Spicing up your Christmas Dinner with Health Benefits

I have always absolutely loved Christmas. My back garden is often lit up with hundreds of twinkling lights which I can see through my kitchen window.

Christmas dinner is something which all my family love. We always spend it with the in-laws who travel from leafy Tytherington, which I suspect you might need Google Maps to find. We pull out all the stops to make Christmas Day a special and memorable occasion.

With the turkey in the oven on a slow roast, I can prepare my stress-free Christmas dinner sides. I love easy to prepare and tasty recipes with hints of spices, which contain amazing health benefits too. I use the spices in a subtle way, just enough to tease the vegetables.

Like most households up and down the country, we all eat until we can’t move on Christmas Day, that last roast potato is characteristically one too many. I add warm and bitter cumin seeds to my roast potatoes, along with roasted red onions. Cumin is excellent for digestion and red onions play an important role in blood sugar regulation, as they contain a mineral component called chromium. Most importantly this flavour combination creates delicious tasting roast potatoes.fullsizerender

I love to roast carrots and parsnips whole. A great twist for roasted parsnips is to use maple syrup and mandarin peel. I then finish them with nigella seeds which have a pungent, bitter and peppery flavour. Nigella seed oil is believed to help reduce blood pressure.

Try caramelising carrots with chilli flakes, jaggery and a hint of orange liquor. I prefer using jaggery instead of honey. Jaggery is unrefined sugar, made from sugar cane. It is also known to detox, the body, as it helps cleanse the liver by flushing out toxins.

I know that some people don’t like Brussels sprouts, but honestly I have to have them on my table on Christmas Day. My boys never really liked Brussels sprouts, so I came up with this recipe some years ago. I use sweet chestnuts to balance out the bitterness of the sprouts and add crushed coriander seeds. I then finish the sprouts with butter and garlic. Chestnuts are rich in vitamin C and coriander seeds are thought to play a role in keeping arteries clear of bad cholesterol.

Red cabbage is one vegetable which my whole family loves. It is really easy to make and I add cinnamon, star anise and fresh ginger which produces an incredible flavour, all three are powerful antioxidants.

The centrepiece of my Christmas table is a great big fat turkey! I really take my time to make it as tasty as I possibly can. I create a marinade of cumin, crushed coriander seeds, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cloves, natural yogurt, white wine vinegar, butter, oil and rock salt. As a finishing touch, I place slices of lemon under the skin. I marinate the turkey overnight.

All these recipes are relatively simple, very tasty and don’t take long to prepare, so that you will have plenty of time to spend with your loved ones on Christmas Day.

By Anjula Devi