Christmas with Liz Earle
Like many others, Christmas for me is all about ‘the 4 Fs’: feasting, festivities, friends and family. I don’t believe that healthy eating should be at the expense of relaxing and enjoying the festive period, but there are little additions and modern twists you can make to your Christmas dishes to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs over such a busy period.
A few days before Christmas I cook up my favourite marmalade-glazed ham – the recipe for which is in the latest winter issue of Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine. Throughout the holiday it’s important that my children are involved as Santa’s little helpers in the kitchen and round the home – we all gather round to eat together at every meal while we’re under the same roof, not just for Christmas lunch itself.
After a fish feast together on Christmas Eve, the children go off to bed and my husband and I – like most parents - spend some time together wrapping and sorting last minute presents, while enjoying a glass of homemade mulled wine.
Christmas morning is a delicious spread of scrambled eggs – from our farm’s Marans hens - with organic smoked salmon as the children open their stockings. I make sure my children have a clementine and a walnut in their stocking in keeping with the tradition that we should treasure simple pleasures.
As one of my sons is lactose intolerant I’m going to make a delicious alternative as well as the traditional favourite Christmas cake this year: a gluten and dairy-free orange and almond cake.
Gluten & dairy-free orange & almond cake
A spectacular alternative to traditional Christmas cake. The gold-dipped rose petals are a festive, decorative
For the cake (makes 2 halves)
250g coconut oil
250g caster sugar
2 oranges, juice and zest
250g ground almonds
250g rice flour
3 tsp baking powder, gluten-free
For the syrup
50g caster sugar
1–2 tsp rose water, to taste
1 dark red rose
Edible gold paint (Edible Liquid Colour Gold made by Sugarflair)
For the filling
160ml coconut cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1–2 tsp rosewater
Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Grease and line 2 x 20 cm round tins. Combine the coconut oil and sugar and mix well. Add the orange zest, juice,
eggs and beat until well mixed. Fold in the dry ingredients and divide the mixture between the prepared tins.
Bake both for 30–40 minutes until a light golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out
While the cake halves are baking make the syrup. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil gently.
Simmer for about 5 minutes then take off the heat and stir in the rose water. Leave to cool.
Remove approximately 20 petals from the rose. Ensure the gold paint is thoroughly mixed (it has a habit of separating)
and dip the wide edge of the petal into the gold paint and place on a plate. Alternatively, use a brush to paint the edges.
Once each half of the cake is cooked leave in the tins to cool for 10 minutes, and prick with a skewer. Pour the syrup
over the cakes and then leave to cool.
When completely cool, gently remove each half from the tin and place on a serving plate. The cake will need delicate
handling as, being gluten-free, it is quite crumbly.
Whip together the filling ingredients using a hand-held mixer for 3-5 minutes. It will look like whipped cream. Spread
the filling over one side of one half of the cake, and sandwich the upper half on top.
Decorate with your gold rose petals. Delicious served with dairy-free ice cream (coconut ice cream goes particularly
You can also find the recipe and so much more at lizearlewellbeing.com
Christmas is infamously a time for overindulgence but you needn’t feel guilty if you pick wholesome, but equally delicious, treats. I like to make cranberry, chestnut and chocolate brownie bites that are in the current issue of Liz Earle Wellbeing: they’re yummy to nibble on during the Queen’s speech, but far healthier than a regular chocolate box since they’re sweetened with honey and coconut sugar.
On Boxing Day, making sure nothing goes to waste, I like to cook up a big turkey stir fry – with an Asian flavour of coconut, chili and sesame - that we enjoy as a late lunch after a long, wintry walk around our farmland.
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