Christmas is a mere 3 weeks away and now is the time to start planning healthy get-togethers! If you are like me and love the outdoors and summer weather, then there is no better way to celebrate then by an outdoor get-together. Here I share my healthy ideas to help you host the ultimate outdoor Christmas get-together.
It goes without saying, keeping well hydrated in the outdoors is very important. If plain water doesn’t take your fancy, make things more exciting by serving fruit water. Its as simple as adding a selection of freshly sliced fruit including strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, orange and lemon to water and letting the fruit infuse the water. Including a few fresh mint leaves also always adds a nice refreshing twist. If you like bubbles you can always make a kombucha tea to take along. See my blueberry kombucha tea recipe below.
Opting for dishes, which lend well to grazing and having a pick are best for causal outdoor get-togethers. The last thing you want is for guests to be juggling food on their laps. Some of my favourite light and fresh ideas are:
- Rice-paper rolls
- Poach chicken in coconut milk the day before, wrap with shaved cabbage, avocado, crushed cashews and herbs, use roasted sweet potato or tofu for a vegetarian version
- Wraps/sandwich’s, keep fillings, fresh light and tasty
- Rare roast beef, beetroot hummus, tomato and spinach
- Tabouli, hummus and feta cheese
- Poached chicken, avocado, rocket and roasted capsicum
- Mixed beans, shaved corn, shaved lettuce and avocado
- Platters, platters don’t need to be limited to cheese and crackers, the possibilities are endless, try
- Selection of cheese, home-made seed crackers, vegetable chips, roasted vegetables, olives, dolmades, home-made dip, flaked hot smoked salmon, kale chips, nuts/seeds and fresh fruit
Salads are the perfect complement to nibbles and platters. Salads with a grain or starchy base unlike leafy green bases travel and store the best. The ingredients can be prepped the day before and put together before leaving for the event. Aim for a mix such as:
- Potato with egg and pesto dressing
- Quinoa and roasted vegetable with feta
- Shaved zucchini, brown rice and pine nuts
- Roasted beetroot, orange, lentil and goat cheese
- Panzanella with sourdough
A seasonal fruit platter is always a crowd pleaser in summer’s heat and a light way to end a meal.
If your esky has enough room individual desserts are fuss free when it comes to both serving and enjoying, try for example:
- Mini baked custards and topping with a fresh berry salsa
- Black rice and coconut puddings with fresh banana
- Deconstructed tiramisu
If you prefer to serve one dessert, opting for a cake such as a Christmas fruitcake or even panforte which can be served with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt is an easy option. Keep it simple and choose cakes which you know will store well and aren’t delicate such as those with whipped cream and icing.
Food Prep & Storage
Correct food prep and storage will help make hosting a breeze, follow these ideas:
- Roast vegetables and cook grains for salads the day before
- Chop vegetable crudités the day of to keep fresh
- Organise the containers you will use the day before to avoid last minute chaos in the kitchen
- Purchase bamboo cutlery and serving plates from a local store
- Avoid placing any hot items in the esky and let cool down before transporting
- Make sure to keep cold food in the esky if not being eaten straight away
- When packing the esky keep meats as the bottom layer to avoid any juices escaping
- Store salad dressing in a jar and pour over just before serving
- Have a separate esky for drinks to avoid constant opening and allowing cool air to escape
Blueberry Kombucha Tea
2 tbsp. oolong black tea
½ cup raw brown sugar
2.5L spring water
1½ cup active kombucha or 1 kombucha mushroom culture
1 cup of blueberries, pureed
In a large saucepan add the water and bring to the boil. Add tea and sugar and reduce to a simmer and steep until cool with lid on. Strain the tea into a bowl and gently mix thought the mother kombucha, with the opaque side up.
Cover with mesh cloth and store on a countertop or in a cupboard space that is no warmer than 20C. The cooler the temperature the longer it takes to culture, so keep this in mind.
Test your kombucha recipe after a week to 10 days. Sometimes it takes as long as 2 weeks depending on how you like it. If it is too sweet it has not completely fermented and hasn’t consumed the sugar. If it is too “vinegary” or sour, it has gone too long. Somewhere in the middle of sweet and sour with a little fizz to it, is the best kombucha to drink for maximum health benefits.
To serve, pour into a jar or bottle with the blueberries mixed through as desired.