So here we are again - same, same different year. The silly season where it is totally accepted that we gorge ourselves on all manner of food - whatever we want, and of course, get drunk at Christmas parties and eat bad canapés and dodgy party pies! Woop woop - what fun!
And wow, here we go again down the battle ground of the supermarket aisles - fully loaded with special roasting potatoes, goose fat, sausages, turkeys, hams, creams, custards, puddings and sauces - flogging us all manner of trimmings, mince pies, mountains of chocolate, Christmas cake, devils on horseback, white rocky road and other essential Christmas fodder.
My Christmas Day fun used to commence with going to the pub in the morning, getting a skin-full while the turkey is in the oven, stumbling home and trying not to cut my finger off while chopping pumpkin to roast. It usually involved burning something, inevitably an arm as I struggled with the way-too-big-turkey-for-two out of the oven. We would sit down and gorge a plate loaded with butter stuffed turkey, roast veges cooked in goose fat, brussel sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, sausages wrapped in bacon, peas with mint and butter - and everything covered in gravy. Topped off with steamed pudding with brandy butter and custard with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, and washed down with wine and champagne. Woop woop - what fun!
Then we'd pass out in front of the Doctor Who Christmas Special. Sound familiar?
Then Boxing Day all of the above goes on sale at the supermarket and we make the fun last with the support from 'leftovers recipes' on the television and more ham and turkey than a human can consume - and pick up more chocolate, pudding, brandy butter and crisps that we can't possibly stuff in the cupboards or fridge - but we try anyway! It's Christmas right?
Boxing Day also brings the bombardment of all manner of advertising of diets, celebrity exercise videos, fangled, complicated meal plans and expensive meal replacements. We are flogged to buy all manner of detox programs, convinced to buy gym memberships, exercise equipment, diet supplements and given the guilt treatment from condescending, thin, fit people in lycra telling us how bad we've been over the last four days. Of course we are going to buy the stupid diet plan - we can't breathe, let along move our way to the heaving fridge groaning with the excess to chuck out the last of the stinky cheese!
I'm beaten from all the flogging - make it stop - Aarrgghh!!
Now I know it's only November, but the momentum to buy into that story is loud and proud and enticing from every supermarket aisle isn't it? And our family tradition of that pattern is huge, and we justify it every single year. In truth, if we DON'T buy into it, we are seen as 'not festive', 'party pooper'.
Here is some food for thought as you go into the silly season:
Globally 870 million people do not have enough to eat and are chronically undernourished. (Source: FAO news release, 2012)
Globally in 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese. Plus, more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010. (Source: WHO news release, 2012)
Since when did Christmas become about stuffing ourselves with Christmas cheer? To celebrate family and friends and to see how much we can eat without being sick? And then exercise and starve like a maniac to lose all the weight we've piled on in the name of fun? From my own experience, it no longer could be justified as fun and wow was my body paying for it.
Now, for the people who will say that I'm a spoilsport - I love to celebrate that time with friends and family, but it's become more about sharing ourselves, simply and with love, with beautiful food that builds love in our bodies and doesn't leave us in guilt.
Here's my yummy alternative for Christmas dinner that will leave you feeling the awesome person you are!
Pre heat the oven to 230oC - or as hot as it will go.
Make up a spice rub in a bowl and mix well -
3 tbls olive oil
2 teas turmeric
1 teas sea salt
2 teas ground black pepper
1 teas garlic powder
1 teas smoked paprika
1 tbls fresh thyme
Juice of one lemon
Make a few deep slits with a sharp knife into the top of a shoulder of lamb then rub in the spice mix using gloves so you don't have turmeric hands!
Line the bottom of the oven tray with heavy duty foil then add three sliced brown onions, two roughly chopped tomatoes, one roughly chopped red pepper/capsicum and one mild green chilli. (Leave out the chilli if you want)
Gently place the lamb shoulder on top of the onion mix and put in the oven.
Immediately turn the oven down to 150oC and cook for 3 hours.
With 1 ½ hours to go, put in the vegetables - I think this year we will have brussel sprouts (trimmed with a cross cut in the stem) tossed in olive oil and cumin; pumpkin pieces with the skin on and tossed in caraway seeds olive oil and black pepper; fennel simply with olive oil, pepper, salt and fresh thyme.
While the veges are in the oven, time to make dessert!
Take one pack of silken tofu and blend with a heaped teaspoon of vanilla powder, and sprinkle of ground nutmeg and coconut sugar and put in the fridge to set.
Take lamb out and rest for half an hour before serving.
Once the lamb is out, turn the oven back up to 200oC to crisp up the vegetables!
Simply sauté lots of spinach with garlic and olive oil at the last minute.
Serve with the onion relish spooned over the top - ready-made gravy - just wait till you try it!
Eat till you feel full - it's divine and savour every mouthful - saving room for dessert of course ...
Heat a saucepan and add frozen black cherries (I always keep some in the freezer, they're so handy and really good for you!), a star anise, stick of cinnamon and a splash of water. Cover and simmer till just warmed through. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stock and serve in bowls with a dollop of the soy cream and delight in the guilt free dessert you can enjoy all year round.
Ho Ho Ho!