Christmas Cheer

The Christmas message is over 2000 years old and my Christmas message has also changed little over the years. The same rules apply!

Christmas is often called the “Silly Season” because we go a bit daft with all the preparations and all the eating! It is often a time of over indulgence resulting in those New Year Resolutions to get back on track. But don’t despair, you can still eat healthily and try new and exciting recipes with a few helpful tips in mind.

I’m also a great believer in taking care of our emotional health and much of my time is spent helping people make necessary dietary changes rather than simply stating what needs to change!

Cooking a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings can end up causing more stress than enjoyment for the cook, but I’ve found some useful hints from English chef Gordon McDermott who recommends starting everything days or even weeks in advance.

For example parsnips, carrots and Brussels sprouts can be prepared up to three days early.  Peel and slice the carrots and parsnips, boil for 12 minutes, drop into cold water, dry on paper towel and keep in the fridge covered in glad-wrap.

On Christmas morning whisk together a little olive oil, honey and wholegrain mustard and mix with the vegetables. Place on a preheated tray and roast for 30 minutes.

For the Brussels sprouts boil whole (no need to make little crosses on the bottom!!) for 6-8 minutes, drop into cold water, dry and cut in half. Cover with glad wrap and keep in the fridge. On Christmas day cook just before serving by stir-frying for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 table spoons of stock or water and cook 2 minutes. What makes them really delicious is to then add 200g of vacuum-packed chestnuts and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

The two most important survival rules for your waistline also involves planning ahead plus watching the quantities – keep it small! Taste everything but don’t pile up your plate.

If you have food sensitivities it is important to stay within your threshold. A small amount of foods spread out over time is often well tolerated occasionally. Plan ahead and design your meals and snacks within your limits.

If you are trying to lose weight, remember that one binge can undo a whole week’s effort.

Before eating out try to find out the options available so you can pre-decide what to choose. Only have 2 courses and have 2 entrée sized dishes instead of an entrée and a main.

If friends are coming to visit, modify your recipes to make them healthy. Try Greek yoghurt or evaporated skim milk in place of cream and sour cream, or coconut essence in-place of coconut cream. Use filo pasty with skim milk between the layers in-place of puff pastry.

Include raw vegetable sticks (try snow-peas and green beans) with cheese plates and dips and keep the dips vegetable based rather than cream based.

Remember to eat and drink SLOWLY and have a large glass of water with every alcoholic drink.

Turn your glass of wine into a spritzer with soda or mineral water, ice and lemon. Remember that fruit juice and soft drink contain lots of calories and are not a healthy option in-place of alcohol.

Below are a few recipe ideas for you to try or modify according to your personal needs, and please don’t hesitate to contact us in the New Year if you want help getting back in shape!

For extra psychological help see

Grilled Goat’s Cheese with Caramelised Apple and Toasted Macadamia Nuts

4-5 unpeeled red apples5tbspn canola oil400g Swiss Chard or Bok Choy

1tbsp while balsamic vinegar

3tbsp macadamia nuts – toasted and chopped

I glove garlic – finely chopped

3 tbspn clear honey

4 goat’s cheeses

freshly ground black pepper

Halve apples, core and slice into 4Then slice again to make 16 wedgesHeat 1tbsp oil in wok, add garlic, then chard stalks. Cook gently for a few minutes.

Add Chard leaves and stir for a few minutes until tender. Leave in wok.

To make dressing whisk 2tbspn oil with vinegar and add nuts.

Fry the apples on medium heat in 1tbspn oil, add honey and let bubble until apples are cooked. Drain off the juice and whisk them into the dressing

Cut each cheese in half and place cut side up on a foil-lined oven tray adding a little pepper and oil to each. Place under hot grill until golden.

To serve place some wilted chard on each plate, followed by some apple, top with cheese and drizzle with dressing.

Tuscan Pork Skewers

  • 500g fillet pork
  • 4 small red onions
  • 2 red capsicums
  • 24 small button mushrooms

Tuscan Marinade:

  • 1tspn fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2tspn Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Cut the pork into 24 pieces and marinade for at least 2 hrs.

Soak 8 wooden skewers in water. Peel and quarter the onions and cut the capsicums into 24 chunks.

Thread pork onto skewers with onion, capsicum and mushrooms. Brush with marinade and cook on the BBQ for approx 6 minutes each side. Serve with Tomato and mint salad.

Tomato and Mint salad: Chop 4-6 medium tomatoes. Toss with 25g fresh mint leaves and 1/2 a red onion (both finely chopped). Mix together 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbs white wine vinegar and freshly ground pepper to taste. Drizzle dressing over salad.

Poached strawberries in Drambuie


  • 1 punnet of strawberries – halved
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 generous tablespoon of Drambuie (or your favourite liqueur)

Poach all ingredients in saucepan over low heat until strawberries soft and a sauce has formed.

Allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes before serving warm with Greek yoghurt and almond biscotti.

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