I've been experimenting a bit with options for our Christmas dinner and I've decided on this rather delicious dish!
I came across the idea on the rather fabulous plant based blog mygoodnesskitchen and the simplicity of this appealled massively!
My criteria for any recipe really, festive or not, is flavour, simplicity and nutrition and this one ticks all the boxes!
Plus it looks great too and is sure to impress your guests!
We stick with vegan options for Christmas although Kathryn always requests a veggie lasagna which isn't festive at all but it's her favourite so we make a separate one for her.
We tend to have lots of options and a table full to overflowing with festive fare but we all love cooking and have the time to spare but food is a priority in our house.
The saying there are those who live to eat and those who eat to live and we definitely fall into the first category!!
We love food!!
So back to this really simple but elegant dish. The most difficult part is cutting holes in the butternut squash! I have a really good plain round cookie cutter which worked really well. I also tried a fluted option which although more difficult to cut through, left a lovely flower shaped hole, although the hole is filled with stuffing mix so just go with the plain option!
Cut slices about an inch thick and buy a butternut squash with a long neck end so you can cut a good few slices out!
I decided also to try the stuffing mix with portabello mushrooms and it worked really well and was simpler and quicker since the mushrooms don't need pre cooking prior to adding the stuffing and you don't have to cut a hole in them! You just give them a wipe with a damp cloth, put them on a lightly greased baking tray and spoon generous amount of stuffing mix and a wee drizzle of oil then bake them for around 20 minutes or so!
Doesn't get much easier than that!
Okay so the stuffing has a lovely festive flavour from the cranberries, chestnuts and herbs. If you can't find chestnuts then you can replace them with walnuts or hazelnuts. I used Merchant Gourmet vacuum packed cooked chestnuts from Waitrose.
Another time saving tip is to use a can of cooked lentils! Then its simply a matter of frying an onion, garlic, herbs then adding the other ingredients and heating it through.
I am going to make up my stuffing mix and freeze it so I'll be good to go on Christmas day.
If you have fresh sage, rosemary or thyme in the garden then add a good chopped spoonful of all of them. Alternatively you can use dried herbs.
I served a slice of squash and a big mushroom with a delicious gluten free, extremely healthy mushroom gravy, which is made with cooked brown rice, mushrooms, stock, herbs, garlic, tamari or balsamic vinegar and optional nutritional yeast flakes!
All you do is simmer the mushrooms, stock and cooked rice for 10 minutes then add herbs, garlic and seasoning and blend the lot into a delicious vegan gravy. No faffing around with lumpy flour and butter for me!! The recipe is included at the end of this post.
On a health note, cooked and cooled rice, potatoes and pasta have way more benefits for our gut bacteria, due to increased amounts of resistant starch, and everyone knows how much I go on about these wee critters! Its a symbiotic relationship on a massive level, with huge benefits for us, their hosts!
So do yourself a favour and provide your gut microbes with a festive feast this year and they will repay you with enhanced health on every level!
A feast to these wee guys is fibre, lots of it from different sources, so veggies, fruit, wholegrains, lentils, seeds, nuts, beans and pulses is the way to go!
If you decide to make this delicious dish your festive choice then you will be doing your health, your taste buds and your gut microbes a huge favour!
Whatever graces your festive table this year, enjoy it and have a wonderful Christmas...
Here are the simple recipes..
FESTIVE STUFFED SQUASH
Ingredients to serve 6
VEGAN MUSHROOM GRAVY
....your health in your hands....
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, well it is in our house, apart from the fact that we all have a sore throat, so we've not been singing festive songs as much as usual!
I've been having sea salt baths with lavender and tea tree, downing shots of turmeric, ginger and lemon and eating loads of Immune boosting soup and fermented garlic!
I always use drugs as a last resort once I've given all my natural remedies a chance to work! I'm feeling better but now Kathryn and Laura have a sore throat!! Its always the same at this time of year!
Anyway I'm still in full on festive food mood and have a few more brilliant recipes to share before Christmas!
I came across this recipe on the awesome Kellie Andersons excellent blog food to glow
she has some incredible recipes, mostly plantbased and all delicious and healthy.
Her blog is well worth a look, I love her style of cooking and the flavour she manages to pack into her recipes is amazing!
So back to this great recipe...
These wee crackers would make a great gift, presented in a wee bag and tied with twine or ribbon. You can be creative and cut out all sorts of shapes. That's the brilliant thing about making your own stuff, you know exactly what the ingredients are and you can personalise most recipes to suit your own tastes and preferences.
Kids would also love making these and they make a nice change from sweet biscuits covered in icing! These crackers actually taste a little sweet and have a lovely crunch and festive flavour. They would be perfect with a Christmas cheese board (lots of dairyfree vegan cheeses around too) or as an accompaniment to dips or just plain as a wee snack!
The recipe makes lots of crackers so I have frozen half the dough and will make more crackers next week when we've eaten all this batch!
I used avocado oil in mine but olive oil or any mild tasting oil would work. Kellie's original recipe added 50 ml orange juice and the zest of a small orange but I didn't have any so I added a bit more water instead and used 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice instead of ginger.
The trick is to try and roll the dough out fairly thinly for nice crisp crackers. Just be sure to flour your work surface well or use 2 sheets of greaseproof paper and roll the dough on the paper with one sheet on top. You can then put the greaseproof paper directly onto an oven tray.
I just lightly greased and floured 2 baking trays and the crackers crisped up nicely and didn't stick at all!
So here is the slightly adapted recipe..
CRANBERRY & HAZELNUT CRACKERS
.....your health in your hands.....
So this week before all the true frantic madness of Christmas begins, I am sharing a few new recipes which are all worthy of a place at your Festive table, whether you are catering for meat lovers, vegetarians or vegans.
This mushroom, walnut and lentil pate is absolutely delicious and actually tastes quite meaty so I'm sure everyone will love it.
I am a massive fan of mushrooms, lentils and nuts so this is my idea of an ideal starter. Served with some thinly sliced sourdough or delicious crackers (recipe coming soon!)
this will surely impress your guests! It can be made a few days in advance and will happily sit in the fridge until you need it. This also works well stirred into a mushroom risotto or as a topping for a baked potato or a pizza!
I've made this a few times and played around with the recipe a bit. The original recipe from the wonderful Dearbhla Reynolds book The Cultured Club uses fermented mushrooms, which adds another layer of flavour and nutrition but since most folks won't have time to ferment the mushrooms first then this adapted recipe is equally delicious and the addition of seaweed flakes adds that unique umami flavour.
There are also lots of fresh herbs in this, all of which I have growing in the garden, so rosemary, sage and thyme and flat leaf parsley all feature in this delicious pate.
Garlic, onion, tamari and lemon juice add more flavour and nutrition and the addition of flaxseed and breadcrumbs firm it up so that you have the option of setting the pate in a small loaf tin, which looks rather wonderful and can then be served in slices.
Other options are to set the pate in small individual ramekin dishes or just put it into a serving dish and serve dollops rather than slices! It's whatever suits your needs best and makes life easier! If you are catering for gluten free then you would need to leave the breadcrumbs out or use gluten free ones. I always have a supply of breadcrumbs in the freezer, which are very handy and a great way to use up any slightly stale bread.
So back to the ingredients, any mushrooms will do but I always purchase organic mushrooms. Mushrooms absorb and concentrate whatever they are grown in, good or bad. I'd rather not have a side of pesticide residues or heavy metals with my food, thank you very much! It's always safer to buy organic and most of the supermarkets sell organic mushrooms these days at a reasonable price. Button mushrooms, portabello, chestnut or shitake mushrooms will all work well or indeed a mixture!
I will be making the version with fermented mushrooms for our Christmas dinner! Jenna is home from Cornwall for Christmas and is missing her mamas sourdough, kimchi, krauts and condiments so I'll have to get her gut microbiome restocked while she is here.
I have festive kombucha and lots of lovely fermenty things on the go!
So without further ado, here is the recipe....
Decadent Mushroom & Lentil Pate
....your health in your hands.....
I sometimes think that onions are overlooked when it comes to soup, but a good bowl of well made onion soup is an absolute joy and extremely nutritious!
Onions are great infection fighters and immune boosters and this is exactly the time of year that we need a wee boost, with all the stress of Christmas preparations, the cold and damp weather and for most of us too much alcohol, chocolate, and junk food. Add to that too many late nights and an never ending to do list, all of which depletes our immune system leaving us vulnerable to whatever bugs are doing the rounds!
But not to worry, onions to the rescue!
I came across this soup recipe in a Sunday magazine and loved the simplicity of it. The onions are simply oven roasted with some herbs, until they are deliciously sweet and tender and then blended with some good quality veggie stock! I use Kallo organic stock cubes or Marigold Bouillon Powder.
Voila, soup done!
The trick is to let the onions roast until they are really soft and deep gold in colour
There are so many varieties of onions! I recently bought some rather lovely pink onions so I used a mixture of pink, red and white onions in my soup but any combination would work.
Onion soup is traditionally served with a slice of toasted bread and cheese on the top but I would rather have a nice slice of sourdough on the side!
I am a big fan of simple recipes that pack a punch in the flavour and nutrition stakes and that's exactly what this soup does. Onions are a staple in most folks kitchen so this soup can be thrown together anytime!
It is absolutely delicious and is a definite contender for Festive entertaining, it's that good!
So without further rambling, here is the simple recipe!
Luxurious Onion Soup
....your health in your hands......
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