February 21st, 2020

From Our Table: It’s OK to play with your food at Christmas

By Joanne Smith on December 17, 2019.

Supplied Image Joanne Smith
We all know Santa’s reindeer like carrots, but you should also be sure to eat vegetables yourself. Joanne Smith provides a couple of fun veggie tray ideas for the season.

Every year at Christmas I like to try something new for Christmas dinner. From experience let me tell you it’s a really good idea to test them before the big day. I’ve had some great successes and some epic failures. Did I try those before? Hmmm let me think. OK no I confess I really didn’t. The exploding potatoes that broke my ceramic serving dish; the parsnip parsley side dish that turned an interesting and very unappetizing shade of green – hey, they actually tasted pretty good; the burnt brussel sprouts and the list goes on. In my defence I’ve made a lot of Christmas dinners.

I did try a new idea a couple years ago that was a big hit. It was a raw veggie Santa. We all ended up pitching in to make it which was really fun too. Then we set it out as an appy for everyone to enjoy before Christmas dinner. This is a great way to get everyone, young and old alike to eat and enjoy their favourite veggies. The Christmas dinner plate can get a little full of turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing and cooked carrots. And who wants their gravy running into their salad or raw vegetables! This way everyone gets all important nutrients that are packed into the powerhouse of vitamin and mineral rich veggies.

I also came across another similar idea in my colleague Andrea Holwegner’s newsletter. Rather then a Santa her ideas were crunchy vegetable Christmas trees. Just as fun to make and eat as the succulent Santa vegetable platter. You can serve it with dinner but I highly recommend it as an appetizer before the meal. People are getting really hungry and this will take the edge off without being too filling and taking away their appetite. Most importantly they are starting the meal with lots of nutrient dense food.

You can make them as big or as small as you want to accommodate the number of guests that you have. I did find though that the Santa has to be fairly big to fit in the whole face. It’s that big beard Santa has!

You can also be creative and use more of your favorite veggies to decorate the trees. Make it your own with family favorite veggies.

Any way you do it it’s a super fun way to make a healthy pre-Christmas meal appetizer that everyone will enjoy making and eating.

Here’s how to do it:

Oh Christmas Tree

On a large rectangular serving platter, arrange broccoli in the shape of a tree. Decorate the tree with cherry tomatoes, radishes, round slices of carrot, round slices of mini cucumbers and yellow pepper slices for garland or for the trunk of the tree.

Oh Christmas Tree – Even Simpler

On a large rectangular serving platter, arrange broccoli in the shape of a Christmas tree. Place a few small grape tomatoes on the tree as decoration balls. Criss cross thin strips of carrots cut lengthwise or thin strips of yellow bell peppers for the golden star on the top. Put about six pretzels side by side at the bottom of the tree to make the trunk. Then put two or three lines of cauliflower florets at the bottom for the snow.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Make a Hat with thin slices of red bell peppers. You can top it with a few cauliflower florets to make the pom pom on the top. (I ran out of room on my tray).

Put a layer of cauliflower florets to form the fur trim of the hat.

After that put a few layers of cucumber slices to make the face.

Put another layer after the cucumber slices of cauliflower florets to make the beard then frame the beard with cherry tomatoes all around the bottom of the tray.

Make the eyes on the cucumber slices out of blueberries or you could use black olives.

The nose is made with a grape or cherry tomato right where the cucumber slices end and the cauliflower beard begins.

The mouth is made with a strip or two of red bell pepper.

Ho, Ho, Ho, you’ve got a merry Santa to celebrate with you on Christmas day!

From my family to yours, have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

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