Planning Christmas dinner

Since my last post at the beginning of the month, I’ve moved continents!. The weather outside the window has changed from blue skies and 28 degrees to grey, cold and raining. Oh yes, I’m back in England! But to make up for the weather, it is Christmas time, and for the first time in 3 years it actually feels festive, with decorations in every home, the shops bulging with gifts and seasonal food and Christmas songs constantly played on the radio.

Now the jet lag has worn off, the present shopping is complete and we have an idea of where we are going to live, my attention is turning to food, particularly Christmas Day. Being dairy and yeast intolerant is hard at this time of year – all the mince pies are made with butter pastry, Christmas cake includes dairy and the brandy butter that melts so enticingly on top of the steaming Christmas pud is a non-starter! Then there’s bread sauce and stuffing which I love, but certainly don’t love me! This year I’ve made it even more complicated by eradicating meat from my diet too, so no traditional turkey either.

All is not lost, however. There’s still the roasted parsnips, potatoes and other veg. And being back in the UK, alternatives are more easily available in the shops. This though, is a bit of dilemma. Meat alternatives can be a bit gross to be honest, and tend to be full of a long list of fake ingredients and chemicals that don’t sit well in a wholefood diet. So it’s a nut roast for me, filled with brazil nuts and hazelnuts for a festive flavour which won’t over power all the delicious veg on offer.

By the way, brazil nuts are packed with nutrition. Unfortunately for some, they are also the second most common for nut allergies after peanuts. But if you’re safe to eat them, they are fabulous for health, eaten in moderation of course. Whilst fairly high in fat, they are monounsaturated, so help deal with ‘bad’ cholesterol. They also have good levels of vitamin E, vitamin B’s and selenium, a mineral that acts as a powerful anti oxidant. There’s also a mix of other minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron and zinc, all wonderful for your health and your skin.

This nut roast recipe is easy and tasty. It does use bread crumbs – in the past I have either used Orgran rice crumbs or whizzed up a tortilla wrap which works but gives a different texture. This year I am going to experiment with using quinoa instead. Using this and chickpea flour instead of wheat flour, this can become a gluten free recipe too. Now what sauce to put with it………

Normal nut roast
1 onion finely chopped
1 tbspoon vegetable oil
2 tomatoes skinned and chopped
30g flour (wheat, corn or chickpea)
140mls water
1 tbspoon soy sauce/tamari
230g nuts (brazil and hazelnut in mine) finely chopped or ground
85g breadcrumbs or bread alternative
1 tsp mixed herbs
Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion until it’s tender. Add the chopped tomatoes, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes or so until pulpy. Stir in the flour, add the water slowly whilst stirring constantly to prevent lumps forming. Once it’s all mixed in, turn off the heat. Add all the other ingredients, mixing together thoroughly and place in a lightly greased bread tin. Bake at 180o C for 45 minutes or so until it’s firm and crusty on top. Leaving to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out on to a plate and enjoy with all the Christmas trimmings and a glass of something bubbly!

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