It's Gonna Be a Good Year

Happy new year! It has been almost a month since I last posted, and what a month it has been. First, I had a suspected case of swine flu that lasted a miserable week and a half. Then the Christmas season started early with Phil's family here in London, followed by a pleasant surprise that our flight to America wasn't canceled after all (seriously, 3 inches of snow should never cause that much chaos). And that's where I was until Thursday, when it all of a sudden turned into my birthday weekend. And now that's over, I feel like my normal life can resume once again! 2011 is a year full of excitement and promise. Hitting the ground running doesn't even begin to cover it. Would you like to know what this year has in store for me?

  • A Valentine's trip to Cornwall (I'm driving.... wrong side of the road.... eek!)
  • I will complete my bauman college course and start my career as a nutrition consultant
  • Oh yes and a little thing... I'M GETTING MARRIED IN APRIL!

I've got my wedding planning steel-toed boots on and am ready to get all organizational for the next three months. So if I start to sound a bit mental, you'll understand why :)

Food-wise, obviously the holiday season has been indulgent, as I'm sure it has been for many. But that's no reason to give up (especially if you have a specific goal in mind, like a wedding for example, hypothetically). Healthy eating kicked right back into gear yesterday and I'm hopeful that it will continue until April and beyond. My personal healthy eating practices are for LIFE, not just for a few months of dieting. In fact, let's get rid of that word altogether. This is not a diet, it's a lifestyle change, and while I may veer off course from time to time (special occasions), it is something I feel strongly that I can stick to. After all, if I'm going to be a nutrition consultant, it is important for me to practice what I preach. I wouldn't take health advice from an unhealthy person, and neither should you!

Christmas this year was filled with delicious and healthy food - lots of new dishes were brought to the family table! I made the same ginger cranberry sauce that adorned our Thanksgiving table twice more. It is becoming a seasonal favorite! We also had a mushroom nut roast as a main course for the vegetarians at our early Christmas dinner with Phil's family. The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's magazine, and seemed to be enjoyed by the veggie diners. Both of those recipes have been saved in a special folder (nerd alert).

Another new recipe this year was a gluten-free and vegan christmas pudding from BBC food, a traditional English dessert that is usually store-bought in England and brought to America by my grandmother. However, I decided to tackle it myself this year and whip up a recipe everyone can enjoy (one that is dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, alcohol-free, and somewhat healthy!)

And here's what we served up on Christmas day (note the blue flames on top!) -

This is another recipe I'm definitely hanging onto for future Christmases. It wasn't as dense and sickly sweet as a typical Christmas pudding. Quite light and fluffy, sweet enough from the dried fruit and pear, and generally enjoyed by everyone! If you're interested in making this in the future, I'll post the details here. I made some changes to the original, as the idea of suet completely puts me off!

Particular Christmas Pudding

Adapted from a recipe at bbc food; serves 8-10; can be made 3 days ahead

The particulars:

  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup currants
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 1/3 cup prunes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried figs, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 pear, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves or allspice
  • 2 tbsp dairy-free margarine
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup pear or apple juice
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour
  1. Sieve the flour with the baking powder and spices.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients together in a large bowl. Fold the flour into the fruit and juice mixture.
  3. Spoon it into a greased pudding basin (we used a small but deep metal bowl), cover with two layers of greaseproof paper, and tie with a string or a rubber band.
  4. Place the bowl into a deep pan, pour in boiling water from the kettle about halfway up the bowl, cover the pan tightly with a lid, and simmer for 4-5 hours. Check the water level periodically and pour in more as necessary.
  5. Remove the basin from the pot, discard the paper, and re-cover with fresh greaseproof paper. Allow it to cool, then keep in a dry place.
  6. To serve, re-steam for 1-2 hours, turn out onto a platter, and adorn with sprigs of fresh holly.
  7. Optional: douse in brandy and set on fire for added Christmas excitement!

I'm looking forward to another year filled with kitchen adventures and will do my best to document the best bits :) Here's to 2011!