Today is (was) the day….
Ho, Ho, Ho and a MERRY CHRISTMAS! It is the day of feasts a plenty and oh boy was I looking forward to it. I have never been one to shy away from a good meal or two and especially at Christmas. I do love a good roast dinner. However, this year I did not cook the meal as we had been invited to a family members home for the feast, even better!
At times I can be very apprehensive about letting others cook for me and it’s not because I think they might add something I cant eat or I wont like the food they have made. But because I feel a burden and that the effort that needs to be made at times to feed me can be stress inducing for some. So I tend to cook for myself, but that can be seen as rude and that’s definitely not what I want to be known for. Those who don’t have allergies or intolerances may not be as aware the subtle extras that food companies like to put in foods, like a sneaky bit of barley here and there or a egg or two. So making a whole Christmas dinner with all the trimmings can be a mind field!
There has been some prep going on beforehand for the meal as my host wanted to make sure my meal was a delicious as everybody else’s; and why wouldn’t it be. Just because your gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean boring and I think many people forget that. They did not fail, they cooked up one scrummy Christmas dinner; it was absolutely beautiful! A perfect Christmas dinner, even if I did manage to forget the stuffing and Yorkshire pud’s for mine but they were not needed anyways.
Normally for my Christmas dinner I make the main dinner and a pudding, that’s it. Appetizers and starters are a forgotten element in my house, so to be greeted with gluten free vegan appetizers was brilliant! Normally I would be able to tolerate some dairy (very little) but unfortunately I have been unwell over the Christmas period so are needing to go full vegan for a while. So to be able to sit down and eat a snack which wont make me unwell or spoil the rest of the dinner is lovely and super thoughtful.
Little stars of cucumber with tomato’s and dill, perfect little snippets of things to come. However, I was unsure about the dill as I can be a bit dodgy with certain herbs so I didn’t eat the dill but It didn’t need it anyways it was yum. My lovely hosts had also provided nibbles to snack on and had brought me some pea snacks from Aldi. I’m not a huge crisp fan, have to be in the mood for them however the pea snacks from Aldi are really tasty and full of flavours, they come in several flavours and are gluten free and suitable for vegetarians. I had a check of the ingredients but couldn’t find any non-vegan bits but they are only labelled as vegetarian.
If like me you have more of a sweet tooth than a savoury one, Beech’s fine chocolates are gluten free and vegan. Normally people would think chocolate comes after the main meal, pfft! I like chocolate before, during, after, in the cinema, in the bath on a Tuesday…. so to find a chocolate that’s is so beautiful and it wont make me unwell is delightful. On Christmas day I cracked open there luxury dark chocolate brazil nuts and hesitantly handed them out. But most refused saying they didn’t like dark chocolate as its to bitter, and I would agree. Most dark chocolates I have tried are bitter, not Beech’s. There chocolate is a beautiful balance of the bitterness of dark chocolate with a underlying creaminess which is even better when you remember the creaminess is vegan. They have flavoured chocolate also including ginger and lime and chilli, which I can not wait to try (and not share!).
When you think starters you think 1970 prawn cocktail with marie sauce or melon balls right? Wrong. Try marinated cucumbers with red peppers on a pillow of baby lettuce leaves. A vegan heaven! I have never had marinated cucumber before but would gladly have it again and again. The texture was exactly how you would expect marinated cucumber to be, a moist and refreshing feeling teemed with the very subtle flavour from the marinate. Now I couldn’t tell you what marinade it was exactly as I forgot to ask (sorry), however the oil that was used for most of the vegetables, seasonings and possibly the cucumber starter is a Greek extra virgin olive oil (I’m unsure of the name but I do have a picture below). It is such a beautiful tasting oil, not to strong and not flavourless. Now you don’t have to go to Greece just for this oil, although what a good excuse! You can purchase it in the UK from Marks and Spencer,at £10 for 500mls.
I have been vegetarian since I was a young girl so I never really miss the turkey aspect of a Christmas dinner and I’ve never tried pigs in blankets so a meatless feast is a norm for me. However, a vegan Christmas dinner is new, add in the nearly new gluten free element and my Christmas dinner this year was a whole new tradition I’ve started and may continue due to my hosts absolutely tasty meal.
What do “normal” folks have for there Christmas dinner? Turkey, goose fat potatoes, buttery vegetables, stuffing and Yorkshire puddings with lashing and lashing of gravy. All full of meat, dairy and or gluten. So I can imaging my hosts thought process when they realized all the usual suspects are out of the window for this girls Christmas dinner. Hence the prep and me brining the added extras, well I was suppose to have but forgot most of them!
The table was lay and the feast was spread and it was gorgeous; veggies galore, hot crispy potatoes and trimming everywhere. And what did I have….
….everything everyone else did.
My hosts had made the same vegetables choices for me without butter, they had made there roast potatoes goose fat free and used the Greek olive oil instead and to replace the pigs in blankets, roasted beetroot. They had also made home made cranberry sauce with port. Now port is a tricky drink as some ports are not considered vegan due to the fining process but don’t panic there is vegan alcohol out there. To me there is nothing more pleasurable than sitting down to a meal and sharing food with your loved ones knowing you are eating the same and you will not be unwell from it.
And the main event, quinoa, lentil, vegetable and pomegranate stuffed peppers, OMG!
The mix of the textures with the softness of the lentils against the sharp crunch from the pomegranate was amazing. They had made 3 full peppers for me plus all the extras, I managed 1 pepper, a bucket of gravy and everything else, but I took them home and re-heated them for dinner the following day and they were still as tasty. Now I was a bit naughty and had the smallest bit of Greek feta on top, bit of a mistake as my belly noticed it, however it would have been just as perfect without.
I generally didn’t think after all that food I could fit anything else in food wise, but like most of us on Christmas I found room. The others had handmade trifle, a firm favourite of mine, but I could not eat this one as it was traditionally made. However, Marks and Spencer’s have a absolutely gorgeous gluten free vegetarian trifle but unfortunately not vegan. But me being me I forgot to buy one, however being unwell it would have been a no go anyways. So I have a free from chocolate brownie Christmas pudding from Tesco, which again very nicely made for me as I was on nights until Christmas day. This pudding was lovely! It has icing and sprinkles; a bonus as most of the sprinkles I have found contain wheat and cakes just don’t seem the same sprinkle free. So it was a sprinkle treat!
Well…. what can I say in regards to Christmas but thank you.
Thank you to all of you for spreading the word that gluten free and vegan does not mean boring and drab and that we don’t avoid for attention. Thank you for all the companies who have realised that they need to provide for those with allergies and intolerance and are now making free from foods of many varieties and especially
Thank you to my family for putting up with me and my “nope cant have that” statements and to my hosts for putting a spectacular Christmas feast!
Now….what to eat for new year!