Peace. Joy. Love.
These three words herald a time that for many is a tiring gauntlet of present buying and family commitments, the rite of passage marked by the consumption of copious amounts of food and drink. Somehow we emerge, breathlessly gasping into the New Year. We sit on the couch, exhausted and over-satiated, swearing off grog for life, arms still full with half a ham and a few handfuls of ‘regifted’ presents.
Anxiety. That’s the flipside of Christmas. Did I buy the right present? Do we have enough of everything for everyone? Will ‘Cousin It’ be there, and if so, how will I cope?
Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful. Somehow the Main Squeeze and I have survived the blender of remarriage with extended family pretty intact! It’s a major achievement, considering the journey! But our family food journey is a little more complicated.
Our table this festive season includes gluten-free, lactose intolerant, vegan, fructose intolerant, crustacean anaphylactic (at least two of each of those)… as well as the rest of us who enjoy everything!
Obviously I need help, so I asked Natalie Prigoone from ‘The Great Uncooking’ to give me a few tips. Just in case you need them too, here are her helpful comments:
Gifts: Why do we buy more at Christmas? What is all this stuff that we think we need? It’s all about a mentality of excess, which I think is the pitfall of Christmas. Why not give a book or homemade gifts; something thoughtful? The time we spend on others is more precious than anything else.
Food and alcohol: Maybe we should rethink the whole concept and consume less but better quality: splurge on a really nice champagne and drink less of it, buy some really indulgent seasonal fruit, such as mangoes and cherries, figs and pomegranates. Think ‘better’, not ‘more’.
Family: The focus of Christmas should be on spending more time together as family, connecting with each other.
Giving: How can I spend more time being ‘other-focussed’? How can I give (even outside the family circle)? For example, did you know that it only costs $25 to give someone eyesight?
These focus points can help make our lives more joyous. Take time to reflect, to eat well, connect with others, and open our hearts to those around us.
As for our Christmas table? Natalie has made up a recipe that everyone in our family can enjoy!
Chocolate Date Energy Balls
Energy balls abound but this is a sure fire recipe to suit everyone. They’re perfect for the athlete or children or eaten straight after a workout where the natural date sugar can be metabolised more quickly. This recipe makes a large batch so you will have enough to give away as presents.
2 ½ cups cashew nuts
3 ½ cups dates
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 tbs coconut oil
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp salt
¼ cup rice malt syrup
To Garnish – extra cacao powder, coconut or cacao nibs to roll balls in
Process nuts to a fine powder
Add coconut and cocoa
Add dates 2 at a time (if you don’t have a powerful food processor
Add syrup salt and oil
After blending in food processor, place into a bowl and squeeze mixture for a couple of minutes to release oils. This is important or you will need to add more oil. Roll mixture into small balls and then roll in cocoa powder or desiccated coconut. Makes 40 balls.
Read more of Natalie’s healthy recipes on The Great Uncooking.