What is Christmas Day without good food? Nothing, that’s what it is. And if you’re like me (the other matriarchs of my family, really) the menu for Christmas dinner was set long ago, and this is the week to start the meal prep. Yes, you read that correctly, meal prep for Christmas dinner is serious business and it must happen days in advance to get the meat properly marinated (or as we say in Jamaica, mek it soak).
Christmas is the holiday to either show off your skills in the kitchen or stuff your bellies to the brim. But for children (especially toddlers) that hasn’t yet clicked and will take a few more years. Whether you’re doing a potluck or going full-on chef to prepare the meal, consider how your child will fit into the festive feast.
Jamaican Christmas Dinner Staples
In Jamaica, there are a few staple (see what I did there) elements that must be included in your Christmas meal.
I’ve outlined a few below for you:
Ham: Now I am not sure where this long standing tradition came from, but having 2-3 slices of ham round out the perfect Jamaican Christmas meal each year.
Gungo peas and rice: We eat rice and peas everyday but at Christmas? We MUST ditch the red kidney beans and have the staple combo made with green or dried gungo peas.
Sorrel: The drink of Christmas in Jamaica, you really haven’t had Christmas till you’ve had a glass of sorrel, with or without a ‘tups’ (little…or alot) of the spirits (alcohol).
Fruit cake: There is nothing like the Jamaican fruit cake to get in the Christmas mood. It is essentially a cake made from a blend of fruits soaked in rum or wine.
Curried goat: A curry stew of the local goat meal, cooked down with irish, carrots and green seasoning.
Macaroni and Cheese: An ordinary, everyday meal becomes extraordinary at Christmas with so many various ways to prepare it.
Chicken: There is always room for chicken in a Jamaican menu. Bake it, fry it, broil it, roast it, your Christmas menu will feature this bird.
Vegetable and Potato salad: A mix of fresh vegetables tossed together; and a combination of irish potatoes, corn, eggs, green beans, mayo and more.
Fun and merriment: It is certainly a happy time of fellowship with family, friends and loved ones. No sour vibes, just pure fun, joy and happiness.
Jamaican Christmas Dinner Menu for Children (Picky Eaters)
Now that menu sounds mouth-watering. I mean just writing this has me daydreaming of the afternoon of December 25. But as a parent, I’m also concerned about what the little one is likely to eat. She is the definition of a picky eater. But I believe, she’ll get a balanced meal from the options below:
Macaroni and cheese: A parent’s go-to ‘wholesome’ meal for picky eaters, and an all time favourite of children…sometimes.
Chicken: However you prepare it, just ensure you have a drumstick or wing for the little one to chomp down on. This for sure is the only protein my daughter will have.
Sorrel/Carrot juice: Non-alcoholic of course. Because we rarely drink juice, my child will have just about anything that is not as clear as water just for the thrill of drinking juice. Carrot juice can double as the vegetable intake as well.
Vegetable: This is quite the gamble, but if you’re slick enough, you can possibly sneak some vegetables on your child’s plate. Having a flavoured salad dressing to go with this could help.
Remember kids eat with their eyes, so if the food does not look appealing or familiar to them, they will likely not try it. When preparing and planning your Christmas menu this year, try to incorporate everyday meals in the menus as best as possible for those picky eaters.
What are you having for Christmas? Have you started preparations yet?