Grain free, dairy free, gut-friendly ideas for a healthy, happy Christmas day!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here… there’s bits of tinsel scattered through the house where the puppy has been attacking decorations, there’s sneaky presents stuffed under blankets in cupboards to keep them hidden from little eyes, there’s Christmas party invitations stuck on the fridge, special treats in the freezer, kids practicing the Christmas play for performing at the nursing home tomorrow, Christmas music playing… and the wet season has finally arrived, so there’s rumblings of thunder in the background, sudden rain showers, flickering electricity, fans on high speed, screeching parrots and croaking frogs. I love Christmas time. Even if it is stinking hot here in Far North Queensland.
This year, we won’t be having all our old favourites on Christmas day… no blueberry cinnamon scrolls for breakfast, no hot spelt rolls slathered in butter to dip in the gravy, no baked sweet potatoes, no chocolates, no sweet, sticky pecan pie with coconut ice cream… We are on GAPS these days, a grain/dairy/sugar/starch free gut-healing diet, and we’re still in the intro phase. But you know what? I’m not even worried about all those foods I’m going to ‘miss out on’ this year. I’m excited about all the foods we CAN have, and I’m looking forward to showing you some of my ideas! Because I know we are not the only family who will be facing Christmas on a restricted diet this year, and I’m sure some of you are feeling a little bit overwhelmed. So let’s do some brainstorming and come up with some ideas that will make this the most delicious, gut-friendly Christmas ever! Yay!
Do you have special diets or family members with allergies to cook for this Christmas? I’d love for you to share your menu ideas, tips, and recipe links in the comments below, so we can all be inspired by each other!
You should also read my friend (and health coach) Leah Follett’s Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Christmas – there’s some great ideas there!
And for those of you who ARE able to have the cinnamon scrolls, bread rolls, ice cream and chocolate this Christmas, there are plenty of healthy recipes and ideas for you too, in my Quirky Cookbook and on my blog! If there’s something you’re particularly looking for, type the name or main ingredients into the search box on the right side of the page, or send me a message and I’ll help you out. I’ll also be sharing plenty more healthy Christmas recipe ideas on my Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter in the next few weeks.
My Quirky Christmas Menu!
~ Breakfast ~
I prefer a savoury breakfast on Christmas morning, there’s enough sweets making the rounds on Christmas day, so no need to make breakfast sweet too! And if you’re eating a GAPS/Paleo diet, you’ll be used to your savoury breakfasts, anyway. Here’s a couple of recipes you may like to try – they’re both delicious, and both serve approx. 6 people.
(recipe in Quirky Cooking Cookbook, pg 55)
Spicy turkey patties – omit cayenne pepper if unable to have chilli; swap tamari for coconut aminos or salt; use homemade tomato sauce or omit if unable to have tomatoes
Savoury mushrooms – swap tamari for coconut aminos or salt
Soft eggs in sesame seeds – replace with some steamed broccoli and cauliflower if you can’t have eggs, and sprinkle with seeds; omit seeds if not trialled yet
Steamed tomatoes with macadamia cheese or sheep’s feta and basil – swap for steamed asparagus if unable to have tomatoes; macadamia cheese can be made with blanched almonds if desired, and savoury yeast flakes replaced with herb salt, or omit if you can’t have either nuts or dairy
Add some avocado slices and some sauerkraut (if you can have it) on the side!
Christmas Breakfast Casserole
This casserole can be made ahead and frozen, then popped into the fridge the night before and baked Christmas morning! Layers of cauliflower ‘rice’, savoury spicy beef or turkey mince, and an egg and zucchini topping is baked in the oven for a satisfying and delicious breakfast. See the GAPS/Paleo friendly version below the main recipe on the recipe card.
Add some avocado slices and some sauerkraut (if you can have it) on the side!
~ Lunch ~
If you’re on the earlier stages of GAPS, you may be sad about not being able to have a traditional roast dinner. But I find slow cooked meat in broth very tasty and delicious if it’s done right, and the veges turn out very flavoursome too! Here’s how to cook a chicken in broth. The same method could be used for duck or turkey breast. Or try pork belly with plenty of rosemary, thyme, garlic and onion – the fat melts in your mouth cooked this way, and the broth is delicious, and can be reduced to make a rich gravy.
Any vegetables can be cooked in the broth once the meat is removed, then veges removed and broth reduced to make a starch-free gravy. Serve with cauliflower mash (my recipe for that will be up soon), and some sauerkraut on the side.
Slow Cooked Chicken in Broth, with herbs and vegetables
- 1 large, organic, free range chicken
- filtered water
- 2 roughly chopped carrots
- 1 sliced leek, disgard tough ends
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- zest of one lemon
- fresh herbs, roughly chopped (parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary) or dried mixed herbs
- Celtic sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper (opt)
- 2 Tbspns chicken or duck fat
- approx 4 cups mixed vegetables - sliced zucchini, broccoli florets, peas, quartered yellow squashes, cubed pumpkin, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc.
- 2 Tbspns powdered gelatine, Great Lakes brand (collagen joint care, red pack), mixed into 2 Tbspns water
- Place whole chicken into a heavy pot on the stove (needs to be at least 4 litres), or into a slow cooker, and add enough filtered water to surround chicken, leaving the back of the chicken out of the water.
- Add carrots, leek, and garlic to the water around the chicken, sprinkle chicken with herbs, lemon zest, and salt and pepper.
- Place the lid on pot and simmer on low for 2-3 hours; or cook in slow cooker on high for 4 hours, or until tender.
- Once the chicken is tender, remove carefully from pot/slow cooker to a large serving platter, cover with foil to keep warm and place into 100C oven to keep warm.
- Place vegetables and chicken or duck fat into the simmering broth, cover, and cook for about 10-15 mins, or until soft.
- Remove veges from broth with a slotted spoon, arranging around chicken. Cover with foil and place back in warm oven.
- To make gravy, add gelatine and water mixture to broth, and simmer in pot on the stove, stirring occasionally until reduced by half or 3/4, keeping a constant eye on it so it doesn't burn! Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve chicken and veges with gravy, with a side of cauliflower mash or paleo/gaps bread rolls. (See bread recipes in breakfasts, cook in muffin cups).
Roast Turkey, Duck, Chicken or Baked Ham
For those of you who can have roast meat, try this recipe from Nourished Kitchen for a succulent slow roasted turkey, especially if you have an organic, free range, pastured turkey. They are leaner, and can end up dry and tough if not cooked long and slow, with plenty of basting towards the end. It needs to cook for about 14 hours (a little more won’t hurt), so start the night before. I would swap the white wine for homemade chicken broth, (or use the quicker chicken broth recipe in my cookbook), and use chicken or duck fat instead of butter to make it dairy free if needed.
If you can get your hands on pastured, nitrate free ham, you might like to try this Honey Baked Ham from Divine Health. Delicious! If you can’t have orange juice yet, just swap it for pork bone broth. That may be more to Australian tastes anyway, as honey baked ham can be a bit too sweet for some.
Serve roast meat with roasted veges, or a roasted vegetable salad. We also love jelly salad on the side with our Christmas dinner (an American tradition) – the recipe is in my cookbook (pg 81) and you can use powdered gelatine instead of agar powder and change the fruit around to suit what you can have.
Other side dishes could include a warm cauliflower couscous salad (my recipe for that coming soon), American Chop Salad if you can have some raw veges (pg 78 of my cookbook), homemade cranberry sauce to go with turkey (use my jam recipe for this, with frozen cranberries, swapping the agar for gelatine), and paleo bread rolls made from the bread recipes above in Breakfasts, cooked in muffin cups.
~ Dessert ~
It’s Christmas. There’s got to be dessert, right? And if you’re on GAPS, I imagine you’re hanging out for something sweet! Just remember to take it easy on the sweets as it can set you back to have very much – you’re trying to kill off those bad bugs, not feed them.
For a healthy dessert that’s not too high in sugars, I really don’t think you can go past a dairy free, raw ‘cheesecake’. They look amazing, taste delicious, and can be prepped ahead and frozen. Another plus is that when you consume fruit with fat and protein, it helps prevent a rapid spike in insulin. In a raw cheesecake, the fruit is mixed with fat (coconut oil, coconut cream, nuts, coconut) and protein (gelatine, nuts), so it seems to me to be the way to go. (If you can’t have nuts or coconut yet, see the ideas below.) Here’s my two favourite ‘cheesecake’ recipes…
Cherry Delight Cheesecake
(Recipe in Quirky Cooking cookbook, pg 202)
This recipe is so popular, I’ve even had someone write a poem about it! To make it GAPS/Paleo friendly, there’s a few things you can do:
– Make sure the nuts are activated or soaked (as mentioned in recipe), and use whatever nuts you can handle – macadamias, blanched almond, or cashews. They will all work.
– If you can’t have shredded coconut, just use some extra nuts instead.
– Raw dates can be omitted and a little coconut oil added instead to hold base together, with a little honey.
– Use vanilla powder or the seeds from 1-2 vanilla beans instead of the paste.
– Swap maple syrup for honey, halving amount (or to taste).
– Use Great Lakes gelatine powder instead of agar powder.
– Use fresh cherries instead of a jar of cherries, cutting in half and removing pits; or use frozen cherries, or other berries of choice.
– For the jelly, you’ll need 2 cups (500 ml) fruit juice, but it needs to be homemade, not store-bought processed juice. You can juice frozen berries (through a juicer) or blend the berries in the Thermomix then strain the juice through a nut milk bag. Add some fresh orange juice too if you can have that, to help make up the 2 cups. If you don’t have enough, you can halve the jelly recipe, and just have a thinner layer of jelly on top.
One more tip – make sure you freeze the filling until solid before adding the jelly layer, otherwise you’ll have an oozing mess! The base and filling can be made ahead of time, wrapped and in the freezer, then the cherries and jelly added about half an hour before ready to serve. The jelly will set very quickly if you place it in the freezer to set – but don’t leave it in the freezer once set or jelly will crystallise. Store in the coldest part of the fridge.
Raw Macadamia Lime Cheesecake
(recipe in my Quirky Cooking cookbook, pg 201, and on my blog here)
See the tips above for this cheesecake as well – soaked nuts of choice, homemade coconut cream, honey instead of maple syrup, etc.
Christmas Cake/Pudding: I know a lot of people like a more traditional Christmas pudding or Christmas cake for dessert, and I am working on a grain free, GAPS friendly recipe, but it’s not ready yet… stay tuned! We are also going to work on some GAPS ginger cookies, because that’s what my kids love to have in their stockings. And I’ll be posting some stocking stuffer ideas as well, soon.
One more little treat to replace that after dinner chocolate…
White Chocolate Berry Bark
- 200g raw cacao butter, roughly chopped
- seeds scraped from 1-2 vanilla beans
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- approx 80g raw honey, or to taste
- 200-300g frozen blueberries and raspberries
- Place cacao butter into Thermomix bowl and chop 10 sec/speed 8.
- Scrape down sides, add vanilla bean seeds, salt, and 50g honey.
- Melt and mix 8 mins/37C/speed 3.
- Meanwhile, spread frozen berries out onto a baking paper lined biscuit tray, breaking raspberries apart a little so they are spread over tray.
- When cacao mixture is ready, drizzle evenly over berries, scraping out bowl to get all the vanilla seeds and honey.
- Drizzle remaining honey (to taste) over berries and cacao, and place tray in freezer.
- Once frozen solid, break into pieces and store in a container in the freezer.
- This bark really has to be eaten straight from the freezer, as it will melt quite quickly.
- You could add some chopped, activated nuts if you like, to make it go further and to add some protein.
- Don't overdo it if you are on GAPS, as you may find too many berries will not agree with you! Just a handful of berries per day is enough, so share it around.
I hope you can get some ideas from my menu, and please go ahead and share your ideas in the comments below! As I mentioned, I will also be sharing more ideas on my Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter, over the next few weeks.
Happy Christmas menu planning, I look forward to seeing what you come up with!