Friday, December 5, 2008

Wishing You Healthy Holidays And An Excellent 2009!!

The holiday season has officially arrived and all the comes with it is in full swing. From the shopping to the tv specials to the smorgasboard of sugary and savory treats, this time of year is a time to let the worries of '08 slip away and enjoy our friends and family. As 2009 quickly approaches, many breathe a sigh of relief in hopes that this year brings us new opportunities and washes away some of the difficulties many endured this last trip around the sun. As I head off to spend the holidays and next month with family, my last post of 2008 will be one of sentiment and a few gifts ; )

I've complied some tips that may help to make this holiday season happy, eco-friendly, budget concious and stress free for you and yours. No matter what, remember to enjoy the season as the love and cheer during the holidays should be cherished. In fact, try to harness it this year and bring it in to 2009 ; )

  • If you are traveling over the holidays, make sure you "know before you go". Planning ahead is key to stress free holiday travel from researching the town you will be visiting for restaurants, markets, hotels, etc. Spending a little time on the computer at home will save you valuable time that you could be enjoying your short vacation this winter. Check out my Healthy Voyager archives for cities all over the world and where to dine as well as past holiday tips!
  • There are many ways to give this holiday season from volunteering at a shelter, a soup kitchen or donating your unused items such as clothing, housewares and electronics. There are many programs where you can drop off such items and receive a tax write off and sometimes a bit of extra spending cash. This time of year there are many added drop off locations for Goodwill and Salvation Army as well as opportunities to give gifts and food to needy children and families like Toys for Tots and many more. Staples allows you to drop off that old phone at any of their stores, as part of the Sierra Club cell phone recycling program. Recycling your old phone prevents hazardous elements like mercury, cadmium and lead from ending up in our landfills.
  • Make your own decorations and wrapping paper! With a few simple supplies and a little imagination, you can make great eco-friendly decorations and have a lot of fun in the process. Colored construction paper can be cut or folded into simple decorations, which is great to do with the little ones in your family. Baker’s clay, made from common kitchen ingredients, can be shaped and molded into holiday figures and colored with non-toxic paints or food coloring. In addition, try wrapping presents with old maps, the comics section of a newspaper, or children's artwork. If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! Later, the paper can be recycled ; )
  • Buy energy saving LED lights! Now you can decorate your house with LED lights that use 90 percent less energy than conventional holiday lights, and can save your family up to $50 on your energy bills during the holiday season! LED lights are available at many major retailers as well as online.
  • Give and/or make green gifts! It is the thought that counts but it's also great to give smart. Make sure you are not buying/making something that will end up in the trash. There are many green holiday gift guides on the internet so it shouldn't be hard to find some good stuff. Really asses what your "giftee" needs or could use. If you are short on cash, make gift certificates and offer up services like babysitting for the new parents on your list or a home cooked meal for a neighbor. Baking and sharing your sweets is always welcomed especially when your treats are healthy ; )

And speaking of baking and holiday treats, here are some of my favorites:

Mexican Wedding Cakes

  • 1 cup soy margarine
  • 1/2 cup powered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • Powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream margarine, the 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla in medium bowl. Combine flour and pecans in a separate bowl. Stir into mixture in medium bowl. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned.

Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll again in powdered sugar.

Candy Cane Shaped Cookies
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 cup powered sugar
  • Substitute equivalent of 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid red food coloring
Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

Mix flour and salt together, set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat margarine until creamy, gradually beat in powered sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg replacer, vanilla, and peppermint extracts then lower mixer speed and gradually mix in the flour mixture, beating just until blended. Remove slightly more than half of the dough from the bowl and set aside. Add the red food coloring to the remaining dough and beat until evenly mixed and colored.

For each candy cane, scoop out 1 teaspoonful of the plain dough and 1 teaspoonful of pink dough. Roll each dough portion between your hands to make a 4 inch rope. Twist the ropes around each other like a Barber Pole and shape into a cane shape. Arrange cookies on a greased baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 8 minutes until firm to the touch.

Eggless Nog
  • 1 16-ounce package of silken tofu
  • 1 cup soy vanilla soy milk
  • 1/4 cup sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Rum to taste (optional)
Blend all in a blender until smooth - Chill and serve.

Also check out last year's holiday post for more recipes:

I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season as well as a prosperous and hopeful new year. See you mid-January 2009!!!



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