How to make some Christmas favourites

  • Perfect Christmas cake

    Perfect Christmas cake

Supergranny and PopPop have landed, so the Christmas countdown has officially begun. Poor things, though, have arrived just in time to take over at the infirmary.

We have two kids with raging fevers and they are feeling very sorry for themselves. It’s tough being sick at the best of times, but especially when you are missing out on Christmas parties and the panto.

They are on a steady diet of berries, broccoli and chicken soup and on the mend, but it’s taking a few days.

I’m boosting them with ChildLife liquid vitamins (People’s Pharmacy) and the Innate Choice probiotic (Inside Out Wellness Centre, half the adult dose).

Chloe’s also craving green smoothies, cooked apples and herbal tea. Strange mix, but there you go. I’m sure she’ll be after the Christmas chocolates again soon, but it’s funny how your body knows what it needs when you’re really sick — the trick is to actually listen to it.

Many people don’t have an allergy to gluten or coeliac disease, but they do have a food intolerance reaction. This can mean that they “just don’t feel right” when they eat gluten, or it can result in more specific symptoms such as bloating, headaches and fatigue.

Listening to your body is key here. Within nutritional therapy, we see lower-grade food reactions contributing to excessive inflammation cumulatively within the body and scratching away at optimal health.

If you know that gluten isn’t for you, it’s probably a good idea to check in with a dietitian or a nutritionist to make sure you have your nutrition bases covered. But also experiment with some naturally gluten-free options, so that sticking to it becomes easy. Watch out for pre-packaged options which are often full of refined sugars and processed fats.

However, as it’s Christmas, I’ve included two of my favourite recipes for you below.

I’ve had several of you request them again this year as they really are delicious.

I’ve lowered the sugars in the muffins as far as I can, and added almond flour/Linwoods to bump up the fibre and protein. That has a positive impact on blood sugar control which is really helpful for immediate mood/weight control and long-term disease prevention too.

They are still things you should consume in moderation though, so don’t have cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner, OK?

Gluten-free, dairy-free Christmas cake


175g Earth Balance vegan margarine (Down to Earth, Lindo’s)

110g molasses.

75g Sucanet or soft, dark brown sugar.

150ml soy, hemp or almond milk.

110g dates, pitted and chopped.

300g raisins.

200g dried plums, chopped.

110g dried or glace cherries, chopped.

225g brown rice flour (Down to Earth, Harrington Hundreds, Lindo’s Devonshire, ABC store).

2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (widely available).

1 tsp cinnamon.

1 tsp nutmeg.

110g ground almonds.

2 lemons, the grated rind of.

3 eggs.


1. Place the margarine, molasses, sugar and “milk” in a large pan along with all the dried fruit. Heat gently and stir until all the margarine has melted.

2. Simmer for 1 minute and then take off the heat and cover. Leave the fruit to “swell” for at least 2 hours — even overnight if you have time.

3. Line the base and sides of a round (8”) or square cake tin (7”) with baking paper. Make sure that the paper rises at least 5cm above the rim of the tin.

4. Put all the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix roughly.

5. Add the fruit mixture and mix by hand or using an electric mixer (not a blender!) on low speed. Mix well.

6. Pour the cake mix into the tin and smooth the surface with a wet knife.

7. Bake for 2 hours and 40 minutes at 250F.

8. Leave to cool in the tin until cold.

9. Ice as you would an ordinary Christmas cake, or make a “butter” icing using Earth Balance margarine, icing sugar and a little Gosling’s rum.

Christmas morning muffins (gluten and dairy free)

Ingredients (makes about 30 mini muffins):

5oz almond flour or ground almonds.

3oz brown rice flour.

1oz Linwoods ground seed mix (from Miles. I used the ground sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, flax and goji mix).

2 ½ tsp baking powder.

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda.

4oz Sucanet or brown sugar (plus extra for the topping).

4oz (weight) apple sauce (unsweetened).

1 tsp ground cinnamon.

¼ tsp ground nutmeg.

2 clementines/satsumas.

Approximately 350ml milk (I used hemp, you could use any, use dairy-free if need be).

¼ cup melted coconut oil.

2 eggs.

4oz dried cranberries.


1. Get the eggs and “milk” to room temperature. Melt the oil in a small pan over a very low heat if yours isn’t already liquid.

2. Preheat the oven to 390F. Line the pan with muffin liners and spray lightly with coconut (or other) oil.

3. Mix the flours, seed mix, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, Sucanet, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. Stir in the dried cranberries.

4. Zest the two satsumas over the flour mix, catching as much as you can.

5. In a large measuring jug, squeeze in the juice of the two satsumas. Now top this up with your milk until the 200ml mark. Whisk in the melted coconut oil, apple sauce and eggs. Make sure everything is at room temperature otherwise the coconut oil will harden. Whisk quickly.

6. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well but lightly.

7. Spoon into muffin cases and sprinkle the tops with a little sucanet.

8. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes (seems a long time but they will need it) or until the tops are firm but springy.

9. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then move to a rack to cool.

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details:, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda

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Published Dec 15, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 15, 2017 at 5:49 am)

How to make some Christmas favourites

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