A Cure for Christmas Day Cabin Fever: Plenty of Food and Tasty Drinks

Hosting a Christmas Party? Easy! Hosting your kids and spouse for the ENTIRE day… take a breath and take some notes.

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The magic of Christmas comes and goes in the blink of an eye, so when the big day comes and all the gifts have been opened what’s next? The last thing anyone wants to do is venture outdoors into the cold. This day is all about being snuggly and feeling bubbly. Here are my fun drink and food ideas to get you and your family through your Christmas Day cabin fever.

Drinks & Finger Food for Gift Opening 

Adults: Pop Champagne Mimosa – Kids: Orange Juice Spritzer

Why not serve yourself and the kids a refreshing fun twist on orange juice for the special day while opening presents? You deserve to sit back and relax first thing in the morning after the weeks of decorating, wrapping and shopping.

Adult Recipe: In a festive fluke serve Prosecco Champagne with a splash of orange juice or grapefruit juice. Garnish with a thin orange slice.

Kids Recipe: Serve sparkling juice and a splash of orange juice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Mini Breakfast Snack Finger Food: Cinnamon & Brown Sugar French Toast Bagel Sticks

Do a quick prep the day before and pop these yummy sticks in the toaster oven for a few minutes while the family excitedly open their gifts. Serve on a decorative Christmas platter to tie everyone over until breakfast.

Recipe: Slice package of mini plain bagels in half then cut down the center (each bagel should make four pieces. Prepare a bowl of almond milk (or your milk preference) with cinnamon. Prepare a bowl of brown sugar and cinnamon.

In a skillet melt butter. Dunk a bagel piece in the milk with cinnamon and brown both sides in the skillet. Let each piece cool then sprinkle both side with brown sugar and cinnamon. Place into freezer overnight for a quick warm up in the morning.

Award Winning Christmas Breakfast

Okay you relaxed on the couch. Now it’s your time to shine! Show off your creative style for this special day by adding small quality touches to all your favorite breakfast items.

Eggs: Why not toss in some mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes? Prepare your eggs your favorite style and add plenty of veggies and cheeses.

Waffles or Pancakes: Throw in chocolate chips or strawberries to your batter. Top with powdered sugar, whip cream or hot fruit topping and you have a delicious twist on plain waffles and pancakes!

Potatoes: Cut some red skin potatoes into chunks. Add in green peppers, onions and broccoli. Mix in some ranch dressing and sprinkle with shredded cheese. (go ahead and splurge it’s Christmas Day once a year!)

Meats/or Not: Fry up some turkey bacon, turkey sausage, or vegan seitan bacon or sausage to accompany your delicious sides.

Mid Afternoon Drinks & Food

Once all the morning excitements have died down (and maybe a nap or two has everyone refreshed) it is time to move on to the next half of your Christmas morning. Gather the family around the fireplace (or watch the t.v. fireplace on Netflix) for a family game, or television for an oldie but goodie Christmas movie. And wait….. don’t forget about the next round of food and drinks!!

Adults: Hot Coffee with a shot/Kids: Hot Cocoa Chocolate Bar!

Adult Recipe: Brew a cup of your favorite Joe. Add in a shot such as Patron XO Café and any other of your favorite condiments.

Kids Recipe: Select your favorite cup of cocoa mix and adorn your table with toppings. Have the kids squirt on the whip cream and top with sprinkles, chocolate chips, and cherries. If you’re really feeling fancy cool off the hot chocolate with some vanilla bean ice cream at the bottom of the mug.

Mid-Afternoon Snack – Holiday Popcorn Medley

Pop a bag of your favorite popcorn. Be creative by adding dried fruit like cranberries, marshmallows, and chocolate chips to the bowl of popcorn once it has cooled.

It’s Dinnertime Drinks & Food!

Some of you may be venturing off to parties or over to a relatives for dinner. Lucky you! However, if you will be finishing off your day at home, everyone will soon be asking for dinner. It’s time for another creative meal and beverage to accompany the evening plans. Make a fancy and inexpensive place setting at the table – Hopefully you were able to get the kiddos out to play in the snow for a breather. If not, now would be the time!

Adults: Holiday Moscow Mule – Kids: Holiday Ginger Juice

Moscow Mules have become one of my favorite drinks for its delicious blend of vodka, lime and ginger bite at the finish. Add a splash of cranberry juice, mint sprig and a few cranberries to make a holiday rendition.

Adult Recipe: Choose your favorite Vodka. Add ginger beer (go for a strong brand like Goslings), squeezed lime juice, cranberry juice, and pour over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and toss in a few cranberries.

Kid Recipe: Ginger beer (non-alcoholic), squeezed lime juice, cranberry juice poured over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and add some cranberries.

The Final Event: Dinner!

So you made it to the end of your Christmas Day. You’re exhausted I am sure, but that Holiday Moscow Mule will help you get through the last stretch. Make it a dinner they will remember!

Veggies: Kale Greens with Cabbage – Start with a base of broth (chicken or vegetable), butter, garlic and salt and pepper (add more or less to your liking). Make one layer kale, one layer cabbage. Add more butter, garlic salt and pepper. Keep layering and repeating. Once pot is full let this deliciousness simmer for 30 to 40 minutes depending on the texture you prefer.

Starches: Brown Rice Noodle Mac & Cheese – Boil brown rice pasta and drain. Stir in butter, salt and pepper, pinch of garlic, cheddar cheese, jack cheese, and your favorite milk. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and bread crumbs. Put in the oven on 425 for approx. 40 mins.

Pineapple Sweet, Sweet Potatoes – cut sweet potatoes into medallions. Boil in hot water. Prepare a skillet of brown sugar, honey and butter (add more or less to your liking). Place sweet potatoes into skillet and add frozen pineapple chunks. Let simmer on low heat for 10 mins.

Meats: Barbeque Turkey Ribs & Salmon – Marinate turkey ribs (or cut turkey cutlet sliced) and salmon in Italian dressing overnight with salt and pepper. Place in broiler and turn midway when ready to cook. For last 10 minutes in oven pour barbeque sauce over the meat. The turkey ribs should take approx. 45 minutes on 425. The salmon approx. 10 – 15 minutes and serve.

Breads: Butter some pumpernickel bread and place in the oven for 7 minutes. Serve warm and make this last so it stays warm and soft at the table.

Place setting: Find inexpensive holiday table placemats at stores like Dollar Tree or Wal-Mart. Spice up the decorum of any table with candles and holiday colored napkins. Goblets go well and can also be found at Dollar Tree and Wal-Mart for under $5.

Enjoy your memorable Christmas Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a Healthy Halloween

Lets face it. Times have changed. What used to be the old age tradition of dressing your kids in costumes and venturing out into the dark night with bags (or pillowcases) for long walks around your city are coming to an end.

Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s being more conscious of what we are putting into our kids system, or it could be a combination of the two.

These realities do not put a damper on this time of year, but they do allow for some creative, fun, healthy changes for your children and future generations.

As we know, change is always inevitable. Nothing stays the same. When you know better you can’t help but to do better. This new set of parents known, as Generation X and Millennia’s, are raising ourselves and our children healthier and wiser than our parents did.

And for good reason. Candy is filled with even more sugar and artificial dyes. Yellow #5, Blue #1, and Red #40 sound more like a cool dye to color shirts with, but instead it’s dyeing our insides.  Venturing into the darkness with your children is still popular for some, but many view the world a little differently than they used to.

You might be wondering – just how might one Mom or Dad get past Halloween without allowing our children to collect the Hershey, Twix, and M&M bars at costume festivals or household Halloween parties?

For starters, we always prepare the kids for what’s about to happen – the “good” and the “bad”.  For the “bad”- We let them know that when they graciously collect their goodies, they get to pick one, eat it for about a minute and after the minute is up it goes in the trash.  When we get home a few (and I do mean VERY few) go in the freezer and the rest in the trash.

Never feel bad about throwing away candy. Anything that does not serve as nutrition for my families insides has no place in our home.

Call it cruel and unusual, but my children have come to look forward to the small indulgence of unhealthy sugar. And believe it or not they don’t bother to ask about what happened to their other candy.

The “good” – we offset the artificial stuff with some healthy sweets. There is an overabundance of healthy sweet alternatives that you can swap.

As your families ideals change during Halloween, there are still many cool, healthy alternatives that can be created within your own family tradition. And yes, Halloween can be enjoyed with minimal amounts of sugar!

Keep in mind – if you decide not to buy organic or raw it’s okay. You are still making a healthy decision to stay away from the commercial “shelf life” candy choices!

Baked Pumpkin Seeds with Cinnamon and Organic Coconut Sugar

Slice open a pumpkin, take out the seeds. Let the seeds dry overnight. Place pumpkin seeds on a baking dish. Sprinkle cinnamon and organic coconut sugar on top. Place in the oven on 425* for 25 minutes. Let cool or use as a topping over Tofutti Vanilla Ice Cream. Enjoy!

Candied Apples with Organic Raw Honey dipped in nuts

Grab a Green (Tart) or Red (Sweet) Apple. Dip or drizzle Organic Raw Honey then dip into nuts. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes and Enjoy!

Organic Raw Fruit Fondue w/ Dark Organic Chocolate

Grab your favorite fruits – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, cherries. Grab your favorite organic dark chocolate bar (most can be found at your favorite non-commercial grocery or health food store – the health benefits of dark chocolate are endless!).

Kids House Party w/ fruit infused water ice cubes

Once again grab your favorite fruits (limes, lemons and ginger go great here too!). Add cubes to fresh water (or parents, add to your favorite mixed drink). After all, they will already by amped up from those healthy candied apples and pumpkin seeds. Balance their nutritional benefits with water. Enjoy!

Homemade Pita Pizza Party

Split open a wheat pita. Smooth on the organic tomato sauce or marinara. Choose your favorite toppings such as red, green, and yellow peppers. Sprinkle with fresh mozzarella cheese – or if you are dairy free, Daiya cheese has a wide assortment of delicious dairy-free cheese to choose from. Place in the oven on 425* until brown. Enjoy!

Movie Night with Brown bag popcorn and Pink Himalayan Salt

Grab organic whole kernels and place into a brown bag. Pop in the microwave according to your settings. Sprinkle with Pink Himalayan Salt and Enjoy!

 

From my Family to yours – Have a Healthy Halloween!

PUMPKIN

 

 

 

Keeping Bees: A few tips for Beginners

About a year and a half ago, bees began to pique my interest. The way they lived, their determination, caring for their queen bee and of course – the honey!

And so my journey began. I started to read and watch documentaries as much as I could about beekeeping for beginners, bee anatomy, organic beekeeping. I attended a few classes watching slides and networking with other seasoned beekeepers. I learned a lot!

After years of building up the courage, I attended a beekeeping class that would allow  some hands on experience. I knew that attending would let me know if this new found interest was meant to be. Surely, it was! I felt at home near the hive and with the bees.

I still have a considerable amount to learn about keeping bees, but here are few helpful tips if you are considering this hobby.

Read, read, and read some more!

There is a lot to learn about the busy bee. From their life stages in the hive , their jobs (baby, nurse, worker) and their anatomy. Books such as Beekeeping for Dummies will also explain the different types of hives available. Depending on how you want to keep the bees (domestic or commercially), it is important to understand which type of hive is best for you prior to ordering your bees.

Bees can suffer from various diseases and bug infestation that can destroy a hive. Foul brood disease and varroa mites (to name a few) are serious conditions that a beekeeper must be aware of. Understanding both of these situations is a must!

 

Location

Did you know that bees can thrive in the city and the country? Beekeeper Andrew Kotes set up his hive of 20,000 bees on top of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City!

Bees can travel the length of 4 football fields to forage for pollen. That being said, your location is a small factor in deciding if you can or can’t keep bees. Others are doing it in very unique places.

Cost

Their are ways to be economical when keeping bees. You can catch your own swarm (I would personally wait until I had more experience), you can build your own hive, and you can create your own bee suit. In my opinion, being economical would be more ideal for the seasoned beekeeper.

If you are just starting out I recommend the following:

1) Buy your bees from a reputable, state certified bee farm. It will not guarantee that your bees will be mite free, but a good bee farmer should have less than 3% mites in the packages they give you. A popular trustworthy bee supplier to purchase from is Blue Sky Bee Supply. The two to five pound packages of bees come in the mail and are picked up at your local post office. The cost is about $130 containing around 9,000 bees and one doting queen.

 

2) The most common type of bee hive – The Langstroth Hive will cost you about $200 including the frames. A more economical approach could be the top bar hives. These hives are more common in tropical areas and their structure is horizontal versus the more common vertical hive. Finally, there are “nuc” or nucleus hives that you can purchase for $160. Nuc hives come with the bees and the queen already introduced to her hive and all stages of bee development inside. That situation could make things a lot easier for a beginner beekeeper.

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3) A newbie will definitely want to consider purchasing a full suit and gloves when going out to the hive. Not only does it protect you from a potential sting, but your clothes could get super messy from the propolis resin and honey. Seasoned beekeepers warn of wearing gloves when inspecting the hives because of the potential to kill bees accidentally. Killing a bee releases a pheromone to the bees which can cause them to get defensive. Leather gloves can be bulky and harder during inspection, so eventually as you get more comfortable you can go glove-less or with thinner hand gloves. A bee suit and gloves will cost you up to $200

 

4) The last few supplies to get started are a smoker and a hive tool. A smoker is helpful in moving the bees around (calming) when inspecting the hive and the hive tool is needed to separate the propolis that can adhere to the sides of the frames. The smoker and hive tool should cost you around $40.

 

5) Bee food consists of white sugar in water which is treated as carbohydrates for the bees. This gives them the energy needed to work and forage honey. There are also bee protein patties that are typically given to the bees when you first put your hive together. This should cost you about $25 or less.

 

Join a club

In almost every state there is a Beekeeping Association that you can join for a minimal fee. Being part of a club allows you to learn from seasoned beekeepers and attend bee seminars and classes to help with educating yourself on keeping bees.

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Beekeeping is definitely not for everyone, but can be a rewarding experience when you are doing it for the right reasons. Here are some additional facts to consider before deciding to keep bees that I learned at a recent beekeeping class:

 

Bees need about 50 pounds of honey during  the winter to survive

 

Killing weeds and clover in your yards is not ideal for bees – they need it!

 

Living near corn and soybean fields in the country is not ideal for bees to consume

 

Check with your neighbors, zoning requirements, and state certifications prior to setting up your bees

 

After a few stings your body will set up a resistance to bee venom, but always have an action plan just in case of a bad reaction.

 

It is ideal to check your hive every 10 days to check for food and room

 

Drone (male) bees do not sting! They are their simply to mate with the queen

 

A queen mates ½ mile away from the hive and always returns

 

There are organic chemicals such as formic acid that can be used to kill mites

 

I wish you best of luck in your beekeeping future! Bees are important to our food supply and way of life. If you would like to help the bees by planting delicious wild flowers in your yard click here.

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