Luke Hines’ top tips for a low-fuss, healthy festive feast

Forget traditional ham or roast – load up your table with these delicious, fresh and healthy food ideas from Luke Hines this Christmas.

It’s been a tough year, and the last thing anyone needs is a stress frenzy this Christmas.

House of Wellness foodie favourite Luke Hines dishes up his top tips to keep the festive season simple and delicious.

Buy local and in season

There’s no question that fresh and in-season produce is always the best.

You’re supporting local producers and farmers, and will get the produce in its peak state. It’s quite fun, too.

It’s all about looking at what your region does really well and celebrating that.

For example, if you’re in Queensland, celebrate macadamias and mangoes in a salad, or pineapple. In South Australia, you might look at seafood in particular.

Put a twist on your Christmas lunch or dinner meat

Instead of doing a big ham or turkey, try a different cut of meat.

If you do want a more traditional meat, you could get some turkey breast, dice it up, marinate it and cook delicious turkey skewers on the barbecue.

You could create a beautiful glaze that you baste while you’re cooking.

  • Load up a skewer with turkey, some really big chunks of red onion, some different coloured capsicum, mushrooms. Chunks of pineapple go really well on the skewer too.
  • Experiment with honey, maple syrup, a bit of acid with lemon or lime. To caramelise, use some coconut or brown sugar. And of course use a good quality oil. Very simple.
luke hines barbecue
Image: Mark Roper

Fire up the barbecue

Barbecuing will create a really iconic Australian Christmas.

If you’ve got a lid on your barbecue, you can cook almost anything you would in the oven.

You could barbecue a pork belly instead of having a traditional ham.

Everyone loves pork and it’s such a Christmas staple, but it can keep you glued to the kitchen.

You could do a lamb shoulder, a pork belly, a beef roast; all of those things cook really well on a barbie when you shut that lid. I think it really Australian-ises the Christmas lunch.

Put a fresh spin on your prawn cocktail

I also want to see the return of the prawn cocktail – we celebrate seafood so well.

The prawn cocktail is a talking point and a bit of a laugh, but it has come so far.

  • Jazz it up with some delicious mayonnaise, some diced avocado, fresh chilli, and chopped peanuts which can be prepared in advance.
  • Put it in nice glass, layer it up beautifully.

Embrace communal eating

Cook in bulk and serve on platters; it just makes life so easy.

It sings outdoor eating, and there’s fewer dishes at the end of the day. It sings rustic, it sings everyone digging in, communal eating, that kind of vibe.

Help yourself, because nothing makes mum angrier than people who don’t finish their meal.

So at least if people serve their own food they know what they feel like.

christmas mocktails

Throw out the rule book for an Aussie Christmas

Traditionally, everything we eat at Christmas is hot. I don’t know why we’re celebrating with things like puddings that are going to make us sweat even more.

Things like beautiful fresh berries with ice cream are simple and easy.

Something like a summer trifle is also a fantastic option.

And when it comes to trifle, I think the rules should be broken.

Load up an Aussie trifle with mangoes and mixed berries. Instead of using custard, try a vanilla cream, keep it really light and summery and fresh.

And you can make it in advance, so it doesn’t add stress to your day.

Replace booze with mocktails

This has probably been a year where we’ve drunk more than we usually would.

So why not clean up our act a little bit and live a little bit healthier?

My recommendation is delicious mocktails with fresh fruit.

There’s nothing better than an alcohol-free caprioska using ice, lime, brown sugar and fresh mint.

Accommodating dietary needs at Christmas

Swap out ingredients to cater for guests with allergies and health requirements.

  • Dairy cream: Coconut cream is a fantastic alternative.
  • White or refined sugar: The best alternative is coconut sugar, it’s gives great caramelisation.
  • Coeliac or gluten-free: Swap white flours for almond meal or quinoa flour, one for one in recipes.
  • Nuts: Replace them with seeds. If you want to make a crumble or a crust where you’d usually use nuts, swap them for sunflower seeds or hemp seeds, they add crunch and are binding.
  • Eggs: Make a flax or chia egg, one part chia or flax meal to two parts water.

luke hines summer trifle

Luke Hines’ Summer Trifle Recipe

Serves 6

Nothing says summer in Australia like a trifle – it’s the perfect dessert to share, and it looks gorgeous in a big glass bowl. Impress your friends with this paleo take on a classic indulgence.


  • Blueberries, to serve
  • Raspberries, to serve


  • 300g raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatine


  • 6 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot (tapioca) flour
  • 2 cups tinned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon powdered geltaine


  • 1 cup raw macadamias, toasted
  • 1 cup pepitas
  • 1 cup pistachios, roasted
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds


Step 1.
To make the jelly, combine the raspberries, maple syrup and 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until the raspberries have collapsed and the liquid has slightly reduced.

Remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

Step 2.
Pour the raspberry mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth, then push it through a sieve into a bowl.

Discard the pulp and seeds, then whisk the gelatine into the warm raspberry liquid until it has dissolved.

Step 3.
Pour the liquid into a deep, round, 6-cup capacity glass serving dish, then let it cool to room temperature.

Place it in the fridge for two hours, or until firm.

Just be sure not to put a hot dish in the cold fridge as it could shatter.

Step 4.
While the jelly sets, get onto the custard.

Whisk the egg yolks, maple syrup and arrowroot flour together until pale and creamy.

Heat the coconut milk with the vanilla extract in a small saucepan over low heat until it reaches boiling point, then slowly whisk this mixture into the yolk mixture until well combined and smooth.

Step 5.
Pour the coconut milk and egg mixture into a clean saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over a medium low heat for 4 minutes, or until thick and smooth.

Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the gelatine until it dissolves and it is well combined and smooth.

Strain into a heart proof bowl and cover the surface directly with cling film to prevent a skin forming, then let it cool to room temperature.

Step 6.
While it cools, start the crumble. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until course crumbs form.

Spoon half the mixture over the surface of the firmly set jelly, then set aside with the rest.

Step 7.
Spoon the custard over the crumb layer in the dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture and top with extra raspberries and blueberries before serving.

Written by Luke Hines, with Anna Brain.