How to Enjoy Holiday Food WITHOUT Overdoing It

Hello, hello! I apologize for my lack of posts this week. It's been crazy around here getting ready for Christmas! My Mom-Mom just flew in tonight from Florida, so I'm really trying to focus on spending time with her and the rest of my family. BUT I did want to stop by to chit-chat with you guys today about how you can enjoy yourself this holiday weekend, without completely overdoing it and feeling icky at the end of the night (AKA the food coma feeling). Like I've said before, I'm a firm believer in enjoying holiday food. Believe me, I'm not going to tell myself that I can't have some yummy mashed potatoes or Christmas cookies. Food is meant to be enjoyed, and you can still enjoy not-so-healthy food while remaining healthy! It's all about moderation, my friends. So, with that being said, here are my tips for you going into the holiday weekend. 

holiday-food-without-guilt

1. Take it easy on the appetizers.

I know for the holidays we all always put out a bunch of different appetizers, but be mindful when snacking. Make sure you keep tabs on yourself when eating those appetizers, because the calories will add up quickly, and you won't be able to enjoy your dinner if you're already full! Try to stick with veggies as your app if they're available, and be a bit lighter with the cheeses and dips. 

2. Fill your plate with veggies.

Try to fill half of your plate with veggies. This is always a good rule of thumb. If you do this, you'll have less room for those mashed potatoes and other not-so-healthy foods, and you'll fill up faster with your fiber-filled veggies!

3. Slow your roll.

Those cookies aren't going anywhere, friends! I've totally been guilty of this, but don't feel like you need to try each cookie or grab more than one right away. There will be plenty of cookies - they're not going anywhere! Choose one or two of your favorite cookies and truly take the time to enjoy them - mindful eating, my friends.

4. Bring a healthy dish.

If you're worried about having a healthy option, (whether it's an app, side dish, or dessert) bring one with you! By bringing a healthy dish to the holiday party, if you're not hosting, you'll make sure that you have something healthy to put on your plate. Bringing a big salad is an easy, affordable, and healthy option!  

5. Remember, water is your best friend.

It's easy to forget to drink water, especially during the busy holiday season. Make sure you're hydrating yourself over the next few days, AND especially on the day of your holiday parties. There's always plenty of wine and other drinks at holiday gatherings, but you should always try to sneak some water in. The more water we drink, the less water our bodies hold onto. That means less inflammation and puffiness AKA all the good things!

I hope that these tips help you stay on track this weekend, while still enjoying your favorite holiday foods. I hope to get back on here once more this week, but if not, Happy Holidays to all of you lovely people! It means so much to me that you stop by my little corner of the internet, and I'm so grateful for each one of you. 

Love,

 

 

Butter Rich Spritz Christmas Cookies

Hey there! I hope that your week has been a good one so far. We're almost to the weekend, friends! I know I promised you that I would have my Mommom Minnow's famous Christmas cookie recipe up on the blog last night, but I had one of those days where the time just got away from me. I'm sorry, guys! So, if you were waiting for her recipe, keep on reading. PS: I'm updating this blog post by linking up with a few awesome bloggers: Jacqui, Julie, and Audrey! You'll find links to their delicious holiday recipes at the bottom of this post. Make sure to check theirs out! 

butter-christmas-cookies

First, let me tell you that Mommom Minnow was literally the QUEEN of baking Christmas cookies. I mean, she started the day after Thanksgiving and kept on baking until Christmas Eve. I remember going into one of the bedrooms in her house and there were just stacks of tins in there that filled up the majority of the room. I don't know how she did it honestly! Baking that many cookies is not an easy job. 

Sadly, Mommom Minnow passed away when I was in high school. So, since then my sister and I have really tried to keep her Christmas cookie recipes alive by making them each year. The one I'm sharing with you today is our family's all time favorite cookie. I mean, when I make these I literally have to hide the tins or else they won't make it to Christmas. So, without further ado, let me finally give you that recipe so you can whip up some of these delicious cookies and be the most popular person at your family's Christmas gathering :) 

Butter Rich Spritz Cookie Recipe

The Ingredient List:

  • 2 1/2 cups four
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, or 1 whole egg (I usually do 1 whole egg)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla 

Mommom Minnow's Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 tsp salt.
  3. Cream 1 cup butter, and then gradually add your 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Cream well. 
  4. Blend in 1 whole egg (or two egg yolks), 1/2 tsp almond extract, and 1 tsp vanilla.
  5. Add your dry ingredients gradually and mix well. 
  6. Get out your cookie press, and add a small amount of dough into the cookie press. Press cookies onto un-greased cookie sheet. 
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for six to eight minutes. 
butter-cookies-pan

As you can see in the instructions, you will need a cookie press for this recipe - you can find them at most kitchen stores (I'm sure places like Bed Bath & Beyond and Target have them too). I will tell you to make sure that you get a quality cookie press, because a cheap one is just going to drive you nuts (been there, done that)! This is the cookie press that I've used for the past few years, and I've really liked it. The reviews for it are great, so other people must have success with it too!

butter-cookies-display

Alie and I always use the Christmas tree cookie press cut out, and the wreath. We usually top them with red and green sprinkles as well as some colored nonpareil sprinkles.

butter-cookie-recipe

Making these cookies is so special to us since it reminds us of our sweet Mommom Minnow. I can only hope that you'll enjoy her recipe as much as our family has throughout the years! I would absolutely love to hear from you if you give this recipe a try, or if you have a special family cookie recipe too. 

If you're looking for more holiday recipe inspiration, make sure to stop by Jacqui, Julie, and Audrey's blogs for some really delicious dishes and drinks! Their recipes look delicious. You can also link up with us by clicking the "link-up" button below the holiday recipe link-up photo!

holiday-link-up

Happy Baking!

PS: If you're wondering to yourself "Why did she call her Mommom, "Mommom Minnow"? My sister gave nicknames to both of our Mommoms. Mommom Minnow got her name because she had a creek in her backyard and she would take us down to it and we would try to catch Minnows with her. :)

GIFT GUIDE FOR THE FOODIE

Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope that your week is going wonderfully. My week has been full of planning future content for the blog, catching up with some friends, and some job related things! Tomorrow my sister and I are beginning our Christmas baking, and man oh man, we have a lot to do. Our Mommom Minnow always made all kinds of cookies for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and we're trying to hold onto that tradition. I'll be sharing some of Mommom Minnow's Christmas cookie recipes on here next week, so stay tuned because they're really good. 

Tonight I'm stopping by to share my third gift guide of the season with you all! This gift guide is perfect for the foodies in your life. I think there's something for every foodie on this gift guide: the baker, the health enthusiast, the coffee lover, and the wanna-be bartender ;P Let's get right into my picks!

foodie-gift-guide

1. Vitamix Blender: Everyone should have a Vitamix blender in my opinion. I LOVE ours. We had other blenders before, but they always left me kind of chewing the kale in my smoothies, and who wants to be chewing on a smoothie? Not this girl! This gift is on the pricier end, but if you have someone in your life who loves making smoothies, soups, or even frozen margaritas, this is an amazing gift! 

2. Cheese Knives: If you have a friend that loves hosting wine and cheese nights, this is a great gift option! I mean, cheese is absolutely one of the most delicious foods out there (at least in my opinion haha), but these beautiful marble cheese knives will take wine and cheese night to the next level. 

3. Latte Bowls: These bowls are the perfect gift for a friend that just moved into her first apartment or home. They're perfect for holding snacks or prepping ingredients for cooking and baking!

4. Veggetti Pro: Another fun pick for the health enthusiast in your life! This Veggetti Pro can turn almost any vegetable into "noodles". You can use a zucchini to make zoodles, which is a really great substitute for spaghetti in Italian dishes. You also could use the Veggetti on a potato to make shoestring baked fries in the oven! The possibilities are endless with this one, friends :)

5. Bottle and Cork Screw: How cute would this little set be for the hostess of the holiday party you're attending? This set would also be an adorable stocking stuffer, and it would be the perfect addition to your friend's stylish bar cart. 

6. Playful Dish Towel: You can never have enough dish towels, right? So, why not have cute dish towels to display?! I think that this Kate Spade one is so fun. Another great hostess gift, and it'd be great paired with the bottle and cork screw set! 

7. Russet Measuring Cups: This pick is one you'll want to get for your friend or family member that loves to bake. I'm a huge baker, and I would love to have some cute measuring cups to use. This is just one of the sets that Anthropologie has, so make sure to check out all of their options! 

8. William & Sonoma Hot Cocoa: I get this hot chocolate for my future brother-in-law every year now because he loves it that much. Honestly, I think any family member or friend would love to receive this hot chocolate as a gift! They have plain, peppermint, and salted caramel, so you're sure to find a flavor your loved one will like. 

9. Golden Monogram Mug: This mug will hands down be a winner for the coffee or tea lover in your life! I know my family members will be laughing when reading this, because I'm pretty much a mug hoarder. I mean, if you drink a lot of tea and coffee you have to have lots of fun and pretty mugs to drink it out of, right? Right. 

Alright, my lovely friends, I hope that this gift guide makes your holiday shopping a bit easier! 

Happy gift giving!

Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipe

Hello there, friends! I hope that your Monday went wonderfully. It's hard to believe it's already December 5th - only twenty days until Christmas! With Christmas right around the corner, we know that we're going to be around loads of cookies and other treats as well. I really wanted to find a healthy cookie recipe that I could make for Christmas so I wouldn't feel like I only had unhealthy options. So, if you'd like to have a healthy treat on your cookie platter at Christmas that's extremely delicious, keep on reading!

oatmeal-cookies

These chewy cookies from Amy's Health Baking are the perfect sweet treat for the holiday season. The rich dark chocolate balances out the the tart cranberries, with a dash of cozy cinnamon flavor. These yummy cookies will stay fresh for at least four days if stored in an airtight container at room temperature. 

For this recipe you're going to need:

  • 1 cup instant oats
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped dark chocolate

Once you have all of your ingredients you'll follow these directions:

1. Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. 

oatmeal-cookies-step-1

2. In a different bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the maple syrup. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. 

3. Fold in the cranberries and 2 1/2 tablespoons of the chopped dark chocolate. Chill the cookie dough for thirty minutes. 

4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up! 

5. Drop the cookie dough into 15 rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten to desired thickness and width using a spatula. Gently press remaining chopped dark chocolate into the tops. Bake for 9-12 minutes. 

oatmeal-cookies-baking-sheet

6. Cool on the pan for ten minutes before moving to a wire rack. 

oatmeal-cookies-baked

Once the cookies have cooled off, go ahead and dig in! Believe me, you're not going to believe that these cookies are actually healthy :) My family already wants me to make more! 

oatmeal-cookies-done

Happy holiday baking!

15 Random Acts of Kindness You Can Do This Holiday Season

Hey there! How's your week so far? Mine has been pretty busy catching up on things. It's also been super rainy and dreary here the past few days. So, I'm hoping the sun decides to show it's face by tomorrow! 

During the holiday season it's so easy to get caught up in the commercial aspect of it - buying gifts. Believe me, I'm completely guilty of this. I mean, giving our loved ones gifts is really fun! BUT sometimes I think we all get caught up in it a little too much. I'm challenging myself to make a conscious effort to complete at least FIVE random acts of kindness this holiday season. I like to think that everyone loves on each other a little bit more around the holidays, and what's a better way to show it than doing something kind for a stranger (or someone you know!)? I promise that when you do a random act of kindness you're going to feel just as good (if not better) as when you give someone a gift. 

acts-kindness

I've compiled a list of 15 Random Acts of Kindness that you can do this holiday season. I challenge you to complete at least FIVE acts of kindness just like me. Let's see how many people we can make smile this month with just these simple acts!

Some of these acts of kindness require money, or more time, whereas others will take you less than five minutes and are free!

1. "Adopt" a child for Christmas. 

There's so many organizations that sponsor these type of programs. Simply google "adopt a child for Christmas," along with the name of your hometown. Usually these children and teens' wish-lists consist of things that they need - like a winter coat or a hat. 

2. Pay for the person's coffee order behind you.

Many people have been doing this over the years, and it often creates a chain reaction where each person after them continues to pay for the next person's order. Be the one who starts the chain of kindness!

3. Give someone a genuine compliment.

This can obviously be someone that you know - maybe it's a friend, a co-worker, or one of your family members. Do you notice that many of us don't stop to genuinely compliment people in our life that we really value? This random act of kindness will take you less than two minutes. Let someone know why they're so great and watch the smile appear on their face!

4. Leave post-it notes on your company's bathroom mirrors. 

This one is so easy and won't take you long at all. Take a few post-it notes and write a few encouraging quotes or words on them. It could be as simple as just writing "smile"! You never know when someone just needs a few encouraging words to get them through the day.

5. Drop off blankets or food to local animal shelters.

Animal shelters are often looking for blankets, especially around the colder months. If you have older blankets that are in good condition, take them to your local animal shelter. The dogs and cats there will be very thankful! You can also donate food if you'd like.

6. Make a baked good and deliver it to a neighbor, for no reason. 

Make a baked good for a neighbor for no reason, and hand deliver it to them. Let them know that you were thinking about them and just wanted to deliver them something sweet!

7. Hold the door for someone.

Another act of kindness that is so simple and takes no time at all! Hold the door for the person behind you, or better yet, open the door for them and hold it for a few people to walk in. Honestly, it's sad to say, but many people don't hold the door for each other anymore. Make the conscious effort to do so!

8. Offer to babysit a friend's kids for free. 

Holidays are such a busy time, and it's no different for parents with young kids. If you have a friend with younger kids, offer to babysit their kids for them at no charge. This may be one of the greatest gifts you can give to a parent!

9. Give a homeless individual a "care package".

Have you guys heard of people doing this? Instead of giving money to the homeless individuals you see, give them a care package. Fill a large ziploc bag with things that may be useful for them. You can include things like - gloves, a winter hat, a $10 gift card to a diner, a water bottle, etc.  

10. Donate money to a charity of your choice. 

You know that charity that you really believe in, and always tell yourself that you're going to donate to it once you just have a bit more money? Donate to them! Even if it's $5 - everything makes a difference.

11. Thank your regular coffee barista for making your morning more enjoyable.

If you go to the same coffee house each morning before work make the conscious effort to genuinely thank your usual barista one morning. Tell them how much you appreciate them making your early morning more enjoyable!

12. Stop and ask a retail associate how their day is going.

Can you imagine how many grumpy people they get shopping throughout the holidays? Be their little ray of sunshine. Although I never worked in retail, I was a hostess at a restaurant and it was truly so nice when customers made an effort to ask me how I was doing and just shared a few kind words.

13. Buy a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop or deli. Put it in a coworker's mailbox anonymously. 

How fun would it be if you went to check your mailbox at work and amongst all of the paperwork sitting in there for you was a gift card?! A $5 gift card won't break your bank for the holidays. Leave an anonymous note with the gift card, wishing them a happy holiday and that you hope this would bring a smile to their face!

14. As you're walking down the street, make eye contact with two people and smile at them.

Seems silly, right? SO many people don't do this though. People are constantly looking down at their phones - texting, checking emails, etc. The next time you're walking down the street or to your car, make a conscious effort to make eye contact with someone and smile at them. I mean, if smiling is Buddy The Elf's favorite, it's gotta be good, right?! ;P

15. Shovel an elderly neighbors' driveway when it snows, without them having to ask.

With the holidays comes the colder weather and probably some snow for some of us. If you have an elderly neighbor, go out and shovel their driveway and sidewalks for them. They'll be so appreciative of this! 

Alright, friends, I challenge you to pick FIVE of these acts of kindness and do them before Christmas. Spoiler alert: doing these random acts will not only make the recipient happier, but it'll make you happier, too! Just wait and see :)

Spread some cheer, guys!