– This post is a sponsored collaboration with Lidl Sverige –
We’re only a couple of days into December, but I can already feel the familiar holiday stress creeping up on me. Not only are we approaching the end of this fiscal year, which always means an extra workload for the small business owner (especially if you’re a bit behind with your book-keeping like I am…). It’s also time to start planning what food to make for Christmas and what gifts to give to your family members, and then find the time to actually prep all that food and wrap all those gifts. Not to mention the house decorations and finishing all the work tasks before the holiday begins.
The stress and shopping mania that strikes the entire western world around this time is quite scary to me. Not only is the mandatory gift shopping and luxurious food consumption something that few can afford, it also overshadows what (to me) is the truly important things of this holiday – spending time with family, resting, offering gratitude and getting mentally prepared for the new year.
So this year I’m teaming up with Lidl, inspiring you to a stress free Christmas and gently reminding you to show some extra love to all the true heroes of Christmas out there. Those who are putting all that food on the table (hint: it’s usually the women in the family) and those who are busy running the machinery while we dine and enjoy ourselves. Those who drive our busses and taxis and keep the hospitals open and the streets safe. All these people deserve big major kudos for their sacrifice and hard work.
To demonstrate their vision of a Christmas for everyone, Lidl has created an awesome music video in collaboration with Emily Roberts. You can also read more about the campaign & Santa Clara on Lidl’s website.
My contribution to a relaxed and stress free Christmas is a ridiculously simple, 5 ingredient dessert recipe that you can assign to your little brother so that mum and grandma and auntie (and yourself) can just chill by the fire while it cooks. More about the recipe further down!
First, I wanna share my own strategies for dealing with this stressful time of the year.
What I truly look forward to when I think about the holidays are lazy couch moments with a book, the smell of warm spices filling up the house, sipping mulled wine in front of the fire, enjoying simple plant based meals after snowy walks and that feeling of the days blurring together into one big relaxing sigh.
In reality though, this rarely happens. Instead I end up taking on too many extra work shifts and too ambitious cooking projects. The days pass by in a rapid mix of family gatherings with not enough alone time in between for an introvert like myself.
But this year I’m determined to tap into the more lazy and carefree parts of myself, despite the fact (or perhaps precisely because) that I’ve never been as financially stressed out or as uncertain about the future as I am now.
Here are 4 essential things I’m gonna focus on this Christmas – for my own wellbeing and for the sake of everyone around me
(because nobody wants to hang out with a socially overwhelmed, irritable and stressed out family member)
- Unplugged time off
I’m slowly coming to terms with that I can’t be available or constantly updating social media 24/7. Since this is my work, I simply have to find strategies to make it sustainable. One key thing is to truly switch off when I go on vacation.
I’m trying to think like this: everyone else is probably also gonna be busy hanging out with family, so they won’t have time to check Instagram anyway. I’m not planning to schedule heaps of blog posts, but instead embrace the different seasons of blogging and letting the holiday week(s) be a little extra quiet. We could all need a break from the constant information flow anyway.
- Simple food
Despite being such a foodie, I honestly don’t require any extravagancy in this area around Christmas. I have 3 or 4 things that I like to make (lemon saffron kaleslaw, herbed lentil salad, neatballs and a chocolatey dessert of some kind – check out my 5 ingredient recipe below!).
All of which are simple and affordable to make. To make the most out of the holiday, we will divide the cooking tasks between us in the family and batch cook ahead as much as possible. That way we only have to reheat food and possibly make a salad and a dessert by the time Christmas arrives.
- Alone time
As much as I love having everyone in the family gathered under the same roof for several days (such a luxury!) I notice that even “family down time” drains me after a while. This year I’m being mindful of not spending too many nights at my parents house, and I’m making sure to cross off a couple of days in my calendar after the holiday celebrations, to just potter around at home doing my thing.
To recharge during the days that I do spend with family, my most effective tricks are to go out on plenty of solo walks, go to bed an hour earlier to read my book and perhaps sneak up an hour earlier than the rest of the family in the mornings.
Regarding the uncertainties of the coming year and acknowledge the fact that there’s nothing I can do about it at this very moment. Ruminating on it won’t solve any problem.
Instead I can choose to get excited about all the possibilities that a completely empty schedule presents. Empirical evidence from my past should’ve taught me by now that a solution always presents itself once I let go of the struggle and trust that it will sort itself out. And I’m saying this as much to myself as to Hannah, and anyone else of you guys who are also going through difficult times right now.
Now I wanna know what you are doing to set yourself up for a relaxing holiday, and who you think deserves a little extra attention around Christmas time?
This recipe was inspired by my auntie, who one time several years ago whipped up a magical dessert of warm, chocolatey figs stuffed with walnuts in no time. Ever since, I’ve kept coming back to various takes of this insanely yummy and almost-not-even-a-recipe-recipe many times.
It’s funny how little things like these are the memories that really stick with us. It shows what an impact food has on people, and how such a small thing like a 10 minute recipe can make Christmas a little easier for everyone.
I dedicate this recipe to her. Here’s my Christmas version of her original warm figs:
Notes: 1) You can easily multiply the recipe to serve more people. Measure about 2-3 figs per person, and about 1-2 pieces of chocolate per fig. 2) Both candied and salted almonds works great for this recipe. If you wanna make your own candied almonds, see the instructions below. 3) The mulled wine can be omitted if you’re not a big fan. Or replaced with an alcohol free kind :-)
Warm Chocolate & Mulled Wine Figs
with candied almonds & vanilla ice cream
21 soft dried figs (about 350g)
100g Fairglobe Dark Chocolate 70%
3 tbsp glögg or mulled wine of choice (I used a white, 15% kind)
vanilla ice cream (I used a vegan kind)
melted chocolate drizzle (optional)
Heat the oven to 175’C / 347’F.
If the figs are very hard and dry, soak them in warm water for a couple of minutes before doing anything else with them.
Slice open the figs and arrange in a small oven proof dish. Break the chocolate into smaller pieces and stuff each fig with 2 pieces. Pour the mulled wine over the figs. You can use an alcohol free kind if you like.
Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the chocolate has melted and the figs are warm.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, roughly chopped candied nuts (instructions below) and a drizzle of melted chocolate *always* . Enjoy immediately!
Ps. No one said that a simple recipe can’t have a fancy presentation. The chocolate drizzle and candied nuts are definitely gonna impress your guests ;-)
Here’s how I make my candied almonds:
Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add 1 tbsp coconut sugar, 1/2 tbsp maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Combine with the almonds and make sure they’re all covered. Spread out the nuts on a baking tray covered in parchment paper and toast in the oven at 175’C / 347’F for around 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned and fragrant. Leave to cool.
Ps. Makes extra!!! Save for late night cravings or afternoon snack or oatmeal topping ;-)
On that note, I’m wishing you a relaxing and loving week. Next week I have another simple Christmas recipe to share with you!
This post was created in collaboration with Lidl Sverige as a part of their Santa Clara campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.
All photographs, recipes and content are Cashew Kitchen originals. Feel free to go wild on pinning, but remember to always link back here and credit Cashew Kitchen when sharing. Thanks!1