Top Tips for the First Week of December

A Note from Natalie

Natalie is the resident writer, but not an expert. For expert advice, please book a consultation with Dr Quinn

1. Enjoy it

Everyone will be inundating you with tips on how to do this – being organised, easy and fast ways to do everything from shopping to cooking turkey, but speed, lists and a grit-your-teeth attitude isn’t exactly the best way to go about being relaxed and happy.

The promise is always that if you work hard now, you can relax later, but who actually ever feels relaxed by the time the big day rolls around?

Enjoying a process doesn’t mean trying to get it out of the way as quickly as possible – that’s just a really intense way to wish your time away!

Treat December the first the same way you hope to be spending December 25th! Enjoy the atmosphere and the magic.


Photo by Toa Heftiba

2. Get engaged creatively

How do you make a bit of space and time to relish the moment? Some people have some wonderful rituals for this week: getting the Christmas mugs out of storage, getting the jars all ready for sterilising – some people who make their Christmas presents will be getting started this week.

What’s so magical about ritual isn’t that you get to be smug about forward-thinking, it’s that the simple processes wake the senses to what time of year it is. Flavours come out that have hidden in cupboards for a year, colours and smells start to take on a resonating effect.

So instead of handing over the whole process of Christmas to supermarkets, grab a bit back for yourself. Make you or your loved ones a new ritual. It can be something as simple as gathering something from outside to add to your usual decorations inside – like a few cut branches or even Rosemary sprigs to bring a new scent that will ever after remind you of this nice time of year.


Image from Susan Brand Design

3. Be nice, not naughty…

It’s kind of ironic that the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ sometimes turns people into… less than their best selves.

Don’t get caught up in the hype that this is the most stressful time of the year, because it doesn’t have to be. Calmness and smiles are contagious too!

Remember that saying about becoming the change you want to see in the world? Well, Christmas is the perfect time for embodying platitudes, so if you prioritise one thing this week – if you have to make yourself a to-do list, put this at the top:

Try to make people’s day better, not worse.



Image by Aaron Burden

This Week’s Recipe from Jamie Oliver:

Middle Eastern Roasted Sprouts

Important: Debbie is selecting recipes with combinations of ingredients to inspire your cooking regimes, but while they are healthier choices in general, they will not address individual issues. You MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medications, allergies and goals.



Organic Ingredients

500 g Brussels sprouts
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 small red onions
1 bulb of fennel
olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
25 g hazelnuts
200 g Greek yoghurt
1 heaped teaspoon tahini
1 small clove of garlic
1 lemon
1 pinch of sumac
½ a bunch of fresh coriander, dill and mint (20g)


  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.
  2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a medium-high heat. Wash and trim the sprouts, then add to the pan and parboil for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside to dry.
  3. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Using a pestle and mortar, finely grind the toasted seeds with a pinch of sea salt.
  4. Tip most of the spice mix into a large roasting tray and toss in the sprouts.
  5. Peel and slice the onions, then trim and slice the fennel. Tip into the tray along with a glug of oil.
  6. Spread everything in an even layer – you may need two trays – and cook for 20 minutes, until tender and starting to caramelise.
  7. Meanwhile, return your frying pan to the heat and toast the sesame seeds and hazelnuts for 3 minutes, then grind up with the remaining spices, using a pestle and mortar.
  8. Combine the yoghurt with the tahini. Peel and crush the garlic and stir through, then finely grate in half the lemon zest and squeeze in half the juice (save the rest for another day).
  9. Taste the yoghurt and season well, then spread it evenly over the base of a large serving platter and sprinkle some sumac over the top.
  10. Spoon the sprout mix on top of the yoghurt mixture, scraping up the lovely crispy bits in the pan. Sprinkle the ground nuts and seeds over the top.
  11. Pick and finely chop the herb leaves, discarding the stalks. Scatter the leaves across the plate, then serve.

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