How many online groups do you belong to? 10, 15, 100? They are so popular these days (thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn) and there’s definitely a group for everyone but how on earth can you get the most from them?
I’ll hold my hands up. I belong to too many. I cannot possibly keep up with what’s going on in them all and really, I might as well not be in about half of them. If I was the Group Admin, I’d probably like me to leave because I’m not bringing much to the party! But, it’s hard… when I try to have a cull, I find myself suffering from ‘fomo’ (Fear Of Missing Out!) so in I stay.
If it was an offline group, you know, a real-life group where I had to actually show up, this behaviour would be unacceptable and I’d be quite unpopular! Hanging about, not saying anything, just lurking. It’s not a pleasant way to carry on, is it?
A nut roast is of course the default for a vegan or vegetarian Christmas dinner. Does it really have to be that somewhat dried up slab of something like softened chip board? No, of course it doesn’t. This set of Christmas dinner suggestions are bursting with colour, vibrancy, protein and nutritional punch. At the same time, you will not be asking for seconds, I guarantee it. Neither will you be reaching for the mince pies by the time the Queen has said her Christmas day piece. You will be, to be frank, stuffed!
So, there’s a few ingredients in here you probably won’t have in stock everyday, but hey it’s Christmas right?
To serve 4-6 people
For the nut loaf:
1. Cook the red lentils in plenty of boiling water for 15 minutes until soft, drain with a mesh sieve.
2. Heat the reserved oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a sauté pan and cook the onions for 5 minutes until they just brown. Add all the other ingredients except the dried herbs and spices and stir well to combine. Add the dried herbs, spices and salt and pepper.
3. Line a large loaf tin (approximately20cm x 10cm) with baking paper. Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread evenly with the back of a fork. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees, gas mark 4 for around 55 minutes. Test by inserting sharp knife or skewer, which should come out clean when the loaf is cooked. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before turning the loaf out and slicing.
This can be prepared in advance, reheated and added to the top of the loaf after baking.
1. Pop the sweet potato in the oven with the nut roast and bake for 30-35 minutes in its skin until soft.
2. Sauté the mushrooms in a cooking oil of your choice for around 5 minutes until they brown, turn of the heat and toss in the spinach until it wilts staring together with the mushrooms at the same time. Scape the cooked potato into the pan, mashing with the spatula as you go. Add the lemon juice, black pepper and nutmeg and stir to combine. Spread the mixture in a thick layer onto the nut loaf and decorate with the cranberries, walnuts pomegranate and half the roughly chopped parsley.
3. Arrange the topped nut loaf on a warmed serving platter and surround with roasted vegetables (carrots, parsnips, squashes, potatoes, celeriac, swede even a few cherry tomatoes etc.) and your winter greens – broccoli, purple sprout tops, sprouts, black kale (cavalo nero), fine green beans etc. and serve with a jug of rich onion and red wine gravy. Toss the remains parsley over the vegetables.
There’s a knock at my door, it’s a delivery. I wasn’t aware I had ordered anything, let me think..ah, is it that time again already?! It's the precious, petite box of pure joy I’ve been eagerly waiting for, and it’s not a day too late! I tear into the paper, I can smell the warm, soft sweetness alluding to what’s inside this month. I find the signature note from the crafter of these little creations, then carefully open the box (so not to disturb the contents) to take a peak inside, with as much excitement as if receiving a puppy on Christmas morning!
Sitting there I see nine individually wrapped chocolates. My very own, personalised smooth chocolate truffles created just for me! ‘Chocolates?’
you may think, ‘All that anticipation for a box of chocolates?!’
Well, I say unapologetically, yes! These aren’t just any high street chocolates, nor were they mindlessly ordered online - popped in the basket and paid for without a second thought. No, these OMmaZing
bite-sized pieces of heaven were purposefully chosen by me and thoughtfully made for me.
I must resemble a wild bore snuffling in the undergrowth for a seasonal truffle rummage, eyes rolled back, digging in to these in utter delight! I can’t just stop at one, you see, it’s a problem (but one I’m not willing to change). I’ve heard there are others who suffer the same happy addiction. I think Daniella could create a self-help group for us called 'OMmaZing's Anonymous'? No? Well it sounds as if the amazingly Exclusive VIP Chocolate Club is the only other alternative then!
is the perfect option for those of us who eat chocolate more regularly than to celebrate our own birthday. Especially if you treat yourself to chocolate at least once a month and consider yourself a healthy eater with a sweet tooth; desiring to know even the ingredients in your ice cream. I love chocolate but I don’t eat it too often, so when I do, I like my choice to be something I can take my sweet time to delight and indulge in. Chocolate Club is clearly the answer!
What I love about Chocolate Club, is that as well as it conveniently saves a trip to the supermarket to stock up on a couple of bars (which I’m not fussed about but eat anyway), I get to choose my own favourite fillings from a vast selection of flavours, right down to the type of chocolate used - from milk to raw cacao. I get the satisfaction of receiving a box just when I’d forgotten all about it, and usually right at a moment when I appreciate them most too. Upon their arrival, it sort of feels like I’m getting a reward or like a present to myself just to say ‘well done you’. I think it’s important to treat yourself sometimes and what better way to do it?
Those of you of a certain age may recall that ‘ Don’t Believe The Hype ’ is a half-remembered rap song from some years ago. At that time I was still working in my previous life of advertising and design. It’s a strange industry – obviously it makes its money from clients who have products and services they wish to sell to particular groups of people – and advertising agencies are as much a mainstream business as the clients they work on behalf of. Yet, the creative studios in which I spent many years were populated by very ‘alternative’ people who thought, bought and behaved very differently to the consumers they by and large were employed to influence. I felt quite comfortable there for a long time, but I look back with a certain discomfort on that world now.
Advertising is extremely influential in the highly lucrative and extremely competitive food and drinks industry (although I have never worked on campaigns in those sectors). Think how we have been persuaded to ‘ go to work on an egg ’, or that British Beef, New Zealand (and more recently Welsh) lamb and Danish bacon are somehow better than other counterparts. More recently, food and especially snack food, advertising aimed at children has become a hotly debated political issue. Jamie Oliver is a vociferous campaigner for a 9pm watershed for such advertising as are former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Health Secretary Alan Johnson. Yet little has changed. Major food brands have continued to target children with junk food products that dazzle young eyes and create a sense that such products are a normal part of everyday diet.