering everything from mince pies, to cranberry sauce and stuffing. I’ve trawled the internet so you don’t have to.
Also remember, don’t like a particular ingredient? Fine, change it for an alternative you like (or have), after all these are just suggestions, there’s a million ways to skin a cat!
I love it when I ask the kids what they’d like for dinner and the suggestions that come back are all healthy.
Yesterday my son requested prawn and chicken Thai curry and today my daughter requested “that yummy stuff with the rounds beans in it”. It took me a minute to deduce she meant chick peas, so of course I made it for her – what she meant was stew.
The best thing about this stew is that it uses seasonal ingredients as its flavour base – pumpkins and tons of fresh turmeric.
500g organic stewing beef
1 small pumpkin or squash. I used one small blue ballet pumpkin
100g of fresh turmeric fingers
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tin of chickpeas in water
1 litre of organic beef stock
1 clove of garlic
Melt the coconut oil and brown the meat in a pan
Add the browned meat to a slow cooker
In the same pan brown the onion and garlic which can be chopped roughly into strips
Once soft also add this to the slow cooker
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and beef stock and stir
Peel and chop the squash/pumpkin into cubes and also add to the pan along with the turmeric which apart from washing needs no prep.
Season with salt and pepper and slow cook for 7 hours.
As the nights draw in and the heating is turned on to keep the chill at bay my food choices immediately turn to hearty, bone-warming meals which quite often means casseroles, stews and roasts.
Tonight was one of those nights so I dusted off the slow cooker and made my favourite casserole.
Even though it’s packed with veggies – seven to be exact, it’s a firm family favourite evidenced by my two children hoovering it up in minutes!!
Cooking in a slow cooker (crockpot) doesn’t take much brain power as you literally chuck all the ingredients in the pot and let the cooking process create the magic. The real test is being patient and letting the casserole cook for five hours plus.
6-8 filleted chicken thighs
3 tbsps coconut oil
1 carton of passata
2 tsps cumin seeds
2 tsps coriander seeds
2 Garlic cloves
1 tbsp rock salt
200g chopped swede
Handful of mushrooms
200g chopped aubergine
1 red pepper
1 tbsp onion salt
200ml cold water.
Brown off the chicken thighs in the coconut oil
In a pestle and mortar mash the rock salt, garlic, cumin seeds and coriander seeds into a paste and add to the slow cooker along with the chicken and drained chickpeas
Chop all the vegetables into cubes and add to the slow cooker along with the passata and onion salt.
Add water and mix all the ingredients well.
Turn the cooker up to high and cook for a minimum of five hours.
I’m really excited about this recipe… five ingredients and five minutes to make, then with a bit of patience (and willpower), you have some delicious chocolate fudge to devour which is healthy, tastes fabulous and requires no baking!
8 Medjool dates (stones removed)
2 tbsps of coca powder
1 tbsp of coconut oil
4 tbsp of water
Toast the quinoa in a pan for a minute until it turns golden brown.
Put the quinoa into a blender and blitz until you get a flour-like consistency (I left mine a bit rough as I wanted some crunch). You can buy quinoa flour if you prefer.
Add the quinoa and other ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the ingredients come together to form a dough.
Press the mixture into a cling film lined plastic tub.
Put in the freezer for approximately 3 hours to set.
I think I can safely say I am a psyllium husk convert. I discovered it in a seeded bread recipe and haven’t found anything better to act as ‘glue’ when baking without conventional ingredients.
Today I road tested it with my flapjacks. I followed no set recipe instead I just mixed all my favourite ingredients and by luck (and skill of course) created the perfect no-crumble, guilt free, flavour packed flapjack.
2 tbsps of psyllium husk (buy at organic/health food shops)
400g rolled oats
200g jumbo raisins and cranberries
3 tbsps chia seeds
2 tbsps coconut oil
250g of rice sugar
150ml of water
1tbsp vanilla essence
75g crushed walnuts
Pre heat the oven to 180c
Line a large baking tray with foil
Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
Flatten the mixture in the baking tray
Bake on the top shelf for 30 minutes
Take out of the oven and remove from the tray also removing the foil. Put the flapjacks back on the tray and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cut into 12 squares before they cool and harden.
Normally the recipes I experiment with focus on quickness as let’s face it no one wants to be slaving in the kitchen for hours. The only exception to this rule is when my slow cooker makes an appearance which on average is about once a week. Lamb tagine is a perfect one pot, slow cooker meal.
600g diced lamb (I use shoulder for tagine)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion chopped
3 crushed garlic cloves
A few strands of saffron
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin
350g chopped sweet potato
1 pint of organic stock (chicken or beef)
125g chopped dried apricots
225g of organic chickpeas
Salt and pepper to season
Turn the slower cooker onto its highest setting
Place the stock and saffron into the slow cooker and leave to infuse for 15 minutes
Heat the coconut oil in a pan add the garlic and brown the diced lamb and onion for approximately 10 minutes
Add the lamb and onions to the stock in the slow cooker also adding the cinnamon stick and cumin
Next add the sweet potato, chick peas and apricots
Season with salt and pepper and leave to cook for 5-7 hours
You know THAT one photo where everyone comments how amazing you look? Yes you know the one, we all have ‘the one’.
But what if that one photo captures a moment in time where you’re anything but amazing, in fact internally you feel at your lowest and not the picture of health and happiness your misleading photos portrays?
I was talking to a friend recently and both of us have had similar experiences, a photo or series of photos which capture a moment or time in your life when you’ve hit close to rock bottom and the physical results effect your body. So if that’s the case what does the viewer see and deem to be fabulous?
Christmas 2012, me at my sickest
This is my photo. Looks like I’m having a fun time, however, I was 17 days post my diagnosis with Crohn’s disease and was on a high…