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A Healthy Twist to Your Christmas Eve Dinner

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year My Darlings! Yes indeed I am a little early, but if you’re reading these lines, it might mean that you’ve been following me for quite a while. And therefore, you deserve all my warmest and best wishes as well as a whole lot of deliciousness at the end of what have been a tremendous, sometimes hard, but amazing year. Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever your doing, I am thanking the simple but beautiful human being in you, the light inside you I am trying to set fire to with my positive energy. I am creating this world for you to feel welcome into, to feel at ease; I want you to take whatever you like and to throw away the things you do not. If there’s one thing we have to remember at the end of the day/year, is that apart from all being equal and IMperfect (but exceptional), it’s essential for us all to cultivate our inner beauty and to use it to inspire others; if you think you’ve got the light, pass it. Seeing other people glow and being glad about it is what makes us human; being happy for others’ happiness and comfort is what makes us human. Equality, peace and love is what makes us human.

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Well, I guess I should stop the flood of psychological reflections coming out of my mind right now, just as well as all the “Thank you’s” I address to you all, and keep those for another time…soon though! You’re here for a specific reason, that reason being food. And I totally understand why obviously! I’ve been planning on sharing something very Christmassy for quite a long time now, and the result will hopefully have the same effect that all the actual food had on my tastebuds and belly…I know many of you are here to inspire yourself, not to take all the things I am sharing for granted – and that’s what I want you to do! Christmas is that time of the year where we all gather and share love and nice words, if not food. You can make your Christmas as traditional as you want to, or maybe (half-)vegan, (half-)vegetarian or even (half-)plantbased – as long as you enjoy yourself and take please from this event, you can do whatever you feel like doing! Therefore, those recipes are here to inform you and guide you through the steps of an easy, healthy and yet well-balanced Christmas party!

Roasted Sprouts w/ cranberries & Chestnuts

These are bonkers! I could not imagine spending an entire winter without having them at least once a week. Brussels Sprouts, which are usually disliked by most people, are actually brought to a brand new level when roasted. They become tender and a little crispy, absorbing all the sweet and spicy flavours of the maple, cinnamon and chilli powder. And with the nutty yet crispy taste and texture of the hazelnuts, as well as the cranberries’ sweetness, you’ll be brought at the top of your Christmas tree within seconds, daydreaming about the explosion of flavours that just occurred in your mouth! Trust me, there’s no way for you not to like sprouts with this recipe. It’s a match made in heaven.

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Portions: 4 servings.

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Cooking time: 50 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 300g of Brussels sprouts, root cut and rinsed
  • 300g of chestnuts, cooked or frozen (defrost then)
  • 75g of dried cranberries
  • 50g of hazelnuts
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp of chilli powder
  • Sea salt & black pepper

Method

(1) Preheat your oven to 200°C. Prepare your ingredients as indicated above.

(2) In a large mixing bowl, mix the Brussels sprouts, chestnuts, dried cranberries, olive oil, maple, cinnamon, chilli, salt and pepper together, making sure to coat all the vegetables.

(3) Transfer onto a baking tray, covered with parchment paper. Put in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, mixing halfway through. After 40 minutes, stir the hazelnuts in, before cooking for 10 more minutes.

(4) Serve as a side for Christmas or as a main, with quinoa or brown rice. Enjoy!

Spicy Roasted Squash & Sweet Potatoes

Talking about a match made in heaven, these two are making quite the pair! I love combining the two, especially that they’re quite similar, which makes difficult to know if you’re biting into a piece of squash or sweet potato (isn’t the game even better?!). In the form of a very simple but delicious roast, you’ll be able to bring the needed comfort and spiciness to your Christmas table. As both vegetables (or starch if you’d like) are kind of sweet already, stirring some cinnamon in makes it even sweeter but more interesting as well. The fresh herbs add that nice earthy flavour of theirs, which contrasts perfectly with the spices. Here’s another recipe that you can serve as a side to your guest with closed eyes!

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Portions: 4 servings.

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Cooking time: 50 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 small squash (800g), cored and cut in squares
  • 4 small sweet potatoes (600g), peeled and cut in squares
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 stem of fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp of chilli powder
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

Method

(1) Preheat your oven to 200°C. Prepare your ingredients as indicated above.

(2) In a large mixing bowl, mix the squash bites, sweet potato squares, olive oil, fresh/dried herbs, chilli, cumin and cinnamon. Stir and coat every little bite correctly.

(3) Transfer onto a baking tray, covered with parchment paper. Put in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, mixing halfway through.

(4) Serve as a side for Christmas or as a main, with quinoa or brown rice. Enjoy!

Quinoa & Mushroom Stuffed Aubergines

Hello paradise! You might have noticed but I kind of love stuffing vegetables. The Christmas version is very particular, as it’s mixing southern, eastern and as well as European flavours. With their tender and delicious taste, the aubergines are perfectly going along with the quinoa and mushroom stuffing. You could make this with pine nuts or any other type of nuts you’ve got to hand; it’s just nice to add some as it will give the dish a certain crispiness. Spreading some tahini on top of these really makes them even more enjoyable, rendering the very earthy taste of the spring onions and mushrooms achingly better! If not for Christmas, you must try those at some point!

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Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines, sliced in half
  • 250g of uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 700ml of boiling water + a pinch of salt
  • ½ tbsp of coconut oil
  • 2 spring onion, finely minced + green part removed
  • 200g of chanterelles or any mushroom of your choice, finely cut
  • 3 tbsp of pine nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Tahini (Sesame paste)
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Method

(1) Start by preheating your oven to 150°C. Slice the eggplants horizontally in the middle and using the edge of your knife, make four or five shallow nicks into the white flesh so that it cooks more easily. Spread a good dollop of olive oil on top and bake for one hour and 15 minutes approximately (depending on your oven). The flesh must be very tender.

(2) Rinse the quinoa and parachute it in the boiling water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed.

(3) While waiting for the quinoa, heat the coconut oil and brown the spring onion. Add your mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, some chilli powder and the pine nuts. Cook for 3 more minutes. Set aside

(4) When the eggplants are nice and cooked, remove some of the white flesh with a spoon, stuff the quinoa and mushroom into them, spreading some olive oil, tahini, salt and pepper on top! Bon Appétit!

Raw Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies

Holy Cow! Don’t take only one bite or you’ll wake up at night! Share one batch and hide the other one. Not only does it make the perfect Christmas dessert, with its lovely look and colourful layers, but it also tastes like piece of heaven. The very sweet and gooey date layer, crowned with that crunchy chocolate glaze and the whole thing topped with this bright pink tangy raspberry sauce – that’s just a dream, and I am sure you could tell that I am eating a piece at this exact moment…at 8 in the morning! Told you it was addictive!

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Portions: 24 servings.

Preparation time: 25 minutes.

Freezing time: 50 minutes.

Ingredients

For the brownie:

  • 225g of ground almonds
  • 75g of chestnuts, crushed
  • 4 heaped tbsp of unsweetened cacao powder
  • 200g of Medjool dates, pitted
  • 50g of maple syrup
  • 35g of coconut oil 

For the frosting:

  • 100g of coconut oil
  • 100g of 70% dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp of cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 125g of frozen raspberries, defrost and mashed

Method

(1) In a food processor, ground the almonds almost to a flour like consistency. Add the chestnuts and pulse four or five times, just to crush them. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the dough holds together when pressed.

(2) Spread into a brownie tin covered with parchment paper and press firmly into a nice and flat layer. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

(3) Gently melt the coconut oil and chocolate over low heat, and when completely melted, add the remaining ingredients, except the raspberries. Place that in the fridge so that it firms up BUT stays spreadable (smooth but not liquidy)!

(4) Either spread the chocolate layer onto the brownies and then the raspberry sauce on top, or in reverse. You could even make swirls! Put it back in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take it out, wait for 10 minutes, then slice and serve directly. You can keep it in the freezer for months, but I doubt it will last that long!

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