Healthy Salad Dressing Ingredients

As we’re into summer now – though Scotland seems to have failed to get the memo so far – I thought I’d put together a little list of ideas for salad dressings. Salad dressings often get bad rep. and it’s often assumed that all dressings are high calorie and high in saturated fats. This is not wholly true though. There are a number of ways you can have a salad dressed with a proper healthy option. The fats in these dressings are ones which are good for you and which you do need, rather than a lot of saturated fats of which you don’t want a lot. It is more the acidic content you want to be wary of when it comes to vinegar-based or lemon based dressings (and that’s regarding your teeth not your body as a whole!) But as long as you don’t go overboard with dressing you’ll be fine. As always, it’s about balance, moderation, and common sense.

Here is my suggestions of dressing ingredients:

OILS

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • The standard minimal dressing if used on its own – plain but still flavoursome. Go for as high quality as you can as the better quality the nicer it is as a dressing. You want a full, rich, taste.
  • The history of this oil is immense – stretching way back to Ancient times, favoured by the Meditteranean for centuries and one reason for the area being renowned for having a healthy diet.
  • It is high in mono and polyunsaturated fats – the good fats.
  • Mixed with vinegars it makes lovely dressings.
  • It can also be infused with fresh herbs such as sprigs of rosemary (just pop the rosemary into the bottle in which it is stored and leave it until the hints of the flavour can be tasted in the oil)
  • You can also buy oils pre-infused with not only herbs, but also chilli, or other things like red peppers, or tomatoes.

Rapeseed Oil

  • A cheaper alternative to olive oil, it doesn’t have the distinctive flavour and is made from the seeds of flowers but if looking for a milder alternative to olive oil, then this may be a good oil to try.
  • Like olive oil it is high in the good fats.
  • If you’re in Scotland, like I am, you’ll know that at this time of year many fields are bright yellow due to the growth of Rapeseed, so if you like supporting local produce rather than imported, then that could be another reason for opting to use this.
  • Alternatively use some parts olive oil with some parts rape in dressings. You’d be in good company as if you check the labels of a lot of pre-packed salads at the moment, you’ll find that’s what supermarkets are doing too! (Cost effective)

Cold-pressed Coconut Oil

  • Coconut oil is one of the new ‘superfood’ craze foods and if were it not for the fact I’m über obsessed with coconut in all forms (fresh, desiccated, milk, water), I may not have tried it because as with all new ‘super foods’ it comes with a ‘nice’ price tag! Not too extreme, but I still would only buy it when its on offer.
  • This oil is solid at room temperature so if using as a dressing it will need to be warmed up (just leave some out in a small cup and it will melt if it is a warm day)
  • Unlike, traditional ‘healthy oils’ coconut oil does have saturated fats but from my reading on the subject, the form in which the fats take, are not as bad as other saturated fats in the way our body deals with them. (A quick search on a search engine will let you see my sources so go give them a read if you’re interested. As I make clear, I’m no nutritionist just a passionate healthy foodie who wants to keep her body as healthy as possible!)
  • The taste of the oil is gorgeous as it gives everything a coconut taste – hardly unsurprising (!) I use it a lot for cooking chicken.

There are more oils but these are my top 3.

VINEGARS

Balsamic

  • This includes standard balsamic vinegar, balsamic glazes, and infused balsamic vinegars (e.g. raspberry, orange, strawberry, or garlic)
  • Balsamic is a wonderful dressing on its own, combined with other condiments to map dressings, while it is also a great dip for freshly baked rustic Italian bread too.

White Wine Vinegar

  • This is a great base for a number of dressings – French, mustard, or simple vinaigrettes.

Cider Vinegar

  • Made from apples this is a traditional British vinegar
  • Although I personally don’t like this, I’m including it as comes with numerous benefits (There are even books devoted to the goodness of it.)
  • In dressings it is often used with salads containing radishes, walnuts, apples etc.

HEAT

Mustard

  • Mustard seeds or powder can both be used
  • Adds distinctive spiciness

Chilli

  • Adds a fiery heat
  • Cook first then chop finely or use dried chilli flakes

Horseradish

  • Great using for salads containing oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel)
  • Also great with thinly sliced beef in salads
  • It add an undeniable hotness

Garlic

  • Can use in a variety of ways – roasted, bought in an oil suspension, garlic paste
  • All of the above ways make great additions to salad dressings

SWEETNESS

Honey

  • Adds sweetness to dressings to counteract and complement the acidity / flavour of other ingredients e.g. lemon / mustard seeds
  • Goes great in mustard seed dressings

Maple Syrup

  • Similar to honey but with its distinctive flavour and less sweet (nutritionally lower in sugar too)

Dried Fruit

  • Dates (standard or the currently Medjool dates)
  • Finely chop or blend to a paste

Orange juice / Pureed Raspberries / Strawberries

  • All add sweetness and go lovely with balsamic based dressings

SOURNESS 

Lemon

  • The juice of lemon is a wonderful contrast to the flavour of salmon but equally goes with a variety of salads

Lime

  • Lime juice adds sourness again but with a less bitter taste

HERBS (just a selection)

Mint

  • A classic
  • Finely chop it in the dressing and also leave some to sprinkle over at the end too for a nice final touch

Fresh Basil

  • The basis of the tasty thing that is pesto!
  • Can be used blended (in oil / vinegar etc.), finely chopped, or whole

Oregano

  • My second favourite herb after basil
  • Use in a similar fashion to basil

Parsley

  • Can be used in dressings for many different salads
  • Looks great finely chopped sprinkled over the top too

NOT FORGETTING…

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Add these to taste and I also seem to finish with a twist of freshly ground black pepper over everything savoury I cook. You just need to check my previous posts to see!


Hope you found this useful,

Helen x

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Copyright HLDCblog // Helen Redman 2014-2015.

10 Healthy Wrap Fillings

HeaderHere is a handy list of suggestions for what to fill a tortilla wrap with. I love having a generously filled wrap for lunch as they are super convenient (protein, carbs, and veg in one), quick to make, and easy to grab and go.

Also to keep the wrap as healthy as possible, try to use wholemeal or 50/50 tortillas rather than white ones.

10 Healthy Wrap fillings

1. Hummus, rocket, red pepper, and feta cheese

2. Chickpea, cous cous, Harissa dressing, and salad leaves

3. Chicken /or lentil dahl, mint yoghurt dressing, baby spinach, and fresh coriander leaves

4. Red onion, goats cheese, and baby spinach

5. Turkey bacon, iceberg lettuce, and tomato

6. Chicken, sliced olives, cous cous, lettuce, and a mint yoghurt dressing

7. Smoked salmon, cucumber, low-fat cream cheese, and freshly ground black pepper

8. Feta cheese, fresh basil, tomatoes and black olives (add salad leaves too)

9. Red peppers, grated carrot, hummus, and watercress

10. Pre-cooked bean chilli, spinach and natural yoghurt. Fancy bean chilli but don’t have a recipe? No problem! I have one from one of my earlier blog posts here.

I hope there was something there that sounds great to you. Have a food-tastic day! 😉

Helen x


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A Traditional Burns Supper

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For this post, I thought I would write a little bit about a traditional Burns Supper which is eaten by many every year in Scotland on the day of, or close to the late bard (poet) Robert Burns’, birthday January 25 called Burns Night. It is a supper (evening meal) which typically consists of eating a traditional Scottish dish, toasting with whisky (for the adults), reciting poems written by Burns, and the playing of bagpipes. Suppers vary in formality and can sometimes just consist of eating the dish.

The purpose of the supper is to celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns. Burns was a 18th Century Scottish poet who is regarded by many as being the best ever Scottish poet. His legacy is thus celebrated greatly in Scotland. Each year, in the approach to his birthday, school children across the country practice reading and learning Burns’ poems in order to recite them in class. There is usually an award for the best recitation. Personally, I never did too well. I blame it on the fact I’m not wholly Scottish, and was actually born in England!

If you’d like to read some of his poetry to find out what the Scots language is like and what his poetry is like, then this is a link to a website with all of his works: http://www.robertburns.org/works/ As this is a food blog, however, I will now give a wee (Scots word for small) description of the dish which is traditionally served. It is comprised of three elements.


Haggis

The main part is haggis. Haggis is a somewhat odd food, and is frequently met with suspicion from visitors to Scotland! It is made from various organs of pigs or sheep, mixed with grains, usually barley or oatmeal, and a blend of spices and salt. They come in varying sizes, from small individual ones to high ones to serve a large dinner party. It is, unsurprisingly, the ‘organs’ part that causes suspicion and also the fact that the mixture is cooked in a sheep’s stomach. It really doesn’t sound very appealing when it is described initially but it is actually very tasty, I think so anyway. The main taste when eating is that of the spices and salt so you can easily forget that the not-so-appetising ingredients are in it! It is certainly a food, nonetheless, that is often a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ one. At formal Burns Supper, it is traditional for the haggis to be ‘piped in’. This means that the haggis is brought to the table while a bag piper plays.

Haggis


Neeps

‘Neeps’ are a Scottish root vegetable. ‘Neep’ is short for turnip but outside Scotland, turnip tends to refer to a different root vegetable, similar, but different in flesh colour and size. (Swede is the more common word for neeps outside of Scotland.) The neeps are peeled, cut up, and boiled until soft and then mashed. They have a sweet taste and a look, when cooked, similar to mashed sweet potato – a rich orange colour.

Neeps


Tatties

‘Tatties’ is the Scots word for potatoes. These are boiled and mashed with butter and milk and served along with the haggis and neeps. There is a nice contrast in textures and taste in the three components of the dish. The haggis is meaty and salty, the neeps, sweet and juicy, while the tatties finish the dish off with a neutral-type savoury taste.

Tatties

Here is the full Burns Supper dish when served:

Burns Supper

To follow the haggis dish, a Scottish dessert such as Cranachen is usually served. Cranachen is delicious and is one of my not-so-healthy treat foods! It consists of lots of cream, berries, toasted oatmeal, and (sometimes) lashings of whisky.


The supper is frequently concluded with toasts to the memory of Burns and comes to a close with the singing of Auld Lang Syne (history and words here), a famous traditional Scottish song. All the guests will stand and link arms while singing.

Hope you have enjoyed this wee whirl into Scottish culture,

Helen x

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External links for more information on Burns Supper and Scotland:

http://www.robertburns.org

http://www.scotland.org/features/the-history-and-words-of-auld-lang-syne/

http://www.visitscotland.com/about/ 


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Ideas for a Healthy Savoury Breakfast

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A while back I posted a list of ideas for healthy sweet breakfasts (read here) and then completely to post this sister-post. I think it is by now certainly time to post this long over due content! This list of suggestions is great if you fancy something savoury rather than sweet. These ideas provide different nutritional benefits so if using them to create a meal plan for the week, remember that variety is key! Obviously there are many other healthy, savoury options but these are my top 5 and the ones which I personally have most often.

• Also, a new smoothie recipe will be coming tomorrow, thought I’d take a break from smoothies today! Here’s one from the archives if you’re currently in the mood for one – it’s a refresher smoothie (recipe here). •

Now, let’s get back to breakfast.

Here is the list:

1. Omelette (2 or 3 eggs)

A plain omelette seasoned only with black pepper is an option, but why not spice it up by adding a variety of herbs /or cayenne pepper (I LOVE this stuff for adding a spicy kick to foods) /or chilli powder etc. Add these ingredients to the egg as you whisk it up.

Also, add a little ground turmeric which will enhance the yellow colour of the egg but, more importantly, is a great spice that has surprisingly bountiful health benefits including its anti-flammitory properties and being a powerful antioxidant.

As for fillings, red pepper, sliced courgettes, finely chopped onions, half cherry tomatoes, low-salt cheese, spinach, parma ham, turkey bacon, and kale are all possible options.

Here are some combinations to try:

  • tomato, parma ham, and cheese
  • spinach, tomato, basil, and mozzarella
  • red pepper, spinach and turkey bacon
  • courgettes, mushrooms and red peppers (as seen in the picture below)
Photo

Cooking an omelette

Serve with salad leaves /or rocket or on its own.

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Serving suggestion

Nutrition: This breakfast provides a source of protein from the egg (filling too depending on your choice), benefits from spices, if used, and vitamins from the fillings.


2. Wholemeal toast (2 slices)

Toppings:

  • Avocado (spread a ripe avocado over the toast for a butter-like topping that is full of nutrients)
  • Scrambled egg and smoked salmon or flaked smoked mackerel (a breakfast classic!)
  • Low-fat cream cheese
  • Sliced tomatoes and a twist of cracked black pepper (a refreshing topping)
  • A poached egg (as seen in the photo below)
Egg photo

Poached egg

Or you could use a wholemeal pitta bread if desired.

Nutrition: Wholemeal bread provides a source of fibre while the toppings provide protein, and various nutrients such as omega 3 (salmon) or vitamin E (avocado).


3. Cottage cheese

If in a hurry this requires least preparation and no cooking.

Eat this with:

  • chopped fresh tomatoes
  • fresh finely chopped chives
  • celery
  • peppers
  • pineapple

Nutrition: Cottage cheese is a good low-fat source of protein and is much healthier than hard full-fat cheese. Adding fruit or vegetables adds a source of vitamins


4. A ‘grill-up’’

This is a healthy alternative to a ‘fry-up’ which is grilled rather than fried (obviously), and has healthier substitutes.

Try a combination of grilled turkey bacon (a leaner and healthier alternative to pork bacon), tomatoes, mushrooms and a scrambled egg. If vegetarian, substitute a vegetarian sausage for the bacon. You could also add sweet potato and / or reduced-salt baked beans.

Nutrition: This option provides a protein-rich breakfast.


5. Porridge

Make with just oats and water for a simple healthy breakfast or, alternatively, do what the Romans did (trust me, I have a history degree(!)), and season with herbs.

Photo

Porridge

 

Nutrition: Oats are a great source of slow-release energy and help to lower cholesterol making them a great way to start your day.


For more meal ideas, recipes, and tips follow us Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Have a great day,

Helen x


Disclaimer: Nutritional information has been gained from personal study over the years. I am a graduate of a subject which is not nutrition-based.
Copyright©HLDCblog2015

Smoothie 3: Breakfast smoothie with a kick

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This is the third of my smoothie recipes for the first full week of January. I past two smoothies were the Creamy Green Energy Machine and Tropical Dream.

Today’s smoothie  is a tasty, sweet, cherry and banana smoothie which has the addition of fresh ginger root to give a little kick. The bananas are packed with potassium, the cherries with antioxidants, and the flaxseed with omega 3. Moreover, the oats contain slow-release energy to get you going while the milk gives you calcium. What more could you want to kick start your day?!


Breakfast smoothie with a kick

Ingredients: 

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup semi-skimmed milk (or unsweetened almond / soya milk)
  • 1/3 cup frozen cherries
  • 1/2-1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed (find in health food shops)
  • 3 tbsp oats

Optional: 1 tbsp chia seeds (find in health food shops)


Method:

Place everything into a jug and blend with a hand blender until fully combined into fruity deliciousness!

Serve straight away perhaps over some ice if you want a super cooling breakfast.

Have a great day,

Helen x

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Tropical Dream

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Smoothie 2: Tropical Dream 

Missing the summer sun at all? I may have a quick fix DIY solution… Bring the sun to you, in the form of a sunny smoothie! Ok, so not a real sun, and no heat comes with it, but it looks nice and bright and tastes of the tropics. My mango and banana smoothie is a rich yellow smoothie which is dairy-free and free of any added sugar. It is packed with vitamin C and other nutrients. The flaxseed is an excellent plant-based source of omega 3 and also adds some texture to the smoothie.

Smoothies are a fantastic way of getting towards your 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables. They make great snacks, additions to breakfast, or a work-break drink as they are quick to make and easy to take with you. This is the second in a seriesof smoothie recipes I’m posting to help you all kick off the first month of 2015 in a tasty, healthy way. Check out yesterday’s post for another idea and come back tomorrow for the next smoothie instalment!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped mango
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed (ground linseed)

Makes: 1 glass

Method:

1. Add everything into a blender.

2. Blend until smooth.

Note: The finished smoothie is reasonably thick, so if you’d prefer it thinner, just add a tablespoon to a quarter cup water to thin it down. TIP: Add ice cubes and blend for a slightly thinner and refreshingly cool drink.

*Drink and pretend you’re on a beach in a tropical place bathingin the gorgeous warm sun* 😉Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 15.45.49

Enjoy!

Helen x


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8 Healthy no-cook Canapé Ideas

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So it is that time of year once again, New Year’s Eve. It is a time of celebration, reflecting happy memories, and making new memories with family and friends as the preparing for the clock to strike midnight. Here is a selection of simple, healthy, no cook canapé ideas which are ideal for NYE parties, or New Year’s Day snacks and appetisers. Happy celebrating!


 1. Melon and parma ham

Wrap the parma ham around chunks of melon. Use both cantaloupe and honeydew melon for variety.


 2. Quirky crackers and cheese

Crackers are a great ready-prepared snack on there own but can be a bit bland if just served plain. To make a fun canapé, cut slices of cheese and then use a cookie cutter to cut stars or circles, or anything NYE related, to top the cracker.

Optional: Add some chutney or a sun-dried tomato to finish it off.


 3. Smoked salmon and low-fat cream cheese pinwheels

Spread a generous layer of cream cheese over a slice of smoked salmon, sprinkle with a twist of ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then carefully roll up into a swiss roll type shape. Wrap in cling film and chill for 15-30mins. Finally, carefully slice into bite-sized slices (pin wheels).


 4. Whipped goats cheese-topped bread

Cut star shapes out of herby or olive bakery bread and top with whipped goats cheese and a twist of freshly ground black pepper.


 5. Chocolate swirled strawberries

Melt some high cocoa content dark chocolate (70 to 90% cocoa) and swirl over fresh strawberries.


 6. Tropical fruit kebabs

Alternate cubed fresh mango, papaya, and pineapple on a kebab stick.

Optional: Drizzle with melted dark chocolate


 7. Stuffed cherry tomatoes

Remove the flesh from the tomatoes and stuff with a small basil leave, one drop of balsamic glaze, and a cube of feta cheese.

Go on, try them!

Helen x

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Top 5 Healthy Foods to Snack On

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Tempted to pick up a handful of crisps, sweets, or pop to the nearest coffee shop to buy a triple chocolate muffin?! Try these healthy options instead. All require no, or virtually no, preparation making them perfect for work breaks and study snacks.


1. Grapes

Why?

  • They are lower in sugar than other fruit such as bananas.
  • They are easy to eat, no sticky fingers or juice going everywhere (a nightmare if you’re busy working away in an office – no one likes sticky keys on a keyboard!)
  • They require virtually no preparation – just be sure to buy the seedless variety for minimal effort.
    Grapes

2. Half an Avocado

Why?

  • It is a power-house of goodness it is good if you’re in both a savoury or sweet mood
  • It can be eaten easily just with a spoon it is filling.
  • Here’s a quick little recipe for a sweet serving idea. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 10.45.07


3. Nuts

Why?

  • There is no preparation – providing you buy ones already shelled.
  • They are a good source of minerals, vitamins and protein. Although, the high fat content in some nuts can worry people, the fats in the nutritional make-up of nuts are good fats rather than bad. [1]
  • There are many types to choose from including almonds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts. My favourite are pecans and fresh coconut.

Coconut photo


4. Sliced red pepper, carrot batons, celery and hummus dip

Why?

  • It’s a colourful snack filled with nutrients and easy to eat.
  • Celery, red pepper and carrots are all low-calorie making it a light snack.
  • Celery aids digestion and lowers blood pressure, red peppers are full of antioxidants and vitamins A and C, while carrots give a source of beta-carotene, promoting eye health.

This requires some prep. but works great for preparing in the morning to take to work as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. The different vegetables vary in colour and taste making them appealing to both eyes and tastebuds. This snack got me through many an essay break at university! I used to buy pre-cut carrot batons (lazy, I know) and store-bought hummus too – serving idea [here].


5. Apple and cheese

Why?

  • Apples are a good source of Vitamin C while cheese is a source of protein.
  • It is sweet and savoury – perfect if you can’t decide what mood you’re in (tastebud-wise!)

The snack I had as a child when other kids were eating fries / crisps / sweets etc. My parents have always encouraged a healthy diet. I did love it as a child and I think that’s why I still enjoy it now. Simply chop up an apple and cheese into similar sized cubes and serve as is in a bowl or, if taking to work, place in a sealed snack box with a squeeze of lemon over the apple to stop it from going brown due to oxidisation. To me, it’s the perfect sweet and savoury snack.

  • TIP (from my childhood): Try to end on a piece of cheese as cheese will help get some of the fruity acidity off of your teeth.

Apple and cheese


Enjoy,

Helen x

For more foodie content, check out our Facebook page and Instagram. Any questions, feel free to pop me a Tweet, or comment below!

[1] http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-nuts

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/peppers-health-benefits
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20680738,00.html
http://www.livestrong.com/article/24659-health-benefits-raw-celery-juice/
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-celery.html

 

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Satisfying Starters 1: Prosciutto and Melon Salad

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I have recently been having lots of cravings for prosciutto. It must be something to do with this time of year, as I remember this time last year, I bought a huge Continental meats festive platter, crackers and melon to have as a late night study snack after spending all of daylight hours in the library and much evening hours working on my dissertation! The platter was clearly put together with the intention that it would form some of the food at a Christmas party but I had it all myself. Greedy, I know… Anyway, back to the present [clearly I can’t get Christmas off my mind…] I whipped up this salad to serve as a not-too-filling starter earlier this week but, equally, it could be served as a light lunch. Or with some rustic bread, or a bowl of soup, for a more substantial lunch. The saltiness of the prosciutto is nicely contrasted with the refreshing iceberg lettuce and sweetness of the melon.


 Prosciutto and melon salad

Starter

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1/4 to 1/2 melon (depending on size) cut into chunks (honeydew and cantaloupe works well)
  • 2 handfuls of shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 6 slices of prosciutto (I used prosciutto de Parma i.e. Parma ham)
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Optional: Bread, to serve Scatter one handful of the lettuce on each plate.

Method:

  1. Arrange half of the melon on top of each the lettuce on each plate.
  2. Create ‘prosciutto roses’ by rolling the prosciutto up while pinching the middle section, until it resembles a rose. I hope that makes some sense but it is difficult to explain. Here is a picture to try to illustrate my point: Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 21.56.59
  3. Place 3 roses on top of each salad.
  4. Finally, drizzle with balsamic glaze.
  5. Serve on its own or with fresh rustic bread or baguette, if desired.

Enjoy!

For more healthy recipes, tips, and foodie goodness, you can follow the blog on Twitter, Facebook, PinInterest and Instagram.

Helen x


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Top 10 Festive Ingredients

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We are now well and truly into Advent and since I have gotten my university graduation week out of the way, I am going to try to blog more regularly. This time of year is definitely one of my favourites. There is a wonderful festive atmosphere greeting me if I go into shops, switch on the TV, walk through the High Street after sunset, or indeed, read fellow bloggers posts. Unfortunately, for the past several years during which I was in full time education, I have had the displeasure of having the festive period dampened due to exams looming over my head or, latterly, a 12 000 word dissertation deadline. Therefore, this is the first year in many that I can fully embrace Advent and the countdown to Christmas. As the focus of this blog is food, I thought I’d list my Top 10 festive ingredients. These are the fridge and store cupboard ingredients that I think on their own, or when combined with others, epitomise festive cuisine. The list has not been compiled in any particular order with the exception of no. 1. which, for me, I guess, conjures up thoughts of the divinely gorgeous scents of Christmas cooking. Although, I realise that if you are a vegetarian this won’t be featuring anywhere in your own list – apologies for this!

 So here goes,

My Top 10 Festive Ingredients:

1. Turkey

This provides the BIG EVENT for a lot of us on Christmas Day and is a great lean and healthy meat if not smothered in an abundance of fat and butter to roast! The fact it is lean is one of the reasons I eat it throughout the year, usually in the form of turkey breast steaks which I can season in a variety of ways depending on my mood. I’ll be posting some ideas on various ways to use leftover turkey closer to Christmas.


 2. Cheese

Wensleydale with cranberries cheese

Wensleydale with cranberries is my personal favourite for a festive cheese but of course there is an almost never-ending list of seasonal cheeses or year-round varieties that make for a good cheeseboard. Cheeses are not only for the after-dinner cheeseboard, however, they are also great served in cubes as appetisers, melted in a fondue, or as something with which to stuff red peppers or make heavenly smoked salmon pinwheels. (Cream cheese works best for this.) In addition, baked Camembert be used for a super easy starter. Other great cheeses are Stilton, Brie, Arran cheddar cheese (a favourite of mine), gruyere, chèvre,  and soft cheese seasoned with herbs and garlic (e.g. Boursin).


 3. Cinnamon

This is one of the key ingredients in the Christmas staple drink of mulled wine, as well as, festive hot milky drinks e.g. lattes, like my hot banana latte. Cinnamon is also a nice addition to Christmas biscuits (cookies for those in the USA) as it adds a festive flavour. And if you are a regular reader of my blog or if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m actually a huge fan of cinnamon year-round! TIP: For a very easy winter warming drink simply heat up some milk in a saucepan or in a microwavable mug with cinnamon and sweeten with honey. This is all natural and much healthier than ‘instant’ drinks in packets which have an assortment of artificial ingredients added.


 4. Berries

Think fruits of the forest blackberries, black cherries, red currants, and cranberries. They can be used to make an array of festive jellies, desserts, winter fruit salads, and, moreover, make an attractive table decoration. Cranberries are key. Cranberry sauce is a must for serving with roast turkey on Christmas Day and in Boxing Day sandwiches. TIP: Here is a recipe of mine for a blueberry sauce, but if you substitute the blueberries with frozen fruits of the forest, you’ll get a lovely festive sauce. Blend with a hand-blender for a perfectly smooth sauce or strain it through a sieve to get a fruit coulis.


 5. Chocolate

Now I’m not talking bog standard, chocolate, I’m talking fine dark luxury chocolate as it’s Christmas, which means the extra special varieties of foods come into play and it’s the season in which everyone deserves a treat. Give it, as it is, as an often fail-proof gift, or use it to make a luxury chocolate parfait, a rich chocolate cake, fondue or fondant cakes. It is also nice to melt some chocolate and make your own chocolate covered nuts and raisins as Christmas party snacks or accompaniments to desserts. TIP: See my post on Make-it-yourself Foodie-themed Christmas gifts for a great chocolate gift idea [COMING SOON!] Perfect for chocoholics’ palates, young and old.


 6. Apples

A selection of varieties of apples: Pink Lady, British Cox’s, and Royal Galas. Yes, apples are popular in my household!

These are perfect for making Christmas chutneys as gifts or my winter-spiced apples [my recipe here] TIP: Thinly slice and bake in the oven to make apples crisps – add some cinnamon before baking so a festive smell is wafted through your home!


 7. Cold meats (prosciutto, parma ham, black forest ham)

Parma Ham

These make perfect appetisers for dinner party guests, cheeky snacks for whoever has the task of doing the cooking (!), salads for starters [like this parma ham salad I made], and fancy ‘pigs in blankets’ (sausages usually wrapped in bacon but these are cleaner alternatives as they should be nitrate free). If buying prosciutto, make sure to buy a genuine Italian product which should be dry-cured with salt only and thus is free of artificial nitrates which have been linked to migraines as a trigger [1]. (From my own experience I can attest to this). Personally, Parma ham is my favourite prosciutto (Italian dry-cured ham). They never use nitrates or artificial products (see here).


 8. Sage

One word: stuffing. Need I say more? But, seriously, sage is a crucial ingredient in many recipes for stuffing and adds a great flavour. It is also a herb which is an antioxidant and provides a great source of Vitamin K.


 9. Nuts

These make a great Christmas party snack. There are so many to choose from and they are easy to serve. Which is your favourite? I’m most partial to pecans and coconut. Mmm…pecans! Almonds are the key ingredient for marzipan, so if you wish to make your own, you’d better stock up on a lot of almonds now! Marzipan is vital for Christmas cakes and other traditional festive foods. Christmas puddings, the traditional Christmas dessert, moreover, also contain a variety of nuts. Although, for me, neither Christmas cake or puddings make much of a showing in my Christmas dinner. *Gasp*. Too rich and heavy for me! TIP: Nut roast is a great alternative to roast turkey for vegetarians.


 10. Duck

An alternative to turkey for Christmas dinner, duck is a meat which a number of festive marinades can really compliment. Marinades and rubs for the duck really give the duck a festive taste and smell. So, for those who find turkey boring, or fancy a change this year, why not give duck a try?

There you go, that is my top 10. Feel free to reblog with a link to my post. The questions I’d love to ask you are – what is your top 10 or what do you think I should have included on my list that I haven’t? Comment below or tweet me @hldcblog.

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Have a great day,

Helen

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[1] http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/triggers-specific-foods