Who doesn’t love the Christmas season?! Mirth and joy are in the air with just a hint of nostalgia for the passing year. Families and friends are gathering, and taking vacations together. There are things to look forward to – planning parties, trips and get-togethers! There are Christmas carols being sung, Christmas trees being decorated and there is a greeting on everyone’s lips. Even the most severe amongst us find a cheery disposition, if only just for the season!
But as soon as we think of all the cooking and catering we have to do…the endless shopping…the growing shopping lists…the chores…the cleaning and organizing…we feel a bit unhinged. With the passing days, the pressure mounts and we feel panicked, cornered and utterly without a clue. We are bound to! There is just so much happening!!
I know exactly how you feel. After all, I have been there myself.
In my post this week I discuss some easy and decidedly delectable meal choices that can spice-up your celebrations. They are simple and can be put together in a jiffy. No need to go scouting to the mall for impossible ingredients and scratch your brain for last-minute ideas…here’s everything you will need. And since I’ve thought of it, I’ve made it super healthy too. Give it a go.
1) Christmas Tea Brew
Add a dash of cinnamon or a hint of cardamom to your tea for a magical Christmassy flavour. Just buy the preferred spice and add it as you brew your tea, or mix the spice with your tea leaves and store away in advance! Either way, expect to hear some fantastic compliments on the refreshing drink!
2) Spicy Nuts
Nuts make for great snacks! Chop up some onions, tomatoes, capsicums and cucumbers. Add in an assortment of roasted nuts (think variety) and mix in a large bowl. Try a pinch of curry powder and some chilly. Squeeze a little lime. Garnish with sprigs of fresh coriander. These nuts are zingy but, oh, so much fun!
3) Organic Wine
While stocking up on your wine go for the local organic variety. Make your wine selection an adventure, who knows you may land on something incredible. The general rule of thumb is to buy a small, largely unknown and locally brewed brand of wine in the range of $15-20. These wines offer you the most value for money. And stay away from big brands. Remember, red wines are a healthier choice.
4) Figs with goat cheese
Fruits can be especially nourishing and stimulating on the palate. Explore their sweet and sour flavours. Combine with cheese or quinoa crackers. Or simply slice them up. Be sure to try some of the seasonal fare, like figs that work so well with goat cheese! Umm yum.
5) Cacao desserts
Replace chocolate chips with cacao nibs in your cakes and cookies. Sprinkle cacao powder on your dessert as you serve it. There is no doubt about it – cacao is better than cocoa in all possible ways. To incorporate cacao, just hop online and find a cacao recipe that works for you. Then sit back and relax as your loved ones enjoy a healthy dessert.
6) Homemade apple pie
There is no beating the satisfaction of a homemade apple pie (or crumble). It will fill your kitchen with an enticing aroma that is also conveniently so Christmassy! Use organic apples sourced from your local farmers market. Serve with fresh cream. It is bound to hit the spot!
7) Antipasto platter
How sensational is this idea?! An antipasto platter is all about picking what you love and serving it up on a platter – peasant style! Your choices can be Mediterranean and summery – with marinated olives, feta, dried apricots, red peppers, walnuts and pita bread, or they can be more deli style – with sun-dried tomatoes, asiago cheese, caramelized onions, grilled halloumi, mizuna lettuce, gourmet pears and lavash bread. You can mix and match with an absolute abandon.
8) Roasted eggplant salad
Roasted eggplant can be tasty and filling unlike anything else. Serve it as a salad with an olive oil dressing. Or roast your eggplant with a stuffing of your choice. There are just so many ways to enjoy an eggplant! This one is my favourite – Peel the roasted eggplant and mash into a bowl. Add chopped onions, dollops of pot-set yogurt and salt to taste. Allow it to sit in your fridge before serving.
9) Homebrewed beer
Serving your guests your own creation is surely satisfying. And nothing keeps the connection and bond growing like homebrewed beer. If you plan in advance, you may be able to create some light and smooth craft beers to share on the big day!
10) Stuffed capsicum
This is another fantastic idea. Marinate and stuff your capsicum whole with cottage cheese and chilli. Grill it lightly on a barbeque for an exotic charred flavour. Enjoy as a filling side or a scrumptious main dish.