Christmas Decorations
Christmas done well...and healthy

Christmas - a word filled with so much promise - family (well other than year 2020), friends, twinkling lights, the hope of snow and starry nights and of course the smell of Christmas tree in the house...who could resist?


There is another side to the festive season though, isn't it?


The ever-growing 'to-do' list, which includes sorting half the attic out to find the Christmas decorations, the lights (oh and the untangling of the lights, which is an item on it's own), Christmas cards, posting gifts to family, keeping tabs on last posting days overseas, queues, planning Christmas family and friends visits, food planning, queues, gift shopping, gift wrapping, making sure the Christmas magic stays alive with advent calendars, elf on a shelf and just about anything that seems to be popular at the moment...oh and of course queues.

So for us as parents, the festive season is a mixed affair - it's certainly has the magic and the movies are splendid, but there is a degree of stress and expectation that is equally part of the season.


The last thing we need is to have a season of gluttony, laden with sugar at every corner  and drinking excessively every day. I wonder if I just spoiled the blog by adding this sentence :) Perhaps I did, but let me explain.

I'm not advocating a fun-less festive season, but I do advocate a balance and thought through the season. Because as soon as Christmas and New year is over, there will be a rush to the gyms and exercise classes fill up in record time as people are realising that they have let themselves down over the festive season...too many mince pies, too many second and third helpings of dinner.

There is another way - go for flavour, not volume!

I've included some recipes here that may spark your fancy - give them a try, they max out on the flavour and they are all very good for the gut...what more could you ask for?


Prep time: 10 min 

Cooking time: 15 min



  • 1 small cauliflower

  • olive oil

  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 tsp caraway seeds

  • small bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped

  • salt and pepper


Step 1 - Preheat oven to 220°C/Gas 7.
Step 2 - Remove the leaves and central stalk from the cauliflower and break the head into bite-sized florets. Place them in a roasting tray, toss with oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes; they should just be starting to colour.
Step 3 - Remove from the oven and add the caraway, half the lemon zest and a dash of the juice. Throw together and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper and lemon to your taste. Add the mint and serve.



Prep time: 15 min


  • juice of ½ a lemon

  • 1½ tbsp pomegranate molasses (readily available in shops, or use a little

  • honey)

  • 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

  • 4 tbsp good olive oil

  • ¼ large red cabbage, tough core and thick ribs removed, leaves finely

  • shredded

  • ¼ large celeriac, or ½ a small one, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks

  • 1 small or ½ a large red onion, very finely sliced

  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • seeds from 1 pomegranate

  • salt and pepper


Step 1 - Whisk the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, mustard and olive oil together in a large bowl. Season.
Step 2 - Add the cabbage, celeriac, carrot, onion, parsley and half the pomegranate seeds. Gently toss together.
Step 3 - Taste and add more oil, lemon juice or seasoning to your preference. Sprinkle over the remaining pomegranate seeds to serve.

What to do with the turkey carcass after the event??

Christmas Decorations


Prep time: 5 min

Cooking time: 30 min


8 good-sized carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm diagonal chunks

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

3 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

a little oil

salt and pepper


Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4. To make the bag, spread out a rectangle of baking parchment, about 60x30cm, with the longer side towards you. Fold it in half from left to right. Double-fold the top and bottom ends and staple the folds closed with two staples.

Step 2 - Put the carrots in a bowl, season well with salt and pepper and mix with enough oil so that the seasoning sticks to them. Tip all the ingredients into the bag with a dash of water. Double-fold the open edge of the bag and staple in both corners and in the middle. 

Step 3 - Lay in a roasting tin and bake for about 30 minutes; the bag should puff up. Turn out into a bowl or open at the table like a big bag of crisps. Watch out for the staples!

Christmas Spirits


Prep time: 10 min


1 head of cavolo nero

olive oil

500g sprouts, trimmed and halved

glass of white wine

40g flaked and toasted almonds

salt and pepper


Step 1 - Strip the kale leaves away from the stalks and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a mixing bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Use your hands to massage and scrunch the oil and salt into the leaves for a couple of minutes. The leaves will soften and tenderise. Set to one side.

Step 2 - Warm 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Add the sprouts and fry them over a medium heat for 2-3 mins. Add a pinch of salt and tip in the glass of wine. Braise the sprouts in the wine, turning occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. This should take 2-3 mins, by which time the sprouts should be just tender. If they seem a little undercooked, add a dash of water and cook it away as you did with the wine.

Step 3 - Keep the sprouts on the heat and let them cook for a few more mins, until starting catch and colour on the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the kale. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve topped with the toasted almonds.

Christmas Wreath


Prep time: 20 min 

Cooking time: 3h


  • 1 roasted chicken carcass, or the thighbones & half the carcass of a turkey

  • 1 onion

  • 1 garlic bulb

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 celery stick

  • 70g fresh ginger

  • 30g fresh turmeric

  • 1 red chilli, or more if you like it hot

  • 2 sticks of lemongrass

  • 4 kaffir lime leaves

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 star anise

  • 5 cloves

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns

  • bunch of fresh coriander


Step 1 - Prepare your chicken or turkey by crushing the carcass with a rolling pin - this helps to release the flavour. It’s unlikely that a whole carcass will fit in the pot, so cut the carcass into bits and use the thickest and largest bones.
Step 2 - In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat a glug of vegetable oil. Cut the onion in half. Crush the bulb of garlic with your hand (don’t worry about peeling it). Roughly chop the carrot and celery. Cut the ginger and turmeric into 1cm chunks.
Step 3 - Once the oil is really hot, fry the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, ginger, turmeric and whole chilli. Leave it to catch slightly and brown before stirring it. Once it’s browned, add all the remaining ingredients, apart from the poultry and the coriander, and stir for a few minutes. Add the chicken or turkey bones and pour in enough water to cover (roughly 1.3 litres).
Step 4 - Heat to a gentle simmer (don't boil it) and leave for at least 3 hours; the longer you leave it to simmer, the better. If it loses too much water through evaporation, add more so that the bones remained covered at all times. Add the bunch of fresh coriander for the final 10 minutes.
Step 5 - Strain through a sieve, pressing all the juices out. Taste and season. This can be consumed straight away, or frozen for a later date.

All the above recipes sourced from

Chicken Curry
Rainbow chard or Swiss chard

This amazing leafy green vegetables is in season from June and it tastes


Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible and their taste resembles

the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of spinach leaves.

They are an excellent source of carotene, vitamins C, E and K, dietary fiber 

and chlorophyll.

They are also an excellent source of many minerals, including magnesium,

potassium, iron and manganese. In addition its a good source of nutrients

including vitamin B6, calcium, protein, thiamine, zinc, niacin, folate and


Safety tip - chard contains high amounts of oxalate. Individuals with

a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid overeating chard.

Recipe ideas

▫ Braise chard slightly then sprinkle with chopped walnuts and top with

a little squeeze of fresh orange juice.

▫ You can add chopped chard to pasta dishes at the end stage of cooking,

so it wilts slightly but doesn't over cook

▫ Chard also tastes amazing in omelettes or frittatas - simply chop and

add as the eggs are cooking


This is a lovely side dish and a great way to include greens in your meal. Try this alongside main meal, it works well with fish as well as red meat, but also complements vegan dishes well.


  • 300g Swiss or rainbow chard, leaves and stalks separated

  • 2 tbsp good-quality olive oil


  • 1 garlic clove, sliced

  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped

  • 250g pouch cooked puy lentils

  • squeeze lemon juice


Cut the chard stalks into batons and roughly shred the leaves. Heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan.

Add the chard stalks, garlic, chilli and a splash of water. Cook over a low heat for 8-10 mins until softened, then add the leaves and cook until completely wilted.

Prepare the lentils following pack instructions or cook in a pan with sufficient amount of water to cover the lentils. Before cooking rinse thoroughly and add pinch of salt.

Take the chard off the heat and stir through the lentils. Season, dress with more olive oil and the lemon juice, then serve.