Let’s Talk All Things Christmas

christmas food and decor

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Ahh, it’s that time of the year where everything just feels magical. Even though the month of December can enhance some stress, it really is a time filled with love, laughter, and joy with those you love the most. In this article, we will be discussing all things Christmas from healthy dishes, treats and cocktails and the best gifts to buy YOURSELF this year. Yep, you deserve some love too, boo.

Healthy Savoury Foods

Are you looking to do Christmas a little differently this year? Maybe you’ve decided you want to swap some of your calorie-packed foods for some healthier ones? Well, then this is the article for you! We will be exploring a multitude of healthy Christmas feast ideas for your family!

Zucchini and Polenta Slice with Broccoli Pesto
From Delicious

Is potato bake a traditional side dish at your family Christmas? Well, maybe this year we can swap it for this delicious and nutritious zucchini and polenta slice!

Ingredients:
2 2/3 cups (665ml) Massel Chicken Style Liquid Stock
2 2/3 cups (665ml) milk
1 1/2 cups (255g) instant polenta
1/2 cup (40g) finely grated Parmesan
1/2 cup (120g) fresh ricotta
20g unsalted butter
3 small zucchinis
1 white zucchini, very thinly sliced into rounds (we used a peeler)
1 yellow squash, very thinly sliced into rounds (we used a peeler)
Micro herbs, to serve

Broccoli Pesto:
150g broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup firmly packed basil leaves
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup (20g) finely grated parmesan
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease and line a 20cm x 30cm slice pan with baking paper, leaving 5cm overhanging long sides
  2. For the pesto, place all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill until needed.
  3. Place stock and milk in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil then, stirring constantly, add polenta in a slow, steady stream. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 6-8 minutes until thick. Stir in Parmesan, ricotta and butter. Season
  4. Using a julienne vegetable peeler or mandoline, slice 2 zucchini into long, thin spaghetti-like strips. Add to polenta mixture with half the pesto and stir to combine.
  5. Transfer to prepared pan, and with wet hands, spread out evenly. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan. Turn out onto a board and drizzle with remaining pesto.
  6. Thinly slice the remaining whole zucchini into rounds and scatter over slice with white zucchini, squash and micro herbs. Season and serve warm or cold.

Salad of the Seven Fishes
From Good House Keeping

If your Christmas is similar to mine, we have some fried fish and prawns covered in Thousand Islander Dressing. Instead, we can opt for this delicious seafood salad.

Ingredients:
1/2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons), plus wedges for serving
1 small clove garlic, pressed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. small squid, steamed
8 oz. large cooked shrimp, tails removed
1 lb. mussels, steamed
12 littleneck clams, steamed
6 oz. cooked octopus tentacle (about 1 tentacle)
4 oz. bay scallops (or sea scallops, cut into 1/2-inch pieces), steamed
1 small bulb fennel, very thinly sliced
½ small red chile, very thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, very thinly sliced
1/4 c. pitted green olives, sliced
4 oz. cooked lump crabmeat, picked
1/2 c. flat-leaf parsley leaves

Method:

  1. In large bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, garlic, 1/2-teaspoon salt, and 1/4-teaspoon pepper. Whisk in oil.
  2. Thinly slice squid bodies. Cut each shrimp into 3 pieces. Shuck mussels and clams. Cut octopus tentacle into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer squid, shrimp, mussels, clams, octopus and scallops to bowl with lemon vinaigrette and toss to coat.
  3. Fold in fennel, chile, celery, olives, crabmeat, and parsley. Serve immediately with lemon wedges if desired.

Crudité Vegetable Wreath with Ranch Dip
From Eating Well

In my family, we have a lot of snacks and platters before the actual main event but this year, this vegetable wreath and ranch dip might be the most perfect new addition!

Ingredients:
8 cups broccoli florets
3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 cups green beans
1 cup sugar snap peas
½ bunch curly kale
2 cups cauliflower florets
10 cherry tomatoes

Dip:
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yoghurt
½ cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
4 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Method:
1. To prepare a crudité: Put a large pot of water on to boil. Set a large bowl of ice water by the stove. Blanch broccoli for 1 to 2 minutes in boiling water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the ice bath to chill. Drain well. Blanch Brussels sprouts, green beans and snap peas in the same way.
1. To prepare dip: Whisk yoghurt, mayonnaise, shallot, dill, vinegar, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Transfer to a serving bowl; set it in the centre of a large circular platter or decorative serving board.
3. Arrange kale around the bowl, with the frilly edges on the outside. Top with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, snap peas and cauliflower. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

Healthy Sweet Foods

Christmas is a time to spend time with loved ones, enjoy the festivities, gift others and most importantly… indulge in some good food. However, not every single meal or snack we eat during the festive season needs to be jam-packed with calories. Here is your guide to some sugar-free Christmas treats we’re sure the family will love!

Healthy Christmas Trifle Recipe

From The MerryMakerSisters

Ingredients:
FOR THE CAKE LAYER
2-cups blanched almond meal
1 cup coconut milk (canned)
100 g (3 1/2 oz.) coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup rice malt syrup or honey
1/4 cup coconut flour
4 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder (gluten free)
1 tsp. 100% vanilla extract

FOR THE JELLY LAYER:
2 cups brewed raspberry tea
5 tbs. Petipro Gelatin (the gelatin that ‘gels’)
1 tbs. rice malt syrup or honey (optional)

FOR THE CHOC CREAM LAYER:
1 cup coconut milk (canned)
1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight in water, then drained works best)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup rice malt syrup or honey

EXTRA TOPPINGS:
Fresh berries
Coconut flakes

Method:

  1. Start with the cake! Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F) and line a 20 cm (8 inch) spring form cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine the almond meal, coconut flour and baking powder.
  3. In a blender or mix master, whiz the coconut oil and rice malt syrup together.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, and coconut milk and mix well. (Don’t worry if it looks a little ‘curdled’).
  5. Pour this into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and gently mix together.
  6. Transfer into the lined tin and bake for 40 minutes or until lightly brown.
  7. Allow cooling completely.
  8. While the cake cooks, make your jelly!
  9. In a small saucepan combine the tea and rice malt syrup.
  10. Sprinkle over the gelatin and mix together.
  11. Allow standing for 5 minutes.
  12. Place the saucepan onto medium heat and continuously stir for 5 minutes until smooth.
  13. Pour the mix into a 20 cm (8 inch) square large silicone mold or lined slice tin.
  14. Place in to the freezer for 20 minutes or until set.
  15. While this is happening get onto the choccy cream and slice your berries!
  16. The choccy cream is easy, whiz everything in your blender until super smooth!
  17. Now it’s time to layer everything up!
  18. We did: cake, choc cream, fruit, jelly, cake, cream, and fruit, topped with coconut flakes!

Paleo Cherry Ripe
From Delicious

Ingredients:
21/2 cups (375g) dried cherries
100ml lemon juice
1/3 cup (115g) honey, plus 1 tbs extra
2/3 cup (165ml) coconut oil
1 cup (70g) shredded coconut
1 cup (100g) almond meal
3/4 cup (75g) cacao powder, plus extra to dust
1 cup (50g) coconut flakes, toasted
1/2 cup (70g) slivered almonds, toasted
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
30 fresh cherries, halved, pitted

Method:
1. Place dried cherries, lemon juice, 1/3 cup (115g) honey and 1/3 cup (80ml) coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened and melted.
2. Transfer to a food processor with shredded coconut, almond meal and 1/4 cup (25g) cacao, then whiz until combined.
3. Transfer to a large bowl and stir through coconut flakes and slivered almonds.
4. Grease and line a 21cm square baking pan with baking paper and press mixture into the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours.
5. Heat the vanilla, extra 1 tbs honey, remaining 1/3 cup (80ml) coconut oil and 1/2 cup (50g) cacao in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until a smooth icing.
6. Slice into 15 bars using a hot knife. Dip bars in the icing and garnishes with fresh cherry halves.
7. Set aside for 15 minutes, then dust with extra cacao to serve.

Sugar-Free Ginger Bread Cookies
From Wholesome Yum

Ingredients:
2 ¼ cups wholesome blanched almond flour
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt
½ cup natural sweetener
3 tbsp. butter softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Method:
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the almond flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, nutmeg and baking powder.
2. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the butter and sweetener for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Beat in the almond flour mixture until dough forms.
3. Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake.
4. Preheat to 180 degrees C. Line cookie sheet with baking paper.
5. Place the ball of dough between two large pieces of baking paper. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookie shapes and transfer them to the baking paper. When you’ve cut out all the shapes you can, re-form the remaining dough into a ball, roll it out again and repeat until you’ve used up all the dough.
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden on the edges. Cool on the cookie sheet before handling

Healthy Drinks

During the festive season, there is nothing better than getting together with family and friends to enjoy some good food and refreshing drinks. What we might not realize is how many calories are packed into those drinks. If you want to be more mindful of your cheeky drinks this festive season, then these recipes are just for you!

Low Fat Eggnog Recipe
From Daily Burn

Ingredients:
2 cups skim milk
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
¼ cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
½ teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg
1/8-teaspoon salt
¼ cup white rum or bourbon

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of the milk and the vanilla bean pod and seeds to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, condensed milk, corn starch, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl until light yellow.
  2. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour it back into the pan. Stir constantly over low heat with a wooden spoon until the eggnog begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the remaining 1/2-cup of milk. Transfer the eggnog to a pitcher; cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Remove the vanilla pod. Spike the eggnog with alcohol if desired, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Apple Cider Sangria
From Shape

Ingredients:
1 bottle of white wine
2 1/2 cups fresh apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup vodka
2 apples, chopped
1 orange, chopped
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Method:

  1. Chop apple and orange and place in the bottom of pitcher with pomegranate seeds. Add in wine, apple cider, cinnamon sticks, vodka, honey, and cinnamon. Stir and serve with ice.

Apple-Cranberry Holiday Wassail
From My Recipes

Ingredients:
4 cups apple cider
1 cup cranberry juice
½ cup honey
18 whole allspice
8 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
½ vanilla bean split lengthwise
3 strips orange rind
1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons dark rum

Method:

  1. Combine cider, cranberry juice and honey in a slow cooker. Place allspice, cloves and cinnamon sticks on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely, and place in slow cooker. Add vanilla bean and citrus rinds; cover and cook on LOW 5 hours.

2) Remove sachet, vanilla bean and citrus rinds from slow cooker; discard. Pour in rum, and reduce temperature to WARM. Cover; serve directly from slow cooker.

Christmas For You

We are getting closer and closer to one of the biggest days of the year… Christmas! I am a firm believer that whilst finding the best presents for our loved ones is important, buying some presents for ourselves is also important. It is just as much your holiday as anyone else’s. You know what you like and don’t like. You worked your butt off this year. You survived the craziness of what 2021 had to bring. Therefore, I think you deserve a damn gift from yourself to yourself! We are going to explore some of the best Christmas gifts to buy for yourself. Let’s see which one ends up under your tree

Lingerie

Now don’t be confused with this one. It is not for your significant other at all. This gift is purely for you and you alone. Lingerie like corsets, bustier, brassiere, thongs and g-strings are tight and enhance the shape of your body. They don’t only make the individual wearing them look better but they really boost your confidence and self-esteem. I don’t know about you but when I am wearing beautifully crafted lingerie I feel like a goddess.

The Gift of a New Hobby

Do you want to add something new and exciting in your life but don’t know where to start? Well, the gift of a new hobby is the perfect idea for you. Think about what your passions are and go from there. Is your passion in a cooking class? A candle-making class? An exercise class? A shoemaking class? A knitting class? The opportunities are endless.

Weighted Blanket

These blankets are designed to relieve stress and create a sense of calm. They do this by providing pressure on your body, which is done as the blanket is filled with glass or plastic pellets for added weight. Some also have extra layers of fabric to increase their heaviness. Weighted blankets can help calm a restless body, reduce feelings of anxiety and improve sleep troubles. What better present to gift yourself?

Daily Planner for 2022

Having a physical daily planner provides simplicity and flexibility to see the big picture, plan, and jot down appointments and ideas. There is something about physically writing down a task or an appointment that helps our brain remember the task better.

A Beauty Box Subscription

A great idea if you love to pamper yourself but also if you love a little surprise each month! Nourished Life is an Australian brand that creates beauty boxes that contain a variety of natural and organic products. Starting from February each year, boxes filled with samples and travel-sized skincare, makeup, health, and home products are delivered to your home. Each box is packed with $30 to $50 worth of products and only costs you $25 per month!

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