Chai Tea Recipe: Another Winter Warmer

More Winter Warmer Recipes

Hot drinks warm you from the inside out. If it’s not the right time of day for our mulled wine recipe, try one of these:

Indian Chai Tea Recipe
3 cups water
3 whole cloves
3 tea bags (black tea)
1 tbsp. whole cinnamon (pieces broken)
2 cups milk
Sugar or honey to taste

In a medium pot, place the water, cloves, and cinnamon on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let it boil for at least five minutes or until the water is fragrant and medium caramel colored. Add the tea bags and return to boil an additional minute. Add the milk and let it come back to a boil. Remove it from the heat and take the tea bags out. Pour up a mug of tea and season it with sugar or honey to taste. You’ll be warm and toasty in no time!

Or if you prefer coffee to tea:

Eggnog Latte Recipe
(You will need a steaming pitcher and steaming wand for this recipe)
Ingredients:
1/3 cup skim milk
2/3 cup eggnog
1 espresso shot (about 1.5 fluid ounce)
1 pinch ground nutmeg or cinnamo

Instructions:
Place the milk and eggnog in the steaming pitcher and heat to about 165 degrees F with the help of the steaming wand. Make your shot of espresso and pour into your favorite mug. Add the steamed milk and eggnog into the mug, but hold back the foam using a spoon. Add the foam on top and sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon.

Of course, you can also simply add egg nog to coffee (in place of creamer) for an easy winter warmer with festive holiday flavor.

Mulled Wine Recipe: A Great Winter Warmer

Warm up with some mulled wine tonight. Better yet, invite some friends and warm them up, too!

Mulled wine is spiced with a variety of spices and then heated.

Standard spices include cinnamon, cardamom, and honey – but you’ll find other ingredients depending on where your mulled wine recipe hails from.

If you have a German background, you’re more likely to be familiar with Glühwein – a rich red wine spiced with vanilla, cinnamon sticks, cloves and citrus. If you have a Scandinavian heritage, add some almonds and raisins. And Romanian families enjoy vin fiert (also known as boiled wine), made from red or white wine and peppercorns.

Here is a basic mulled wine recipe to start with. Then you can experiment with your own ingredients, cultural flair, and creative add-ins, such as ginger, mace, and peppercorns.

Basic Mulled Wine Recipe:

1 bottle red wine
1 to 2 Tbsps brown sugar
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1 bay leaf
Half an orange

Place a medium-sized pot on the stove, pour the wine into it, and follow that by the juice of half of an orange. Cut up the orange peel and the rest of the ingredients. Allow the wine to become warm or hot, depending on your own preference, but do not allow it to boil. Stir occasionally while heating. You can leave the larger pieces in the mulled wine or drain them out. This makes about six servings.

Non-Alcoholic Mulled “Wine”
For a non-alcoholic version, begin with grape or pear juice. Add any or all of the following: orange juice, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. You can also use lemons to replace the oranges and brown sugar rather than white table sugar.

Again, making mulled wine isn’t a science. It’s an art that develops over time. Once you develop a recipe you love, you’re bound to be making it a lot to warm up you and your friends from the inside out.

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: 10 Quick Tips plus 4 Festive Low-Fat Recipes

From the time the first mini-Snickers hits the kids’ plastic halloween pumpkins to the very last sip of bubbly on New Year’s Eve, it feels like the holidays are one long lesson in avoiding overindulgence.

And while it might not be super duper easy, here are a few strategies to help you avoid holiday weight gain. (Plus some lowfat recipes to help you celebrate the season.)

1. Think bite size. When you find something you must treat yourself to, give yourself a wee bit. Imagine the amount you’d be given at the grocery store on free sample day. Take that little bit and savor each and every morsel. Yum.

Instead of taking an entire slice of pie, split a portion with your kids and/or your spouse. Just try not to label any food as completely off limits. That’s sort of a recipe for disaster.

2. Remember that you won’t forever miss your chance to eat this food. Sometimes, we tend to think that this holiday food is “special food” and so we rationalize eating it because it is food that we won’t be able to eat at any other time of the year. And so we are more likely to not want to cheat ourselves out of this special food. We must partake so as not to feel sad about it the whole year through. It helps me when I can remind myself that I am an adult with my own kitchen and access to ingredients at the grocery store, which means that I can actually make that food anytime you want. The whole year through!

3. Plan ahead. Before you arrive at the party, fill up on foods that are low in calorie but protein-rich and high-fiber. Some ideas: lowfat cottage cheese and fruit, a few slices of turkey, or a garden salad sprinkled with nuts. You can even slam a Slim-Fast shake. Do whatever you have to do such that, when you arrive at the party, your ravenousness isn’t instantly faced with creme puffs and egg nog.

Again, when filling your plate at a party, make sure that most of your choices are lean protein or high fiber. You’ll fill up and won’t have as much room for other stuff.

4. Ditch the calorie-rich alcohol drinks (or have one and sip on it for awhile.) Drink sparkling water instead. We all know that alcohol is high in calories, but it can also make you want to eat more and it might make you less able to resist the allure of aforementioned crème puffs and egg nog.

5. Stay busy. Engage yourself in conversation, join or start a game, or go help the hostess. Try not to position yourself near the food.

6. Make a supreme effort to eat healthfully at home during this season. Make sure your grocery basket includes fresh fruits and veggies, including some of the amazing fall and winter bounty: pumpkins, an amazing array of apples, and squash, pomegranates.

7. Exercise. Keep your normal exercise routine. Even if you don’t normally exercise, make a point this season to at least get out and walk a little each day. You’ll feel better and less stressed. (Make sure to talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise program if you don’t currently have one.)

8. If you overindulge one day, don’t go and beat yourself up.
Just jump back on the wagon. Eat a healthy breakfast. Drink water. Take your daily walk. Know you’ll do better.

9. See your weight loss as part of a big picture.
You are treating your body well so that it serves you well for years to come – so that it has the energy it needs to do the things it needs to do and so that it feels good doing them. Part of treating your body well involves eating things you love – but not in quantities so large that it’s not good for your body.

10. Experiment with low-fat holiday recipes. Find some good, healthy appetizer or dessert dishes to bring to those potluck parties. That way, you know there will be at least one healthy item on the table.

Here are a few holiday recipes to enjoy:

Christmas Biscotti

Ingredients:
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tbsp ground ginger
¾ tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tbsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375degrees F and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, molasses, sugar and oil. In a separate bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and combine, then mix into the egg mixture until the dough has a stiff consistency.

Divide the dough into two halves and roll each half into a roll the length of the biscotti. Place the two rolls onto the cookie sheets and pat down to ½ inch thickness. Place into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, then set aside to cool enough to touch.

When the rolls have cooled, cut them into ½ inch thick diagonal slices. Then place the biscotti back onto the cookie sheet and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until they are nice and crispy.


Cooked Pears with Spiced Syrup

Low Fat Low Sodium Recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
12 peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
3 pears, peeled

Instructions:

Pour the water into a large saucepan and place over low heat.  Stir in the sugar until dissolved.  Add the peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cloves.  Place the pears in the pan.  Place a piece of parchment paper over the pears and lay a plat on top of the pan.  This will keep the pears under the water so they will tender.  Cook over low heat 25 minutes or until the pears are fork tender.  Remove the pears and place on a plate.  Continue cooking the liquid another 20 minutes or until it becomes a syrup.  Strain the liquid to remove the peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cloves.  Cut the pears half lengthwise and remove the seeds and core.  Slice the pear halves in quarter.  Spoon the syrup over the cut pears.

Nutritional Information (Approximate Values)

Number of Servings: 6
Serving Size: 1/2 pear with syrup

Per Serving
Calories 281
Carbohydrate 72 g
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 0 g
Sodium 1 mg

Orange Laced Apple Cider
Low Fat Recipe

Ingredients:

6 cups apple cider
3 whole allspice berries
3 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
1 navel orange, peeled and quartered
1 navel orange, unpeeled, sliced

Instructions:

Place the cider in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the berries, cloves and cinnamon sticks.  Stir to combine the ingredients.  Add the quartered orange.  Bring the mixture to a quick boil.  Once boiling reduce the heat to low.  Cook 7 minutes.  Pour the cider through a strainer being sure the berries, cloves, cinnamon sticks and oranges are removed.  Place the mugs in the microwave 30 seconds to warm. Pour the cider into the warm mugs and garnish with orange slices.

Nutritional Information (Approximate Values)

Number of Servings: 6
Serving Size: 1 mug

Per Serving
Calories 151
Carbohydrate 38 g
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 1 g
Sodium 8 mg


Vegetable Medley with Vinegar Salsa

Low Fat and Low Carb Recipe

Ingredients:

3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped very fine
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped coarsely
3 tablespoons white onions, chopped very fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons low carb breadcrumbs, toasted
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 pound small green beans, blanched
3/4 pound small new potatoes, boiled and cut into wedges
3/4 pound small beets, cooked and cut into wedges

Instructions:

Place the parsley, capers, onions and garlic into a large mixing bowl.  Pour in the vinegar and olive oil.  Mix together well to combine all the ingredients.  Add the bread crumbs and mix until completely moist.  Sprinkle in the black pepper and stir to incorporate.  Place the bean, potatoes and beets on a plate.  Cover the vegetables with the sauce completely before serving.

Nutritional Information (Approximate Value)

Number of Servings: 6

Per Serving
Calories 170
Carbohydrate 19 g
Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Fiber 4 g
Protein 4 g
Sodium 232 mg

Gifts that Give Back: 5 Ideas for Ethical Gift Giving

Ethical gift giving isn’t new, but the Internet has opened up a whole new world of innovative options for gift givers to find the perfect charitable cause.

And charities are making it easier, too. The websites of many favorite charities have made available not only gift catalogs but gift registries, too, so you can let your loved ones know where you prefer any donations (made in your honor) to go.

What are “Ethical Gifts?”

Ethical gifts are those that give back in some way. The traditional definition mostly takes the form of a charitable donation, but, in this post, we’ll expand that definition to include all of those gifts that give back, whether to a favorite cause, to a community or to a group of artisans.

Here are five innovative ways that you can give an ethical gift.

1. Send Charity Cards. There are two ways to make your holiday greeting cards into ethical gifts. The first is to order a set of recycled cards from your favorite charity. The money you pay for these cards and/or gifts will benefit the charity. The other way, offered by some organizations, is to purchase a card that includes a charitable donation when the card is sold. The easiest way to find these cards is to visit the website of your favorite charitable organization.

2. TisBest Cards.
You can purchase these cards just like traditional gift cards from the TisBest website. Tisbest then sends the card via email (or you can print a certificate). Your recipient will be able to go online to choose which charity receives the donation. Visit TisBest.com >

3. Global Giving cards. GlobalGiving.org helps connect you to a wide variety of projects and causes that you might never have otherwise known about. Browse the available causes on the website by country or by theme. Choose projects to support, make a tax-deductible contribution and then get regular updates so you can see the effects of your donation. Here again, you can give a gift card (for as little as $10) so your loved one has the ability to choose the causes and projects to support. GlobalGiving.com

4. Alternative Gifts International. This site at http://www.alternativegifts.org – and others, including Heifer International (heifer.org) and WorldVision (worldvision.org), make it easy to select a charitable gift that will help people all over the world.

In the Alternative Gifts International catalog, which you can view in its entirety online, you can choose an interest that you wish to support in the name of your gift recipient. You can donate to education, stopping hunger, reducing child mortality, gender equality, maternal health, medical services, environmental stability and several other projects.

Within each section there are many different areas you can donate to, around the world and in the United States. For example, you can donate to build rural medical clinics in Bolivia or donate food to hungry families in Iraq. Prices of these charitable gifts vary from several hundred dollars to just $5 to $10.

5. Support an artisan with your gift purchase. Fair Trade is a name for an economic and environmental program that offers growers and producers of many different types of goods fair wages and resources for the items that they produce. Instead of creating a marketplace based on the lowest prices possible and harsh work conditions, Fair Trade is a way of recognizing products and companies that think about the impact on humanity and not just the bottom line. See Momscape’s article on Fair Trade for more information.

Here are a few online stores with programs that give back to the artisans:

Gaiam.com has a Gifts That Give Back shop which helps make a difference in the lives artisans across the globe who can achieve livable wages with the help of your purchases.

Overstock.com has a special section called Worldstock, which brings to market items made by artisans around the world. Choose everything from handcrafted furniture, home décor, and decorative accessories to handcrafted silver, beaded, and pearl jewelry.

Macys.com has a Shop for a Better World collection, which features a variety of gifts that make a difference, including Rwanda Path to Peace baskets.

Kahina Giving Beauty
Kahina donates 25% of its profits.

A couple more notes about ethical gift giving:

* You might find that ethical gifts are most appreciated by people who are focused on giving in their own daily lives. Maybe someone on your list is a regular volunteer worker or donates to several causes throughout the year.

* It’s wonderful to make a donation in the name of a child, and then to sit down with a map to let the child know where the donation will be going and what kind of good it will be doing. Just keep in mind that this kind of gift will likely be better received if it’s paired with a tangible gift for the child.

What are your favorite ways to give ethical gifts – or gifts that give back? Please share your insights and ideas in the comments section below.

Disclosure:  Momscape is an affiliate of Global Giving, Overstock, Macys, and Gaiam.com

Teacher Gifts: 7 Frugal Ideas for Meaningful Gifts

This is a great time of year to show our kids’ teachers how much we appreciate them.

If money is tight this time of year, here are a few quick ideas for meaningful ‘teacher gifts’ that won’t break the bank.

1. Words from the heart. The most important part of any teacher’s present will be the accompanying letter or card that expresses your true feelings about the teacher. Make sure to include specific examples of a time when he or she made a difference in the life of your child. It’s even better if you can include a handmade card from your child, too, with a special sentiment. Then you can pair the card(s) with one of the simple and meaningful gifts below.

2. Give food gifts. You can give cakes, cookies and other confections. Save money by doing all of your baking at once (so you can buy the supplies in bulk). Purchase festive tins or boxes from a dollar store.

You can also create a gift that will keep: create cookie or soup jars as gifts. Combine layers of the dry ingredients of your favorite recipe in a large Mason jar and tie a recipe card to the jar with a festive ribbon.

3. Something handmade. Knit a scarf or hat or make a mini scrapbook album. If you have a talent for arts and crafts, making meaningful gifts probably comes easy for you. If you don’t have that particular talent, you’ll find a huge variety of surprisingly inexpensive handmade items on etsy. This site has a fantastic Gift Guide section here: http://www.etsy.com/gift-guides/ (We’re not affiliated with etsy. We just like it. A lot.)

4.Coffee or tea. Look to specialty stores for inexpensive gourmet brands that don’t cost too much. Pair the gift with some decorative mugs so the teachers can enjoy their drinks immediately. A gourmet truffle or two goes well with this type of gift.

5. Small box of stationery. Visit a warehouse office supply store for inexpensive, yet quality, stationery – or piece a set together with coordinating envelopes and cards. Add a stylish (but inexpensive) new pen and a book of stamps.

6. Make a donation in the teacher’s name. Ask your child about the causes that are near and dear to the teacher’s heart. Present the teacher with the card describing the donation made.

7. Organize a community gift.
Email makes it easy to organize a class gift. Send a quick note to the parents and ask if anyone would like to contribute, all together, for a more meaningful gift. You can ask for a certain amount, $10 or so, perhaps, or leave the amount open and ask everyone to contribute just what they can this holiday season. Some will contribute a small amount. Others will be in a position to contribute more. Use the donations to purchase a card at a bookstore, an office supply store, or a local day spa. Then present the card, signed by the parents of the class, with the gift certificate, gift card, or other special gift.

What are your favorite teacher gifts? Please add your own favorite ideas in the comments section below.

Susie Michelle Cortright is the founder of Momscape.
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Supercook: A free and useful site that makes life easier

I’m not an inspired cook. I do it each night only because, otherwise, I find that my kids get hungry.

The other night, it was almost dinnertime and yet there I was, sitting in front of my computer, messing around and wasting time. I knew I needed to get up and cook something but I was feeling sort of unmotivated. This happens sometimes. I feel as though I’m getting less “domestic” as I get older.

Then sun is starting to set and there’s an eerie blue glow on my face from the screen. I’m imagining what I look like to my poor hungry children. They are finished with their homework and are starting to swarm the computer table.

“What’s for dinner?” They keep wanting to know. Each of them. I don’t look up. I can’t face their poor little faces, their downcast eyes, their bowing bellies.

So I keep clicking and that’s when I somehow stumble, in a way that only the internet can make possible, this ridiculously useful website: Supercook.com. This site is my new very best friend.

This is the site that I’ve always wished existed: You type in the ingredients you have. I type chicken breast because that’s really just about all I have. The site presents me with a list of other ingredients. I click on them: garlic, rosemary (which, oddly enough, I do have in fresh, organic form because I bought it recently to make a recipe that was too long and involved and the expensive little sticks of rosemary ended up getting pushed to the back of the fridge.) So let’s see what else? Lemon. Yes. I have some dried-out looking lemons sitting right in front of me. They looked ever so pretty when I bought them to put in a bright blue glass bowl on the center of my table but now, they are just looking puckered and sad.

So then this site gives me links to 44 different recipes that I can make with those ingredients. I choose something called Grilled Tuscan Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon and when I click on the link it takes me to a Martha Stewart recipe website. Thirty minutes later we are grubbing on serious yumminess, and I feel triumphant.

This is so fun that I get a little cocky. I try something a little more obscure. Okay, supercook. I type in sweet potato. then I say I have brown sugar, orange juice and vanilla extract. What comes up? A Creamsicle Screwdriver. Woo hoo! Dessert! (Interestingly, I didn’t have a sweet potato. I was just testing. But I do have vodka so we’re all set.)

Note: momscape is not affiliated with Supercook.com We just like it.

Here are some recipe collections at momscape that you might like:
http://www.momscape.com/recipes