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.....
Christmas is almost upon us so I thought I'd do a wee round up post of recipes to see you through the festive season. Almost all the recipes are vegan and some are also gluten free which means you can cater for most dietary needs!
It goes without saying that all of these recipes are tried and tested, simple, nutritious and extremely delicious!
A lot of the recipes can be made or assembled in advance so you don't have to spend too much time in the kitchen, leaving you free to enjoy yourself!
At Nourished by Nature this year, we will be well fed, as always, without any animals being harmed.
We are still trying to decide between a puy lentil and mushroom pie with sweet potato topping or a puff pastry roulade, filled with leeks, mushrooms, butternut squash and spinach. We may well end up with both!
As always there will be lots of veggies to accompany our dinner, oven roast parsnips and carrots are always delicious, especially drizzled with some maple syrup and himayan sea salt.
Brussel sprouts are also delicious oven roasted with some garlic and red onions!
I will be baking some delicious sourdough bread to accompany our soup, which we haven't decided but will probably be based on leeks, which we all love but not boring Leek & Potato! See below for my two favourite leek soup recipes!
As well as lots of new delicious ideas to try out this festive season, here is a collection of recipes from last year as well as a few others that are great for entertaining.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas!
leek chickpea soup
leek oat coconut soup
oven roasted veggie puff pastries
carrot seed loaf with mushroom gravy
super festive burgers
Snacks and nibbles
oven baked falafel bites
quinoa broccoli bites
best ever kale crisps
festive chocolate truffles
delicious decadent chocolate cake
magical chocolate mousse
apricot fig mini tarts
christmas chocolate crunch
chocolate ganache pot
...your health in your hands...
Mince pies are odd things. You wouldnt be alone if you believed they actually had mince in them! The mincemeat is actually diced dried fruits and peels mixed with spices and often some brandy.
This a lighter take on the classic. Why add sugar to dried fruit when it is already very sweet?! The filling is very simple and tastes like christmas in a bowl! I chose to make a gluten free oat crust which is very lightly sweetened with maple syrup. Its a bit fiddly but has a lovely crisp texture and doesnt feel like a stodgy lump as many pastries do!
If the pastry is a bit too faffy you can easily use ready made shortcrust pastry or follow this recipe for a simpler non-gluten free option.
makes 12 tarts with a bit of filling to spare. Keep in a jar in the fridge and try as a decadent festive porridge topping!
200g dried fruits (I used apricot, fig and cranberries but really any dried fruit would work)
50g nuts (almond, apricot, brazil, pecans, walnuts etc.)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 small pear, chopped very finely or grated
1 small apple, chopped very finely or grated
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
optional: 2 tbsp chcoclate chips
note: pastry is rather crumbly but very nice and crispy!
180g jumbo oats (certified gluten free if necessary)
20g dessicated coconut
4 tbsp oil (rapeseed, sunflower or neutral tasting olive oil)
4 tbsp cold water, more as needed
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
Place a heaped tbsp of filling into each case then top with a star. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Leave to cool in the muffin trays before carefully loosening each pie with a knife and sliding out on to a plate or into your mouth. Up to you. Heat them up in the oven again before serving if you like, for extra crunch. Dust with icing sugar for extra festive cheer.
...your health in your hands...
I'm sharing another sweet recipe this week but I promise to move on to healthy savoury dishes and main courses suitable for a plant based Christmas next week!
Who doesn't love a chocolate truffle...? We love healthy, delicious chocolates but not so much the dairy and refined sugar kind! Last year I shared this recipe for festive chocolate truffles which are nut free and lovely too, but these ones
are a bit fancier and more festive in flavour.
The base for these delicious truffles are dates and nuts, two of my favourite ingredients and packed with fibre, protein, minerals and good fats so as well as tasting great these truffles do your body good as well!
These also make a lovely gift, packaged up in a nice box or a wee bag. I just think there is something special about a home made gift and just love to receive them!
I am very lucky that my daughter Jenna always makes special gifts for the whole family, she is a very talented and creative young lady! Handmade chocolates, chutneys, jewellery, lip balms, body scrubs and lotions, hats, place mats and beautiful natural floral arrangements have all been given and received with love. One year Laura, my youngest daughter, gave everyone a voucher for home made cakes, to be redeemed throughout the year! She is an ace vegan baker so her cakes are a real treat!! Kathryn writes lovely poems and puts such thought into them and that only leaves Emma, my oldest daughter who although she says she isn't good at making stuff, made delicious sloe gin last year with a handmade label!
It's just so nice when someone takes the time to make something.
We are fortunate in that we spend a lot of time trying out recipes and having lots of fun in the kitchen, one of the great things about writing this blog actually! So I hope that the recipes and stories I share are of interest and inspire someone out there to try something new!
So back to these very simple and delicious Festive Truffles, Chocolate Mint and Ginger, two flavours which I love, especially chocolate and mint which is a winning combination!
The method for making both flavours is the same so here are the ingredients you will need!
Gingerbread Truffles - makes 12
1 cup of soft pitted dates
pinch sea salt
1 cup of almonds, walnuts, brazil or pecan nuts or a mixture
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 inch piece of freshly grated ginger
pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves
coconut or finely chopped nuts for rolling
Chocolate Mint - makes 12
1 cup of soft pitted dates
1 cup of almonds, walnuts, pecans or brazil nuts
pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons of raw cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (taste and add accordingly)
cocoa or raw cacao for rolling
1. In your food processor, pulse the nuts until they are finely chopped. Put into a bowl.
2. Add the dates and sea salt and process on high until a smooth paste forms.
3. Add the processed nuts and the remainder of the ingredients. Process until thouroughly mixed.
4. Roll the mixture into balls ( makes 12 truffles) and coat in chopped nuts/coconut/cocoa.
5. Store in a covered container in the fridge or the freezer.
...your health in your hands...
Gingerbread biscuits just remind me of Christmas! When the girls were young, they all loved baking and biscuits are just the best fun to make. From mixing and rolling the dough to choosing what shape to cut, we always had a huge selection of cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes which we have collected over the years, and still use.
The brilliant thing about home made biscuits is they just taste better and you can have fun decorating them with icing and faces and patterns.
This recipe makes a small army of delicious festive figures, probably around 50 but they will keep very well and make lovely gifts- everyone loves home made biscuits!
You can easily halve the recipe if you would like to make less.
The dough is very soft and its way easier to work with if you chill it overnight in the fridge, although a few hours will suffice, if you are short of time!
The biscuits are lovely and crisp with a nice gingery flavour so go and get your festive pinny on and have some fun in the kitchen!
Here is the recipe....
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