A Christmas cake conundrum

Do we need to eat Christmas confectionery to feel part of the festive celebration?

In the supermarket last weekend Christmas was everywhere. The mince pies, cakes and chocolate snowmen were beautifully displayed and alluring. I wanted to feel festive and to laden my trolley with Christmas treats. But, by the time I got to the checkout my only token of Christmas was a bag of satsumas and some walnuts. I felt torn. Part of me wanted to buy-in to Christmas like the other shoppers, but I also knew that I didn’t want to eat what was on offer. I liked the idea of sweet treats, the associations, the tradition, but I didn’t actually want to eat them.

Making food choices is complex. We have so many associations and emotions linked to food, which are both conscious and subconscious. How often do we eat something because we like the idea of it? Or because it reminds us of a particular occasion? Even when we don’t actually want the food?

What about eating a particular food because everyone else is? After all food unites us. Throughout history food has been used to bring people together and is shared at times of celebrations. Today, however, so many of us have different dietary requirements that we often don’t all share the same meal. We have different options that are dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, to name just a few. But how does this make us feel? If sharing the same food unites us, then does eating different food isolates us?

That was certainly my experience at the supermarket. I felt different for not buying and sharing the mince pies and chocolate snowmen, and I wanted to feel united and to join the festive spirit.

So how are we to feel united through food again when we have so many different requirements? I don’t believe we need to eat foods that we don’t want to eat, but we do need to have alternatives. When we follow a different diet or lifestyle we need to be the ones that extend ourselves and unite with others. We have a responsibility to share what we have learnt and to make food that we can eat and share with others. Even if friends and guests don’t have specific dietary requirements, the chances are that they will love trying something new and won’t even know that it is ‘free-from’ (unless you tell them). Sharing alternative foods helps to open us to new ideas, different flavours and a new way of eating, and most importantly we can be united through food again and all feel part of the same celebration.

So, here is my contribution, which I think is a fantastic alternative to a classic mince-pie and what is even better is it doesn’t contain raisins…so my husband will eat them too!

Goji berry and almond mince-pie cookies

Goji berry & almond christmas cookiesFor the base
2 cups of almonds
Coconut oil and maple syrup (or honey)

For the fruit mix
1 orange, chopped
1 apple, chopped
12 dates, chopped
½ cup of goji berries
1 tbsp of coconut oil
½ tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp ginger powder

• Place the almonds in a coffee grinder or blender and process until fine
• Melt a couple of spoons of coconut oil and maple syrup and mix into the almonds until you have a dough-like consistency
• Place the fruit mix ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a soft puree
• Take a pinch of the almond dough and make into a ball and press flat
• Put a spoonful of the fruit mixture onto each circle of dough and decorate with any remaining goji berries
• Place in the fridge to chill and set
• Delicious served on their own or with a little Coyo coconut yoghurt. Enjoy!