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Staying in Shape this Christmas

Mince pies are pretty unhealthy So do you fancy enjoying a mince pie or two without it affecting the diet too much. The festive period is a time of enjoyment after all, but we can still have fun and be sensible. For most people Christmas is a great time of year in many, many ways.....except if your trying to eat clean and stay on track with your goals. Don't get me wrong Christmas isn't a time to really kick on and improve, but you certainly don't want to waist all the hard work of 2016 or give yourself a huge mountain to climb come January So here is the killer recipe for Mince Pies that is MUCH BETTER than normal ones. The ingredients for a dozen healthy mince pies are as follows: THE FILLING 3/4 cup mixed raisins and sultanas 1/2 cup of figs 1/2 cup of suet *see notes below on suet Zest from 1 lemon Zest from 1 orange 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon of agave nectar 1 apple 1 pear THE PASTRY 2 cups of almond flour 2 egg whites A sprinkle of cracked salt 1 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring Optional - handful of flaked almonds to decorate * Suet is a very hard animal fat, taken from around the kidneys of cattle, and usually shredded. It has a high melting point, which gives a unique lightness to pastries and sponges ^^^ how's that for info. Jamie Oliver eat your heart out You can buy fresh suet from a butcher, but these days the suet 'knobs' are usually removed from a carcass after slaughter, so no longer arrive at the butcher attached to the kidneys, so you'll need to order ahead. It is worth it, though, not least because it will be unprocessed and traceable. (If your butcher sells organic beef, they should be able to get you organic suet, too. Your butcher may be happy to shred it for you; if not, just grate it yourself on a cheese grater. Fresh suet has a dry, almost crumbly texture and a slightly meaty smell. It contributes a distinct richness to sweet dishes, and won't make your roly poly taste of beef. Packaged meat suet is a fairly unprocessed product. It's made by melting down fresh suet, then extruding it into pellets. Most packaged suet sold in the UK comes from Irish cattle. Given the option, get from your Butcher to ensure quality! THE FILLING STEP 1 - pre heat your oven to 120 degrees STEP 2 - finely slice up your apple and pear,leaving the skin on. Once sliced place them into a large pan that we can put into the oven once all of the ingredients are mixed together STEP 3 - slice up your figs, grate your zest from the orange and lemon adding them to the same pan along with the cinnamon. Mix all of these dry ingredients together in the pan STEP 4 - add the suet and mix it through the ingredients you have in the pan already so that it is evenly distributed throughout STEP 5 - Place some tin foil on top of the pan to seal it loosely before placing in the oven for around an hour. We're after the ingredients being "tacky" when they come out so they have just broken down a little. We don't want they to be totally reduced as we will be doing something similar in a later step STEP 6 - once your pan is in the oven, place your 2 cups of ground almonds into a mixing bowl. Create a small well in the middle then separate and add your two egg whites to the middle of the well, also add the vanilla and the pinch of salt. Mix this thoroughly until you get a form of paste. If this appears too sloppy add a little more ground almonds until you have a more cohesive mixture STEP 7 - put down a sheet of greaseproof paper, put your pastry on top. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and start to roll it flat. You don't want this too thin as it will simply break when you try to roll it. Use your judgement, but its best to have a thickness of around 1/3 of an inch if not more STEP 8 - put this in the fridge to chill for around 15 mins and you will find that it becomes a little easier to shape and manage in the next stage. Take this chance to check on your filling thats in the oven, stir it all up in the pan and make sure the fruit is becoming tacky STAGE 9 - Get a bun tray out and melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in a cup in your microwave. Then using a brush, grease the individual bun tray spaces to ensure your not fighting with a mince pie once they are cooked STEP 10 - Once your pastry has had time to rest, remove it from the fridge and cut it into circles with a cutter....or if your common like me use the mouth of a glass or cup. Cut out as many as you can with the pastry that you have, you want to have two circles for each pie. Once you've exhausted how many pastry circles you can cut out, roll the excess up and flatten it again. You'll find you will get a few more circles by doing this. DONT MOVE THESE FROM WHERE YOU HAVE CUT THEM, THE MORE THEY ARE MOVED, THE WORSE THEY WILL LOOK. BE PATIENT AND KEEP THEM THERE FOR A FEW MINUTES STEP 11 - one at a time, lift up your circles from where they have been cut with a sharp wide flat knife blade below them. Place one circle in each of your bun spaces on the greased tray. Once you have 12 lined up leave everything where it is until your hour for the filling cooking is up. If this is a while away, put the pastry circles in the fridge to prevent them breaking down and being unworkable when you need them to be. STEP 12 - once your filling has had the hour to cook, remove it from the oven and place it into a food processor. Enjoy those mince pies without any guilt


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