This dessert is great to take out the door, to sell at a bake sale (if you store the cups in a tub of ice), or even to just open the refrigerator to. There’s just something so much more appealing about food that’s ready to go.

Feel free to make this in any resealable plastic container you have sitting around your kitchen. But if you want it to look like it was made by the pros, next time you go to a ware¬house or club store, buy 12-ounce clear plastic take-out cups with lids. If you’re making a lot, line them up and fill them assembly-line fashion.

If you have a few extra minutes and want the shortcakes to be even more decadent, try following this recipe using the Sexy Strawberry Tapenade (see page 207) instead of plain strawberries—a 1/4-cup serving of the tapenade has only 50 calories and 2 grams of fat. Just layer a serving (or two) of the tapenade between the angel food cake and whipped topping in a 12-ounce cup, and you’re in for an extra-special treat.

Strawberry Shortcake To Go

Ingredients

1 1/4 ounces angel food cake, torn into bite- sized pieces
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fat-free frozen whipped topping, defrosted

Preparation

Add half of the angel food cake to a 12-ounce plastic to-go beverage cup with a lid or to a medium resealable plastic container. Top with half the strawberries, followed by half the whipped topping. Repeat with the remain¬ing cake, strawberries, and whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Makes 1 serving.

190 calories, 3 g protein, 42 g carbohydrates, <1 g fat, trace saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 282 mg sodium

*Recipe taken from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening by Devin Alexander. Copyright c 2010 by Devin Alexander. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.*

Time for a holiday brunch or New Year’s Day gathering with these lighter, healthier versions of classic cocktail and mocktail combinations made using Truvia® natural sweetener instead of sugar! The Strawberry Rouge recipe is simply delightful – unique and elegant, this mocktail (if made using club soda, which “Mom” prefers) combines fresh strawberries, basil, balsamic vinegar and a variety of fresh juices to make a lovely libation! Another wonderful beverage to serve for brunch in lieu of the typical mimosa is the Grapefruit Basil Champagne! Again, basil adds an interesting twist to this drink that will be loved by guests! If you are lucky, like “Mom,” to live somewhere where fresh grapefruits can be picked from a tree in the backyard, a fresh grapefruit rather than a canned or boxed juice variety makes it all the sweeter! To learn more about substituting Truvia® in your cooking, baking, and beverages such as coffee or tea, please visit truvia.com.

Strawberry Rouge

Ingredients

½ cup cachaca or good quality rum (for a non-alcoholic version substitute 2/3 cup club soda, which “Mom” adores)
1 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
6 medium sized strawberries, rinsed and quartered
10 medium sized basil leaves, roughly chopped
2/3 cup pineapple juice, with no added sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice, approximately 2 limes
1 3/4 tsp Truvia® natural sweetener spoonable*
½ cup crushed ice
* or 2 packets Truvia® natural sweetener

Preparation

1. In a tumbler, combine the basil, strawberries and lime juice. Muddle the mixture by pounding to break up the berries and release the basil flavor.

2. Add the cachaca or rum, balsamic vinegar, pineapple juice, Truvia® natural sweetener, and ice into the tumbler. Shake for several minutes, until the drink is chilled and well blended.

3. Strain only half of the mixture, so that you still get a few pieces of basil and strawberry in each glass. Serve the drink in a well chilled martini glass.

Grapefruit Basil Champagne

Ingredients

1.5oz Grapefruit Juice
0.5oz Truvia® Simple Syrup
1 Basil Leaf
2.5oz Brut Champagne
Basil leaf, for garnish

Preparation

1. In a Boston Shaker add all the ingredients together except champagne and fill halfway with ice. Shake vigorously.

2. Double strain into cocktail glass, fill with champagne and garnish.

White Sparkling Sangria

Ingredients

Citrus Simple Syrup
Makes 1 cup

1 cup water
1/4 cup Truvia® natural sweetener, spoonable
1/2 whole orange, sliced thinly
1/2 whole lemon, sliced thinly
1 whole lime, sliced thinly.
*or 14 packets of Truvia® natural sweetener

Sangria
Makes 10 servings, 8 fl oz servings

1 bottle (750 mL) white wine (“Mom” tried Sparkling White Grape Juice for a mocktail version)
1/3 cup citrus simple syrup (recipe above)
1/2 cup papaya or mango nectar
1 Red Delicious apple, cored and sliced
1 cup green grapes
Orange, lemon and lime slices (optional)
3 cups sparkling water
2 cups ice cubes

Preparation

Citrus Simple Syrup

1. Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan, stir.

2. Heat on high heat, bring to a boil.

3. Remove from heat, allow to cool completely.

4. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove fruit. Press the fruit slices with the back of a large spoon to squeeze out juice and syrup. Discard pressed fruit.

5. Pour syrup into a jar with lid and store refrigerated. Shake before using.

Sangria

1. Add the wine, citrus syrup, papaya nectar, apple, grapes, optional citrus slices and wine to a large glass pitcher.

2. Stir well and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. Add the sparkling water and serve over ice.

*Recipes, samples and images generously provided by Truvia. All thoughts expressed within are strictly those of Tiny Green Mom.*

Short on cash this holiday season? The following list includes some heartfelt ideas that have little or no cost! In some cases, these gift ideas might be even more special to the recipient than a store bought gift.

Heartfelt Gift Ideas that Don’t Cost a Penny!

• Write a letter telling each family member what they mean to you. Put it on nice paper and frame it in an inexpensive second hand store frame with a photo of the recipient. My teens (now in their 20’s) saved their letters that I wrote them and still have them so don’t believe it when they tell you it is corny. Affirmation is a great gift.

• Make CD’s of your favorite music selections personalized for the recipient. Don’t use pirated music.

• Offer a coupon to be a work- out partner for a friend or relative and keep each other accountable for your exercise goals. What is better than planned time with people that are important to you and you can get healthier in the process?

• Give the family heirlooms away before you die. Instead of keeping Grandmother’s crystal in the cupboard give this special family gift to others to use and enjoy.

• Give a coupon to wash windows this spring…or some other dreaded job.

• Give your kids a coupon for one week of no bed making or other hated chore.

• Make gift opening a scavenger hunt. On Christmas Eve hide all the packages around the house, make clues for how to find each, and let everyone look for their gifts on Christmas morning. This stretches out the gift opening time and can cause some creativity and great laughs.

• Don’t buy decorations until after Christmas this year and save up to 75% for next year’s celebration.

• For family gatherings, schedule the family gift exchange and gathering for after the holidays and purchase those gifts with the post-holiday discounts.

• Make Christmas ornaments using school or family pictures of loved ones and decorate them with ribbon or felt.

• Have an ugly ornament exchange. Everyone brings an ugly ornament to hang on the tree and then a vote is held for the most notorious.

• Give the gift of time to attend events by giving coupons for activities for an elderly family member or young child.

• For the family member that has everything, make a donation in their name to a special charity or a charity of their choice.

• Volunteer with your family at a local non-profit agency.

• For the writers in your family create a journal with notebooks, paper and a front cover decorated with a photo.

• Start a scrapbook of family or friend photos and give it to the recipient to continue to add to through the year.

• Offer to babysit for the young couple on your list.

• Give an inexpensive recipe box filled with family recipes. Or do this one better and give a recipe and all the fixings to make a special meal or dessert.

The holidays can be filled with fun and gifts, even if you don’t have much money to spend.

About the Author

GreenPath Debt Solutions is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt and bankruptcy concerns. Their customized services and attainable solutions have been helping people achieve their financial goals since 1961. Headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, GreenPath operates more than 50 full-time branch offices in Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Vermont, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona and Wyoming. GreenPath also delivers licensed services throughout the United States over the Internet and telephone. GreenPath is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). For more information, visit www.greenpath.org

*>Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Twinkling Holiday Décor That You and Your Kids Will Adore

It’s Christmas time and beautiful décor, lights, and magical displays are everywhere! When it comes to decorating your home it might be important to you to incorporate decorations that both you and your children will adore. But in order to accomplish this there should be a good mix of kid-friendly décor and adult Christmas accessories that you love as well. Finding eco-friendly products might also be on your mind and here are a few ideas for you to glam up your home through Christmas and the New Year to come!

Glittery Branches

It’s fun and enjoyable to add glittery branches to a vase, winter wonderland setting, or whatever else you can think of in your home. Lamplust offers fabulous holiday décor items that will work perfectly for the holidays. These glamorous elements will also bring you through the New Year and beyond too. Find lighted branches and more that will work seamlessly into your interior and as your kids glance at the twinkled branches, they’ll be delighted too.

Create Strings of Popcorn and Paper Chains

If you feel like being creative with your kids, show them how to make strings of popcorn or paper chains. Cranberries also work to string along with the popcorn or separately depending on the string pattern you’d like to create. Then have them incorporate the chains on the branches of their own tree or even your family tree! They also can draw and color on the paper that attaches to each chain or add glitter to make it extra glamorous as well. This is also a very eco-friendly alternative to tinsel because you’ll be reusing materials that may otherwise be thrown out.

Purchase Recycled Ornaments on Etsy

Have you thought about making your own ornaments with your kids or purchasing them on a handmade site such as Etsy? Find ornaments made with organic materials on a seller’s site such as Recyledparts by Jennifer or gain inspiration on how to make your own. Fill your tree with green ornaments that save the earth and add something special to your holiday décor. With the lights and sparkly elements, eco-friendly ornaments on your tree will be the perfect touch!

There are countless of ways to bring some extra holiday cheer this Christmas. Having your children participate in decorating your home with sparkly elements will make them happy and you extra joyous as you observe their cheer. Now grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy this special time of year and all of the celebrations and twinkled lights that come with it.

About the Author

Sierra is a freelance writer and social media specialist. Catch up on Sierra’s latest happenings on her Ocean Dreams blog.

*Images courtesy of www.lamplust.com and Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Want to give a green, eco-friendly gift that will be absolutely adored by your children this Christmas? Put together a Cardboard Playhouse by Cascades Boutique and have it sitting next to the tree for everyone to discover on Christmas morning! This charming indoor cardboard house is not only made from 100% recycled corrugated cardboard, but it is an art project waiting to happen! Little ones can get creative and transform it into their own little home by decorating it as they desire with crayons, paint, stickers, and more! The Cardboard Playhouse is fully recyclable when it finally has seen its’ last day, and much safer and more resistant than an ordinary cardboard box. It is large enough for a parent to get inside for a tea party, too!

At “Mom’s” house, the cardboard playhouse has become a permanent fixture in the dining room as that was the only space large enough for the home. At Halloween, creepy cobwebs were draped all over it to make a tiny haunted house! Now, for the holidays, there is a colorful string of lights hung all around the playhouse to make it festive. As much space as it is taking up, it has become “Mom’s” little one’s favorite place to play, and is constantly filled with stuffed animals for imaginary picnics and tea parties!

Lightweight and easy to assemble in just 10 minutes, this affordable cardboard playhouse will definitely be a hit this season! Priced at $48, it is available for purchase at boutique.cascades.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

 

 

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…. but what you are eating does not have to scare you away! The holidays can be a scary time for those watching their diet, but there are plenty of healthy and nutritious offerings that are just as delicious! “Mom” has listed her favorites for enjoying the holidays – guilt-free!

Healthy Holiday Treats and Eats

Create a Sparkling Juice Bar for the Whole Family

R.W. Knudsen Family® Celebratory beverages are festive, without the alcohol, so the whole family can join in the celebration! With flavors like Sparkling Organic Apple (“Mom’s” favorite!), Sparkling Organic Pear, Sparkling Cranberry, and Sparkling Kosher Grape, all of the R.W. Knudsen Family Celebratory beverages are elegantly packaged in champagne style bottles. Made with all-natural, 100% juice and no added sugars, artificial flavors or preservatives, the sparkling beverages are a tasty, delicious, and bubbly treat for Christmas, New Year’s Eve or a special evening with the family! Set out an ice bucket, festive cloth napkins, and champagne flutes with the sparkling beverages of your choice, and let guests decide which juice to enjoy!

Fix that Chocolate Attack!

SunRidge Farms Organic Chocolate Almonds

The organic almonds are batch roasted and then covered in creamy organic chocolate that’s grown and harvested on sustainable organic farms. Crunchy and sweet, the chocolate almonds are the perfect touch to your dessert table.

Savory and Salty – All-Natural, of Course

SunRidge Farms Tamari Roasted Mixed Nuts

A premium and deluxe blend of all-natural roasted nuts including cashews, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds – a perfect blend that won’t kill the diet and will leave partygoers satisfied.

SunRidge Farms Organic NutCracker Crunch

A nutty and perfectly roasted blend of organic peanuts, Japanese rice crackers, sesame sticks and tamari pumpkin seeds. Great as a light snack for any holiday party. Definitely enjoyed eaten by the handful!

Stuff Their Stocking with FruitziO, not Candy

All-natural, freeze-dried fruit in individual packs from Crispy Green will be a definite kid-pleaser on Christmas morning! Sweet and crispy, FruitziO is preservative-free, contains no fat, and is available in 5 yummy fruit flavors, including Fuji Apples & Strawberry slices, Kiwi, Peaches, Strawberries and Apricots.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Cuddle up with your children this season with three new books that will soon become holiday classics, to be read and remembered each year! “Mom” especially enjoyed reading What am I? Christmas with her little one who loves any book where there are flaps to be lifted and surprises to be discovered!

Three New Christmas Books for Children

What Am I? Christmas
by Anne Margaret Lewis and Illustrated by Tom Mills

From Santa to a Christmas tree, this is a sure hit for little ones as they guess “What Am I?” and lift the flap to find out! Filled with colorful illustrations, this lift-the-flap book showcasing all that makes the season merry and bright will be a favorite for young children. You can find it online at amazon.com.

The Christmas Pups
by Teresa Bateman and Illustrated by John Kanzler

On an icy, December night, three puppies are rescued from the side of the road and taken to an animal shelter. Ruff and Tuff have a plan to ensure that their sister, Penny, finds a home for Christmas, even if they can’t. With the help of an older dog named Brownie, the puppies learn the true meaning of Christmas…and find a home for all four of them just in time. These adorable puppies will melt your heart, and little ones will want you to read it over and over before bed this holiday season! Found at amazon.com.

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and Their New Skates
by Author and Illustrator: Maj Lindman

After 30 years, a Christmas classic has returned! Perhaps you remember this one from your own childhood, but older children will delight in this wintry tale set on Christmas morning in Sweden! Longtime fans of the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka series will love revisiting the story as the girls must save their friend Bertie after an ice-skating disaster. opened their eyes. This classic tale is now in a deluxe hardcover edition with paper dolls of the characters included. Visit www.albertwhitman.com.

*Companies generously provided review copies of the books for this article.*

Furoshiki for Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

Furoshiki are simple Japanese cloths that are generally made of cotton, bamboo or silk crepe and come in a large variety of colours and sizes. Not only are they made durable for wrapping and carrying heavy objects but they are also a beautiful eco-friendly touch to replace wrapping paper or plastic wrap for the holidays.

Simplicity and Versatility

These simple cloths can be plain or have stunning patterns in the fabric. They are generally square shaped and have a wide range of special techniques for wrapping even the most awkward object, so that it’s completely concealed and easy to carry. From books, boxes, pair of wine bottles, clothing, toys or anything else that you plan on buying loved ones for the holidays, these cloths are the perfect solution for quick and professional looking gift wrapping.

The best part about using furoshiki for gift wrapping is the fact that they don’t require any adhesives or even pins to wrap objects, all that’s needed is a simple knot or two. This way, it’s easy to save on the cost of common holiday wrapping materials and even save time since the cloths only need to be folded over the objects being wrapped.

Ideal Gift for Men and Women

Furoshiki are also considered a unisex item that can be used over and over again. For men, there are many masculine colours and patterns that can be used as handkerchiefs, bandanas or even neckerchiefs. For women, there are many different tying techniques that offer a wide range of different bag styles from cute little handbags, shopping bags, cloth backpacks and more.

Over the years, furoshiki have become very popular eco-friendly items for many different uses as a means of saving less sustainable materials that are only used once like paper lunch bags, plastic shopping bags, wrapping paper or decorations for parties. They can be tied in any manner required, washed in regular laundry and used on a daily basis. To find furoshiki, they are available in a variety of specialty shops that carry Japanese fabrics, eco products shops online or there is always the option to make one at home using old fabrics from clothing or blankets.

About the Author

Miho loves to travel the world and learn creative art techniques everywhere she goes. She shares DIY projects, eco tips and offers traditional Japanese items through her Miho Suzuki Blog.

From gifts that give back on a global level to sumptious luxury knits and organic skincare products, the earth-conscious woman on your gift list will certainly be pampered when receiving one of these eco-chic items this season!

Eco-Chic Stocking Stuffers for Women

Pippy Pom Hat & Pippy Scarf by Krimson Klover

Made from scrumptiously soft, washable Merino wool, the Pippy Pom Hat and matching Pippy Scarf are a luxurious gift for the planet-friendly gal this season! Lightweight and simply gorgeous, the high-quality of these knits have been crafted using the finest of natural fibers by a highly skilled group of knitters, and the workmanship is exceptional. Available in Charcoal, Ruby, or Black, you will be tempted to buy a matching set for yourself, too! Visit Krimson Klover.

Fair-Trade Coffee Set from World Vision

Want to give a gift that will also help to make a difference in the lives of families around the globe? Give the gift that truly gives back – the Fair-Trade Coffee Set from World Vision. Chosen as a “Maximum Impact Fund Gift,” the gift of this set to a globally conscious friend or loved one this holiday season will help to answer specific, urgent needs of children and families that might otherwise go unmet. With each sip of coffee from Ethiopia, Sumatra, and Costa Rica blended by OneCup.org, the recipient will know that their gift is more than just a cup of java! This unique and appreciated gift is packaged in a bag of African fabric hand-sewn by local women, and accompanied by a hand-carved olivewood scoop made to benefit over 200 orphans of the Kamba tribe. It is the perfect size to tuck in a stocking! Learn more about World Vision at www.worldvision.org.

Miessence Organic Skin Care

Talk about pampering at its’ finest and most pure! Treat dry winter skin to moisturizing and certified organic skin care products from Miessence! Made with 100% natural and organic ingredients, any item from the Miessence line will be a welcome surprise in her stocking on Christmas morning! Some of our favorites include the Intensive Body Cream, which contains organic shea butter blended with organic avocado and sunflower oils, and will nourish skin in seconds, and the Sunflower Body Wash, which will perk you up in the morning with its’ invigorating scent of Orange Peel, Lemon Peel and Lime Peel oils! View the entire Miessence collection at OrganicGlow.com.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

As John Denver said in song, “The season is upon us. A time for gifts and giving.” Who is the most fun to buy for at the holidays? The kids, of course! “Mom” at Tiny Green Mom has chosen her very favorites for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary-aged children for 2011.

Tiny Green Mom’s Holiday Gift Guide for Children

JuneBee Baby

For the youngest member of the family, JuneBee Baby offers over-the-top adorable, luxuriously soft, stylish children’s clothing, all made lovingly with pure natural fibers in one-of-a-kind designs! Each piece of whimsical clothing will have your baby or toddler warm, toasty, and eco-chic through the season. Plus, a portion of JuneBee Baby sales is donated to “Generation Rescue” to directly help families with autism.

Maple Landmark Push N Pull Bunny

For the tiny eco-explorer in your life, the Maple Landmark Push N Pull Bunny is an excellent choice! When your little one is a crawler, the Push N Pull’s large handle is sized for little hands to push the bunny across the floor. As your child grows into a walker, a string can be attached to the front of the bunny through the hole, and it becomes a pull toy. The Push N Pull is crafted from locally sourced, responsibly harvested maple with hardwood components and laser detailing on both sides. For ages 6 months +.

A-Maze Rain Rush

Shake, rattle and roll – this wooden rain maker from B. toys sounds like rain gently falling against the windowpane, and your budding musician will love to sing and dance to the beat! A perfect choice for children ages 18 months to 3 years, this is one musical instrument that will definitely be a hit with the whole family!

In the Indian Night Sky

Hathi Chiti uses eastern-themed characters and concepts as a gateway to educate little ones about different cultures around the world. Children ages 3 and up will delight reading about Indian folklore and culture through this beautifully illustrated book written by Reshma Sapre and illustrated by Jayme Robinson.

Gone Fishin Bath Toy

Encourage your future marine biologist or deep sea fisherman with this BPA-free bath toy from Munchkin! A magnetic fishing pole catches sea squirts and makes “reel” clicking sounds – making bathtime fun and enjoyable all through the winter.

Pengoloo

Children ages 4 and up will adore this all-wooden, eco-friendly memory game taking them on a South Pole Eggspedition! Be the first to collect six penguins with their eggs on an iceberg to win. This award-winning game teaches color recognition, memory, visualization, and social skills. It’s a gift that gives back too, as Blue Orange plants two trees for each one used in game construction!

hello paper dolls

For unplugged, imaginative fun for your granddaughter, daughter or niece, hello paper dolls are sure to inspire creativity! Choose from 4 paper doll princess kits – each comes with a large 6″ paper doll princess and royal pet, 2 sheets of punch out clothing, 1 sheet of fashion accessory stickers and a unique stencil for endless designs. Made with FSC-certified uncoated recyclable paper.

Plush Giraffe Hot Water Bottle

Kids love giraffes, and this particular Giraffe Hot Water Bottle is perfect for a bedtime cuddle buddy during the chilly winter months. Includes a removable travel size Fashy thermoplastic hot water bottle that has a large opening for easy filling, and retains heat for hours. It is odorless, recyclable and safe, and features an adorable machine washable cover.