Tag Archives: holiday

A Fitting Snack for Holiday Festivities

Accommodating all Your Guests Tastes

The to-do list for holiday hosts seems to be a never-ending one, starting with planning, guest lists and preparation then ending with goodbyes and cleanup. The hours of work that go into a festive get-together are almost always worth it in the end, and family members surely appreciate the hospitality—especially when it comes to food. 

When hosting for the holidays, it can be a challenge to accommodate all of your guests’ favorite tastes while factoring in dietary preferences and restrictions. Building out a balanced menu, like other parts of hosting, starts with devising a thought-out plan. 

To help accomplish this task without cooking up personal dishes for everybody in the house, consider these simple tips: 

Request that guests RSVP. Assuming you have a basic understanding of which friends and family members adhere to special diets, knowing exactly who is coming can be a major help before heading to the store. 

Think back to past festivities. Try to remember which dishes were hits at last year’s party, and which ones were hardly touched. Maybe the appetizers that disappeared in a flash will be good ideas to repeat this year. 

Create dishes that fit (almost) everyone. While you can’t control guests’ flavor preferences, it is possible to whip up snack trays, main courses, desserts and more that fit a multitude of dietary restrictions. For example, these Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts feature Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers for a gluten-free, non-GMO, low-sugar, tasty crunch. Because they’re made with wholesome ingredients, these simple snacks are crafted to fit nearly every healthy lifestyle. Plus, if multiple family members adhere to vegetarian lifestyles, you can simply omit the bacon. (Crunchmaster Crackers can be found at EarthFare.) 

Add “warning” labels. Despite your best efforts, it can be nearly impossible to create foods every single person can enjoy. If you make a dish containing a common allergen, such as peanuts, simply place a card next to the bowl, tray, plate or pan that informs guests of the ingredients included. 

For other recipes, coupons, tips and nutritional information, visit www.crunchmaster.com

 

Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts 

Prep time: 10 minutes    Cook time: 5 minutes   Servings: 6 

 

24 Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, Sea Salt flavor 

24 small slices Brie cheese 

1/4 cup prepared cranberry sauce 

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 

Heat broiler to high and position rack in center of oven. Arrange crackers in single layer on foil-lined baking sheet. 

Top each cracker with slice of Brie, 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce and sprinkle of bacon. Broil 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

Tip: For vegetarian option, substitute chopped hickory-smoked almonds or pecans for bacon. 

Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 13 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 45 mg cholesterol; 350 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 10 g protein.

5 Hacks for Holiday Hosting

Simplify your holiday entertaining. 

It may feel impossible to fit even more into already jam-packed days, but when the holidays roll around, entertaining and celebrating always find a way. Fortunately, you can find some shortcuts when hosting that offer plenty of festive style while also helping you avoid stressing over every detail. 

This year, rely on some time-saving hacks so you’re not just throwing the holiday party, but enjoying some seasonal fun of your own. 

Repurpose with purpose. There’s no need to make time for a trip to the store or to spend a bundle on party supplies. A pretty, oversized flowerpot or planter that has been cast aside for winter makes a perfect tub for icing down beverages. When it comes to decor, you can cover any old box with some of last year’s leftover holiday paper to add some colorful touches around the home. A similar idea: wrap canvas art or other frames in pretty paper to extend the theme up the walls. 

Make easy attractive. Most holiday celebrations center on the food, but it’s still an area where you can shave some time. For example, a simple but attractive option is to forgo the family china and opt for gorgeous disposable plates and utensils. (Chinet Classic White has a wide range of products designed for practical use. They do not bend, fold or leak, and are strong enough for extra helpings no matter the occasion. And for a more elegant affair, the Chinet Cut Crystal collection is the only fully coordinated line of disposable plates, cups, cutlery and wineglasses.) Guests will barely realize they’re not using the good china, but you’ll definitely notice when you’re able to skip time at the sink to spend more precious moments with your loved ones. 

Fill the freezer. Whether your holiday entertaining is more impromptu in nature or you host a single sizable shindig, keeping a well-stocked freezer can help make hosting a cinch. Dedicate an afternoon to preparing items you can easily defrost and serve later, like casseroles, appetizers, side dishes and desserts. 

Forgo fussy food. An elegant sit-down meal isn’t the only way to enjoy a holiday gathering. Guests may even appreciate a break from traditional heavier fare. Simple food stations, finger foods and even store-bought meals are all time-saving alternatives. Another time-saving option: dressing up store-bought food as part of a larger spread. For example, you can top side dishes like mashed potatoes with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with cheese or embellish a main course such as ham with rosemary sprigs and fresh fruit. 

Keep cleanup simple. For a festive, yet deceptively easy table, consider using kraft paper as tablecloths and let some of that leftover wrapping paper do double-duty as table runners. Simply cut the wrapping paper to your desired length and fold the edges under to create clean seams. Match the DIY table coverings with a coordinated line of disposable tableware to make cleaning up a cinch. 

Explore more hacks to simplify your holiday entertaining at www.mychinet.com

Managing Your Blood Pressure

Managing blood pressure can be difficult, especially during the holidays and winter months. A change in routine, family visits, traveling, illness, holiday menus and financial concerns can all conspire to derail your best efforts at keeping chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, under control.

If you are one of the millions of American adults with high blood pressure, it is vital to keep your blood pressure stable. Drastic changes can put you at risk for heart attack or stroke.

Here are three ways to control your blood pressure throughout the holiday season from the American Heart Association:

Be wary of decongestants
Decongestants are in many over-the-counter cold and flu medications, but they have some harmful side effects. They can raise blood pressure and decrease the effectiveness of some prescribed blood pressure medications. It’s best to use them for the shortest duration possible and avoid in severe or uncontrolled hypertension. Consider alternative therapies, such as nasal saline, intranasal corticosteroids, or antihistamines, as appropriate.

Keep track of medication
The winter months tend to bring an increase in both heart attacks and strokes. According to research from the Journal of the American Heart Association, a 4.2 percent increase in heart-related deaths occurs away from a hospital from December 25 through January 7.

“Factors like cold weather, sudden increase in activity like shoveling snow, stress and dietary indiscretion can contribute to a chain of events leading to more stress on the heart during the winter months, potentially triggering a heart attack or other cardiac event,” says Jorge Plutzky, M.D., director of Preventive Cardiology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a volunteer with the American Heart Association.

It is vital to keep track of your medication and take it as prescribed by your doctor to decrease chances of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association’s Check Change Control Tracker is one way to monitor your health, as it allows you to set up text message reminders, text in blood pressure readings, connect with volunteers or providers, and receive messages from volunteers or providers.

Maintain healthy eating habits
The holidays can be a bad influence on healthy eating habits. However, it is important to stay active during these times and continue eating healthy. While you are enjoying holiday feasts with family, be aware of sodium, often found in seasonal foods like bread, cheeses and prepared meats, which can increase blood pressure. Don’t feel like you can’t indulge a little, but make sure to incorporate healthy meals.

Staying active while traveling can also be a challenge. Try bringing simple exercise equipment like a jump rope or resistance band with you. Consider walking to sights or restaurants nearby, or finding a local park or indoor walking path.

For more information and tools about blood pressure management, visit heart.org/hbp.

Bayer’s Consumer Health Division, maker of Coricidin HBP, is a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure website.

 

Holiday Stocking Stuffers!

The holidays are right around the corner, which means you’ve already begun the stress of finding gifts for your loved ones. If you’re like me, diving into the stockings on Christmas morning is one of your favorite holiday activities. Here are some new ideas for gifts to add to your list of stocking stuffers for the adults in your life!

For Her:

  • TonyMoly I’m Real Mask Sheet Bundle: Get her a week’s worth of TonyMoly face masks this Christmas. From skin brightening to pore care, this fan-favorite skincare brand has 11 different face masks for you to choose from!
  • Tile Style Pro Series: If she’s like me, she’s always losing her phone! That also means she’ll love this gift. This small and sleek-looking Tile gadget will help her find her phone wherever she’s left it. Simply double tap the Tile and their phone will ring, even when it’s on silent!
  • Eos: A gift that every woman loves? Chapstick. We just can’t get enough of it! Throw some Eos in her stocking this Christmas that will leave her lips feeling healthy and smooth with the added vitamin E.
  • Burts Bees Everyday Beauty Essential Kit: Everyone loves Burt’s Bees, and this set contains five of their most popular beauty products in the cutest travel sizes. Pamper your whole body with their Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream, Hand Salve, Milk and Honey Body Lotion, classic Beeswax Lip Balm, and Coconut Foot Cream.
  • Invisibobble Hair Tie: This revolutionary hair tool will put an end to all the challenges she’s ever had tying up her hair. Invisibobble hair ties will take the pressure off her ponytail with these hair caring, no split end, stretchy hair ties that won’t leave a single crease in their hair.

For Him:

  • Anker Phone Charger: Keep his phone charged with this Anker charger that will power up his phone four times faster than it would at any computer USB port. When at full capacity, the Anker charger can give his phone up to two complete charges.
  • Harry’s Razors Winston Set: Give him the gift of a Christmas shave. Complete with a comfortable die-cast zinc and polished chrome body, a set of two extra blades, shaving cream, and a protective case, this shaving kit can be made even more personal with his engraved initials.
  • Duke Cannon Big American Bourbon Soap: Taking a shower will be his new favorite activity with this Buffalo Trace bourbon-infused soap that’ll leave anyone wondering where you found this!
  • American Crew Forming Cream: One of the best brands in men’s haircare, this Crew Forming Cream helps hair appear thicker while providing hold, pliability, and shine.

Written by Taylor Ward

 

Meet Renée Hamilton of SWVA Ballet!

Southwest Virginia Ballet’s new executive director, Renée Hamilton, has been passionate about dance since she was a child. She began dancing very young, in elementary school, and continued dancing in different areas with a focus in ballet well into high school in Winchester, Virginia. Both in college and after graduation, she continued taking classes and remaining active on a voluntary basis.
After spending time in Arkansas, Renée moved back to the east coast and connected with Southwest Virginia Ballet. From the moment she met Karen and Pedro, she knew it would be a good fit for her.
Now, with the Southwest Virginia Ballet’s 22nd production of the Nutcracker approaching, her connection is accompanied by nostalgia.
“The Nutcracker was the first performance I was ever in as a child. I played Clara, and my parents danced in the Nutcracker alongside me. It’s something that naturally brings back childhood memories every Christmas, and makes it magical from the beginning of the season all the way through,” says Renée.
Artistic director, Pedro Szalay, is dedicated to adding something new every year in order to keep the performance fresh and new. Audiences who attend annually are often excited to see what changes he has made to costumes and choreography.
“The other fun part is watching kids in the company and community members grow and change throughout. These are exceedingly well-trained, passionate, artistic kids,” adds Renée.
In addition to supporting the participating young dancers, Southwest Virginia Ballet has a mission to give back to clients of human service organizations. If someone is going through a difficult time, and would have their holiday made better by attending a Nutcracker performance, their therapist or contact person can contact the office and say they are interested in receiving tickets for their client.
If you’d like to be part of this great organization and work with talented creatives like Pedro and Renée, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities!
“You don’t have to have a dance background to get involved. We will not turn away volunteers. We need people who sew, hair stylists, or any people who would like to get involved. We can look for a good match for their interests!” explains Renée.
Learn more about the Southwest Virginia Ballet (and Renée!) by attending events like their Nutcracker Gala on November 18 at the Shenandoah Club. There, you can also participate in an auction of locally handcrafted painted nutcrackers and other treasures! Additional events include Readings with Clara and the SugarPlum Fairy at local libraries through November and December. Of course, we can’t forget The Nutcracker performances at the Berglund Performing Arts Center on Saturday, December 9, at 2 pm and 7 pm, and Sunday, December 10, at 3 pm.
Visit www.svballet.org for more information and to purchase tickets

 

Photography by McDilda Photography.