This is my last blog until the new year, so I'll leave you with a few tips for sailing through the festive days ahead without putting on weight.
1. Offer chocolates, cake, mince pies etc round to all your house or meal guests with abandon, so that they put the weight on and you don't (whatever's left after they've gone will undoubtedly be in your tum before you know it).
2. Buy less of everything, except vegetables and fresh fruit and salad, bread and milk, than you think you'll need. Everyone always buys too much and then madly tries to eat it all after the event before it goes off. If you run out of something, well tough – no-one's going to starve.
3. Plan morning walks/cycle rides/kite flying or anything that involves the great outdoors and bodily movement. Even if it means doing a schedule for yourself so that you know you can do it AND get the Christmas meals on the table on time (rope in help, why should you do it all yourself?).
4. If you feel hungry, eat the nuts. Nuts are good for you. Nuts don't make you fat (trust me, there's plenty of research). Almonds (skin-on) are the best of all – only 6 calories a nut. Buy unsalted nuts though (roast them with a tad of oil, honey and spices if you can't bear them so plain).
And that's about it, apart from I daresay it's too late to give you much advice about what to ask for for your Christmas present/s, or on what to buy for the family.
I thought about this because of a ridiculous feature I found in the media the other day, suggesting a load of super-healthy presents. Things like juicers. Running shoes. A make your own yogurt gadget. A flipping wine glass imprinted with measures so you don't drink too much. A yoga mat.
Spare me! No, no, no. Let such things wait for the new year, when they'll be on special offer anyway. Give these worthy items to loved ones at your peril; they'll understandably assume you're trying to tell them something.
What we all want on December 25 is comfort, luxury, treats, fabulous surprises and absolutely no hints that we need to pull ourselves together and shape up.
Ate last night: I believe I gave you a recipe a year or two ago for my salmon fish cakes but since then I've tweaked them and improved them and now they are even more delicious and more-ish though I say it myself. We had them last night with a rocket, tomato and avocado salad and a small dob of mayonnaise mixed with some thick yogurt and the rest of the lime juice from the recipe.
For two people, boil about 300g potatoes such as Maris Piper or Bartlett Rooster (anything that's good for roasting will work in this) until tender. Meanwhile flake 200g hot-smoked salmon into a mixing bowl and add a good tablespoon of mayonnaise, the juice of most of a lime, a huge handful of coriander leaves, black pepper and a few strips of chargrilled red pepper, chopped. Add in a dash of chilli seasoning such as Tabasco.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain them, lightly mash and stir them into the bowl until everything is well combined. Put a good layer of panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl (you can use ordinary breadcrumbs but panko give such a lovely crisp finish they really are worth buying).
Set a large frying pan on medium high heat with a small amount of groundnut or light olive oil in it and using a large spoon, take a quarter of the mix from the bowl and put it into the crumb dish. Spread the top with crumbs using your fingers then transfer the cake to the hot frying pan using a flat spatula. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Cook the cakes for 3 minutes or until undersides are golden, flip over with the cleaned spatula and cook for a further 3 minutes.
NOTE: You can use fresh raw salmon instead – just put on a plate and microwave on medium power for 1½ minutes to partially cook before flaking into the bowl. However hot smoked salmon does give an incredible flavour.