All Posts In Healthy Holidays

12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Flavored Honey

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, Healthy Holidays, December 8, 2011
infused honey
Give them something sweet this year.

Looking to treat the sweet tooth on your gift list to something a bit unique this holiday season? Homemade flavored honeys are a perfect fit.

  • Start with a mild but tasty honey like wildflower.  I think using a local variety makes the gift all the more special.
  • Add your own special twist:
    • You can add mild herbs like lavender and chamomile, or stronger flavors like rosemary or mint directly to the jar and let them steep. For a more intense flavor, warm the herbs and the honey just slightly in a saucepan then re-jar once cooled.
    • The same process works for spices and zest. Warm some honey with lemon or orange zest to add some brightness or spices like dried hot peppers or cardamom for a more savory twist.
    • Label the jars and adorn with a festive bow.

What would you add to your honey to make it unique?

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12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Stocking Stuffers for the Food Enthusiast

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, Healthy Holidays, December 7, 2011
meat thermometer
Fill their stockings with useful gifts this year.

Stockings are a big deal in my family so coming up with fun, creative, and USEFUL gifts are a must. Here are 5 goodies for the food lover in your life. Best of all, they won’t break the bank!

1.) Penzey’s Spices

Give the gift of flavor with everything from four-color peppercorns to Vietnamese cinnamon

2.) Parchment Paper Half-Sheets

No more fumbling to flatten rolled up pieces of parchment! These make covering your baking sheets a breeze.

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12 Days of Holiday Gifts: White Chocolate Bark

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, Healthy Holidays, December 6, 2011
white chocolate bark
Make some chocolate bark for the shining stars on your holiday list.

I adore chocolate bark.  It’s one of the easiest candies to make and you can cram whatever you want into your favorite chocolate variety – white, milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet or a combination of chocolates swirled together. I had fun with this sensational bark because I blended flavors and textures: salty, crisp pretzels, chewy, sweet cranberries and crunchy, nutty almonds. You can change the recipe to create whatever you want – swap peanuts for almonds and/or dried cherries for cranberries (and you can leave out the pretzels). Or ditch the nuts and fruit and just add pretzels. Because the chocolate is white and the cranberries are red, I think this makes an excellent gift for friends and family (for the ultimate holiday colors, use green pistachios and dried cherries or cranberries). Once the chocolate hardens, break the bark into pieces and place them in a cookie tin or decorative box adorned with ribbon (I went simple this year and brought the bark to my boys’ teachers on foiled-line paper plates with plastic wrap and a big silver bow). Happy Holidays!

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12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Infused Vodka

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, Healthy Holidays, December 5, 2011

flavored vodka
Trying to keep alcohol consumption modest this holiday season? Make the most of your celebratory sips with these sweet, tangy, spicy and even herbaceous homemade vodka infusions.

Smart Sipping
Spiking vodka with seasonal flavors makes a festive and creative gift.  A 1.5 fluid ounce “shot” of vodka contains about 100 calories and most infusions add no additional calories. Those made with sugar will add 15 calories per teaspoon.

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12 Days of Holiday Gifts: AeroGarden

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, The Veggie Table, December 4, 2011
aero garden
Fresh herbs, even in winter.

Do you have someone one your holiday gift list who loves to cook with fresh herbs? Give the gift of flavor this year – and the magic of a guaranteed green thumb – with the AeroGarden. I received this three years ago as a gift and cannot believe how effortlessly I’m able to grow fresh herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, or even flowers year-round. My AeroGarden sprouts fresh herbs so rapidly, I oftentimes find myself giving sprigs of thyme and dill to neighbors and family members. This, coming from someone who can’t keep a houseplant alive for more than a week (no exaggeration)!

I love having fresh basil, dill, thyme, and sage, growing right in my apartment ready to be plucked and added to recipes for a kick of flavor and a punch of the antioxidants that are packed in fresh herbs.

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12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Coconut Macaroons

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, Healthy Holidays, December 3, 2011
coconut macaroons
Give the gift of homemade macaroons this year.

Every holiday season, I make loads of confections for the amazing people in my life. That includes teachers, delivery people, friends and neighbors. Last year I gave out chocolate covered pretzel rods (with colored sprinkles on some and slivered almonds on the rest — similar to Toby’s recipe) and garlic-parmesan bread twists (made with puff pastry and presented in pretty vases with big red bows). This year, I made macaroons because my son adores them and they’re incredibly easy to make. I made one big batch and dunked half of them in melted semi-sweet chocolate (for some reason, my chocolate-loving son Kyle didn’t want his dunked!). Check out how short this ingredient list is and how easy they are to make! You can even quadruple the recipe and take care of everyone on your holiday list.

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12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Panini Maker

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, Healthy Holidays, December 2, 2011
panini maker
Is there a panini press on your wishlist? (image: Cuisinart Panini Press)

Whether you’re cooking for a family or just for one, a Panini maker can help dress up an ordinary sandwich. Here are the most popular Panini makers, plus healthy recipes to print and attach to your gift.

Panini Makers:

Cuisinart Griddle/Panini Press
Cost: $49.95

Le Creuset Panini Press
Cost: $85.00

Krups Universal Grill Panini Maker
Cost: $79.99

Simply Calphalon Nonstick Panini Pan
Cost: $39.95

Healthy Panini Recipes:

12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, December 1, 2011

pretzel sticks

We’re kicking off the holiday season with 12 Days of Holiday Gifts — gifts that are both homemade and gifts you can buy at the store for your loved ones this season. Day 1: Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Sticks that you can make with your kids.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers: Soup’s On!

by in 5-Ingredient Recipes, Thanksgiving, November 25, 2011
turkey stock
Make a homeade stock out of your Thanksgiving leftovers and turn it into 3 easy soups.

You can only heat up a plate of gravy-drenched turkey dinner leftovers so many times! Go a little lighter with your Thanksgiving memories by making any of these 3 easy and tasty soups. They all start out with a fresh pot of stock made with stuff you’ve got lying around the kitchen.

Turkey Stock
Don’t toss out the remnants of your turkey! Go the extra mile and turn it into an amazingly delicious stock. A large pot, some water and vegetable scraps (you’ve definitely got those around) and you’re set. Let it simmer away while the family settles into a cozy food coma.

Basic Turkey Stock
Makes 2 quarts

1 roasted turkey carcass (from a 10-pound turkey)
2 pounds raw vegetable scraps (carrots, celery, onions, leeks and garlic recommended)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Water

Combine ingredients in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a slow boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 2 to 3 hours. Strain and transfer to quart containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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One Small Change: Plan Your Black Friday Strategy

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Tips, November 24, 2011

pecans
Turkey, stuffing and pie, oh my! Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for people looking to manage their weight because it is a holiday that:

1)      Primarily focuses on food

2)      Signifies the start of the holiday season which is full of parties, celebrations and special family meals. And unfortunately, most of these celebrations are not serving huge platters of veggies, grilled chicken, hummus and whole wheat pita with fruit for dessert!

While an all-day eating holiday like Thanksgiving can wreak havoc on otherwise good eating habits, one non-ideal meal (or day) does not lead to pounds of weight gain. The big issue for many is how to deal with the days following Thanksgiving when we have lots of temptations to keep the celebration going on. Friday (all those leftovers) and Saturday (well I’ve already gone overboard so may as well enjoy myself) and Sunday (I’ll start fresh on Monday) and Monday (I wanted to eat better but my coworkers brought in pie/cake and leftovers!) and . . . you get the idea.

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