The Advent Countdown Begins

The 1st of December is greeted with pleasure by my children because I ban any mention of Christmas until December or it goes on too long and I am bored with it before the holiday season even begins.  So today we could light the advent candle and open the advent calendar.  My Aunty Hillary sends all her great nieces and nephews (i.e. my children and their equivalents in each family unit) an advent calendar every year which is a lovely tradition which we all enjoy.  This year I also bought a wooden calendar with numbered doors on it, behind each door is a little ornament that you hang on the snowman or house scene.  I put some sweeties in it too and Harvey was delighted with it.

Having checked what advent means, I was surprised to discover that within the church, Advent starts with the nearest Sunday to November 30th.  So not usually starting on December 1st, unlike the advent calendars.  Advent means arrival and the point of this count down is to be celebrating the arrival of the baby Jesus.  I guess how each family celebrates Christmas, or doesn’t, is personal.

I confess to feeling rather jaded when I woke up this morning, after last night’s excessive eating and drinking.  I had half a carton of coconut water left over from yesterday.  I wasn’t very keen on it so I had put it in the fridge and thought I could use it in a smoothie.

I made a smoothie with mixed berries, coconut water, coconut milk, cashew nut butter and protein powder.  A mega vitamin boost certainly helps perk one up.  I forgot to take the photo until I had nearly finished the smoothie but you get the idea of what a wonderful colour it was.

After breakfast I went Christmas shopping in Costco.  I knew I would be leaving Costco at lunch time so I excelled myself today and made a salad to munch in the car; mixed salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, smoked mackerel, sunflower seed sprouts and a heaped tablespoonful of the olives I had bought last week which had some Feta cheese in the pot too.  No need for a dressing as the oil in the olives did that job.

Costco was exactly as I expected; heaving with people struggling to manoeuvre their oversized and overloaded trolleys.  I bought the groceries I wanted, found some gifts to give and a few Christmas treats.  Reaching the car I was very pleased I had made a salad.  It looked rather small so I opened up the strawberries and grapes I had just bought and ate those too.

The strawberries really are very large, it’s not just a weird camera angle.  No eco points for me today as nearly everything is imported from USA, including this fruit but I only go every 3 months or so and hopefully that won’t kill the planet.  They were delicious!

My nut butter stash is somewhat depleted so this afternoon I made some almond butter with mixed dried berries.  My inspiration came from The Edible Perspective which is a wonderful food blog which has excellent photos and many recipes I want to try.  She makes an almond butter with cherries and chocolate.  I added extra mixed berries instead of the chocolate.

Almond Butter with Mixed Dried Berries


  • 375 g almonds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 100 g dried cherries
  • 35 g mixed dried berries
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Oil in case you need to make it a runnier consistency

I used dried cherries which are slightly sour and a bag of mixed berries for a variety of consistency and flavour.

This bag of ‘Wonder Berries’ had some unusual berries in it: cranberries, Goji berries, blackcurrants, physalis, blueberries and strawberries.  They were really tasty.


  1. Preheat oven to 150 ° C.
  2. Put some greaseproof paper on a baking tray.
  3. Put the almonds on the paper and pour the maple syrup on the almonds.
  4. Stir the almonds until they are all covered in syrup and then spread the almonds out in a single layer.
  5. Put in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring twice and checking they are not burning.
  6. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then blitz in a food processor.  It takes about 10 minutes for the nuts to firstly turn in to crumbs, then a thick butter consistency and then become runnier.  If the nuts remain too stiff, add oil to soften and improve consistency.  I added 1 tbsp coconut oil and then ½ a tbsp rapeseed oil to get the desired consistency.
  7. While the nuts are being buttered in the processor, chop the mixed berries in to pieces as small as you want.
  8. When the almond butter is ready, add the vanilla and salt, blitz to mix and then stir in the dried fruit.

I was really pleased with this nut butter.  It tastes amazing

and the consistency is perfect.  It slowly drips off the spoon.

Now I just need to use all my willpower to resist eating it by the spoonful as it is incredibly delicious!  Oops, already had 3 spoonfuls.

Supper was a complete snack.  Bagel with smoked salmon, mixed salad greens and pea shoots, cherry tomatoes and the remainder of the tahini dressing I made earlier in the week.  I used tahini dressing instead of butter or cream cheese in the bagel which worked well.

I wonder what will be in the advent calendar tomorrow.

About Lose Weight and Gain Health

Hi! My name is Zoe and I live in Hastings, East Sussex, with my son Harvey and dog, Milton. I have been fighting the fat for years but this time I am serious. I want to lose weight and gain health. This blog is about how I am changing my lifestyle so I can lose weight but not by just "being on a diet" but by making small changes to our lives so that as I lose weight, I gain health. I want my family to be healthy too and never have to struggle with their weight like I have. In common with many large people, I have gained and lost weight many times over the years. This time, I want to lose it and maintain a healthy low weight. I am interested in eating food that is nutrient dense and delicious and that appeals to children and adults. I do not eat animal products so follow a vegan diet. I try to use locally produced food supplemented with what I can grow myself. I support and try to use local farmers markets and farm shops. Another objective is to add more exercise to our days. It sounds so simple when I write it down :-)
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