Friday, 9 December 2011

Keep your mince pies open

Mince pies are Cockney Rhyming Slang for eyes, in case you didn't know. If you have no idea what I'm on about when I say Cockney Rhyming Slang then go here and educate yourself.

Mince pies are totally my favourite type of Christmas pudding. I never had eaten them before we moved to the UK, but they are as traditional as Christmas crackers or going to the Panto (other British things I adore.) Mincemeat was traditionally made with dried fruits soaked in booze, sugar, spices and suet (made from either beef or mutton fat) to bind it. Hence the term mincemeat. Nowadays, you can get mincemeat with vegetable suet--which is nearly always gluten free because it is made from oil and rice flour. Bonus!

picture from

Mincemeat tastes lovely and warm and sweet and scrummy and makes you feel all Christmas-y inside. When I was just a vegan (rather than the wheat free vegan I am now) it was easy to buy mince pies in a shop. Just look for the cheapest ones--because the posh ones had an all butter crust and the cheaper ones used margerine. But now also having to avoid wheat things can be a bit trickier. I found several FREE FROM mince pies but all contained egg. then I finally found Sainsbury had some gluten free vegan mince pies. I was chuffed until I saw that each pie was over 200 calories and contained a HUGE amount of fat and a list of ingredients a kilometre long. That put a damper on things for a moment until I began to reflect about that fact what I really loved was the filling. Sod the fat laden pastry crust. So I devised a plan.

I bought a jar of Luxury "Taste the difference" mincemeat that had both apple and apricot puree and as well as brandy soaked dried fruits, spices and gluten free veggie suet. I paid less than £2 that will serve me every day until after Christmas (and the box of 4 GF vegan pies would have set me back nearly £4.) I then bought some Nairn's Scottish Oatcakes for less than £1--which contain oats, oil, sea salt and sodium bicarbonate and are only 43 calories per oatcake. They have a nice nutty oat crust flavour and a topped with a tsp of mincemeat means I can have a calorie controlled treat with is low in fat. Plus at that rate I can have 2 for a treat or 3 if I am feeling festive.

One of my favourite stories as a child involved a mincemeat pie and I recall reading it and having no idea what mince was still really liking the tale. A farmer's wife made 2 pies--one apple, one mince. So she could tell them apart she labeled them IA for Is Apple and IA for Isn't Apple. You can see how the story goes as now she can't tell which is which until a crafty fox eats one and says "The one that is left is mince." Genius.

I will leave you with a joke worthy of a Christmas cracker:
Q: Who works secretly for the government but only at Christmas?
A: a mince spy
Boom Boom!

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