TIPS FOR ENTERTAINING THIS FESTIVE SEASON
The festive season is the time to entertain. It is one of the most sociable times of the year, and the time when old friends, family and new friends all join together to meet. This does leave the host with a couple of challenges though – so here are six top tips to successful entertaining in the festive season.
Think about your budget. Sure, it’s great to entertain lots, but at the same time, feeding a crowd can be expensive, and when you have several crowds coming round, the budget becomes important! So, think about ingredients – what ingredients are delicious, wholesome and healthy without being too expensive? Veg and ‘cheaper’ cuts of meat to start with. Make a stew, with lots of veg, beans and delicious stock. Tasty, and cheap too! Planning ahead will give you ample time to purchase things when they may be on discount and will help avoid a last minute trolley dash – both will have a positive impact on your budget.
Why not consider serving a Christmas buffet? The great thing about a buffet is that you can choose what is available and make healthier versions of buffet favourites. Include homemade houmous with veg sticks, salad, fresh fish, chicken and any leftover turkey you might still have. For a hot option, consider a pan of chicken curry or a spicy lentil stew – this will keep people fuller and if a filling, low SmartPoints is available you’ll be less tempted by vol-au-vents and sausage rolls!
Now, after any party there will be leftovers. I always find there is leftover ham, especially if I’ve had a whole ham for a crowd. Well, I do four things with it. First, eat it cold. Second, have it in sandwiches. Third, put the pieces in another dish (ham pieces in macaroni cheese is lovely) and fourth – soup (ham hock soup to feed another crowd anyone?)
Just because it is the festive season doesn’t mean that food can’t be healthy. Like I said in tip 1, use lots of veggies. Veggies are cheap and full of nutrients. Replace crisps or nuts with dips and vegetable crudités – people will like them just as much, if not more.
Stock up on low calorie and sugar free drinks or consider adding a mocktail to the menu. These are always popular and it means that instead of your guests having wine or beer to quench their thirst, they have delicious alcohol free drinks, that don’t have any hidden sugars. As an added bonus, there will be fewer hangovers the next morning!
- Enjoy yourself. Christmas can be a stressful time of year, but remember, it’s also an opportunity to have a break from work, catch up with your loved ones and create new memories. Nobody will notice if the carrots are wonky, or if the ice is melting, so don’t worry about it. Once the food is out and the drinks are filled relax and be merry!
SLOW COOKER SPICED BEAN SOUP
SERVES 8 ~ Prep time 5 minutes ~ Cook time 4 hours 10 minutes or 25 minutes ~ Calories 316 per serving ~ SmartPoints8 per serving ~ Flex 3 SmartPoints
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely diced
1 leek, finely sliced
2 peppers, deseeded and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
0.75 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground mild chilli
6 tbsp corn flour
1.5L (6 cups) hot vegetable stock
4 X 400g (14oz) tins black-eye beans, drained and rinsed
400g (14oz) frozen sweetcorn
4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
Ground black pepper
120 ml (0.5 cup) almond milk
To garnish: radish slices, chopped coriander, chilli sauce and lime slices
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the onions, leek and peppers and sauté for about 5 mins till softened.
- Stir in the garlic and fry for 30 secs until fragrant then mix in the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, chilli and cornflour and mix until the vegetables are all coated.
- Add the vegetable mix into the slow cooker followed by the hot vegetable stock and mix.
- Then add the beans, sweetcorn and chopped coriander, stir, cover and cook on high heat for 3.5 - 4hrs.
- Season well before serving topped with radishes, chopped coriander, chilli and lime slices.
- For a non-slow cooker version add the hot stock straight into the pan after step 2, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 20 mins before serving.