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Christmas can be a time of indulgence and excess. You have spent the year following a healthy diet, exercising, keeping to a budget. then. all of a sudden christmas is upon us. Present buying, meal planning, parties, social events and family. Traditional christmas fare is rich and delicious and often accompanied by alcohol. Even the alcoholic drinnks are different, cocktails, fortified wines, liqueurs ad champagne.

It is so easy to over indulge at this time of the year. It is not that the foods are necessarily unhealthy, there is just so much of it around to tempt us. the trick is to limit your food intake, serve smaller meals, avoid the unnecessary snack foods. Just make enough food for the day, no need for 4 dozen mince pies for 6 people. You don't have to keep eating until you are stuffed. After Boxing Day get back to normal. Left over turkey and ham can form the basis of many healthy post Christmas meals.

What if you are a vegan or vegetarian? Does that mean you can't indulge in celebratory foods, even traditional foods? No of course not. Obviously turkey and ham are out of the question but you can still have a luxurious nut roast and all the crispy, crunchy roast delights of potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, parsnips and even stuffing. What about Christmas pudding? Well do i have a treat for you, a pudding that is as rich and tasty as a traditional pudding but totally vegan and it can work as a gluten free version, just substitute gluten free breadcrumbs and flour. it is so good that I serve it to all of my family, not just my vegan daughter, they don't even notice the difference.

Then there are mince pies, well fruit mince is vegan as the old fashioned suet has now been replaced with a vegetable version. Supermarkets even stock a couple types of vegan pastry sheets so you can make your mince pies easily.

Here is the recipe for my vegan Christmas pudding:

Serves 12 people

120 g flour (you can choose any flour)

60 g fresh breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon mixed spice1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

120 g coconut oil

100g dark brown sugar

120 g grated apple

1 small grated carrot

120 g mixed crystalised peel (or substitute extra dried fruit)

4 tablespoon of egg replacer dissolved in 4 tablespoons of water or

other egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs.

240 g raisins

120 g currants

120g sultanas

60g chopped dried apricots or prunes

120 g chopped or flakes blanched almonds

grated rind of 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 an orange

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon of black treacle or golden syrup

130 ml beer, ale or almond milk


In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together, cover and leave overnight.

Stir thoroughly the next day and this is when you and your family can make a wish as they take turns to stir.

In the base of your pudding basin place a circle of baking paper and oil the sides of the bowl with coconut oil press the mixture into the basin and place a circle of baking paper on the top of the mixture.

I use alfoil, lined with baking paper to make a cover for the bowl but you can also use a traditional baking cloth over baking paper.

Place an upturned saucer in the base o your saucepan unless you are using a steamer. place the bowl on the saucer and add water being careful to keepthe level below the foil or the pudding cloth. Bring to the boil then simmer for 6 - 8 hours. You may need to add extra water so make sure the water is boiling.

Once cooked remove the cover and replace with one that is clean and dry. Store in a cool place util Christmas. On the day the pudding should be re-steamed for 2 - 3 hours prior to serving. Serve with cream or a rum or brandy custard. (Use vegan alternatives if you are vegan.)

This recipe may seem complicated but it really isn't and the end result is a culinary delight.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, free of guilt, the occassional bust out will do no harm, just don't make a habit of it.

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