Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Give me IL DIVO

This week, each of us co-authors on A Scrapbook of Christmas First is to answer the question, "What would be on your list this year?" Simple:

Front row tickets to see Il Divo.

Have you seen their youtube video of Amazing Grace? Even as a writer, I'm at a loss for words to explain this performance. My darling husband, after watching the video, bought their latest CD with this song. Of course, I love Il Divo anyhow; have 4 of their CDs.

So what's on your gift list this year? Leave me your thoughts . . .

Brenda Nixon, http://www.brendanixon.com/
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gift Lists and Name Exchanges - By Trish Berg


This year, Mike and I are getting a joint gift for each other...no surprises this year. We want to have an elliptical/treadmill to use at home. We have been running and biking together, and losing weight, and want to have a treadmill or elliptical to use at home this winter.




But we also have extended families on both sides, and we have celebrated Christmas gift giving many different ways. Here are some tips.




5 Tips for Gift Exchanges




1) SWAP NAMES ONLY - With my husband's family, we swap names at Thanksgiving for Christmas gifts. Each person, whether child or adult, draws one name out of a hat and that is who they purchase a gift for.




2) SWAP NAMES & GIFT IDEAS - A friend of mine has a different take on their name swap. They swap names, but include a list of gift ideas. So when you draw a name out of the hat, you get a list included of some things they would love to get for a Christmas gift.




3) THE GIFT GAME - In years past, we have had everyone bring a gift for extended family worth $25-$30 and wrap it anonymously for a man or women. Then everyone draws a number on Christmas day and you start at 1 and go up. When your number is called, you pick a wrapped gift to open and keep. But everyone who has a # bigger than yours can choose to "steal" your open gift, or choose an unwrapped one to open. If your gift is stolen, you can steal someone else's gift or choose an unwrapped gift.




4) THEME GIFTS - Decide as a family of a gift theme for this years Christmas celebration for extended family gatherings. i.e. Swap names, and then if you are all Ohio State fans, have everyone everyone purchase an Ohio State themed gift for the name they draw. You could have themes like: jewelry, sports, theatre tickets, night out on the town, etc.




5) EVENT INSTEAD - Instead of buying gifts for extended family, do something together, Create a family event and spend the money you would have spent on gifts on that event. You could all go to and indoor water park/hotel, an amusement park, take a Christmas train ride, or simply go out to a fantastic dinner at an area restaurant. Memories are made at events that last far longer than many gifts last.




Whatever you do for your gift exchange, remember to stay within your spending budget. Set limits, and stay within those limits. Shop sales and clearance outlets. And when you set price limits for gift exchanges, make that for the GIFT VALUE not what you actually spent. That way, you can shop on sale for a $45 valued gift and only spend $20 when you find it on sale, saving you a ton of money.




Monday, September 28, 2009

Santa's Naughty or Nice List...and mine


Hello, this week the Word Quilters want to help you think about making out your Christmas gift list--oh, not gifts to buy for others, but gifts to receive. Now that may sound selfish for a moment, but stay with me, there is a point.

Gift buyers often have a difficult time thinking of something to buy or make that the recipient could really use. You can eliminate that problem by pre-thinking your needs this fall and jotting down those items. Often, the people who want to give a gift to you will ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" Sometimes in the past, I'd answer "Oh, we don't want you kids to get us anything," or "I don't really know." Those answers aren't very helpful to a busy family. They really would like suggestions. Over the next few weeks, start a "Wish List" for yourself, and then when someone asks, you'll be prepared.

The list helps in numerous ways: no returns; the buyer knows they are giving something you really want; your house doesn't become cluttered with things you really can't use or don't want to get rid of because you might hurt the giver's feelings.

When my son and his wife or my daughter and her husband ask about my wants, I don't want them to spend much, so my pre-thought needs list helps relieve them of deciding what to buy. My kids know they have duplicate lists, so they talk among themselves and tell each other what they will buy.

The past several years these were some of the items on my list. Flannel pjs, a pair of kitchen shears, an insulated pump thermos for hot tea or coffee when we have guests, books by certain authors, smooth writing Profile pens by Papermate(my favorites), favorite teas, fancy beverage napkins, chocolate covered marshmallow Santas. Don't really care whether it's Santas or trees, just about anything marshmallow and covered with chocolate will do. AND I PLEAD WITH THEM TO ONLY BUY ONE THING FROM THE LIST.

You really can help take the pressure off of those who want to give you gifts, if you'll lay a piece of paper in a prominent place and begin your wish list today! Or print the picutred list by going here.

Help us out--as a gift buyer, do you like to get suggestions from the recipients? Do you have a "gifting" story.

Let us know.

Happy list writing.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Aluminum, Artificial, or Real?


In a world where things are always changing and progress happens in the blink of an eye, there is one constant that brings most of us all together again--Christmas. The things of Christmas have changed over the years though. Take trees for instance.
Growing up, there was always a live tree for our Christmas. I don't know that artificial was even available in those early years. The bulbs were multi-colored and hot to the touch and silver tinsel a must. But along came the aluminum tree. The silvered branches changed color as a disc with four basic colors, red, purple, and yellow, rotated in front of a spot light that shone on the tree. Mom refused to have one. I'm grateful.
There was one year when she succumbed to flocking the tree. I don't know how she talked Dad into it because I seem to recall him wrinkling up his nose every time he looked at it. Maybe she sold him on the idea because it was supposed to preserve the tree longer and he hated cleaning up after a dry tree.
Of course the more popular artificial trees became, the more outrageous they got--pink and purple and white. Each year we passed on the latest fad and stayed true to the real smell, the real feel and the real mess of needles to clean up.
Mom gave in to the artificial world when the trees became a little more realistic looking and my brother and I were gone. That way she could get us to come home and put up the tree early. Mom was not above a guilt trip. "I don't think we'll have a tree this year," always brought us home to decorate.
My husband, Bob, and I started out with real trees. Our first, which was the most perfect tree I remember, stretched our budget at a cost of $5. A couple years ago we had to shop for a new tree since we lost ours in a flood. We thought we'd wait until after Christmas to shop for the artificial tree on sale and put up a real tree for that year--until we looked at the prices. A nice Christmas tree, a real one, goes for around $70 in our area. We bided our time and found an early sale on an artificial one and saved on the needle mess as well.
While we were out shopping for the tree, we saw aluminum trees trying to make a comeback and some artificial trees that were flocked. It made me think of all the changes over the years and the one thing that has remained constant: The reason for the season--Jesus.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Christmas Potpourri: Rosemary Tree

Grow a Rosemary Christmas Tree
Do you like rosemary "trees" as part of your Christmas decorations?
Trimmed to a triangular Christmas tree shape, or a round shape, and decorated, rosemary plants look festive on a table or on your front porch. If your porch has room, one plant on each side of the door looks cheery and welcoming.
Now can be a good time to visit your plant store and buy a small rosemary plant that has the potential for you to trim it to a pretty shape. You can do the shaping over a period of weeks if appropriate. This can be a family project to find a rosemary plant that you can use as holiday decor each year.
Once your rosemary "tree" is selected and gently trimmed to the shape you want, look around for things to trim it with. Bows, strings of beads, and tiny ornaments will add color to your tree and room or porch. You can cover the pot with gold or red foil for even more holiday glow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creative Ways to Solve the Dilemma of Family Time

Holidays, though wonderful and heart-warming, can bring on unwanted stress at a time when we think we should be enjoying ourselves and having down time. However, because many of us have limited time off from work and lots of places to go and people to see (family members and friends), the dilemma of where to go and when wreaks havoc on our notion of “peace on earth.”

Our family worked out a solution during my first year of marriage to Bret. That year (1988) we spent Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his. We’ve alternated every year since. While we’ve made the occasional exception—two years ago we hosted Bret’s family and my family in our home for Thanksgiving—we try to adhere to this schedule. It means that siblings, and even extended family members, can plan accordingly and maximize togetherness!

Circumstances can become more complicated with divorces and remarrying. The key is setting boundaries that allow you and your children to walk the fine line between honoring parents and establishing traditions within your own family. First, discuss the situation with your mate and, possibly, your children if they’re old enough to be involved. Ask yourselves what’s important to you during holiday time. Is it having time to relax? Is it honoring traditions that you’ve held dear? Is it making memories with your own family, your children? Go from there in setting up the best times to visit. And, remember, Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th, so we celebrate His birth on a “random” day anyway. Perhaps you—or your parents or in-laws—could be a bit more flexible on when you spend time together.

I’m sure some of you have far more experience than I do in dealing with this issue. What has worked for your family? What has backfired? What advice can you offer others, particularly those who may just beginning to establish those family traditions?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Christmas Tip - Email Santa Directly


For over five years, we have taken the time to email Santa directly. It is absolutely FREE, and you get a personalized and immediate response from Santa.


You can also track Santa as he flies over the globe Christmas Eve, and much much more.


This is a fantastic, kid-friendly site for the entire family.




Anticipation by Brenda Nixon

This is Potpourri Week. As co-authors on A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, we choose any Christmas related topic this week and blog on it.

Hmm, what do I love about the holidays? The anticipation! Yep. Waiting . . . in eager expectation for the BIG day.

As a child, I loved the heightened joy, plans, baking, chatter, and family-time leading up to the day. I'd revel in considering the longed-for two weeks vacation from school; spending time with my brother and sister, watching holiday-themed movies on TV, and visiting with fave relatives. The foretaste of opening packages, laughter, surprise, and greed (well, I was a kid), and the prediction of Mom and Dad's reaction to my gift to them entertained my thoughts.

Some people are irritated at having to wait. Not me.

Today, as a wife and mom, I enthusiastically give my family the good aromas and activities that I hope will bond them and create a positive state of mind. I want my family to learn that anticipation - hopefulness - is indeed a gift.

Now I'm humming Carly Simon's song, "Anticipation."

Brenda Nixon, www.BrendaNixon.com
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is This Our Year?

When Bob and I got married, it quickly became understood that his family got together for Thanksgiving and my family for Christmas. His family has always celebrated Thanksgiving together and it is a big tradition dating back to grandparents. This was a great solution to the problem of who got us for Christmas since my mother was all about the Christmas holidays.

When we started our family however, we had to set some ground rules. Christmas morning was for our children and us. Mom and Dad would come at noon for Christmas dinner and to enjoy the kids delight over their Christmas gifts.

As our kids grew and married, it came time for them to set ground rules. Little did I realize each would be slightly different especially after the grandkids started arriving. And they are still evolving. Now that the families are so spread out around the country, we cherish the times when they decide to spend the holidays with us.

One family alternates years between grandparents. Another gets together with us just before or after Christmas and the other family often joins us right at Christmas and has their own Christmas celebration early. Some years we have a house full of all the kids, big and little, and other years. . .well, sometimes Bob and I just like to "skip Christmas" and go on a cruise.

Planning ahead and setting some ground rules or expectations saves a lot of heartache especially if you have a parent/grandparent who is overly eager to be the Christmas-doer for everyone. Don't wait to long to have the discussion. Too close to the holidays and it could make things even more difficult. Wishing you all the best as you approach what is often a diffiult subject to handle.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Christmas King Cake

Our posting theme this week is celebrating with both sides of the family, and I don't have any ideas on this, but want to post something so here is a post about Christmas King Cake.
Everyone loves cake, right?
Christmas King Cakes are familiar to lots of families, especially if you are from Louisiana and other southern areas, since this cake tradition arrived in the United States, in New Orleans, in 1870.
A King Cake is baked with a bean, or a plastic or ceramic baby figurine, symbolizing the baby Jesus, in it. Tradition says that whoever gets the piece of cake with the bean or baby in it is King or Queen for that day, and is obliged to host the next Christmas King Cake party. In Louisiana it is common for schools to have the party on a Friday, with the person who finds the trinket bringing the cake for the next school day.
The cakes have icing in three colors: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. This tradition is celebrated world wide, with each country having its own twist. Mexico celebrates “La Rosca de Reys” on January sixth, with a bean inside an oval shaped cake decorated with dried and candied figs, cherries, quinces, etc.
You can buy King Cake Mix, and I located two online stores that sell Mam Papaul’s Famous King Cake Mix, which includes praline filling, icing, a baby figure, and serves twelve, and some stores sell the already baked cakes with overnight shipping. These stores are in Louisiana, which is perfectly appropriate.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Wilson Family's Favorite New Recipe in 2009

This recipe comes by way of my mother-in-law. She fixed it one evening, and the family devoured it hot out of the oven . . . plain. The next morning we toasted leftovers with a little extra butter. Some ate it plain. Others added a bit of peach preserves. Though I haven’t yet tasted it with strawberries and whip cream, I know it would be delicious as the basis of strawberry shortcake.

It’s easy to remember—even amounts of every ingredient—and versatile. Enjoy!

Neena’s Pound Cake
By Carolyn Wilson

2 stick butter or margarine, melted or very soft
2 c. sugar
5 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour

Grease pan with butter wrapper. Soften butter and mix with sugar, eggs, and vanilla until creamy. Add flour slowly. Bake in Bundt pan or two bread pans.

Bake at 350 until the done—about an hour.

What new recipe have you incorporated into your routine this year? Share it with us and the other blog readers. And happy cooking . . . and bon app├ętit!

Coming Together for Christmas by Brenda Nixon

At Christmas, spending time with both sides of the family can be a challenge. Our extended family is scattered across the U.S.

It was especially hard on our family and feelings when our daughters were young and we desperately wanted them bonding with all the grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. But it wasn't possible.

We lived in Kansas City, MO when my girls were young. My side of the gene pool lived in Ohio and my husband's lived in Idaho. Yep, we were smack dab in the middle! I wrote letters (this was before email), phoned, had the girl draw pictures, took photographs and did everything I could to keep the kids and relatives close in heart. But distance prevented us from spending holidays together and never were we able to be with both sides on the same Christmas.

These days, we live in Ohio. My girls are grown young women now. Guess what? While togetherness creates memories, bonding can still happen even when you're apart. Bonding can be nurtured by extra effort and attitude. My girls still love their relatives; one flew to Idaho recently to spend her week's vacation with them. Birthday cards, gifts, and photographs are exchanged with relatives. The rare times together are sweeter because we don't take them for granted.

It demands more effort and energy to "spend time" with both sides of the family when geography prohibits physical closeness. If you're in this inconvenient boat, I encourage you to resolve to stay in touch! Remember the words of Peter Marshall, "Oaks grow strong in contrary winds." And so can your family.

Brenda Nixon, co-author of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Saturday, September 12, 2009

White Bean Chili


Bob loves this chili--please don't tell him it's healthy. . .

1 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 Tbl olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbl. chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans--drain and rinse
1 can (8 oz) corn--drain

Cook onions and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until tender. Add turkey and cook meat through, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain any fat. Stir in all the rest but the beans and corn. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in beans and corn and simmer another 5 minutes. Yields about 6 servings. Serve with corn bread and a salad.

Friday, September 11, 2009

green beans braised

Here is a green bean recipe I learned this year from my oldest son.
Take one pound of green beans, put in a pot of water with steamer tray in it, and bring water to boil.
Turn down heat to low boil, cover and steam the beans 4 to 5 minutes until cooked but a bit crisp.
Heat olive oil and a few dashes of soy sauce in a large skillet, and cook some chopped garlic until it is golden.
Add the beans, cover, and cook a few minutes until done, and still a bit crisp.
You don't want the beans to be overcooked and mushy.
My family likes these beans as described here, and also with a dash of toasted sesame oil.
Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Feta-Salad Pita

Welcome Back to our blog!

This week each of us authors are sharing the best new recipe we've tried this year. Mine is Feta-Salad Pita.

My daughter's college roomie found the recipe in an old cookbook and gave it a try. She loved it. My daughter loved it. My husband and I tried it and - you guessed it - we loved it. There's a fresh, middle-easternesque taste to it. During the long sizzling summer days, this was a welcomed taste treat that didn't heat up the kitchen. You can try it now or wait until next summer when you have an abundance of fresh garden produce.

Feta-Salad Pita

2 radishes
1 roma tomato
1/2 cucumber
1/4 red onion
4 oz feta cheese
Finely chop all the veggies, add the cheese. Then coat with dressing:
1 1/2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Mix together until salt dissolves
Add 1/2 TBS olive oil (or EVOO as Rachel Ray would say).

Brush pitas with EVOO and broil each side one minute. While warm, fill with salad mix and enjoy! Yum.

Now, what's the best new recipe you've tried this year. C'mon share it . . . .

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Homemade Granola byTrish Berg


This week, I tried a brand new recipe for homemade granola, and it is yummy. It was so easy to make and works as a snack or breakfast cereal.


HOMEMADE GRANOLA
2 c. dry oatmeal
2/3 c. nuts, chopped
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. raisins (0r craisins)
Optional - coconut

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place oats, nuts, brown sugar, honey, vanilla in cookie sheet. Toss together. Bake at 350 for 30 min stirring occasionally.

2. Take out of oven, add raisins (or craisins), toss. Let cool.

3. Stir to crumble mixture. Store in airtight container.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Calling all Taste Testers


What happens at your house when you try a new recipe?


As the cook, I'm the most eager to taste the new recipe I've found or to share it with family. My family's response usually depends upon how many weird ingredients are in the dish.


Most desserts are tried with gusto.


This week, the Word Quilters will share the best new recipe we've tried this year. Hold on a minute. I can't think of the one we like best. I need to go pilfer through that stack of recipes and see if any became favorites. I'll be back in just a jiffy........OK, I'm back. I created a recipe this year.


I have friend who is always taking a basic cookie recipe and changing all sorts of things. I guess I haven't been that courageous with my cooking, but this year, I've wrestled a few recipes, until I got the ingredients and taste about the way I like.


I wanted to duplicate an apricot bread pudding that I had at tea room, this is my duplication:


Easy Apricot Bread Pudding


chop 1 cup dried apricots (soak in 1/2 cup warm water and 2-4 tablespoons of rum for several hours)

1 can condensed milk

2 1/2 cups warm water

4 -5 eggs

2-4 tablespoons melted butter

5-6 cups dried bread pieces (for decadent use dry croissants)

(toasted slivered almonds optional) I add them. Yum!


Spray an 8x8 glass dish with Pam. In separate bowl, gently stir in eggs eggs, and melted butter. Gradually stir in condensed milk, then add warm water. Add bread into bowl with wet ingredients and stir until broken up a bit more. Carefully pour or ladle into glass dish. Bake at 325 degrees until center is set. This is not real sweet, so you may want to add a bit of brown sugar, about a 1/4 cup should be enough. I didn't use a water bath. Just baked it for nearly an hour.


Serve with whipped cream. Enjoy.


I've been freezing bread and bought a few ramekins to fill and bake and take out one at a time when bp craving hits. My favorite bread puddings are those with custard on the bottom. If you have a recipe for a custardy bp, please share.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Evaluating the Cost of Calories


Call me crazy but the way I look at calories is the same way I look at shopping. Buy cheap (or inexpensive if you don't like the word cheap). Splurge only when you can afford to and remember, it isn't a sale unless it's at least 50% off.

How does that equate to calories? When it comes to meal planning or facing the holiday buffet or the Thanksgiving meal that's coming up sooner than we realize, think of calories in terms of dollars. Those carrots are going to be a whole lot "cheaper" to eat than the mound of potatoes swimming with butter and gravy. Then if you want to splurge on a little whipped cream for your pie, you can. It's all a matter of budgeting.

And the 50% off sale? That's when you learn to cut calories in a recipe or use a sugar substitute instead of the real thing.

Once you get the idea of looking at calories as dollars, you'll hear the cha-ching of the cash register whenever you pause and consider the hot fudge sundae.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Oat meal is delicious

I adore oatmeal for breakfast, and it has had some amazing good results on my health checkups.
The way I cook it I learned from my husband, Will.
He told me about it for a long time, and I ignored his advice, since I was in a rush to go to work in the mornings.
Take 1/2 cup Quaker Oats, or other brand, "Quick 1 minute" oats, add 1 cup milk and cook in the microwave one and 1/2 minutes.
Stir, then cook 30 seconds more, and watch carefully so it doesn't overflow the bowl. An overflow in the microwave is ugly to clean up, I know.
When cooked add raisins, craisins, a tablespoon of whipped cream, a dash of cinnamon, a teaspoon of brown sugar, or whatever you prefer.
The microwave preparation means you have only one bowl to wash.
This tastes delicious, and is quick and easy to prepare.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Make Food Your Medicine by Brenda Nixon

Hello all ~ we appreciate you following our A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts blog. If you think our blog is insightful, inspirational, and fun, you should read A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts (besides the six of us authors would really appreciate your support).

This week we're revealing a healthy eating habit we've learned this year. Unlike a tot munching on anything convenient, I've learned to eat natural, organic foods free of chemicals, sugars, and fillers. Yes, I still like the crunchy, junky food but my body feels cleaner and more energetic when I consume fresh, nutritious food.

In a way, food is like medicine. Have you noticed how certain foods affect you, leaving you - satisfied, tense, energetic, sluggish, irritable, bloated? Food can harm or heal.

As a mom I want to be a good food model. As a speaker to parent audiences around the country, I encourage moms and dads to remember to feed their kids right. For example, the child's brain has about two to three times the energy needs of an adult's brain. So, that means parents must supply vitamins, minerals, and amino acids found in healthy, whole foods to support their child's cognitive development. The brain won't function optimally if it is nutrition-starved.

During this crazy holiday season when it's all too easy to grab fast - or pre-packaged food - full of preservatives, chemicals, or colors, I encourage you to give your - and your child's - body and brain the good "medicine" it deserves!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

5 Holiday Healthy Eating Tips - by Trish Berg


With Thanksgiving around the corner and Christmas close behind, now is the time to start thinking about healthy eating around the holidays.

So here are my top 5 tips.


5 TIPS TO HEALTHY HOLIDAY EATING

1. STEP OUT - Exercise. Keep it simple. After supper go for a walk. After a holiday meal, take your kids for a neighborhood walk. Walk to get the paper. Take the stairs at work or at the mall. Every step counts. Every step helps.

2. EAT - Eat regularly. If you are going to a big party or dinner, don't starve yourself all day in anticipation. You're in danger of arriving there feeling ravenous and eating everything in sight. Instead, have many low-fat, healthy snacks before you go and you'll be less likely to over-indulge whilst you are out.

3. STOCK UP - Stock up on healthy snacks. When you go shopping or on road trips, be sure to throw some healthy snacking items in to your bag. Fill up on raw vegetables, such as carrots or celery, low fat granola, grapes, apples and a bottle of water. That way you eat out less.


4. LEAVE IT - Don't feel pressure to clean your plate. A good habit to get into is to leave half the food on your plate and stop eating. Push your plate away and sit and visit with your family and friends.

5. MODIFY - Modify your holiday recipes to make them healthier.

A. Fruit puree. Substitute an equal amount of fruit puree (e.g., applesauce) for oil in cake, brownie, bread, or muffin mixes. The fruit adds flavor, moisture, and tenderness to baked goods when the oil is omitted.

B. Egg whites or egg substitutes. Replace some of the whole eggs in a recipe with egg whites or a commercial egg substitute. 1 egg = 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute.

C. Cocoa powder. Use 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder plus 1 Tbsp. regular or diet margarine in place of every 1 oz. of unsweetened baking chocolate.

D. Fat-free milk, yogurt, sour cream, or cream cheese. Use these in place of
the whole-fat products. A dollop of vanilla fat-free yogurt makes a nice substitute for whipped cream on some desserts.


E. Light or diet margarine. Be careful when using light or diet margarine to replace regular margarine or butter. These substitutes have a higher water content and can change the texture of your baked goods. Experiment--you may need to reduce some of the liquid in your recipe when you use light or diet margarine.

For more healthy eating snacks for the holidays and GREAT gift giving tips, see
http://www.snac.ucla.edu/.