Putting the Ho!, Ho!, Ho! into Christmas instead of the no, no, no…

Chocolate peppermint meringue trees

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!

Christmas pudding
Christmas pudding recipe by tanyazuoez.com

 

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Pumpkin, beef and chickpea stew

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. 

 

Pumpkin, beef and chickpea stew
Pumpkin, beef and chickpea stew
 
The best thing about this stew is that it uses seasonal ingredients as its flavour base – pumpkins and tons of fresh turmeric. 

Ingredients 

  1. 500g organic stewing beef
  2. 1 small pumpkin or squash. I used one small blue ballet pumpkin
  3. 100g of fresh turmeric fingers
  4. 1 tin of tomatoes
  5. 1 onion
  6. 1 tin of chickpeas in water
  7. 1 litre of organic beef stock
  8. 1 clove of garlic

Cooking method

  • 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.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 7 hours

Serves 6

Italian pesto chicken with courgetti

I don’t mean to big myself up but I have created one of the finest (healthiest) meals!!!

Tastes indulgent, looks great and best of all it’s made from lovely ingredients. I know the kids will love this food too…

 

Italian pesto chicken
Italian pesto chicken
 
Ingredients 

  1. 3 yellow courgettes
  2. One can of coconut milk
  3. 3 tbsps of pesto (Dairy free brand)
  4. 1 green pepper
  5. 1  small red chilli 
  6. 2 breasts of chicken
  7. 1 clove of garlic
  8. 1 tsp of mixed herbs
  9. Salt to season 
  10. 2 tbsps coconut oil

Cooking method

  • Spiralize your courgettes and set aside. (You’ll need a spiralizer to create ‘spaghetti’)
  • Chop the pepper, left over courgette (the ends that won’t go through the spiralizer) garlic and chilli and brown in some coconut oil
  • Next dice the chicken and fry until cooked through
  • Add the cooked vegetables to the chicken along with the pesto, coconut milk and herbs
  • Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens
  • Meanwhile, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the courgetti and microwave on full power for two minutes. 
  • Once the courgette is cooked drain off any excess water and serve straight away so it doesn’t go cold. 
  • Construct the dish and finish off with black pepper and a dusting of Parmesan (not if you’re strictly dairy free).

For a vegetarian alternative swap the chicken for mushrooms or for a seasonal choice, pumpkin. 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 2 

Chicken and chickpea slow cooker casserole 

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. 

 

chicken and chickpea casserole
Chicken and chickpea casserole

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • 1 onion
  • 1 courgette
  • 200g chopped swede
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • 3 carrots
  • 200g chopped aubergine
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion salt
  • 200ml cold water.

Cooking method

  1. Brown off the chicken thighs in the coconut oil
  2. 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
  3. Chop all the vegetables into cubes and add to the slow cooker along with the passata and onion salt.
  4. Add water and mix all the ingredients well.
  5. Turn the cooker up to high and cook for a minimum of five hours.   

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5 hours

Serves 6

Fabulous chocolate fudge

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!

Fabulous chocolate fudge

Cooking Ingredients

  • 100g quinoa
  • 8 Medjool dates (stones removed)
  • 2 tbsps of coca powder
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp of water

Cooking method

  1. Toast the quinoa in a pan for a minute until it turns golden brown.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the quinoa and other ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the ingredients come together to form a dough.
  4. Press the mixture into a cling film lined plastic tub.
  5. Put in the freezer for approximately 3 hours to set.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Chilling time: 3 hours

Makes approximately 20 one inch squares

No flap, no crap flapjacks

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. 

 

Flapjacks
Flapjacks

Ingredients 

  • 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

Cooking method 

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180c
  2. Line a large baking tray with foil
  3. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
  4. Flatten the mixture in the baking tray
  5. Bake on the top shelf for 30 minutes
  6. 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. 
  7. Remove from the oven and cut into 12 squares before they cool and harden.

12 servings

 

Flapjack square
Flapjack square
 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes.

Eat clean lamb tagine

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.

 

Lamb tagine
Lamb tagine
 
Ingredients 

  • 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 

Cooking method

  • 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
  • Serve with couscous or quinoa.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 5-7 hours

Serves 4

Courgette and sweet potato fritters

 It’s the end of July and dismal outside so today has turned into a ‘lets create’ day. 

I had sweet potato and courgettes in the fridge so thought I’d give fritters a go. They turned out really nice and were a perfect light bite. I served mine with poached eggs and ham.

courgette and sweet potato  fritters
Courgette and sweet potato fritters

Ingredients  

  • 2 small courgettes 
  • 1 medium size sweet potato
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsps of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsps of coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp of paprika 
  • Salt and pepper to season

Cooking method

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200c
  2. Grate the courgette and sweet potato into a bowl.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients too and combine 
  4. Cover a baking sheet in foil and lightly oil
  5. Shape the mixture into four flat pattie/burgers
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes turning over after 20 minutes.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

A picture of health

Ramblings from my Crohns Disease related blog.

Crohnie Croney - Crohns and Me

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?

2012 at my sickest 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…

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