News & Features

Friday 1st December 2017

Have a Healthy Christmas.

Christmas – Health – are both possible?

Of course!

School principal Oliver Cowmeadow shows you how and offers a few balanced sugar and dairy free festive recipes for you to try and enjoy.

Traditionally part of Christmas was to have a feast, breaking the daily plain diet with some richer food – maybe killing a bird, using precious honey or sugar to make a rich dessert, brewing some alcohol etc. With a background of simple eating having a bit of a blow out at one meal can be a healthy thing to do, there’s balance here.

However in present times in richer countries like the UK, most people feast all year around, eating meat, dairy foods, fatty and sweet foods, chocolate and alcohol on a daily basis. Then the feast has to be even more excessive, with tons of meat, fat, sugar and alcohol, and becomes extremely unhealthy. Not surprising there is a rise in many health problems straight after Christmas. 
So Step One – eat and live as healthily as you can every day.
The present ‘crisis’ in the NHS is not due to a shortage of money, but is actually due to a shift in society where the responsibility for taking care of all of our health has shifted from us, to the state. Most people’s reaction to becoming ill is to seek out a doctor to give a medication or other treatment to give relief.
However there is another way – to first look at ourselves and ask, what I have been eating, thinking and doing in my life that could have caused or at least contributed to this illness? Then making some changes towards a healthier way of living, eating and thinking may well help alleviate the health problem. Science is now showing us what ancient cultures have known for millennia, that most illnesses are caused by our daily diet and way of living.
Of course when an illness is serious or if any symptoms are worsening over time, it is absolutely wise to seek out medical help. But with many common milder illnesses, identifying possible causes in our daily life habits and diet and making changes often works very well.
By doing this repeatedly over time, we get to know our bodies better, what they like, what they don’t like, and we learn better and better to care of our own health. Lets respect and care for the wonderful bodies we have been gifted.
Step Two – plan a Christmas feast using natural foods, you might want an organic bird, a fish, or a Vegan notroast as a centre to the meal, along with roasted vegetables, rich gravy, and some salad to balance out the heavy rich dishes. Follow this up with mince pies or Christmas pudding full of nuts and dried fruits, and so not needing sugar, and use a plant-based cream such as ‘Oatly’ or a homemade sugar- and dairy-free custard. If you like a tipple buy yourself some organic beer or wine.
Step 3 – After your feast, take a fun walk out with family or friends to help your body digest and use it all up. Then rather than continuing to feast for the next 2 or 3 days, get back to your healthy daily diet. You know your life better than anyone, so become your own best doctor.
Oliver has included some healthy Christmas recipes for you to try AND they're all sugar and dairy-free!

 Mince Pies

Makes 12 mince pies


1 ½  cups chopped apple
1 ¼ cups raisins
1 cup apple juice (fresh or made from concentrate)
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp grated ginger juice (grate root ginger finely and squeeze out the juice in your hand)
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
2 pinches sea salt
1 tsp white miso or barley or rice miso
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

2 ½ cups white spelt flour
1/3 cup deodorised sunflower oil
2 pinches sea salt
cold water to mix
1.   Put all the ingredients for the mincemeat except the walnuts into a pan and simmer with a lid for 35-40 minutes, until the fruit is all soft and the liquid has disappeared.
2.   Then mix in the chopped walnuts.
3.   To make the pastry, mix the salt into the flour in a bowl, add the oil and mix well with the flour.
4.   Add 1 tbsp of cold water at a time until you get a stiff dough.
5.   Put the dough in the fridge for an hour or two, then bring out and roll out to about 1/8 inch or 3mm thick.
6.   Use a larger pastry cutter to cut 12 bases, and then a smaller cutter to cut 12 pie tops. When you have cut as many as possible you will need to roll all the bits left over into a ball and roll out again, to cut more pieces.
7.   Lightly oil a bun tray and put in the pie bases.
8.   Put a spoonful of cooked mincemeat into each.
9.   Wet the edges of the tops so that they stick to the bases, put them on the top of the pies and pinch the edges of the pastry together.
10.        Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200 C, 400 F or gas mark 6 for 20 minutes or until lightly golden on top.
11.        When they are done spread them out to cool, and then enjoy with Oatly or soya cream!
Ginger & Spice Biscuits 
170g wholemeal flour 
½ tsp baking powder 
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon  
¼ tsp nutmeg 
¼ tsp mixed spice 
Pinch sea salt 
40ml sunflower oil  
120ml maple syrup
1.   In a bowl mix the flour, spices and baking powder. 
2.   In a small saucepan heat the oil and maple syrup, then add the wet mix to the dry, (if it feels a little wet still add a little more flour).  It should form a nice ball of dough. 
3.   Roll to about ½ cm in thickness inbetween 2 sheets of baking parchment and cut out with your gingerbread cutter and decorate with currants or cranberries. Bake in a preheated oven at 180c for 8 minutes. 
1 ½ tbsp white almond butter 
6 tbsp non-dairy milk
½  tsp agar flakes 
1 tsp kuzu  (or corn flour)
2-3 tsp rice syrup 
1.   Heat the almond butter, milk , rice syrup and agar in a pan until the agar flakes have dissolved completely. 
2.   Add a little non dairy milk to the kuzu to dissolve it. 
3.   Bring the mixture to the boil and pour in whilst stirring.  
4.   Allow to thicken and pour into a small bowl.  
5.   When it has set whisk in a little oatly to loosen and then pipe onto the biscuits.
Christmas Vegan Fruit Cake
This recipe works using no raising agent and is baked in a 15 cm Kugelhopf baking tin (with a hole in the centre). You can either use cocoa or carob, carob works well being naturally sweeter than cocoa.
A)           50g soft white flour
30g whole wheat
3 tbsp of grain coffee
10g of carob/cocoa powder
         ¼ tsp sea salt
B)           50g dry fruit (raisins, sultanas, apricots)
chopped finely
50g nuts (walnuts, almonds) chopped finely
100g cubed sweet potato (steamed)
C)           120g soya milk/rice milk
50g Amazake
25g oil (rapeseed/safflower/olive)
1.   Mix the A ingredients together, then mix in the B ingredients. Add the C ingredients and mix all together.
2.   If it turns out overly dry, add a little more liquid.
3.   Pour the mixture in to an oiled Kugelhopf baking tin and bake at 180c (gas mark 5) for 25-30 minutes or until done.
4.   Leave to cool, before turning out of the tin.