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Relishing the increasingly longer, warmer days brings with it the official countdown to the festive season here in the land down under.
While we eagerly anticipate more barbecues, outdoor activities, and well-deserved time off work, we also often fret about the endless preparation when it comes to hosting Christmas festivities.
What to do, what to buy (hello Christmas shopping), and what to cook are among the many questions that besiege our tired and overworking brains.
Cooking can be difficult in general, let alone cooking to appease a large group for a conspicuous event such as Christmas.
What about cousin so-and-so who's a picky eater?
What about your great Aunt with her food allergies?
Didn't your good mate recently go vegan?
There are a myriad of considerations that can make this fun task turn infinitely arduous.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
Let's go back to basics.
Eating in warmer weather brings with it a completely different sensation to eating in winter.
You may be less inclined to eat hot foods (in both spice and temperature) like curries and soups.
You might also not desire super heavy and oftentimes bloating meals like pasta or stew.
You might be even less tempted into overeating and opt for snacks to keep you going. Whatever your needs and tendencies are, there are options to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters.
There's nothing worse than feeling bloated on a hot summer's day when you're already abundantly sweaty and lethargic.
Like some of us, if warm weather generally dulls your appetite and, as a result, you find yourself reaching for snacks to make up for smaller meals, you can opt for low-carb options to avoid feeling bloated.
Substituting carbs for fats as your primary source of energy, or the Ketogenic diet, promotes a number of health benefits including increased energy and prevention of metabolic diseases.
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually plenty of snacks that fit the 'keto' criteria.
High-fat and high-protein keto snacks, like Australian Biltong or beef jerky, are a great savory substitute for potato chips.
Another accessible option is nuts.
A natural, crowd-pleasing snack, nuts are said to improve cognitive function, learning, memory, and mood.
They're also gluten-free if you require celiac options.
There are plenty more snacks and refreshing side dishes that can effectively jazz up your Christmas roast without taking away its charm.
Snacks and side dishes that are summer-suitable will steer clear of the heavy bloat, guiding you to a fresh palette and keeping you hydrated in the process.
There are even some guilt-free drinks and desserts you ought to try whipping up already so that when Christmas quickly rolls around, you'll have all the recipes down pat.
Salads are an easy and refreshing side dish.
Additionally, it also serves as a welcome reprieve if temperatures rise on the big day.
Perhaps even better is that salads are also super quick and easy to whip up.
There's a surprisingly large scope for creativity to whip up a good salad, so forget the boring lettuce and pre-made salad sauce.
As a great vegetarian option or accompaniment to meat, the cucumber pomegranate salad is thirst-quenching and packed with nutrients and flavour.
The addition of pomegranate adds an exciting pop of uniqueness, while feta adds the necessary heft to this otherwise light and refreshing side.
While we're on the topic of salads, the most fulfilling salad award goes to chicken Caesar salad.
A complete opposite to our cucumber mention, the Caesar is a classic that seldom disappoints and routinely satiates.
Hold the bread for gluten-free and keto options. Heavy on the cheese and sauce and definitely don't skip the crispy bacon.
Contrary to the stereotype, these tried and tested vegan rice paper rolls are packed with flavour (and outweigh the chicken variation in taste in our humble opinions).
Featuring homemade peanut satay sauce and crispy tofu, these light and refreshing packages are relatively simple to make yet will sure to stand out as an exotic addition to your starters or sides.
Another vegan option and another that utilises fresh cucumber, these snacks or starters are a crowd favourite featuring rich and flavourful hoisin sauce.
They're even easier to make than the rice paper rolls. The light texture and fresh-to-flavourful contrast make having only crispy tofu wrap next to impossible.
A more filling addition that could easily be a main, lemon thyme pork chops are filling and substantial. How could we not include a lemon recipe?
The dish retains its freshness with the sour counterbalance of lemon offsetting the rich and fatty pork. Plus who doesn't love utilising lemon in a savoury dish?
As another keto and gluten-free option, the lack of carbs will prevent the erratic highs and lows of sugar energy that will in turn allow you to keep going without the need for a midday nap.
A sugar-free, guilt-free DESSERT that is keto, gluten-free, and vegan friendly, this refreshing variation of ice cream is also simple and easy to make.
With the three basic ingredients (including the zest of limes), coconut cream plus a hint of cardamom, and of course substituting sugar for sweetener to counterbalance, you can freeze this into a tub for likeness to ice cream.
Alternatively, if you have a container with dividers and a handful of popsicle sticks, you can make shareable icy poles that the kids will love.
This dessert is ideal for a sweltering day or simply a day spent outside in the sun.
Nothing says summer like a frozen treat. This one will obviously need to be premade and then frozen before consumption.
This mocktail (turned cocktail if you like) is an absolute game-changer. With the perfect pairing of the ultimately refreshing lemon and mint, this fun drink will actually quench your thirst as it's packed with vitamins and minerals.
It's super easy to substitute the sugar with sweetener - in which case you're best to use powdered sweetener that is of a similar texture to icing sugar, to ensure it will dissolve in the cold concoction.
There's an abundance of flavourful and refreshing side dishes you can easily throw together to accompany your roast for this year's Christmas festivities.
Sides that are light, refreshing, and nutritious yet flavourful will assist your crowd in skipping the bloat and lethargy they might already be feeling in the summer heat.