With all the food and fun we will be having over the next week or so, it’s hard not to continuously be eating rich, sugary and totally gorgeous Christmas treats and flavours…. And whilst I love this as much as the next person, my body doesn’t and I need to have a few healthier and lighter dishes available that are easy to make and delicious.

These two recipes are full of fresh veg, minimal sugar and much lower fat than a plateful of mince pies! You can use up veg that you will already have in the fridge/larder – all the usual Christmas favourites of sprouts, carrots, parsnips & pears! Both dishes can be enjoyed on their own or alongside cold meats and can be prepared quickly and easily.

Have a play around with ingredients – both the gratin and the salad are very forgiving of using up what you already have and if you have any of the gratin left, it is even more delicious the next day!

Happy Christmas to you all – and may you eat, drink & be merry!

Parsnip and Carrot Gratin with toasted hazelnuts
Serves 8, Prep time : 30 mins Cooking time : 55-65 mins

50g unsalted butter
1 large onion, sliced
500g parsnips, very thinly sliced into discs
500g carrots, very thinly sliced into discs
3 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
350ml semi-skimmed milk
200g crème fraiche
100g + 25g grated parmesan
50g blanched hazelnuts
50g fresh breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Melt 25g butter until foaming in a large, deep frying pan. Add the onion and a pinch of fine salt. Soften gently for 10 minutes.

Add the parsnips, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and 2 rosemary sprigs, then stir to combine. Mix together milk and crème fraiche and pour over the veg and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Place in fridge if making in advance. Bring back to room temperature (approx 1 hour) before continuing.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly and stir in 100g of the grated cheese, season and transfer to the baking dish.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan for approx 5 mins, remove and roughly chop. Finely chop the leaves from the remaining rosemary sprig. Melt the remaining butter in a pan and heat until foaming. Fry the breadcrumbs and chopped rosemary for 3-4 minutes until golden and crisp. Take off the heat, leave to cool, then stir in the hazelnuts and remaining grated cheese. Season, sprinkle over the gratin and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.

Warm salad of roasted pears & brussels with bacon, cranberries, pecans & gorgonzola cheese
Serves 6, Prep time:10 mins, Cooking time:30 mins

6 slices of bacon, cut into small strips and fried until crispy
6 pears, cut into wedges
600g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 handfuls dried cranberries
2 handfuls toasted chopped pecans
Mixed green leaves (whatever you have to hand)
Gorgonzola or other blue cheese to sprinkle
Olive Oil
White Balsamic Dressing
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss sprouts & pear in olive oil, salt & pepper and place cut side down on baking tray along roast in hot oven (around 200oC) for approx 25-30 mins.

Fry bacon pieces, drain on kitchen paper and set to one side. Using the same pan, toast pecan nuts for approx 5 mins and then cool & chop.

Make a simple dressing of 3 parts olive oil, 1 part white balsamic vinegar, 1 part honey with salt & pepper. Prepare serving plate with mixed leaves, arrange pear wedges & brussels and drizzle with dressing. Add bacon bits, cranberries, pecans and scatter blue cheese.


For more ideas and recipes – come and join me at my regular cooking demos. Informal groups of up to 8 people, around my kitchen table, tasting and chatting. A 2 course lunch/supper is included along with welcome coffee & homemade cakes, recipes to take home and lots of inspiration!  2020 dates will be available in early Jan!



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