BEN’S ZONE: Five Foods I Have To Eat At Christmas

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Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness.  You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂

Five Foods I Have To Eat At Christmas

Christmas stollen

I’m pretty careful about what I eat from day to day, but I also love the feasting aspect of Christmas, so without going nuts, I like to indulge a little from Christmas to New Year. My rules are that Christmas starts on Christmas Eve and it ends the day I go back to work after new year, but in between times I do relax a little. Here are the five foods without which Christmas would not be Christmas for me.

1. Cheese

I rarely eat cheese. I love it, but as I tend to count calories I often find myself putting the cheese back as I can have more of something else for a given amount of calories. Not at Christmas, a cheese plate is essential and that should comprise of (at least)

  • A nice quality stilton, something about the mix of creamy and sharp gets me every time
  • A brie or camembert, has to be reasonably good as I find rubbish ones (particularly brie) taste of very little.
  • Gruyere, I love the complex flavour of this swiss favourite, it goes perfectly with tomato chutney
  • Finally there has to be a cheddar in there. Keep the pretenders to the throne, the best cheddar comes from Davidstow in Cornwall. If you fancy, have it smoked as well.

I’m also a sucker for real butter and so make sure I have that to hand for having cheese and biscuits.

2. Gravy

Good gravy can make or break a Christmas dinner and there’s one infallible choice that works year on year. Jamie Oliver’s Get Ahead Gravy is simply perfect. It’s packed full of flavour and can be made days or weeks in advance. You can keep your reductions and jus for another time, this is the Christmas gravy to end all gravies.

3. Stollen

Christmas cake is great, don’t get me wrong but the finest thing to eat at Christmas is a sliced of home made stollen thick with real butter. I got my recipe from somewhere on the internet that I can no longer find so I can’t link it up but it’s fun enough to experiment anyway. The two tips I have are to make your own marzipan, it’s super simple and it tastes wonderful and don’t overdo the fruit. Unlike a Christmas cake, which for me is about loads of fruit surrounded by the barest amount of dark, treacly cake, the yeasty bready flesh of the stollen is part of a trinity of taste.

4. Virgin Mojitos

I don’t drink alcohol but that doesn’t mean I don’t like something a little extra at Christmas. Virgin mojitos are something I find easy to make with a satisfying blend of syrupy sweetness, the sharpness of lime and clean mint cutting right through it. Crushed ice is essential, connoisseurs choose ginger ale rather than lemonade.

5. Miniature Foods

We all have a guilty pleasure, I have so many I could write a book, but at Christmas my weakness is miniature foods. I don’t know quite what makes nominally uninteresting food so appealing by simply making it smaller, but I am a sucker for anything in the party food section. From mini pigs in blankets, through sliders and tiny beef wellingtons, to unidentified bits of breaded chicken. It’s no good for you at all, of course, but for a week in December, I just don’t care.

What are your favourites?

6 thoughts on “BEN’S ZONE: Five Foods I Have To Eat At Christmas”

  1. Christmas isn’t Christmas without loads of cheese! I’ve already bought our supply, two different cheese boards and a caramelised onion chutney. Can’t wait! Have a lovely Christmas x

  2. I had no time for stilton until about 3 years ago and since then I’m a convert. If you find some on the cheese board that is left after Christmas, it makes a great compound butter for steak. Just blend it with some butter, make a sausage shape out of it and roll in clingfilm. Freeze that and cut a small coin off to drop on steak, it won’t be too stiltony, just impart a rich cheese edge


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