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20 festive recipes for special diets

vegetarian paella

Catering for guests this Christmas who follow special diets? Don’t stress! Try these 20 delicious festive ideas that will keep everyone happy and healthy!

Gluten-free Christmas recipes

1 Prawn cocktail bites

For a quick and healthy appetiser, top a gluten-free corn chip with a little shaved fennel, a peeled cooked prawn, a few dill sprigs and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then add a dollop of aioli or seafood cocktail sauce for extra zing, if you prefer.

2 Crunchy seed crackers

Combine ¾ cup ground linseeds, ¼ cup whole linseeds, 2 tablespoons chia seeds and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk in ½ cup cold water, cover and set aside until a dough forms. Roll dough between two sheets of baking paper until 2mm thick. Bake at 180°C for 35–40 min. Break into bite-sized crackers and serve with guacamole or gluten-free hummus.

3 Cranberry, sage and quinoa stuffing

Cook 1 large diced red onion, 2 diced celery stalks and 1 diced green apple in a frying pan until soft. Remove from heat. Add 1½ cups cooked quinoa, ½ cup dried cranberries and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves. Season with cracked black pepper. Stir to combine. Use stuffing for turkey or chicken, or bake to serve separately.

Watermelon pizza

Serves 8 Time to make 15 min
gluten free

½ cup reduced-fat ricotta
¼ cup light cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large, round slice watermelon, about 2.5cm thick
1 cup fresh mixed berries
1 tablespoon goji berries
1 tablespoon crushed nuts and seeds

1 Combine ricotta, cream cheese, honey and vanilla in a bowl.
2 Spread the ricotta mixture over the watermelon, leaving just a little of the pink flesh showing at the edges. Top with mixed berries, nuts and seeds.
3 Slice pizza into eight wedges and serve immediately.

Dairy-free Christmas recipes

5 One-ingredient banana ‘ice cream’

Place two large frozen bananas (sliced) in a food processor and blend until bananas begin to cream together. Scrape down sides, continue processing until bananas become a creamy ice-cream consistency. Serve immediately or place in a freezer-proof container, and freeze until required. Add frozen or fresh berries, and serve it in a cone with mixed summer berries.

6 Chocolate fruit and nut clusters

Arrange teaspoonfuls of your favourite dried fruit and nuts on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle melted dairy-free dark chocolate over to make clusters. Set in the fridge or a cool place. Then gift in jars!

7 Turkey and vege rice paper rolls with peanut dipping sauce

Check out this easy dairy-free recipe here.

Nut-free Christmas recipes

8 Quick chimichurri prawns

Place 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, 1 cup coriander leaves, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 garlic clove, ½ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and a pinch of chilli flakes in a food processor and blend until smooth. Marinate 500g peeled king prawns in chimichurri for 5 minutes. Cook prawns on a barbecue hotplate or chargrill pan for 1–2 minutes.

9 Bang bang cucumber

Combine chunks of fresh cucumber with a dressing made from lime juice, chilli flakes, and olive or sesame oil. Top with thinly sliced shallots.

10 Spiced seeds

Combine equal amounts of smoked paprika, cumin, ground coriander, and a dash of chilli powder, if desired. Toss pumpkin and sunflower seeds in spice mix and arrange on an oven tray. Roast in oven for 5–10 minutes, or until browned. Cool and pack in jar or bag.

11 Green bean dip

Green bean dip

Serves 16  Time to make 20 min
gluten free, vegetarian

1 cup frozen shelled edamame beans
1 cup frozen peas
500g frozen broad beans
2 shallots, chopped
375g tub smooth ricotta
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1–2 garlic cloves, crushed
50g reduced-fat feta, crumbled
¼ cup chopped mint leaves, plus extra, to garnish
2 tablespoons chopped chives
colourful veggie sticks and pita crisps, to serve

1 Place the edamame beans and peas in a large heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and set aside for 5 minutes; drain well. Place broad beans in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes then drain. Peel and discard the skins.

2 Place beans, peas and shallots in a food processor, and blitz veg until coarsely chopped. Add the ricotta, zest, 2–3 tablespoons of lemon juice, garlic and feta. Blitz until smooth. Add the mint and chives, and season with cracked black pepper. Blitz until all well combined, adding a little extra lemon juice, if needed.

3 Spoon dip into a serving bowl. Top with cracked black pepper and extra mint leaves. Serve dip with vegies and pita crisps.

Egg-free Christmas recipes

12 Caesar salad with chickpea and cauliflower ‘croutons’

Caesar salad

ServesTime to make 55 min
gluten free, vegetarian, diabetes friendly

1 x 400g can no-added-salt chickpeas, rinsed, drained
½ large cauliflower, cut into small florets
¹⁄³ cup grated parmesan
2 bunches asparagus, halved diagonally
275g baby truss tomatoes
½ cup reduced-fat plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon horseradish cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 baby cos lettuce, coarsely chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking paper. Pat the chickpeas dry with paper towel. Place the chickpeas and the cauliflower on one of the prepared trays. Spray with olive oil, scatter with parmesan. Toss to coat. Bake for 30–40 minutes, or until veggies are crisp.

2 Meanwhile, place asparagus and tomatoes on the remaining prepared tray. Spray with olive oil. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.

3 Combine yoghurt, horseradish cream, lemon juice and crushed garlic in a small bowl.

4 Combine lettuce, asparagus and tomatoes in a bowl. Serve drizzled with the dressing and scattered with chickpeas and cauliflower ‘croutons’.

3 Thai-style noodle salad

Soak vermicelli rice noodles in boiling water until tender, then drain well. Combine noodles with plenty of julienned or thinly-sliced carrot and cucumber, red capsicum, bean sprouts, fresh mint, coriander, sliced chillies and toasted peanuts. Make dressing with 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and a dash of chilli flakes.

14 Egg-free pavlova

Try our amazing egg-free pavlova with summer berries — it’ll be a hit with everyone, and no one will ever guess it’s made with chickpeas!

15 DIY brunch bowls

Make a big batch of Bircher muesli or overnight oats ahead of time. Serve it on the table with yoghurt, fresh seasonal fruit and toppings of your choice, such as nuts and seeds, freeze-dried fruit, shaved coconut and frozen berries.

Low-FODMAP Christmas recipes

16 Nut-crusted fish

Swap regular wheat breadcrumbs for a delicious chia, almond and herb crust for seafood. Place ¼ cup roughly chopped almonds, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, 2 tablespoons chopped chives, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread on fish fillets and bake at 180°C for 10 minutes, or until fish is just cooked through. Serve with roasted baby potatoes, broccoli and green beans.

17 Choc-hazelnut meringues

These meringues are the ultimate festive sweet treat.

18 Veggie-packed paella

Simmer 200g risotto rice in 2 cups reduced-salt vegetable stock with white beans, zucchini, rosemary, cherry tomatoes, garlic, onion, smoked paprika and a pinch of saffron. Add green beans and olives toward the end of cooking. Serve paella with a handful of fresh parsley and lemon wedges.

19 Satay tofu skewers

Combine 2 tablespoons tahini, 3 tablespoons no-added-salt crunchy peanut butter, 2 teaspoons reduced-salt soy sauce, ½ cup light coconut cream and the juice of 1 lime in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until warmed and mixture is smooth. Add 2–3 tablespoons of water to thin the sauce, if needed. Thread cubes of marinated tofu onto skewers and grill until lightly charred. Serve skewers with a satay dipping sauce.

20 Cauliflower steaks

Cut a whole head of cauliflower (or broccoli) crossways into 1.5cm-thick ‘steaks’. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with lemon juice, garlic and herbs and spices such as paprika, chilli flakes or cumin. Place on a baking tray and cook in a hot oven for 25–30 minutes, or grill on the BBQ until charred and tender.

First published: December 2019

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