December’s full of festive cheer, but also pressure to spend, eat, drink and make merry. From Christmas food and drink to Christmas present ideas, we are bombarded with adverts and information.

Christmas food tends to be rich and boozy, which is fine now and again, but too much, too often will make you put on weight and feel sick!

I love taking food and drink ideas and giving them a healthy slant, suitable for everyday eating.

Here is what I’ve been making and my family have been eating in December…

An edible vegetarian wreath

Vegetable Wreath

This is a very impressive vegetarian dish, it would work not only as a Christmas day option, or party piece, but also as a standard family meal.

Serves 8 to 12

1 tin croissant dough

85g hazelnuts, chopped

85g green lentils

85g buckwheat

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp chopped rosemary

1 tbsp oil + extra for drizzling

2 small onions, chopped

2 small red peppers, chopped

1 tbsp mild curry powder

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 egg

2 parsnips, sliced into 5mm pieces

3 carrots, sliced into 5mm pieces

2 beetroot, diced into 1cm pieces

Egg wash to glaze

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. In a roasting tin, toss the carrots, parsnips and beetroot with salt, pepper and a drizzle of oil. Put into the oven for 30mins to roast.
  3. Put the lentils and buckwheat in a pan with 1 mugful of water and the chopped rosemary. Bring to the boil, put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for 20mins.
  4. In another pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over a medium high heat, add the chopped onions and peppers and fry until soft. Add the curry powder and mixed herbs, remove from the heat.
  5. Stir in the hazelnuts, tinned tomatoes, cooked lentils and buckwheat, season to taste, allow to cool a little and stir through the egg.
  6. Line a baking sheet with a piece of non-stick baking parchment.
  7. Open the croissant dough, cut through the perforations and arrange the triangles of dough in a circle, on the baking sheet, slightly overlapping the wide ends and with the points of the triangles pointing outwards.
  8. Spoon the lentil filling round inner edge of the croissant ring, arrange the roasted vegetables on top.
  9. With a knife, cut 3 slashes through each of the croissant points, fold over the top of the ring of lentils and vegetables, pulling the slashes gently apart and tucking the point of the dough under the middle of the ring.
  10. Brush the dough with egg wash, reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350/Gas4 and cook the wreath for 45mins.
Fillet of salmon topped with a lime, ginger and coriander crust, served on a bed of steamed vegetable rice.

Ginger, Lime & Coriander Baked Salmon

Quick and easy with fresh flavours. I served this with steamed vegetable rice.

Serves 4

4 fillets of salmon

Rind of 1 lime

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 tbsp grated root ginger

15g fresh coriander, chopped

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

  1. Mix the garlic, ginger, coriander and lime rind. Stir in the salt, pepper and olive oil. Spread over the salmon and allow to sit for up to 1 hour for the flavours to mingle.
  2. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7
  3. Put the salmon on a baking sheet and roast for 12 mins.
  4. Remove and allow to sit for 5 mins before serving.
A dish of lamb curry served with rice

Red Lamb Curry

Serves 4

500g diced lamb

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground fennel seed

1 tbsp paprika

½ tsp chilli powder (or to taste)

½ tsp black pepper

1 tbsp oil

1 onion

1 sm cinnamon stick

½ tsp fenugreek seeds

4 cardamom pods

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp grated root ginger

Juice of ½ lemon

150ml coconut milk

  1. Mix the ground coriander, cumin, fennel, paprika, chilli & black pepper with the lamb, allow to marinate for about 30mins.
  2. Chop the onion, fry in the oil over a medium heat with the cinnamon, fenugreek, cardamom, garlic and ginger until the onion is soft and beginning to colour.
  3. Add the meat to the pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring now and again until lightly browned.
  4. Add 300ml water to the pan with the lemon juice, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender and melting.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, add salt to taste and serve.
A dish of seamed rice, vegetables and herbs

Steamed Vegetable Rice

This is quite a plain dish, the vegetables add colour and flavour.

Serves 4

¾ mug white or brown basmati rice

1 mug water

2 – 3 spring onions, finely sliced

1 small can sweetcorn, drained

1 mug frozen edamame beans

2 tbsp chopped coriander

Juice of 1 lime

1 small red chilli (optional)

  1. Put the rice in a heavy based pan with a lid. Add the water, bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 10mins for white rice or 20mins for brown.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the edamame beans and sweetcorn. Once warmed through, add the chilli, spring onions and lime juice. Stir through the cooked rice, season with salt & pepper, add the coriander and stir everything together.