Christmas is a magical time of year.
Full of festive spirit, of giving and love. It’s when we often take breaks from work, go on holidays and reflect upon the year that was. For many, Christmas has a notoriously hard edge, one in which they are reminded about what they don’t have, rather than do. No matter your position, I feel that Christmas can be wonderful for everyone. Call me an eternal optimist though it’s all about perspective.
This year will be the first in our family without my beloved grandmother alive and as all of my wonderful Christmas memories include her at the forefront, that really sucks. However I feel so incredibly fortunate to have known and loved such an incredible woman, one who taught me so much and who inspired love and compassion, at Christmas especially. Although this year will both feel and be different to the past, it’s a chance for our family and for me to grow, to develop new traditions and to always have Nanu in our hearts.
Plus I think she would be thrilled at the food I’m planning for our Christmas celebrations this year…. Which brings me to my favourite part of the entire festive period – the meal!
As a family of Hungarian-descent, we have always celebrated Christmas Eve as “Christmas” and over the past few years, I’ve been welcomed into a new family, so Christmas Day has become an additional celebration; spent with my husband’s family.
Our European Christmas dinner always included a lot of cheer, a whole lot of delicious food and would no doubt culminate in some variety of charades; hilarity ensued. This year will replicate all of that and I thought I’d share a little of that with you.
How to serve and enjoy delicious food, indulge a little, enjoy yourself and not feel awful the day after.
Just as every recipe that I’ve published has in common, to me the Christmas meal is about real whole foods. Sharing and enjoying the simplicity of it all without hours in the kitchen; unless we’re all in there! Being Australian, this makes sense too with warmer weather to enjoy more fresh food and less cooked options before or after hitting the beach. For my Northern Hemisphere readers, fear not! My Complete Healthy Christmas is for you as well…
Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to take your time with eating, lazing over starters and catching up with loved ones; whether you see them once a day or once a year! Food that isn’t too fiddly, satisfies until the main attraction and appeals to various tastes is what you want here.
Garlic & Chilli Prawns
- 2 handfuls peeled green prawns
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- Heat a griddle or frypan on medium-high heat
- Coat prawns well with crushed garlic, chilli flakes & olive oil
- Add to pan and cook for a few minutes each side
- Enjoy immediately
Repeat with me. Fresh. Fresh. Fresh.
However your Christmas is structured, do yourself a favour and share the load! Clearly I’m the main salad contributor in our family and I’ll do the prep when I can in the days leading up to Christmas. The morning of, I’ll prep the veg fresh, make the dressing and do the baked veggies to serve warm for our meal.
To save stress on the day, and if hot chicken isn’t a necessity, you can roast that the day before and no matter which recipe you prefer, fish is always a winner with it’s easy prep and cooking method.
The first fish recipe is ideal for smaller groups and also where only several people eat fish as it’s less work and easily portioned, especially fabulous if fish isn’t the popular choice. If there’s any chicken or fish leftover and aren’t left out for the flies, you can enjoy these for the 2 days following Christmas, baked veggies for a few days and the salads for a day before they become soggy.
Baked fish with thyme & lemon OR Baked whole snapper with lemon, oregano, olives and a lemon beurre noisette
Quinoa & Pomegranate salad (minus the chicken)
How could you possibly eat more right? Well let’s face it, at Christmas time we all find extra room!
If we’re enjoying simple and clean whole foods, the so-called dessert damage is less of a concern, moderation however is still recommended here (even if not heeded). Helps to avoid the post-Christmas sickly feeling and belt-loosening if nothing else….
Just as for starters and mains, I like to provide variety for dessert though that doesn’t mean large quantities of everything, more so a tasting of various plates and bowls of deliciousness. Something for everyone.
Pineapple & Strawberry Sorbet
- 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- ½ cup coconut water
- 4 ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender
- Whizz for a minute or two until smooth
- Serve immediately or freeze for up to 5 minutes to harden further
Don’t get me wrong, a nice glass of rosé at Christmas time, enjoyed with loved ones is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However enjoying a drop here and there, without overdoing it and whilst enjoying other delicious drinks is the key to feeling fabulous and enjoying the meal.
These other drinks are my favourite kind – flavoured water! Simple, delicious, refreshing and impressive to serve as well.
Combo ideas – lime, lemon & mint // orange & rosemary // cucumber & mint
Flavoured ice cubes are another idea to add flavour and a personalised touch for each guest. Simply place your chosen flavour in an ice tray, add water and freeze as normal – voila!
I’ve always been a believer that our taking care with the environment we surround ourselves with is as crucial as anything else in life and that we eat first with our eyes.
These two points are then how I would best explain the Christmas styling guide to you. Make delicious whole food with love and with care, serve it on beautiful platters and bowls (yes maybe that means the ones you think are too good to use) and allow the food to speak for itself.
A crisp white table linen is never a bad idea and my love of classic linen serviettes is undying – they make all the difference in the world + are easily washed and re-used. Atop that you could use some leftover Christmas ornaments on the table to complement the Christmas crackers/bon-bons and really bring that festive spirit to life! When thinking flowers, perhaps try smaller arrangements in various glass jars, bottles and vases or even single stems – my personal favourite. When you’ve spent $$ on the food already, a unique and fragrant idea that is cheap (and perhaps free if you have them in the garden) is using gorgeous herbs as flowers; rosemary works a treat!
Other than the children in our family (+ Mum of course!) we don’t do gifts for adults and over the years this arrangement, although grinch-like in appearance has become another wonderful Christmas tradition. We choose to put more money and energy into the quality of food that we create for the meal and the day itself.
That being said, I do love buying gifts for others and I look to support local and smaller businesses often with homemade and unique products.
Without revealing too many of the gifts purchased, small and local book stores + Aesop almost always get a whole lot of my Christmas love and cash! I encourage you too to steer away from the plastic manufactured ideas that will end up in the bin and if you’re totally stumped, might I suggest asking the person in question? That’s never a bad idea.
Brown paper and twine is my choice of wrapping (and yes that’s important) however the general cards and tags out there are just not for me.
Christmas need not be a blow-out, expensive, over-indulgent or boring. It can be delicious and impressive without 20 hours of work and without the stress. Although leftovers work well for the days following (when you really couldn’t be bothered and nothing is open), you also don’t need leftovers for a week so perhaps cut back on the quantity to lessen the load and cost! Make the food with love, get everyone involved; for efficiency and entertainment; and take the time to create something special that everyone will benefit from.
Once the decorations are in place and the food ready, be sure to include the most important part of Christmas…
spreading the love
Try not to stress, be together, laugh and play silly board games. Leave your squabbles and diet-mantra at the door and know that you’re enjoying a Complete & Healthy Christmas. Go for a walk or a swim together after your Christmas meal and soak it all in!
FYI – if board games aren’t an option, download this inexpensive little app like we did last year and get ready to roll around laughing! Group charades with a built-in video option – I mean who comes up with these awesome ideas?!
If you enjoyed this post, share it with others and please have a wonderful and safe Christmas! All of my