Sunday, 30 December 2012

Host A French Style Festive Feast

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Welcome back lovely readers!  You have probably had one of the most amazing times of your life, feasting and celebrating with loved ones.  I love Christmas so much because I get to walk down the beautifully lit Champs Elysees and of course spend time with some of my favourite people.

Speaking of favourite people, I had so much fun baking with my two favourite girls over the Christmas holidays.  To ensure that there was something to delight the girls for dessert, my Christmas helpers Margot who is six and Pauline who is now three, helped me measure, mix and then finally bake these gorgeous chocolate cup cakes.

Cupcakes are incredibly popular and a fantastic treat food that also follow the rules of portion control.  You definitely cannot go wrong with these mini cup cakes.  They are a delight to make with the little ones too.  Just make sure that they keep their sticky fingers away from the bowl so that at least most of it does end up baked!

Part of hosting lovely Christmas lunches and dinners (like they do on the 24th of December in France) is the excitement in setting up the table.  I love the use of candles to create soft lighting but also these beautiful crystal glasses and ornaments to set the scene in such an elegant manner.

A glass of champagne (or two) is my favourite aperitif.  Served with appetizers such as these 'surprise' bites or amuse-bouche was a winning combination.  Each little pastry had either goats cheese, salmon, pesto, spinach or sundried tomato based fillings in them.  Truly delicious.

Seafood was featured on the 24th dinner but also for Christmas lunch.  These crevettes were incredibly delicious.  If you love seafood then your taste buds would have sung in joy over this gorgeous seafood bake made with prawns, scallops, mussels and white fish in a creamy béchamel sauce.  I simply must have this recipe!

What a surprise that lamb was chosen for both meals but duck has been a popular choice in previous years.  The first dish was a beautiful roast prepared using home grown rosemary.  Beautiful!  The second lamb meal that we ate for Christmas lunch was prepared with a pork, mushroom and fig stuffing.  It tasted incredible and was perfectly accompanied with rich and luxurious dauphinoise potatoes, quickly followed with a green salad for healthy measure.

I am horrified that we could eat more but of course we did.  A French meal is never complete without a cheese platter and plenty of wine.  The key to enjoying these calorie rich and yet gorgeously tasty meals is to stick to small portion sizes and resist extra helpings!

Dessert was ice cream laced in a vanilla and caramel flavour or wicked chocolate.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was the modern version of bûche de Noël.  

The homemade option was Cannelés de Bordeaux.  It is a little pastry like cake with a caramelised shell and a soft center.  It is prepared using flour, milk, butter and eggs and flavoured with rum and vanilla.

I must confess that I did have seconds and so am already looking forward to the weekly running club to work off any Christmas wobbles!  I had so much fun and am truly lucky to have experienced delicious and lovely French meals with some of my favourite people.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a lovely New Year!  Where did you spend Christmas lovely readers?

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Should You Ditch The Diet This Christmas?

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If you are still counting calories during this festive season, then you might just miss the boat called life.  This is the season of parties, celebrations and special moments with loved ones whereby it really is possible to have fun and still stay in shape.

Sound too good to be true?  Throw out the million excuses that you can think of for why you cannot keep up your solid exercise routine and you will soon discover that you can continue to slip into your gorgeous party outfits night after night.

It's all about solving the calorie, booze and exercise balance.  Let's face it, who wants to count calories or even consider the fat content of that delicious dessert staring at you?  You have been working so hard all year that surely you can loosen up, be merry, eat, drink, indulge but then be motivated enough to burn it off the next day.

If it makes you nervous to let go, then calorie solve by simply slotting in an extra exercise session.  It doesn't have to be a monstrously long session on the treadmill either.  Perhaps a 30 minute work-out during your lunch break?  Or a short power run before work.  Not only will the burst of exercise invigorate you; the shorter work-outs will also motivate you to invest more energy into the activity you choose.  Taking this break from your usual routine will help you appreciate the change and enable you to enjoy your well deserved party night all the more.


When you are presented with a multitude of yummy dishes to try, why not share them with your neighbour at the dinner table?  This is not just about saving calories either.  This is one smart idea where yes, you do reduce your intake of high calorie foods but you also get to try a lovely range of dishes minus the guilt.  Portion control will never let you down!

Don't forget your veggies.  It may be party season but this is no time to forgo your valuable source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.  Pile your plate high with vegetables and salads.  It will get you full quicker, reducing the temptation for more.

Once you are full, it's time to have fun, so put your dancing shoes on and hit the dance floor.  

Yes that's right, dancing your dinner off will be great for your figure and will keep you away from that dinner table.  It's so much fun too, so how can you possibly say no?

Try to go easy on the booze or cocktails but if you really have over done it, try not to panic.  Just slot in a short but vigorous exercise date the next day.  It's achievable and your figure will thank you for it!

Enjoy your week lovely readers!   It's the most magical time of the year, so have a blast.

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