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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Roasted Fish & Vegetables : A One Pan Dish


I do enjoy lemon wedges when eating fish, it just tops the dish off nicely. For those of us who enjoy eating fish ... any day of the week can be fish day! This tasty dish is cooked in one pot - which can make it even more appealing to those who may have to wash up any dishes! 


Here are the ingredients needed to serve four:
4 x 120 g (4¼ oz.) thick white fish fillets (such as barramundi or cod)
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A few rosemary sprigs
A few thyme sprigs
2 brown onions, cut into wedges (optional)
4 garlic cloves
2 zucchini (courgettes), thickly sliced lengthways
1 small eggplant (aubergine), cut into large dice
2 red capsicums (peppers), cut into wedges
2 large orange or yellow capsicums (peppers), cut into large wedges
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili flakes
Thin lemon wedges, to serve (optional) 


Here is what you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C   400°F  Gas Mark 6
2. Put the fish fillets in a shallow dish and pour over the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, then top the fillets with the rosemary and thyme sprigs.
3. Cover and set aside at room temperature while you cook the veggies.
Put the vegetables in a roasting tin, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs and spices. Bake for 25–30 minutes, turning halfway through.
4. Rest the fish fillets on top of the vegetables and cook for a further 12–15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.
5. Serve the fillets on top of the vegetables with lemon wedges (if using).

From an original recipe here


All the best Jan

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Should You Peel Your Fruits And Vegetables

Alina Petre MS RD writes:
"There’s no arguing that eating more fruits and vegetables can benefit your health. However, whether these fruits and vegetables are best consumed with or without skin is often up for debate. Peels are often discarded due to preference, habit or in an attempt to reduce exposure to pesticides. However, removing the peels may result in removing one of the most nutrient-rich parts of the plant. This article takes a look at the science to determine whether fruit and vegetable peels are best removed or not.


Peels Are Packed With Nutrients
Fruit and vegetable peels are rich in several nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Consuming the peel with the pulp can boost your total intake of these nutrients.

Peels May Help You Feel Fuller for Longer
Due to their high fibre content, fruit and vegetable peels may help reduce hunger and keep you fuller for longer.

Peels May Help Prevent Some Diseases
Eating unpeeled fruits and vegetables may result in a higher intake of antioxidants. This may help fight free radical damage and ultimately reduce your risk of certain diseases.

Some Peels Are Hard to Clean or Inedible
Certain peels may be inedible, hard to digest, difficult to clean or have a tough texture. In such cases, peels may be best removed.

Peels May Contain Pesticides
Pesticide levels in fresh produce are tightly regulated. While peeling fruits and vegetables appears to be a slightly more effective way to remove pesticides than washing alone, the difference is likely too small to make a true difference.

Which Peels Are Safe to Eat?
Some peels are safe to eat, while others may not be. The lists below provide summaries of which common fruits and vegetables should be peeled and which do not have to be:
Inedible Peels
Avocado
Citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
Tropical fruits (banana, lychee, pineapple, papaya, mango, etc.)
Garlic
Hard winter squash
Melon
Onion
Edible Peels
Apple
Apricot
Asparagus
Berries
Carrot
Citrus fruits (grated or cooked)
Cherries
Cucumber
Eggplant/Aubergine
Grape
Kiwi
Mushroom
Parsnip
Peach
Pear
Pea
Pepper
Plum
Potato
Squash (if well-cooked)
Zucchini/Courgette

Summary
Some fruits and vegetables, such as pineapples, garlic and melons, are best peeled. Others, such as apples, eggplants/aubergines and plums, are best consumed with peels on.

The Bottom Line
Peels are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making them one of the most nutritious parts of a plant. Naturally, some fruits and vegetables have tough peels that can be difficult to clean, hard to digest, bitter tasting or simply inedible. These peels are best removed and not eaten. However, most peels are edible. Therefore, it may be best to try eating your fruits and vegetables unpeeled whenever possible."
The above is only a snippet from Alina's article, you can read it in full, and with all relevant links here

Regular readers will know that a variety of articles and recipe ideas, are within this blog. It is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

If you wish to read more about the LCHF lifestyle, this post will help, please use this link here

All the best Jan

Monday, 11 December 2017

Are Statins Related to Diabetes Progression?

Statin therapy may be elevating risk of type 2 diabetes in high-risk adults.

Statins or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors provide several cardiovascular benefits in addition to lowering cholesterol. This could lead individuals to believe that statins may potentially aid in reducing diabetes risk. However, in numerous cardiovascular disease (CV) prevention studies, it has been consistently found that diabetes risk is increased with statin therapy. Because diabetes is not usually a direct measure in these CV disease studies, participants are often low-risk.

The following study aimed to evaluate the effect of statin therapy on diabetes patients who are considered high-risk. Population data was analyzed from a 3-year study called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), and an extension of this study called the DPP Outcomes Study (DPPOS). The DPP is a randomized, controlled trial that studied the effect of lifestyle changes, metformin use, and placebo on high-risk patients with obesity or overweight. There were 3,234 participants randomized to receive 1 of the 3 interventions. Participants were included if they were older than 25 years of age, had obesity or were overweight, had high fasting blood sugar levels, and had impaired glucose tolerance. Following the DPP, participants were given the option to join the DPPOS extension study.

In both the DPP and DPPOS, use of statins and other medications was obtained through patient self-report at baseline and twice yearly at follow-up visits. Statin therapy along with hypertensive therapy was determined by the participants’ primary physicians outside of the study. Lipid panels and blood pressure were recorded once yearly. Diabetes was diagnosed using a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test once yearly, or by obtaining fasting plasma glucose levels twice yearly. Cox proportional hazard models were utilized to determine the time-dependent relation between the use of statins and risk of developing diabetes on the DPP/DPPOS population.

Results at 10 years of follow-up show that the use of statins before a diabetes diagnosis was not statistically significant among the 3 interventions. Statin use prior to diabetes diagnosis was 33% in the lifestyle intervention group, 37% in the metformin intervention group, and 35% in the placebo intervention group (P=0.36). 40% of participants were taking simvastatin, 37% were taking atorvastatin, 9% were taking lovastatin, and 8% were taking pravastatin. The use of statins increased throughout the study, becoming more prevalent after diabetes diagnosis.

It was found that risk of developing diabetes was elevated in the participants using statins in all 3 interventions. The combined hazard ratio (HR) for the 3 interventions was 1.36 (95% Cl, 1.17 to 1.59). The study also assessed statin use duration and its association to diabetes risk. Diabetes risk was increased in participants who had been using statins for a longer period of time, with higher risk in the lifestyle intervention group. The HR per visit with statin use for the lifestyle intervention was 1.06 (1.02 to 1.11), P=0.007). In the metformin intervention, the HR was 1.01 (0.96 to 1.06). And finally, the HR for the placebo intervention was 1.02 (0.97 to 1.07). Low vs. high potency statins were also evaluated in relation to diabetes risk and no difference was found with an HR of 0.96 (0.68 to 1.35).

Mechanisms behind how statins can potentially increase diabetes were also studied through insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion analysis. The Insulinogenic Index, a measure of insulin secretion, was statistically significant between statin users and non-statin users. Insulin secretion decreased in statin users and increased in non-statin users (P=0.013). There were no significant changes in fasting insulin values suggesting that statins have little to no effect on insulin sensitivity.

Overall, this study showed that diabetes risk is increased in hig- risk patients who use statins. Although this study provides evidence that statins reduce insulin secretion, mechanisms behind this finding are not clear and need to be studied further. Limitations in this study include lack of randomization of participants using statins, statin use was confirmed through patient self-report, and statin dose in relation to diabetes risk was not evaluated due to limited access to this information.

Practice Pearls:
  • Patients with obesity or who are and who have impaired glucose tolerance and use statins have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
  • High-risk diabetes patients who use statins chronically and only practice lifestyle changes are at higher risk of progression to diabetes.
  • Blood glucose should be closely monitored in diabetes high-risk patients taking statins and risks vs. benefits of statin use should be considered.

Graham

Jan and I are active gongoozlers!

No, gongoozlerling is not some deviant sexual practice, or a fad diet. It is a term for people that like watching narrow boat activity on canals and we love it. My fishing club has fishing rights on a stretch of the Grand Union Canal. When I am not fishing we often walk along the canal. It's always on very level ground and the walk suits a couple of old geriatrics like us. Try it sometime, join the gongoozlers, you could do worse.


Eddie

Tuscan-style winter vegetable soup ... so warming


Well, it's certainly chilly and very wintry in most parts of the UK today. A warming bowl of soup could just be the thing to enjoy. I have shared this recipe before, but it's always worth another post! Some readers may find Cannellini beans a little 'carby', so as always dear reader it is important to note, that a variety of recipe ideas are within this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

However, if you feel you'd like to give this recipe idea a try here is what you will need for four servings:
Ingredients:
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 onion, chopped ingredient
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tin cannellini beans, drained
50g (2oz) grated cauliflower
1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable stock
150g (5oz) kale or cavolo nero, shredded
25g (1oz) Parmesan, finely grated
3 tbsp green pesto

Method:
1. In a large saucepan, cook the garlic, celery, carrot, parsnip, onion and leeks gently in the olive oil for 10 minutes. Keep the heat low and stir often, until soft, but not browned.
2. Stir in the drained cannellini beans and grated cauliflower, followed by the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the beans begin to break down.
3. Crush some beans with the back of a spoon to further thicken the soup. Stir in the shredded cavolo nero or kale and simmer for a final 5 minutes, adding a little water if it becomes too thick. Stir in half the pesto and half the cheese, dividing the soup between bowls and serving the remaining pesto and cheese on top of each bowlful.

Freezing and defrosting guidelines:
Make the soup, then leave to cool at room temperature. Freeze (without garnishes or toppings) in a rigid container, leaving a bit of space for expansion, for up to 1-3 months. Reheat either from frozen or defrost in the fridge overnight. Once piping hot, add toppings or garnishes and serve.

Adapted from an original Tesco Real Food recipe here
It certainly is a warming and tasty bowlful, full of vegetable goodness ... 

All the best Jan

Saturday, 9 December 2017

London Grammar 'Wicked Game'

Cover of the Chris Isaak song by one of my favourite bands
Graham

Peter Gabriel - The Book of Love

I don't know about you, but Jan and myself are getting close to the biblical three score years and ten. And saying that, we are still like star struck teenagers. This song is a favourite, may we never grow up. Eddie

Sarah McLachlan - In the arms of an angel

This song and this Woman blows what's left of my brains out. If this does not move you, check your pulse out, you may probably have dropped dead. Eddie

R. E. M. - Everybody Hurts (Live at Glastonbury 2003)

Saturday night again and music night. It seems to me if you have lived a life, especially if you are of a certain vintage, you have hurt sometimes, and known great loss. We all get dealt some good hands and some bad hands, it's how we play them that counts. If we are fortunate, our family and friends pick us up, and we carry on. Not everyone has a life support system. Look around, a small difference, a very small act of kindness, could make a big difference to someones life.  Eddie

Gingerbread Cookies / Biscuits : Low Carb Recipe


The grandchildren quite enjoy gingerbread cookies/biscuits, and for some reason decide whether to take a bite of an arm or leg first ...poor gingerbread person! I can also remember doing that - can you?

With this low carb recipe suggestion you may choose to make a gingerbread cookie/biscuit but it works equally well cutting out a round shape, or you could get adventurous and cut out a Christmas tree shape.

Ingredients:
10 servings
1g carb per serving
3 oz. (75g) butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon cream cheese
6 tablespoons coconut flour*
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Serving Tip:
How about serving these gingerbread cookies with a smear of butter and some crumbled blue cheese. It may sound like an odd combination, but it makes for a delicious treat and a sophisticated flavour combination for a holiday hors d’oeuvre...

Of course you may just choose to cut them into rounds, or Christmas shape, the choice is always yours dear reader. 

See preparation/cooking instructions for this recipe at Diet Doctor site here

...when you first start a low carb diet/lifestyle, you may feel confused with which *low carb flours to use. You may never have used any of them before and how to use them properly can be daunting. Low carb flours don’t behave like wheat flour, and how to use them in your old regular high carb recipes is one of the most common questions - you can read more about low carb flours here

We bring a variety of recipe ideas to this blog ... but please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Mushroom Bourguignon with Celeriac Mash : Vegetarian

  • 300g pack beef minute steaks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 lemon, ½ juiced and ½ cut into wedges to serve
  • rocket, to serve (optional)
  • For the filling

  • 200g parsnips, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 200g celeriac, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 200g butternut squash, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 150g carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp clear honey
  • squeeze lemon juice

Read more at https://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/minute-steak-rolls-with-seasonal-veg.html#C6m66ULS0tG1IAJv.99

This mushroom bourguignon recipe with creamy celeriac mash can make a lovely weeknight dinner. Replacing beef with juicy chestnut mushrooms and exotic dried mushrooms adds earthy richness to this comforting vegetarian stew.

Ingredients:

Serves Four
For the mushroom bourguignon
10g dried mushrooms
175ml vegetable stock, made with ½ stock cube
2 tbsp. oil
650g chestnut mushrooms, larger mushrooms halved
10 small shallots, peeled but kept whole
250g Chantenay carrots, larger carrots cut in half horizontally
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp. tomato purée
2 tbsp. plain flour
200ml burgundy wine
1 tbsp. butter, softened
For the celeriac mash
2 celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
700ml milk
1 tbsp. wholegrain mustard

Method:
1. Add the dried mushrooms to the hot stock and leave to infuse. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large casserole dish. Add the chestnut mushrooms and fry for 4-5 minutes until golden. Remove from the pan.
2. Add the remaining oil and fry the shallots and carrots for 8-10 minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic, thyme and tomato purée and cook for a further 1 minute. Return the chestnut mushrooms to the pan with 1 tbsp. flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the burgundy wine, vegetable stock and dried mushrooms. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Mix the remaining flour with the butter and add to the sauce. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy. Season well.
4. Meanwhile, put the celeriac and garlic in a large saucepan and cover with the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the celeriac is soft. Drain, reserving the milk. Return the celeriac to the pan and add 100ml of the reserved milk and the mustard. Mash. Serve the mash with the bourguignon on top.

Each Serving:
25.8g carbohydrate 10.3g fibre 15.4g protein 13.2g fat

From an original recipe idea here

For those readers who may like a more traditional Beef Bourguignon, which is low carb and so delicious have a look here

This blog brings a variety of articles and recipe ideas, and it is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Some Natural Ways To Boost Your Energy Levels

Helen West RD writes:
"With increasingly busy lives, many people regularly find themselves feeling tired and drained. However, if the tiredness you’re experiencing is lifestyle-related, there are lots of things you can do to increase your energy levels. This article looks at nine ways you can change your lifestyle and boost your energy levels naturally.

Get More Sleep
Sleep is something that easily gets put on the back burner when you’re busy. If you often feel tired throughout the day, you may need more quality sleep. Try going to bed earlier and reducing screen time before bed.



image from original article

Reduce Stress
It’s not uncommon for people with busy lives to feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. High levels of stress can make you feel tired and drained. Finding ways to minimize lifestyle-related stress can help keep up your energy levels.

Move More
Regular exercise is important for reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, it could also boost your energy levels. If you live a sedentary lifestyle and feel low on energy, participating in regular exercises like brisk walking or cycling can boost your energy levels.

Jan enjoying a walk ...

Avoid Smoking
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Smoking can reduce the efficiency of your lungs and make you feel tired. Quitting smoking is great for both your energy levels and your health.

Limit Alcohol
Drinking alcohol is another lifestyle habit which may make you feel tired. This is because alcohol can act as a sedative and make you feel drowsy. Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but it can also interfere with the quality of your sleep. If you drink regularly, limiting the amount of alcohol you consume could help improve your energy levels.

Eat a Nutritious Diet
If you’re always feeling tired, sluggish and low in energy, it might be worth taking a look at your eating habits. Good dietary habits decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases and can also affect your energy levels and how you feel from day to day. A diet based on whole, healthy foods benefits your health and your energy levels. In contrast, a diet high in processed foods can negatively affect your energy levels.

image from here

Avoid Added Sugar
When you feel tired, it can be easy to reach for a sweet, sugar-filled snack. Eating foods high in sugar can give you a short-term energy boost followed by a slump. To avoid this, minimize your intake and focus on eating whole foods instead.

Stay Hydrated
Depending on age, your body is made of 55–75% water. Dehydration can make you feel tired. Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day and respond to your thirst, especially during exercise.

image from here

Be Social
Social connections are incredibly important for maintaining good health. In areas of the world with unusually low rates of disease and a high number of centenarians (people who live to be over 100 years old), one of the common factors is a strong social support network. Social isolation can cause low mood and tiredness, especially as you get older. Getting out of the house and mingling with other people is beneficial for both your energy levels and your health. Try organizing social activities with your friends or starting a new activity by joining a social club.

The Bottom Line
Many people feel tired and lack the energy to function at their best throughout the day. However, drinking enough water, eating healthily, getting enough sleep and exercise and being sociable can benefit your energy levels and your health. If you feel tired, it’s worth taking a look at your lifestyle to see which healthy changes you can make to boost your energy levels and make you feel great."

The above is only a snippet of Helen's article to read it in full with all relevant links please see here

Readers will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas, within this blog. It is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Salmon-filled Avocados : Low Carb High Fat Deliciousness


You could call this good Maths! It's easy and delicious! Avocado + smoked salmon = no cooking.
This creamy dish is a luxurious breakfast, quick lunch or light dinner. You may also choose to serve it as a colourful appetizer at your next dinner party. So easy... so delicious...

Ingredients:
Serves Two
7g carbs per serving
2 avocados
6 oz. smoked salmon
¾ cup crème fraiche or mayonnaise
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)

This delicious plate may also be served with any other type of fatty fish - boiled, fried or smoked, and it tastes even better with a little fresh dill!


Fresh Dill:
Dill is an important culinary herb that is used for its seeds and leaves It originally grew wild in Southern Europe thru Western Asia.



It was extensively used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Remnants of the herb were found in Swiss Neolithic settlements dating back to 400BC. By medieval times its use spread to central Europe. Dill is a popular culinary herb used in Greece, Scandinavia, Germany, Central Europe, Russia, the Balkans and Romania. References to the fresh herb can be found in the writings of Roman naturalists, English clergy and German literary works in the 11th century.

All parts of the herb can be used for culinary purposes. Dill is not a common herb in Mediterranean cooking. It is known as a spice used in pickled cucumbers. In the United States they are known as dill pickles. The herb is key for the production of dill vinegar (a key cooking ingredient in some recipes). You will find it used/employed in many sour dishes, especially sauerkraut. You will find dill used in lemon sauces for fish, yogurt, sour cream, salad dressings, spinach dishes, chicken and lamb casseroles. Because of its delicate nature most chefs add the fresh herb to their hot recipes just prior to removing from the heat source.

For the easy to prepare recipe instructions see Diet Doctor site here

Bon Appetit!

All the best Jan

Monday, 4 December 2017

Christmas, the history behind our festive traditions


"What is the Christmas story? The history behind our festive traditions ...

Here's where our Christmas traditions come from and how we celebrate Christmas Day on the 25th of December. They're the essential bits of Christmas. Squeezing a fir tree into your living room. Eating an odd-looking bird. Welcoming an intruder who breaks in by coming down the chimney. Gazing at your fifth mince pie of the day and finally wondering what on Earth might be in it. How many of us stop to think how it all began? Dennis Ellam did... and today he explains where our festive traditions come from.


Father Christmas
Red robes, white beard, waist-slapping jollity and booming ho-ho-hos. He's been around for ever, hasn't he? Well, actually only since 1935, when Haddon Sundblo, a Madison Avenue advertising man, created Santa Claus for a Coca-Cola campaign. In previous lives he was thinner and paler, a character based on a 4th Century Asian bishop called Nicholas, who became the patron saint of children in most of Europe. It was in Holland, where they called him Sinterklaas, that he earned his reputation for giving stuff away. A small pair of wooden shoes would be left by the fireplace and he would fill them with sweets. No question of trying to fit in a fashionable bodkin, let alone a Nintendo Wii. Different countries still have their own variations on the theme, but that fat bloke in a red suit has pushed them all to the cultural margins.


What about Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer?
Debt-ridden shop worker Robert Mays invented him in 1947 as the hero of a bestselling book that made him a fortune. The song, written by an adman and a professional composer, came two years later. Who says Christmas isn't magical?


Christmas crackers
The mastermind behind the Christmas cracker was a London sweetshop owner called Tom Smith. In 1847, after spotting French bonbons wrapped in paper with a twist at each end, he started selling similar sweets with a "love motto" inside. They were so popular as a Christmas novelty that Tom made them bigger and included a trinket. But the real flash of inspiration came when he poked the fire and a log exploded with a sharp CRACK! That gave him the idea for a package that went off with a bang. He launched his "Bangs of Expectation" with top-of-the range gifts such as jewellery, ivory carvings, perfume and miniature dolls. By 1900 he was selling 13 million a year. But we can't blame Tom for the corny jokes and paper hats. They came later.

Mistletoe
Kissing under the mistletoe really took off a couple of centuries ago, but the plant's racy reputation dates back much further than that. In 300BC, the ancient Druids cut sprigs of the climber from the trunks of oak trees with a golden knife. They believed it had sexual powers and, boiled with the blood of a pair of sacrificial white bulls, that there wasn't a finer aphrodisiac. Its reputation lived on. By the 18th Century mistletoe balls, trimmed with ribbons, hung in the best hallways, where demure young ladies could stand waiting underneath, lips puckered. The magic wears off, though. After each kiss, the gentleman should pull off a berry until there are none left, after which the rest of it should be ceremonially burned, otherwise it's 12 months of bad luck and celibacy.



Turkey
Goose was the popular choice for Christmas dinners for generations. Middle-class families with lots of relatives might go for a boar's head, while the seriously rich showed off with a swan. The turkey didn't arrive until the 1600s, when merchants brought it back from America and marketed it as an exciting new festive taste - if you stuffed it with sage and onions and laced it with cranberries, that is. And ignored its natural dryness. It really took off with the Victorians after Charles Dickens had Scrooge ordering a turkey in A Christmas Carol. Nowadays a turkey isn't just for Christmas. It's for sandwiches well past Twelfth Night. Followed by curries if you're not careful.

Mince pies
Strictly speaking, it's illegal to eat them on December 25, so watch out. Feasting at Christmas was banned by Oliver Cromwell in 1647 as "lewd behaviour" and that particular law has never been repealed. Mincemeat at first meant what it said. There were bits of shredded meat among the dried fruits and spices. The first recipes were probably brought back from the Middle East by the Crusaders. But it was the Victorians who realised the concoction might taste better with the meaty bits left out.

Christmas pudding
A close relative of the mince pie. And just as challenging to the waistline. It first appeared on the table in the 14th Century when it was more like a porridge made of beef and mutton, with currants, prunes, raisins and spices stirred in, plus a liberal lashing of wine, thickened with breadcrumbs and egg. In the 1700s, minus the meat, it became a fruity end to the Christmas meal. And in the 1830s Eliza Acton - the Delia of her day - included a Christmas pudding recipe in her cookbook. For a humble pudding, it's shrouded in superstition. You are supposed to stir it in an east to west direction, representing the journey of the Three Wise Men. A silver coin hidden inside brings good luck to whoever finds it. Unless, of course, he swallows it.

The tree
So who DID suggest cutting down a huge piece of shrubbery, dragging it into the house, covering it with lights, then sticking a model fairy on top? Then leaving it there until it drops needles all over the floor. Blame a German. The Romans had hung up the odd bit of green branch, but it was evangelist Martin Luther from Saxony who first decorated a whole fir tree. That was in 1510. The idea finally spread to Britain during Queen Victoria's reign when her German-born husband Prince Albert had one sent over to remind him of his own childhood Christmases. A drawing of the Royals and their children standing around their perfect tree appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1846 - and next year there was a rush to copy them. Artificial trees were invented in the 1930s, by the Addis Company, who turned them out using spare machines in their, err, toilet-brush factory.



Cards
Not surprisingly, the custom of sending Christmas cards didn't start until there was a postal service to deliver them. The first were sent in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, boss of the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was far too busy to write letters so had an artist design 1,000 cards, illustrated with a festive family scene on the front and printed with the greeting, "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You". Horrified at being caught out, all his friends sent him one back the next year. In 1880 cards had become so popular that the public were warned for the first time to post early for Christmas. A few of them might still be at the bottom of a mail sack somewhere...

Tinsel
The first mass-produced Christmas decoration, it was made in Europe in the 1600s from sheets of silver alloy hammered until they were paper-thin and cut into strips. The idea was to reflect the light from candles and fireplaces. Problem - after a few Christmases, the silver turned black. A cheaper, throwaway tinsel made from aluminium-based paper swept the festive market in the 1950s. Problem - it went up like a flash when it caught fire. Now we have a modern tinsel made from PVC that won't discolour and won't burn. Problem - it's toxic and can't be recycled. Over to you, Greenpeace..."

All words above taken from article here

Looking for a fool-proof way to cook your turkey look here
You may want a low carb mince pie recipe look here,
Have you seen 'The Best Low Carb Christmas Pudding Recipe Ever' …. look here

Thanks for reading ...

All the best Jan