OK, so I know it’s not even December yet and I’ve always – always – been a stickler for not implementing any Christmas chat until December, BUT… oh man, this year I am SO excited about Christmas! I’ve always loved the festive build up even though, at home, I’m not one for putting a tree up in mid-November (as my buddy Alison says – that’s just nuts). However, there is something to be said about getting organised for Christmas early, avoiding last minute present panic and stressing about the festive food. So, with this in mind, I thought I’d share with you some of my tips about how I cook for my family on Christmas Day – i.e. how we do Christmas dinner with a toddler.
This post has been created as part of my #NoJunkJourney as an Organix ambassador and is packed full of ideas on prepping the lunch itself (I’m all for cutting corners), how we get our kids to happily eat some of the things they’d typically turn their noses up at (sprouts, anyone?) and how I manage to find time to sip fizz and, you know, actually enjoy myself on Christmas Day. After all, despite what everyone says, it’s not all about the children, is it?!
1. Prep ahead
It might sound ridiculously dull, but the first thing I do before I’ve even got the turkey (crown) out of the fridge is to write two lists. I write a list of what we’re eating on the day itself and then I write a list of timings, working out when we want to eat and figuring out when everything needs to go in the oven. With two young children in the family this is pretty key to the whole day working. Hangry, tired kids are no fun, so we tend to eat around 3pm, once Baby Girl’s had her nap.
On Christmas Eve I cover the turkey with bacon and make the stuffing (sausage meat, onion and sage for the win), as well as chopping up the carrots, parsnips and brocolli. That means I have more time to watch the present-opening carnage and drink prosecco on Christmas Day itself.
2. Arm yours kids with snacks
My kids are big snackers. They go WILD for a snack. Christmas Day is no different and, if I’m honest, they’d probably happily munch on chocolate and biscuits all day and skip the main meal completely. I’m not a Scrooge, I let them eat a bit of chocolate on Christmas Day (it is Christmas after all) but I also put around pots of things like raisins, fresh fruit and Organix Goodies treats to balance out some of that sugar. Keeping them stocked up with healthy snacks means they’re less likely to get hungry and grumpy, and it gives me more space to crack on with the cooking.
3. Let the children “help”
Both my girls love to help in the kitchen and, if they show an interest, I try to give them a couple of easy jobs to do so they can get involved. (Interestingly, they often eat way more of the food on their plate if they’ve helped to prepare it – they clearly appreciate their own cooking skills.) For example, we like to have parmesan parsnips as one of our Christmas dinner veggies. You par-boil the parsnips before dusting them with plain flour and parmesan cheese and then roasting at a high temperature so they go all crispy and delicious. Frog often helps to do the dusting bit before the parsnips go in the oven, and I expect Baby Girl will offer a hand this year too.
4. Make veggies interesting
Following on from the parmesan parsnips, we also roast our carrots in honey and balsamic vinegar for a sweet and gooey finish. The kids are FAR more likely to eat carrots this way then just plain boiled or steamed ones. The sprouts are finely chopped and pan-fried in butter with lardons or the chopped up crispy bacon from the turkey. And the roast potatoes are par-boiled, tossed in plain flour, pepper, Himalayan sea salt and rosemary, before being roasted at a high temperature in goose fat. YUM.
Right, now I’m seriously hungry. What tips have you got for Christmas dinner with a toddler?
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This post has been created as part of my role as ambassador for Organix. All opinions, copy and photography remain my own. For more information about how I work with brands check out my Work With Me page.