Max La Manna’s Go-To Vegan Christmas Recipes

Embrace the spirit of the season with a delectable twist! Join Max La Manna, the maestro of plant-based delights, as he unveils a collection of vegan Christmas recipes that will redefine your Christmas table. From savoury mains to delightful sides, Max’s culinary creations promise a celebration of flavour and the joy of a cruelty-free feast.

Nut Roast Cake with All the Trimmings

I first made this nut roast when we were visiting family at Christmas. My wife and I were the only vegans in the house, but there wasn’t enough for us to have seconds as the plate was wiped clean! Now I always make three so we can finally enjoy leftovers on Boxing Day. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser for vegans and non-vegans alike.


500g carrots, preferably heritage, halved lengthways and cut into 5–7cm batons
2 sweet potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
30g butter
200g mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cumin
a few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp flaxseed or chia seeds 100g mixed nuts, toasted
200g packet of quick-cook mixed grains
1 x 400g tin brown lentils, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp Marmite
3 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped 3 tbsp fresh sage, roughly chopped
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
100g breadcrumbs
salt and black pepper


1  Preheat the oven to 220 ̊C/200 ̊C fan/gas mark 7.

2  On a baking tray, rub the carrots and sweet potatoes with a little of the olive oil and some salt. Cook in the oven for 35–40 minutes, or until very soft.

3 Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over a high heat. Once hot, add the sliced mushrooms and a big pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper. Fry for 5–7 minutes until all the liquid has been released from the mushrooms and they’re soft and golden. Add the garlic and spices, cook for 1 minute, stir in the thyme, then tip into a large bowl.

4 In a small bowl, mix the flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water and set aside until it turns into a jelly-like consistency.

5 Put half the toasted nuts in a food processor or blender along with half of the mixed grains, half of the lentils, a splash of water and the Marmite, and blitz into a paste. Roughly chop the remaining nuts and add them to the mushrooms, along with the remaining grains and lentils.

6 When the sweet potato is cooked, add 11⁄2 potatoes to the blender and blitz again. Roughly chop the remaining half a potato, and add to the mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.

7 Grab a large springform cake tin, about 23cm diameter. Line the base with a circle of baking parchment. Lay the carrots, cut- side down, on the base of the tin (I like to lie them in alternating directions to ensure as few gaps as possible).

8 Combine the flaxseed mixture and the chopped herbs with the mushrooms, then add the blender mixture, along with the nutritional yeast and breadcrumbs. Stir everything together; the mixture should be thick. Tip into the cake tin, being careful not to move the carrots too much. Tap the base of the tin on a flat surface to make sure everything is pressed into the tin.

9 Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and cook for a further 20–25 minutes, until evenly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little, then turn out onto a plate. Peel back the baking parchment to reveal the amazing carrot surface. Slice and serve with all the roast dinner trimmings.

Roast Dinner Tart

This incredible tart has all your favourite elements of a roast dinner. It’s the perfect alternative Sunday lunch or festive meal – just don’t forget the gravy!


200g beetroot
1⁄2 butternut squash
250g carrots
200g parsnips
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x quantity of roast potatoes
1 x quantity of Buttery Herb Stuffing, page 74
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 sheet gluten-free puff pastry oat milk, for brushing
120g Brussels sprouts, halved 6 tbsp cranberry sauce
salt and black pepper
gravy, to serve


1 Preheat the oven to 240 ̊C/220 ̊C fan/gas 9.

2 Wrap the beetroot in foil and put on one side of a baking tray. Place the squash next to them, cut-side down. Roast for up to 1 hour (depending on their size), until the beetroot are totally soft. If the squash cooks more quickly, remove it from the oven and let the beetroot keep cooking.

3 Slice the carrots and parsnips in half lengthways and put in a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add a pinch of salt and roast for 30 minutes, until soft and charred.

4 Cook the roast potatoes

5 Make the stuffing (according to page 74).

6 Scoop the seeds from the cooked squash and set aside (you can rinse them and toast them for a snack). In a blender, blitz the squash with the nutritional yeast, cinnamon and nutmeg. Season well and blitz to a purée.

7 Squeeze the beets from their skins and slice into wedges.

8 Cut the sheet of puff pastry into 4 rectangles. Lightly score a border, 2cm from the edge. Brush with oat milk, then bake for 20–30 minutes until golden and risen; use a spoon to push the middle down.

9 Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the sprouts with a pinch of salt and fry for
5 minutes. Add a big splash of water (the steam helps them to cook through) and cook for a further 5 minutes, until tender. Set aside.

10 Make the crispy sage. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over high heat. Once hot, fry the sage for 2 minutes until crispy. Set aside to drain on kitchen paper

11 Spoon the butternut squash purée onto each pastry rectangle, then crumble over the stuffing. Top with the carrots, parsnips, beetroot and roast potatoes. Scatter over the sprouts, then spoon over a little cranberry sauce. Finish with the crispy sage leaves and serve with lots of gravy.

Leftover Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms

The holidays are one of the most wasteful times of the year, and so this is a great way to use up any of the super delicious leftover stuffing from page 74. These stuffed mushrooms make the ideal fun appetiser or finger food to carry on the festivities.


20 small chestnut mushrooms zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1⁄4 tsp dried thyme
small bunch of fresh parsley, leaves and stems chopped separately, plus more leaves to garnish
150g leftover Buttery Herb Stuffing (page 74)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil salt and black pepper


1 Wipe the mushrooms clean with kitchen paper. Remove the stems, leaving the mushrooms with a hollow centre. Roughly chop the stems and set aside.

2  Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

3  In a frying pan over medium heat, dry fry half of the mushroom caps, gills-side up, for 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a generous pinch of black pepper and cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring often but gently, so you don’t break the caps. Transfer the caps to a plate and repeat with the second batch of mushrooms, also adding them to the plate.

4 Melt the butter in the frying pan and fry the shallot, garlic, dried thyme and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley stems for about 4 minutes, until soft. Add the chopped mushroom stems and the juice of half the lemon and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.

5 Put the mushroom stem mixture into a food processor, add the parsley leaves and blitz to a purée. Tip the mixture to a bowl and combine with the leftover stuffing. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

6 Stuff the mushroom caps with the filling and smooth over the tops. Arrange the mushroom caps close together in a baking dish. Drizzle over the extra-virgin olive oil and bake for 10–15 minutes.

7 Best served hot. To serve, garnish each mushroom with a little lemon zest and a parsley leaf.


Fry the mushrooms for just a few minutes to reduce moisture and prevent them from going soggy.

Defrost, then reheat in the oven at 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2 for 10–15 minutes.

Extracted from You Can Cook This! by Max La Manna (Ebury Press, £22), Photography by Lizzy Mayson.

Festive Mocktail: Grapefruit & Thyme Fizz

Inspired by a traditional fizz, this typically acidic drink gets a smooth makeover. ZEN’s lemongrass meets the citrussy grapefruit notes halfway, perfectly balancing out the tangier tones. The light mix is softly grounded with a hint of thyme and makes the perfect mocktail recipe for your festive gatherings and will see you right through to dry January too!


1x waterdrop® ZEN (Starfruit – Lemongrass – White Tea)

250ml sparkling water

Thyme sprigs

Juice of ½ grapefruit

Juice of ½ lime

Ice cubes

Garnish: Thyme sprigs

Equipment needed




Dissolve a waterdrop® ZEN into 250ml sparkling water and put aside.

Muddle 2 sprigs of thyme with the grapefruit and lime juices, then strain into a glass filled with ice cubes.

Add your dissolved ZEN and garnish with a few thyme sprigs.

READ MORE: 3 Great Gut-Friendly Recipes To Try This Week

3 Great Gut-Friendly Recipes To Try This Week

The Seasonal Winter Foods You Should Be Eating For Optimum Nutrition

Winter brings with it a unique array of seasonal foods that not only add warmth and flavour to our meals but also offer a host of nutritional benefits. As the temperature drops, our bodies often crave heartier, nutrient-dense foods to keep us energised and healthy. Below, we will explore the seasonal winter foods that you should be incorporating into your diet for optimum nutrition, focusing on the essential vitamins and minerals they provide. 

Root Vegetables: Winter is the season for an abundance of root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, and beets. These vegetables are rich in vitamins A and C, essential for immune function and skin health. They also provide a good source of minerals such as potassium and manganese, supporting heart health and overall well-being. 

Cruciferous Vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower thrive in the colder months. Packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant that aids in immune system support, these veggies also provide a significant amount of vitamin K, promoting bone health. Additionally, they contain folate, a B-vitamin important for DNA synthesis. 

Citrus Fruits: While citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines are available year-round, they are particularly abundant in the winter. These fruits are renowned for their high vitamin C content, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and supports the immune system. 

Winter Squash: Varieties of winter squash, such as butternut squash and acorn squash, are excellent sources of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A is crucial for maintaining healthy skin, vision, and immune function. These squashes also provide vitamin C and potassium. 

Nuts and Seeds: Winter is a great time to incorporate more nuts and seeds into your diet. Almonds and walnuts are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that plays a role in immune function and skin health. Chia seeds and flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, promoting heart health and reducing inflammation. 

Dark Leafy Greens: Winter-friendly greens like kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens are packed with vitamins A, C, and K. These leafy greens also provide minerals such as calcium and magnesium, supporting bone health and overall vitality. 

Oats and Whole Grains: Warm and comforting, oats and whole grains are ideal choices for winter breakfasts. They offer a good source of B-vitamins, including B6 and folate, important for energy metabolism and the formation of red blood cells. Whole grains also contain essential minerals like iron and zinc. 


Dr Rupy’s “Jewish Penicillin” Recipe


Easy Vegan Overnight Oats (3 Ways!)


Gut-Loving Kitchari


“Cheesy” Broccoli Waffles


Nourishing The Soul: Reflections On An Autumn Wellness Weekend

Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve been missing until you get it –  that was the case with Weleda’s Autumn Wellness Weekend for me. Weleda’s weekend retreats are themed around the seasons – exploring how we can tune into the seasonal shifts and what we can gain by taking some mindful time to reconnect with nature. As such, a lot of our Autumn retreat was centred around the idea of “letting go” – much like the trees shedding their leaves, we were invited to consider what we might also want to release. 

I’d never been to a wellness retreat before. Whilst I lead a healthy lifestyle (I eat well, I exercise regularly, I do my best to limit my screen time and prioritise sleep) I rarely, if ever, make any kind of tranquillity a priority in my life. I do practise regular yoga, but it’s for pragmatic purposes: I find it helps to support all of the other physical training I do on a regular basis. Similarly, I often have sports massages or a bath to aid recovery, but otherwise the idea of slowing down, especially for a whole weekend, was an alien concept to me. I hesitated initially in case I wasn’t the right “type” of person suited to a retreat like this. Nonetheless, I turned up with an open mind and I’m delighted to have been proved completely wrong – I loved it. I’ve since realised that there wasn’t really any one type of person at our retreat at all. We were a mix of ages and backgrounds. We all had varied reasons for being there – to heal, to recharge, to rest, to reconnect – but we each undeniably benefited from the space and opportunity to unplug. 

Lapwing Barns was our home for the weekend. It’s a peaceful and secluded rural setting in Buxton, nestled amongst the stunning countryside of the Peak District National Park. The property itself is also beautiful, with period features such as exposed stone walls, spacious yet cosy bedrooms, a large and inviting dining room and vibrant communal areas that let in plenty of natural light. Our group regularly huddled together around the fire in the lounge but there are also plenty of comfortable nooks to settle into with a blanket should you want some quiet time by yourself. Both the yoga and many of the evening group sessions were held in the adjacent barn conversion which has been transformed into a welcoming cocoon full of blankets, pillows, flowers, wonderful-smelling essential oils and soft lighting. It’s so easy to dismiss beauty as unnecessary but each carefully considered detail genuinely did enhance our sense of feeling welcomed, cared for, and appreciated. The space felt sacred and as such it fostered a deep sense of authentic connection and nourishment for everyone throughout the weekend.

Modern life isn’t especially conducive to carving out time for ourselves and many of us are perhaps more accustomed to looking after others. It’s a theme that came up repeatedly throughout the retreat as we were reminded to allow ourselves to receive the care, rather than feeling selfish. 

Friday set the tone for the weekend; after briefly being slowed down en route to the cottage by a very Derbyshire sort of traffic jam (cows crossing the road), I was warmly greeted like a dear friend by our friendly and down-to-earth hosts. Later, when everyone had unpacked and settled into their rooms, we gathered for the first of our informal connection sessions, where we were invited to set our intentions for the weekend. After a delicious dinner, we were treated to a calming foot spa using the gorgeously scented Weleda Lavender bath milk, followed by Weleda’s luxurious Lavender body oil. This simple but beautiful evening ritual was a reminder that even small actions can have a profound effect on wellbeing – we all peacefully drifted up to bed soon after. 

Saturday and Sunday mornings both started with yoga, and after a nourishing breakfast there were various wellness workshops hosted by one of the many experts present throughout the weekend. These included an Awakening Skin Workshop, an interactive session to learn more about your unique body and personality type (fascinating!), followed by an immersive Nature Connection session where we were guided to really connect with our surroundings on a much deeper level, taking a stroll through quiet country lanes to a nearby river. These activities served as the perfect antidote to the usual rush and multitasking that is so embedded in twenty-first-century living. Lunch was usually around 1pm and in the late afternoon there was the chance to have a Weleda Signature Treatment or a private 30-minute wellness consultation, should you wish. Otherwise, the time was free for whatever you wanted most; some curled up with a book or their journal, some sat chatting by the fire, some retreated into their rooms for a nap and others ventured out for a walk to explore our idyllic surroundings. 

I experienced Weleda’s Signature Treatment on Sunday afternoon; to call it a facial doesn’t do it justice – it was more of a 90-minute sensory delight that left me feeling completely rejuvenated. Another lovely foot bath signalled the start of the treatment, this time with Weleda’s Arnica bath soak which I use regularly myself (great for aching sporty muscles!), as my esthetician chatted through my current skin care regime and any issues I might have. After a relaxing back rub, I was wrapped up under a blanket to begin the main event. The process is very gentle, yet thorough. There are waves of incredible scents throughout (Weleda’s fabulous bath milks making a reappearance here), accompanied by soothing hot towels and a revitalising foot rub to finish. My skin was glowing by the time I left, with my personalised skin care recommendations noted down, and I had been pampered from head to toe. 

So much of the weekend was about not only letting things go but also letting things in; the latter has especially stayed with me since coming home. With a tendency to value self-sufficiency and discipline, I’ve set a personal intention to allow more room for luxury in my life going forward. On Sunday morning, I wrapped up warm and headed outside with a hot mug of tea, where I stood for a few minutes quietly soaking up the gorgeous sunrise over the sweeping Derbyshire hills. I have never regretted watching a sunrise (or a sunset) and it’s the small, accessible pockets of beauty and contentment like this that I’m planning to weave back into my busy days going forward. After all, a happy life should be filled with so much more than just what is necessary, shouldn’t it? 


Laura Kennington is a British adventure athlete, author and speaker with a passion for the endurance capability of the human body. A strong believer in the positive impact that adventure and sport can have, Laura uses her human-powered journeys as a platform to inspire and encourage others to get outside.

Weleda’s Wellness Retreats are available to book here from £950 per person (twin occupancy) or £1,250 single occupancy in a double room. Dates for Weleda’s Spring retreat are 23-26 February 2024, and Autumn 11-14 October 2024.

Matcha Is Having A Moment: These Are The Products We Rate

Considering a switch from your morning coffee to matcha? Wellness enthusiasts rightfully hail this superfood for its myriad health benefits, ranging from reducing inflammation to boosting the immune system. There’s another compelling reason we’re fully embracing the matcha movement: it perks you up for the day without the jittery aftermath often associated with coffee. Matcha provides a subtle buzz with a lower dose of caffeine. Derived from green tea leaves, this antioxidant-rich powder promotes long-lasting, sustained energy without the crash that coffee can induce. Packed with a potent amino acid called L-theanine, matcha not only enhances mental alertness but also simultaneously reduces stress and anxiety, improving mood and sleep.

Matcha is available in various forms today, catering to every preference! Whether you savour the creamy richness of a latte, gravitate towards a cuppa tea, or prefer refreshing cold beverages, rest assured that there is a matcha product tailored to your taste.

The most popular choice is the matcha latte! Looking to nail your morning brew? The key to successfully transitioning to matcha is to blend it correctly to ensure it tastes good. After all, creating a new habit won’t be successful if you dislike the flavour! Here are our top tips for crafting the perfect matcha latte at home:

Use a small amount: Start with around ½ teaspoon of matcha powder. This ensures that you get the benefits without an overwhelming flavour.

Mix with warm water: Add the matcha powder to a small amount of warm water, making a paste. Avoid using boiling water, as it can affect the taste and quality of the matcha.

Use a bamboo or electric whisk: To achieve a smooth consistency, whisk the matcha paste using either a bamboo matcha whisk or an electric whisk. This helps to avoid clumps and ensures an even blend.

Froth your milk: Froth your milk of choice separately to achieve a creamy consistency. You can use a milk frother or any method that works for you.

Sweeten if necessary: If you find the taste too bitter, add a natural sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, or a flavoured coffee creamer. Adjust the sweetness to your liking.


Pairs great with…

What’s On Issy’s Christmas Wish List

Christmas is my favourite time of the year… I still revert back to my childlike self as soon as December the 1st hits. London transforms this time of year, the streets are lined with Christmas lights, colossal Christmas trees prime and centre in every square across the city and ice skating rinks dominate historic landmarks, it just makes my heart sing with joy! On my wish list this year, I’m lusting over wellness, travel and beauty bits that will see me into the new year with a spring in my step. Experience gifts are my favourite to receive as they give me something to look forward to, keeping the spirit on Christmas going that little bit longer.

AWAY The Original Bigger Carry-On

To match my medium, I’d love for Santa Claus to somehow fit the AWAY The Original Bigger Carry-On down the chimney this Christmas. AWAY suitcases strike the perfect balance between functional and aesthetic, in the most luxe muted colour ways that give them a premium finish.

ånd Fragrance Cåke

When reading the ingredients list on gourmand fragrance Cåke from the ethically driven brand ‘ånd Fragrance’, I knew I had to try it and put it straight on my Christmas wish list! I’m a sucker for anything sweet and this rich, warming scent is perfect for winter.

Boutique Retreats Gift Card

The ultimate present in my humble opinion is an experience. In a materialistic world, gifting a memory is the most priceless of all. Boutique Retreats, the curated collection of heavenly hideouts, offers gift vouchers for staycations across the UK. From cosy cottages to off-the-grid cabins, each uniquely picturesque home looks as if it’s been plucked from a fairytale.

Lululemon Wundermost Collection

I’m lusting over Lululemon’s new Wundermost collection. In the most luxuriously soft fabric, these pieces are silky on the skin and snatch your body for a flawless fit. My top picks are the Ultra-Soft Nulu Crewneck Cropped T-Shirt and the Ultra-Soft Nulu Long-Sleeve Turtleneck.

Missoma Ridge T Bar Chain Necklace

Good things come in small packages, and this rings true with any jewellery from Missoma. Over the years, I’ve been building my layered necklace collection, and I’m after a chunky gold chain to complete the look for a décolleté dripping in gold!

Loewe X On Cloudtilt 

I love everything about the new Loewe X On collab! The Cloudtilt trainers have got to be the chicest performance shoe yet, featuring On’s innovative CloudTec® Phase midsole with a Loewe’s anagram subtle embossed onto the panelling.

Oysho 5 Seamless Classic Briefs Set

Oysho do the comfiest undies I’ve ever tried and Christmas is the time I like to stock up on all the essentials! I’m in need of new Sunday/evening pants, any girl will know exactly what I mean by this…nobody wants to be cut up whilst trying to ‘Netflix & Chill’.The stretchy fabric fits like a second skin and this tonal palette is both cute and chic.

Heartcore Gift Card

I’ve been on a health journey recently, and one change I’ve made is to add more low-impact training into my routine. I’m an adrenaline junkie and get such a kick out of a Barry’s or F45 class so this transition hasn’t come naturally to me, but there is one place that gives me that buzz in a calmer manner, and that is Heartcore. I’d love to receive a class pack so the New Year is filled with lots of wonderful classes at their beautiful studios across London.

Diptyque Holiday Carousel Candle Set

Diptyque created the ultimate centrepiece with this glistening carousel which perches atop the candle and rotates to illuminate the room with interspersed golden slices projected in a wheel. Filling the room with the signature Baies scent, this festive carousel brings mesmerising magic and will serve me for years to come.

Sol de Janeiro Biggie Biggie Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream has quickly become my go-to body cream, the scent transforms you to an exotic beach and the texture is whipped to perfection, sinking into the skin like a dream. The brand has launched a new ‘Biggie Biggie’ size, 500ml of deliciousness that will keep me going for quite some time.

Lou Shares Her Scandinavian Christmas Traditions

I am so excited for christmas. Time well spent with the family, long family walks, presents and all the delicious food.

For me Christmas really does come alive with children. The magic in their eyes at the sight of the christmas tree, the excitement at their first taste of a gingerbread man, the anticipation of Santa coming and the presents he will bring. This sense of joy has brought back so many nostalgic memories. We celebrate Christmas in true Swedish style and here are some of my favourite traditions that make our holiday truly special. 


One of the things that makes the Scandi countries so compelling is our rich folklore. Throughout Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, you’ll find numerous traditions and unique stories that tell tales of mythical creatures and sprites, ranging from fairies to trolls, but one of the better-known creatures is the gnome. The gnomes are believed to be household spirits ( living under the house) responsible for the care of a farm or family. While their origins play into many different narratives throughout history, they’ve become tied with Christmas and The tomte figure is definitely my favourite Swedish tradition. 

For me it’s the most iconic Christmas decoration and I was excited to build my own collection to share with my son. Asas Tomtebod creates the most gorgeous handmade bearded santa’s with felt clothing, little leather shoes and sheepskin hair. The detail put into each elf is incredible and mirrors the old traditional style my parents have.

At Christmas time in Sweden, it is a custom to leave a bowl of porridge outside your house for the Swedish gnomes to eat on Christmas eve. If the bowl is empty the next morning all will be well for another year. 


There is no better way to celebrate Christmas than with a traditional Christmas Julbord (translating to Christmas Table). It is amazing the array of dishes served as part of our Smorgasbord table. 

Starting with the fish course with different types of pickled herrings, which is one of the most essential elements, to gravadlax, smoked salmon and prawns. Followed by the cold meats with various elk and reindeer salamis and pates. Then the warm dishes with meatballs, Swedish sausages, ham, red cabbage and potatoes. And finally the cheese and the selection of puddings which in our house has a separate table of its own. Think Swedish Cinnamon or Cardamom Buns and Swedish Ginger Biscuits, known as pepparkakor.

Swedish Cardamom Buns

Girl vs Dough

Pickled Herring and Potato Salad

Pardon Your French

Swedish Ginger Cookies

True North Kitchen

Swedish Meatballs

The Modern Proper


In Sweden the tradition is to wait for Jultomten (Father Christmas) to come on the evening of the 24th, when he leaves a large sack at the door. Every year one member of our family ( who would be missing for far too long in the “bathroom”) would dress up in the most beautiful old Santa suit and drop the presents at the front door. As kids we would rush to the window just in time to catch a glimpse of him as he walked away in the distance holding a lit lantern and waving goodbye.

Outfit Of The Day 

In Sweden, we always dress up on the 24th and I love choosing little outfits for Rollo. La Coqueta is always my go-to for the sweetest traditional outfits and perfect for any and every celebration. This is what my son will be wearing at Christmas this year.

Couscous & Chicken Harissa Broth

This Couscous & Chicken Harissa Broth is a delightful and flavourful dish that brings together the rich and aromatic spices of North African cuisine. This culinary creation combines tender chicken, fluffy couscous, and a robust broth infused with the distinctive heat of harissa—a spicy chilli paste that adds depth and complexity to the dish. The marriage of textures and flavours in this Couscous & Chicken Harissa Broth creates a harmonious and satisfying meal, perfect for those who appreciate the fusion of savoury and spicy notes in their culinary experience.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Serves 4


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped

1.3 litre chicken stock

1 tbsp harissa paste

400g giant wholewheat couscous

100g sugar snaps, sliced diagonally

50g California Walnuts, chopped

100g baby spinach

200g roast chicken breast, shredded

Drizzle chilli sauce to serve


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and fennel for 5 minutes. Add the stock and harissa and bring to a boil, stir in the couscous and simmer, covered for 5 minutes.

Stir in the sugar snaps and Walnuts and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the couscous is tender.

Add the spinach and chicken and stir until the spinach has wilted.

Spoon into bowls and drizzle with a little chilli sauce to serve.

Cooks tip: Try using pak choi or mange tout instead of the sugar snaps or swap the spinach for shredded Savoy cabbage.

Beauty A-Z: What Is Acne-Fighting Mandelic Acid?

In this edition of Hip & Healthy’s Beauty School series, we’re shining a spotlight on Mandelic Acid. Arguably the most gentle AHA out there, it’s an amazing exfoliator that doesn’t stress out skin or cause irritation. It also helps with things like hyperpigmentation and acne, making it an all-round super ingredient you definitely need to add to your skincare arsenal. Stat.

But what exactly is it and how should we be using it in our skincare routine? We tapped Arabella Preston, Co-Founder of Votary and Verden, to find out everything you need to know. So, get ready to swot up on this must-have beauty ingredient and bag yourself an A+ when it comes to all things mandelic acid.

So, What Exactly Is Mandelic Acid and What Does It Do?

Mandelic Acid is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) that’s used in medicine as an antibacterial and in skincare as a chemical exfoliant. It gently resurfaces skin to reveal a brighter, more even skin tone. It can be derived from almonds or created synthetically.

Can All Skin Types Benefit from It? 

Yes. Mandelic acid is recognised as an AHA that even sensitive skin types can use. It penetrates the skin slowly thanks to its larger molecular size (it is a much higher weight than glycolic and even lactic acid) and is more oil soluble than other AHAs, which means it can benefit oily, congested skin too. What is more, its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can be really beneficial for breakout-prone skin.

What’s the Best Way to Incorporate It into a Skincare Routine? 

A weekly or twice weekly mask in the evening after cleansing is a great way to benefit from its radiance-boosting properties. Always cleanse your skin first, then apply your mandelic acid product. Follow with a nourishing oil or moisturiser. 

Start with once a week, increasing to twice if your skin is tolerating it well. Any sign of prolonged redness or sensitivity should be a sign to slow down and ensure your skin barrier isn’t compromised. As with any AHA use, don’t combine high percentage mandelic acid products with retinol or physical exfoliants. 

Make sure you don’t skip SPF the next day as any AHA use can increase sensitivity to the sun. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using It? 

There is always a risk of irritation with any AHA, so formula is key. A deeply nourishing mask, like the Votary Radiance Reveal Mask, is a great way to soften the impact of the mandelic acid whilst still benefiting from the exfoliation. 

Mandelic acid is a great way to combat dull, uneven skin. There is even some evidence that mandelic acid helps to increase collagen production, making it a true age-defying hero! 

Are There Any Misconceptions about Mandelic Acid You Want to Clear Up?

The higher molecular weight doesn’t necessarily make it less effective than other AHAs. I like to think of it as the more considered and thoughtful cousin to the showier glycolic acid. Yes, it is a little slower to act, but is potentially more of a long-term friend to your skin. 

Unlike other AHAs, mandelic acid won’t increase the risk of discolouration in darker skin tones. Instead, it works to reduce hyperpigmentation and scarring in a really gentle, yet effective way.

words by Frankie Rozwadowska

Votary ‘Radiance Reveal Mask’

– £65

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA

– £6.50

The Inkey List Mandelic Acid Treatment

– £10.99

21 Foodie Delights & Health-Conscious Supermarket Buys

As we embrace the festive spirit of the holiday season, supermarkets are adorned with an array of delightful treats to elevate your celebrations. From exquisite vegan chocolates that make for perfect gifts to wholesome cheeses that add a touch of richness to your spreads, and Christmas puddings ready to take centre stage at the grand celebration itself—our shelves are a treasure trove of festive delights. Amidst this holiday indulgence, we also bring you a selection of health-conscious options, including convenient meals packed with nutrition, catering to the demands of this busy season. Explore our on-the-go snacks designed to keep you energized during hectic days. Additionally, discover quick and nourishing breakfast ideas for a healthy start, alongside a newfound appreciation for a delightful new sourdough loaf that has captured our hearts!

What’s On Molly’s Christmas Wish List

As always, it was a fun task to pull together my Christmas wish list this year! Much like Sadie, I am hoping a few beady eyes will be reading this so maybe I’ll be lucky enough to find some of these under the Christmas tree! I’ve got a lovely mix of goodies… a few old favourites with a new twist, some cosy winter wear, some home accessories I’ve been lusting over and a couple of experience gifts which, in my opinion, often make the best presents of all! 

Jo Malone English Pear & Sweet Pea Cologne

For years I’ve worn English Pear & Fresia from Jo Malone so when I heard they were bringing out English Pear & Sweet Pea I knew, even before I smelt it, I’d love it! Sweet peas are my favourite flower for scent so this is a bit of me!

ALMASIKA Universum Petite Gold Diamond Necklace

A girl can dream of a bit of sparkle under the tree right? I love the simplicity of this necklace… it feels understated in design and so wearable everyday which suits me considering I never take off my jewellery.

Bertioli Water Meadow Hand & Body Wash

I don’t need to say much more about my love for Berioli’s Water Meadow wash because it was recently in one of my editor’s columns but it’s safe to say I’d be delighted to restock for my kitchen and bathroom… the scent is just so unique and wonderful.

Varley Wilkins Sherpa Puffer Jacket

I’m really up for the current fashion trend of browns and chocolates, I think this is a trend that suits everyone. I’m a casual dresser by nature but I do like to elevate that from time to time and I think this sherpa puffa just adds a bit of difference and style to what is a basic winter jacket.

Mrs Alice Ethel Dog Bed

My dog Rosie loves to stare out into the garden from our back doors to make sure no squirrels or foxes step on her turf but to do this, I have to pop her bed on a dining chair so she can see out! I think I’ve finally found her the perfect bed that’s elevated enough for her to see out the window without using a chair. I just need a cosy insert to place in it and I think it’s perfect!

Spa Weekend at Lime Wood

Hubby are you reading this? I’d like a weekend at Lime Wood please… with you of course! Lime Wood really is the OG of luxury country hotels and I can’t believe I still haven’t been. I’ve wanted to go for years so maybe this is my lucky moment?!

Rebecca Udall Brass Salt & Pepper Grinder with Recipe Notebook

I’d love a new set of salt and pepper shakers… I currently have little pots that you can take a pinch with your fingers but it can get a bit messy so I figured some chic-looking grinders would look very pleasing on my worktops. And bonus, this set comes with a cute recipe notebook!

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in Milkshake

I think I’ve dreamt of owning a Kitchen Aid stand mixer since I was about 14! I envisage myself making lemon drizzle cake on a lazy Sunday afternoon with my beautiful stand mixer… my ancient hand-held one isn’t cutting the mustard in terms of aesthetics!

Townhouse Voucher

The super luxe nail bar, Townhouse, now has two locations very close to me and while my wallet may be quivering, I’m very excited indeed! I think vouchers like this make such a perfect gift when you’re short on time and they give the receiver a lovely experience to look forward to.

Adidas by Stella McCartney Trainers

There’s nothing quite like a fresh pair of trainers for some workout motivation. These MAY not be the most practical for outdoor runners given their bright shade of white but I do a lot of workouts from home so I don’t need to worry so much about them getting grumpy after a couple of wears.

Reformation Giusta Oversized Cashmere Cardigan

Continuing on the chocolate fashion theme, I tried on this cashmere cardigan from Reformation and I felt like a main character from a Nancy Myers film… for a brief moment I was wafting around my home in the Hamptons wearing only neutrals and baking late-night pancakes… if you know you know. 

Bamford Gua Sha Heart

I want to commit to regular Gua Sha facial massages as I keep seeing people’s incredible before and after pictures and it’s truly outstanding what it can do to your face. Joining the 30s club a few months ago, I want my skin to look its best for many years to come without needing to turn to invasive procedures so I’m going to give this a go and report back on how I’m getting on!

Unwrap the Magic: 12 Enchanting Festive Experiences To Book Now

Welcome to a cheerful array of festive experiences that promise to ignite the spirit of the season! Whether you’re eager to unleash your creativity, indulge in culinary delights, or immerse yourself in enchanting performances, there’s something for everyone in this winter wonderland of activities.

Edible Christmas Gifts at Daylesford

Build your own delicious selection of handmade treats on this fun, hands-on course. If you fancy making your own Christmas gift this year, Daylesford’s tutors will help you get in the festive spirit as you learn how to make an array of preserves, decorative biscuits, sweet treats and much more.

Christmas Pottery Classes at Birch

Get festive and create your very own Christmas ceramic decorations at Birch. In this taster session for beginners, you’ll get hands-on and make a collection of six handmade decorations, using our stamps, textures and patterns to personalise. These pieces will be dried, fired, glazed, and posted to you after the session with a little ribbon on the side.

Beaverbrook Skate & Dine

Experience the magic of Winter at Beaverbrook with enchanting ice skating and delectable food. Nestled in picturesque surroundings, the rink offers seasonal joy for all. Glide through the winter wonderland surrounded by twinkling lights, and afterwards, indulge in a culinary delight at Beaverbrook. Whether a novice or seasoned skater, the experience promises magical moments on the ice, followed by a feast for the senses with delicious food in this idyllic setting.

Christmas Candle-Making Workshop

Embrace the holiday spirit at Yougi Botanicals’ In-Person Christmas Candle Making Workshop. Dive into the art of crafting festive candles in a hands-on session. Held in a welcoming atmosphere, this workshop offers a unique opportunity to create personalized, aromatic candles, making it a perfect festive activity to share with friends and family.

Christmas Actually Royal Festival Hall

“Christmas, Actually” at Southbank Centre is a heartwarming dance performance that encapsulates the holiday magic. Inspired by the beloved film, Love Actually, this enchanting show weaves together dance, music, and romance. Immerse yourself in the festive spirit as the performers bring to life the timeless tales that make Christmas truly special.

Wreath Making Workshop

Join creative designer and florist, Emma Ellison for Wreath Making across South West London throughout November and December. Blending her artistic design flair with expert floristry skills, Emma will guide you through 2-hours of festive fun to create a masterpiece that will hang beautifully on your door this Christmas. Using seasonal foliage and blooms, layer up your bespoke naturally adorned wreath that will rival any you’ll find in shops, made with love! During the workshop enjoy mulled wine and mince pies to get you in the spirit. Wreath-making classes will be taking place at The Weir in Brentford (30th Nov & 2nd Dec), The Abercorn Arms (3rd Dec) and The Kings Head (4th Dec) in Teddington.

Hansel and Gretel at The Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe presents “Hansel and Gretel” in 2023, a captivating twist on the classic fairy tale. Set against the iconic backdrop of the Globe Theatre, this production promises a magical journey for audiences of all ages. Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Hansel and Gretel, brought to life in a unique theatrical experience.

The Big London Christmas Bake

“The Big London Bake” is an exciting culinary adventure that invites participants to unleash their inner bakers. Located in London, this hands-on baking experience challenges teams to create delectable treats under the clock’s ticking pressure. A blend of fun and competition, it’s the perfect activity for baking enthusiasts and novices alike.

Christmas Carols at The Ned

At The Ned in London, immerse yourself in festive joy with enchanting carol performances. Amidst the grandeur of this iconic venue, experience the magic of the season as talented musicians and singers fill the air with timeless melodies. The Ned’s festive carols promise an unforgettable holiday ambience in the heart of London.

Festive Lunch at Farmacy

Indulge in a plant-based feast at Farmacy with their enticing Festive Lunch menu. Featuring a delightful array of seasonal dishes, this menu promises a unique and flavorful celebration. From festive starters to delectable mains and tempting desserts, Farmacy’s offerings blend culinary excellence with a healthy, plant-powered twist for a truly joyous dining experience.

Nutcracker Afternoon Tea at Petersham Nurseries

Embark on a whimsical journey with The Petersham Covent Garden’s Nutcracker Afternoon Tea. Indulge in a festive culinary experience featuring an array of sweet and savoury delights inspired by the classic tale. Set in the enchanting ambience of Petersham Covent Garden, this tea promises a magical and delectable celebration.

Ice Skating at Kensington Palace

Ice at Kensington Palace transforms the historic setting into a winter wonderland. Skating enthusiasts revel in the joy of gliding on the ice amidst the iconic palace backdrop. Lit by the glow of seasonal lights, the rink provides a magical experience for all ages, making it a cherished annual tradition in the heart of London.

The Great Christmas Feast

The Christmas Feast at The Lost Estate is a magical blend of festive cheer and culinary excellence. Set in enchanting surroundings, the event offers a unique gastronomic journey featuring artisanal delights, from delectable roasts to exquisite desserts. The venue transforms into a winter wonderland, creating an immersive atmosphere with lights and seasonal decor. The Lost Estate’s Christmas Feast invites guests to celebrate the season in style, making it a must-attend affair for those seeking an extraordinary yuletide experience.

words by Molly Jennings