It's that time of the year again!! I love Christmas. I love the traditions we have made that are unique to our family. I'm sure your family has created many too, and to keep these traditions going for our families, we need to be organized and prepared well in advance.
There are certain dishes and yummy baking I make only at Christmas time, so they remain special for the family. Christmas lunch is always at my house, with several tables joined together and decorated to seat all our family and extended family. Traditions bring warm loving feelings, joy and sweet memories at Christmas time. I love watching my grandson's crawl into their Christmas sacks after emptying them of gifts, just like their fathers did as little boys, making sure they hadn't missed anything.
All of us celebrate and form memories around food but some of us have had to change our diet due to illness or wanting a healthier lifestyle. No one wants to fear being left out of the celebrations. I won't kid you, it can be challenging to stay on track with your Paleo/healthy lifestyle at this time of the year, especially if your family and friends aren't as conscious about their health. Whether eating at home or taking food along with you, being prepared with suitable food can make the day so much easier and the way you feel the next day. Keep food real, keep it simple and keep it fresh.
Here in Australia, Christmas means sunny days with BBQs, the beach, picnics and lots of wonderful fresh produce. This means, summer salads and colourful fruit platters, yum! Your Christmas meal doesn't have to be expensive or involve endless hours spent slaving in the kitchen. It's all about time shared with family and friends and keeping things simple so the true meaning of Christmas isn't lost. I like to prepare a buffet-style meal, which takes some pressure off me on the day. All the dishes can be spread out on a separate table or kitchen counter to allow guests to move around freely and serve themselves.
For a low fuss Christmas meal, the key is to prepare as much as possible beforehand and remember to share the load. I like to cook things like gluten-free sausage rolls and curried pasties up to a month beforehand and freeze. Meats are roasted in the oven or BBQ the day before and sliced ready to go on the platters. Curried eggs can be made 2 days ahead. Coleslaw can be made the day before with dressing and salt added just before serving. Raw desserts like dairy-free cheesecakes can be frozen up to 4 weeks ahead. I make my healthy sweet treats 2 weeks before and store them in airtight containers in the fridge. My Paleo Christmas Cake or Plum Pudding are made 5 weeks ahead and stored hidden in the back of the fridge (away from hubby). The Christmas table is set and decorated on Christmas eve.
You don't want any last-minute gifts to be purchased the week before Christmas. This is the time for prepping and a few good nights of sleep before all the festivities. If you start planning now, a more relaxed Christmas is almost guaranteed.
- Use a calendar to set your plans in place i.e. A date to have all your gifts purchased and wrapped. When to have the house decorated. A date to have your menu chosen.
- Keep your fridge cleaned out as much as possible so you have plenty of room to store your Christmas food.
- Order your meat, poultry or seafood several weeks before Christmas to prevent any disappointment on missing out on good quality meats being available. Diary the date to pick them up.
- Choose foods on your menu that can be cooked and frozen in advance or prepared ahead several days.
- Share the load, ask family and friends to bring a dish to share from your menu. You can even print the recipe out for them.
- If you are eating at a family members home, make sure the food you take along suits your diet and lifestyle.
- Start preparing your healthy Christmas treats and desserts that freeze well a few weeks ahead.
- Set aside a day to have your children or grandchildren involved. If they are young, let them help with things like folding napkins. Older children can help with the healthy treats, and this will give you a chance to talk about traditions and memories. These are the things your children will remember about Christmas.
Sticking to an eating plan is always difficult at Christmas time but by choosing healthy gluten and dairy free, Paleo recipes you can still indulge in the festive season. If you are feeling stuck for menu ideas and healthy desserts, my Christmas e-book may help you. Many of the recipes can be prepared ahead of time. Also, you will find several delicious Christmas recipes in the Festive Occasions section on my website HERE.
Christmas is the time of year that's full of excitement for many but it can also be stressful and tiring, so a more relaxed and simple approach to Christmas may help. It may also be a lonely time for some friends that may not have family to celebrate with, so please keep them in mind and if possible add an extra setting at your table.
I would love to hear about the traditions you are creating with your family, drop me an email.
By Susan Joy