Have a veg-y merry Christmas! Our Top 10 Vegetarian Christmas Dishes

Read time: 4 Minutes

Our Irish culture has always embraced the consumption of meat, but vegetarianism seems to be growing quite popular. According to Harvard Medical School, abstaining from eating meat can eliminate a risk factor for colon cancer, and a risk for type 2 diabetes. So, there doesn’t seem to be much harm in treating to yourself to a meat free meal.

Your son has plucked up the courage to bring his lovely new girlfriend to Christmas dinner this year, but (shock, horror) she doesn’t eat meat! What do you cook for your anti-meat-consuming Christmas dinner party invitee? Look no further, we’ve came up with our top ten vegetarian meals for Christmas day.

1. Baked Camembert with Cranberry Jam

Christmas is the season of cheese boards, and we all love a good camembert. It can be produced at any part of the day and guests can pick at it freely. Simply preheat the oven 180ºC, carve 2 or 3 large slits in the top and scatter garlic and cranberry jam on top. Wrap in tin foil and bake for around 15-20 mins until the cheese is soft and gooey all the way through. Serve immediately with bread, pitta or crackers.

Top Tip: Scoop out a crust bread bap and place your camembert in the center. Guests can rip the bread from the outsides and dip in.

Baked Camembert cheese
Source: Instagram

2. Mustard Mash

Start off by creating the potato mash. Place around 6 scrubbed, skinned and halved potatoes into a saucepan of salted water, bring to boil and simmer until they are tender. Drain and allow to steam before you mix in a large bowl with butter, milk and some salt and pepper.

Next, whip the potatoes until smooth, and add more milk if the potatoes are too dry. Then add around 4-5 tablespoons of whole grain mustard and serve.  Add chives or spring onions on top to flavour.

Mash potatoes

3. Brussel sprouts with Marmite butter (pine nuts, hazel nuts)

Brussel sprouts only seem to make an appearance around Christmas time so why not spice things up this year with a bit of marmite. Start off by beating butter and marmite together before smoothing it into a log on some baking parchment, then roll up and twist the ends. Keep this chilled in the fridge until later (it can stay up to a week in the fridge). Boil your sprouts for 3-4 mins as you usually would, drain and leave to steam-dry. Dry fry your sprouts for 5 mins until they start to blacken on the edges. Take your pan off the head and whack in a chunk of the marmite butter. Sizzle until the butter has melted and shake up to cover the sprouts. Season and taste before serving. Top off with some roast pine and hazelnuts to serve.

Brussels sprouts with Marmite butter

4. Honey Roast Parsnips

We can’t resist some well-done, honey roasted parsnips on Christmas day! All you need is some fresh thyme, a little bit of honey, olive oil and some parsnips.  Scrub and slice your parsnips to start, then parboil in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain well. Pick the thyme leaves and toss your parsnips together in a bowl with thyme, a pinch of sea salt, black pepper and honey. Add a couple of spoonful’s of olive oil (or butter) here too. Arrange these in a roasting tray in one layer and roast for 40 minutes or until nice and golden.

Honey roast parsnips and carrots

5. Sweet potato and Red pepper soup

A good idea for a warm winter dish, other than a potential starter option for our vegetarian Christmas guest.

Start off by melting butter in a lidded saucepan, add onion and garlic whilst shaking the pan from time to time until softened (but not brown). Next stir in some coriander and cook for 5 minutes. Next pour some vegetable stock over, bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  While this is left, cut your sweet potato into thin slices, and heat about 1 cm of vegetable oil in a frying pan to fry the slices until they are brown and crisp. Leave these to dry on a tea towel.  Remove the soup from the heat and leave to cool briefly.  Blend all together with coconut milk and 1½ cups of jarred roasted red bell peppers. Reheat on the hob until ready to serve. Add some crispy sweet potato pieces on top to serve.

Sweet potato and red pepper soup

6. Vol-au-vents – Mushroom and herb

Preheat the oven to 190 ºC. Line up your baking tray with some parchments.  Then roll out your pastry on a floured surface until it is about half a cm thick. Using a small cutter (or wine glass) around 6cm across, cut out around 12 rounds. Place your circles on the baking tray and prick the centre with a fork several times. Beat an egg and egg wash your pastry circles. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 12 minutes until puffed and golden. Next cut up some parsley, chop up some mushrooms and garlic and, cook with oil together in a pan. Turn the heat off and squeeze in some lemon juice and crème fraiche. Season this well and fold through the parsley. Add some water if it is too dry.

Use a knife to carefully hollow out your pastries, fill with creamy mushrooms and serve. 

Vol au vents with mushrooms
Source: Instagram

7. Roast squash with blue cheese and pickled walnuts

Heat your oven to 200 ºC. Oil and heat a baking tray/casserole dish and place in oven to heat up.

Deseed your butternut squash and chop into 1.5cm pieces. When the oil is hot, place the squash in to season and roast for around an hour (remember to turn) until it is slightly charred. Next, crumble over some stilton, then leave to the oven for 5 minutes to melt your cheese. Sprinkle some parsley and chopped walnuts and salt. Squeeze lemon juice over to serve.

Vegetarian recipes for Christmas - Roast squash with blue cheese and pickled walnuts
Source: Delicious Magazine

8. Broccoli and Cauliflower gratin

Preheat your oven 180ºC and grease your baking dish with butter, add broccoli and cauliflower and roast for around 15 minutes. Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk with flower, and cook on a medium heat for 2 mins.  Turn it off and whisk. Turn the heat on and continue to heat to avoid clumping. Add cheddar, salt and pepper and whisk until cheese is melted.  Take the broccoli and cauliflower from the oven and pour the cheddar mix over the top. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake until golden brown.

Broccoli and Cauliflower gratin

9. Roast Potatoes!

It’s an obvious one, but it wouldn’t be Christmas dinner without them. Remember, always cook more than you think when it comes to roasties, there is always a fight over the last at the end. You can opt to use goose fat or sunflower oil. It’s always a good idea to boil your potatoes first to the point that they are almost falling apart before you leave to cool. We suggest a garnish for the top of garlic, parsley and thyme! If you have any tips for making the perfect roastie, leave a comment!


10. Mac and cheese

It’s a quick fix, but it goes down a treat. Simply, cook your macaroni and leave to drain.  Melt your butter in a saucepan, with a bit of flour to form a roux. Gradually bring in the milk until thickened, then bring in your generous portion of macaroni cheese.  Transfer this to a deep ovenproof dish. Sprinkle parmesan over the top to finish.

Mac and cheese

Any tips for a veg-gy merry Christmas? Dish out your ideas! Leave a comment or use the hashtag #MyIrishLife.

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5 Healthy Meals to cook with your Christmas dinner leftovers

Read time: 4 Minutes

And like that, Christmas is over! But your fridge is full of all those too-good-to-throw-out leftovers that you really can’t let go to waste! But it’s not just about turkey sandwiches, or bubble and squeak. Why not mix things up a little? That’s why we’ve came up with some inspirational (and less guilt ridden) dishes that you can cook up for the week after Christmas.

Spicy vegetable egg fried rice

Spicy vegetable egg fried rice


  • Carrots
  • Sunflower oil
  • Cabbage
  • 2 eggs
  • Spring onions
  • Frozen peas
  • Chillies
  • Soy sauce

Heat up some chillies and garlic with oil, then drain. Add some carrots and stir-fry until tender. Add in your cabbage and cook before throwing in your cooked basmati (or leftover rice if you have some). Push your rice to one side of the pan and add the two eggs into the cleared space to scramble until set. Mix in your onions, peas and a bit of soy sauce. Stir-fry everything until the peas are hot.

Chicken, kale & sprout stir-fry

How to use leftover kale


  • Curly kale (shredded)
  • Sesame oil
  • 25g fresh peeled ginger
  • Handful of brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
  • Lime
  • Soy sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts, skin removed
  • White wine vinegar
  • Soba noodle

Cook the noodles as per the instructions on the package, drain and leave to the side. Heat up your wok or frying pan and add kale with some water to cook until wilted. Cool under water to keep the colour.
Add half the oil and cook the chicken strips until browned. Remove and set to the side. Heat the remaining oil and fry ginger, pepper and sprouts until they have softened. Add in your chicken, kale and noodles. Tip in the soy, vinegar and enough water to create a sauce that clings to the ingredients. Add some lime zest to serve.

Turkey Thai Green Curry

Green curry made with Christmas leftovers


  • 2 tsp of Thai Green Curry paste
  • 400g turkey leftovers
  • 2 peppers
  • Spring onions
  • Fresh coriander
  • Fish sauce
  • Baby sweetcorn & green beans (if they are handy)

Cut up your turkey into bite size chunks and sauté in 1 tbsp of oil. Add in your Thai green curry paste and let sizzle for 1 minute.  Add in some coconut oil (instead of getting reduced fat, add half a can of full fat and mix with water). If you want extra colour, add in 100g of green beans and baby sweetcorn to the dish. If your short on green veg then use some leftover peas. Flavour with some fish sauce. Cut up two peppers and serve on top with chopped coriander.

Vegetable soup

Vegetable soup

This is a straight forward, filling and light option. Throw all those leftover vegetables into a pan with some low salt stock, simmer and blend. Serve as a hearty soup with some wholemeal bread for boxing day lunch or starters.

Turkey Stew

Making turkey stew out of leftovers


  • Some olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 chillies
  • Leftover turkey cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree
  • Vegetable stock
  • Roast potatoes
  • Carrots

Add a bit of oil to the casserole dish and head the garlic, onion and chillies until they are softened.
Next, add in your turkey pieces until browned slightly (this shouldn’t take too long). Stir in a tbsp of tomato puree and pour in the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer on a low heat. You can add your leftover veg here, or you can serve with leftover potatoes and carrots, or rice if you have any.

A lot of our popular Christmas foods are wholesome, filling and good for you in moderation. Have you ever created any inspirational guilt-free dishes with your Christmas leftovers? We would love to hear about it. Join the conversation at #MyIrishLife or leave a comment.

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Picky Little Eaters – How To Get Your Child To Eat More Foods

Read time: 4 Minutes

Having a child who is a picky eater is incredibly frustrating. Maybe they’ll only eat the same handful of foods, maybe they’ll object to eating something they loved yesterday, maybe they’ll refuse to eat anything altogether. Try as you might, it feels like there’s nothing you can do to change the ways of your stubborn little one.

Why do children become picky eaters?

There are many reasons why children suddenly become picky eaters – and on most occasions, it is sudden and usually occurs between the ages of 18 months and four. Children have a more sensitive palate, so certain foods that seem tolerable or ‘bland’ to you, will be too strong for them, or the texture might put them off.

The toddler years are also a time when your child is determined to show their independence. Refusing or controlling their food and meal times is a key way for them to do this.

Children also love routine and consistency, so new foods might make them feel unsettled and they will often be naturally reluctant to try them until they are used to the sight, smell or feeling of them.

And then also, there’s the argument that it’s an innate sense that mankind developed; to keep away from new foods until we know they are safe.

children can become picky eaters

What can parents do about it?

In most cases, the pickiness usually starts to fade as your child reaches the age of 5, but during those crucial early years in between, when your child is developing and you feel immense pressure to be the best parent you can be, it can be concerning when your child doesn’t seem to be eating enough or getting the nutrients they need.

If you are worried about your child’s weight, development or general health, always see a doctor or speak to a specialist. Otherwise, you will just have to muster a lot of patience and try a few of these techniques.

  1. Time and space

Although it might feel like your child could happily go days without eating more than a few bites, children know when they are hungry and will usually eat if they are given the freedom and space to do so.

Forcing them to eat what you say, when you say, you’ll create negative connotations that may put them off eating altogether. Instead, be more relaxed about your routine and suss out when your child gets hungry during the day without pressing them with questions like ‘are you hungry?’, ‘do you want to eat something now?’

If they don’t clean the plate or even make too much of a dent, resist the urge to make them finish every bite. Don’t get angry, don’t mention it – just be kind and patient.

  1. Go buffet style

If you ask your child ‘what do you want to eat for dinner?’ this can be an overwhelming question and they will just resort back to the foods they are comfortable with, thus perpetuating the problem. Instead, you choose what your child will have for breakfast, lunch or dinner but present a variety of foods on the plate in a buffet style and explain what each food is without offering it directly to them.

Child eating strawberries

  1. Independence

Children often refuse food to assert their independence. To combat this, give them independence in other areas of their life to prevent them acting out at meal times. A great way to do this is to let them help you prepare meals. Give them small amounts of safe responsibility around food, to create more positive feelings.

  1. Just a taste

When you’re introducing a new food, don’t make a big deal of it and certainly don’t load your child’s plate full of it. This can seem like an attack to them. Give them a small taste if they are willing and let them ask for more. Don’t even ask if they liked it or disliked it, put the ball in their court and give them control.

  1. Nutrition 101

Educate your child about different foods, their benefits and why we eat them. Children are naturally curious and will be interested to know where foods come from and how they help our bodies. Don’t split foods into ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ or ‘good’ and ‘bad’, as this can create negative emotions around food into later life.


  1. Sensory food play

If your little one seems particularly sensitive to how foods look or feel, incorporate food into play. Use dry pasta for arts and crafts, make musical instruments like shakers out of rice, use potatoes to do some paint printing. This is simply a way to get your child more familiar with different foods.

  1. Little and often

Sitting at a table to eat a big plateful of food may seem like too much for a little toddler, who can’t even sit still for more than two minutes at the best of times. Although it is good to start early with creating a routine around family meal times, if your child is having issues with food, be a bit more relaxed about it – at least for a while. Remember that a toddler’s portion sizes are much smaller than yours. So while, on the surface it may not look like they’re eating much, chances are, they’re getting enough for their little bodies.

  1. Slow and steady wins the race

Changes will not happen overnight. It could take days, weeks or months to see any difference. However long it takes, strive to be patient and understanding. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself or compare your experience to another parent’s. Every child is different and operates at their own pace.

Top foods for picky eaters to try

  • Organic peanut butter – with apples, bananas or any fruit they enjoy
  • Icy grapes – cut into small pieces to prevent choking
  • Hummus – with carrot sticks, raw peppers or even bread sticks
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Shepherd’s pie

See our list of 25 meal ideas for toddlers.

What are your top tips for picky eaters? Let us know in the comments below. Alternatively, you can discuss it on social media using the hashtag #myIrishlife.

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10 Best Foods To Add To your Shopping List In Autumn

Read time: 4 Minutes

Autumn, also known as the Harvest season, is the time of year when we should be fuelling our bodies with the most nutritious foods to fuel us for the colder months.

We should also be looking towards the foods that will help us ward off colds, flus and all manner of illnesses that crop up at this time of year.

So what are the best seasonal foods to add to your autumn shopping list? Here’s our pick of the pack:

  1. Apples

Apples are everywhere at this time of year and it’s worth stocking up, as they are packed full of antioxidants and fibre and can prevent dryness and improve the general appearance of your skin.

autumn foods - apples

  1. Parsnips

Parsnips are in season during autumn and winter. Like apples, they’re full of fibre and are also rich in potassium. They have a sweet, nutty flavour and can be eaten in many ways, but are most delicious when roasted in honey, alongside carrots.

  1. Pears

Similar to apples, pears are also a great moistening food to fight the autumn/winter dryness. They’re also an excellent source of vitamin C. At this time of year they can be enjoyed baked or poached, as a healthy dessert.


  1. Pumpkins

In autumn, pumpkins aren’t just for carving. The bright orange colour signals that they’re loaded with a powerful antioxidant called beta-carotene which is thought to help reduce the risk of certain cancers and can protect against heart disease. Pumpkin can be used for soup, can be a side dish for a main meal or can be used as an ingredient in hearty winter desserts like pumpkin pie or pumpkin cake.

Autumn - pumpkins

  1. Garlic

Garlic has many medicinal qualities that can be really valuable in autumn and winter when the threat of a cold or the flu is looking. Garlic contains a chemical called Allicin which helps fight against fungi and bacteria and generally prevent illness.

  1. Figs

Figs are delicious chewy fruits that taste great in salads, desserts or even with your porridge in the morning. Like the other fruits and veg on this list, they’re high in fibre – in fact they’re higher in fibre than most other dried or fresh fruits. They are also a good source of calcium.


  1. Cranberries

Cranberries are some of the best berries you can eat. They contain the same heart-healthy antioxidants as tea and red wine, which is what gives them that beautifully rich red colour. They can help prevent against urinary tract infections and can help gum disease or ulcers. They can be enjoyed with other fruits or dried and baked into muffins or cake.


  1. Turnips and swedes

Most Irish adults will have memories of turnip being served at their family dinner table around this time of year. But it’s for good reason, as turnips are high in vitamin C and dietary fibre and are part of the family of cruciferous vegetables that contain sulforaphane – a phytochemical which can help protect against certain cancers.

  1. Sweet potatoes

Like pumpkins, the orange colour of sweet potatoes show that they contain beta-cartonene. At this time of year, they are an excellent substitute for white potatoes. They can be enjoyed roasted, mashed, as an ingredient soup and their sweet taste also means that they can be used in desserts too.

  1. Cinnamon

Autumn and winter are the seasons of cinnamon. Even just the slightest smell of this spice can bring a rush of Halloween and Christmas memories right back. Cinnamon is a great ingredient to add to your shopping list, as it can keep your body warm and it’s thought to boost energy too.


What are your favourite autumn/winter foods? Share some of our favourite ingredients or recipes in the comments below or on social media using the hashtag #myIrishlife.

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