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Indulgence: Sometimes it’s Crucial. Plus a Recipe or Three!

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Christmas in July and a birthday. Is this a time to say “no” to dessert or a little extra food on your plate? I say, hell no!

If we spend our whole lives depriving ourselves of tasty goodness, or the odd indulgence, then what’s the point?

To completely deprive yourself is unsustainable. I reckon that is my key weight loss tip. It’s as simple as that.

If it’s your birthday or if you go to a wedding, I think you should feel totally guilt-free about eating some of the yummy delights on offer. Enjoy it! Life is about gatherings and celebrations. It’s what makes all the effort we put in at work, at home, in the gym (insert something that is important to you here) worthwhile.

Last weekend was a massive indulgence for me. It was my 29th birthday, and so in preparation for my final year as a 20-something I decided to hold what I like to call a Christmas in July/Birthday Party Soiree. Sounds fancy right? Well, it wasn’t necessarily fancy, but it was a whole lot of yummy fun! Other than great food there was some other exciting birthday news. I set myself a secret goal to be in the 80-kilo range by the time the big 29 arrived. Well, I’m very proud to say, I made it! Yup, I now weight 89.7 kilograms. That looks a whole lot better than 111.7kilos! Woot!

Anyway, I’m not weighing myself this week because I think my weekend of indulgence will have ruined my good work. But, I’m not feeling guilty about that, for all of the reasons above!

Anyway, on to some recipes!!

I know, July is over and Christmas is still 144 days away but these recipes are great for any time of the year. Some of these will be kind to your waistline (like the segments of yummy goodness I am about to tell you about) but others aren’t. The latter are what we call ‘sometimes food’, so when it comes to special occasions that come along only sometimes – I say, go for it!

Roasted beetroot with balsamic glaze

  • 3 large (or 5 medium) fresh beetroots.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 2 tbs of balsamic vinegar.
  • 3 tbs of olive oil.
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely grated.
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Wash the beetroot thoroughly and cut the stalks off. Lay-out a square of aluminium foil for each of your beetroot. Place each beetroot on its foil and sprinkle with a little water, salt and pepper. Wrap the foil around the beetroot and cook it in the oven for 1.5 hours or until beautifully tender (smaller beets may take less time, so keep an eye on them). Remove from the oven and allow to cool until they can easily be handled.

I recommend wearing gloves at this point. Beetroot juice stains like you would not believe!

Place unwrapped beetroot on a plate (not your chopping board because it will stain that too) and using your gloved hands, remove the peel from the beetroot. It should come off really easily. Discard the peel. On the plate, cut the beetroot into wedges and place in a medium-sized baking tray. Add olive oil, garlic, balsamic, rosemary and salt and pepper and, using your hands, toss the beetroot with all the ingredients. Place back in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. This cooking time helps the dressing soak into the beets and caramelises bits of the beetroot giving it a yummy roasted flavour rather than it just tasting boiled.

There you have it. This is the kind of dish that is so diverse because you can serve it with grilled or roasted chicken, a steak, or even the Sunday roast I am about to tell you about. While I can never go past potatoes, carrots and pumpkins, sometimes it’s nice to mix things up!

I did all of the below vegies to accompany a massive seven kilos of turkey!

But, seeing as Christmas is so far away, I am modifying this so you don’t need to wait until Christmas to give it a try! So, here’s a chicken recipe which will leave everyone feeling festive – without the hassel of sourcing, preparing and cooking a whole turkey! This is special occasion stuff, inspired by Jamie Oliver.

 Festive chicken with cranberry and herb butter

  • 1 large, preferably free-range, chicken.
  • 125g of butter.
  • 35g of dried cranberries (usually named craisins, you’ll find these in the dried fruit aisle).
  • A few fresh sprigs of thyme.
  • 2 fresh sprigs of rosemary.
  • 5 fresh sage leaves (or 1 tbs of the dried stuff).
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • The zest of half an orange.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Soften your butter before placing it in a small food processor along with the rest of the ingredients. Blitz until smooth. This should be fairly easy, if your butter is soft enough.

Using very clean hands, starting at the back of the bird use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat to create a cavity. Be gentle so as not to break the skin. Work gently up towards the breastbone. Once you have done this, pick up half of your butter and push it into the cavity you’ve created. Use your hands to push the butter through the skin right to the back so it coats the breast meat as evenly as possible. Do the same on the other side then rub any leftover butter all over the outside of the bird.

Chop the zested orange into segments and place inside the chicken.

Cover with foil and roast at 180C for an hour. Remove the foil and place back in the oven. Continue to bake for about 30 minutes or until the bird is cooked. To test, pierce with a knife and ensure the juices run clear. If they are clear then pull the bird out of the oven and rest for about 5 minutes before carving. This will ensure the meat retains the natural juices when carved, keeping it tender and juicy for your eating pleasure. 

Now finally, here’s something refreshing to round everything off. This was a little salad I just couldn’t go past because it’s so easy, light  and yummy making it a great accompaniment to heavy dishes.

Fennel salad with lemon vinaigrette

  • 2 tbs of olive oil.
  • The juice of half a lemon.
  • 1 tbs white wine vinegar.
  • 1/4 tsp of sugar.
  • 1 large fennel bulb, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin, if you have one).
  • 2 tbs of flat-leaf parsley.
  • 2 tbs finely chopped chives.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon, vinegar and sugar. Toss it through the fennel. Taste and season with salt and pepper if you like. Garnish with chives and parsley.

This is just a little taste of all the things I made over the weekend. Suffice to say I now vividly remember how much work Christmas lunch really is! As you can see – it was all worth it though what with a few drinks and some crazy Christmas hats – we had a great time. You may even have spotted one of Uforic Food’s new team members, Ruza, on the right 😉

The rest of the weekend was lazy and enjoyable. Here are a few pics from my birthday which included a drive to one of my favourite places ever; Daylesford, Victoria. There was brunch at Frangos and Frangos, some leisure time at Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa and a look around the Mill Market. Later, back in Geelong, I enjoyed dinner with my family at Lord of the Isles. Yum! Thanks to my friends and family for making my birthday weekend so special. I’m the luckiest girl in the world!

Beautiful brunch at Frangos and Frangos: baked eggs with chorizo, potato and red onion. Incredible!

 

With a lovely latte.

Love these retro egg beaters from the Mill Market.

Dinner with my lovely family 🙂

Indulgence! Chocolate pudding with raspberry coulis, courtesy of Lord of the Isles, Geelong.

Have you done Christmas in July before? Or do you think it’s just a weird concept? Share your festive, or not so festive, opinions in the comments section below!

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