Here is an after school snack that kids will love that features Fall and Winter favorites, such as maple syrup and crisp apples!

Caramel Maple Yogurt Dip

Ingredients

1 cup plain lowfat Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. caramel dip
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 apple, cored, sliced
1 banana, peeled, sliced at an angle

Preparation

1. Mix together yogurt, caramel dip, and maple syrup in mixing bowl.
2. Place sliced apples, bananas and crackers on a platter with caramel maple yogurt dip.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Produce for Kids.*

Are you seeking to do more than just give the latest and greatest gizmos and gadgets to family and friends during the holidays? If you are seeking to purchase gifts that make a significant difference in the lives of others, World Vision’s Gift Catalog offers items that change lives around the world. For example, the Fair-Trade Coffee Set will be an appreciated gift for yourself or a loved one this season! It 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. Learn more about World Vision at www.worldvision.org. From November 25th – December 10th, you can enter to win a Fair-Trade Coffee Set daily on Tiny Green Mom!

First, leave a comment below to let us know how you plan to give back this holiday season, and why you would love to win the Fair-Trade Coffee Set from World Vision Giveaway!

To obtain extra entries:

Follow Tiny Green Mom on Twitter. Leave a comment with your Twitter name to let us know that this has been done. This is only valid for one entry.

Leave a comment on another Tiny Green Mom post. Leave a comment below with the name of the post you commented on. This is only valid for one entry.

Visit World Vision on Facebook. Please leave a comment below to let us know you have stopped by their page to learn something new! This is only valid for one entry.

Follow World Vision on Twitter. Leave a comment with your Twitter name to let us know that this has been done. This is only valid for one entry.

Blog about this giveaway. You must have a link to this giveaway in your blog post. Please leave a comment with the link to your blog post. This is only valid for one entry.

The Fair-Trade Coffee Set from World Vision ends on December 10th, 2011 and is open to the US only. Please leave your email address in each comment, and make sure to leave a separate comment for every each and every entry that you make so that they will count for you!

Thank you! “Mom” at Tiny Green Mom can’t wait to announce the winner of this fabulous giveaway!

7 Green Gifts for this Christmas

No one likes being lectured and it can be tough getting friends and family to go ‘green’ without barraging them with your list of reasons. This holiday season offers the perfect opportunity to lead by example: simply give ‘green’ gifts to your friends and loved ones! Chances are you’ll gain a convert or two for the movement. Here are some great green gift ideas for the upcoming holidays.

For Men

Big Green Apparel has a great selection of organic tees and loungewear for men. The organic crew neck tee, can be work alone or under a hoodie or flannel for a layered look. Available in a variety of colors, you’ll find one for any man on your list.

For Women

Purple Prairie Botanicals, offers a wide selection of personal care items for the face and body. Aromasprays, body butters and bath salts are a hit with women no matter the time of year and make exceptionally good holiday gifts. With lovely scents like cooling mint and frankincense & myrrh, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect gift for your mom, aunt or dear friend.

For Children

Earthsake has the cutest array of poseable wooden animal toys that you’ve ever seen. Made from organic maple wood, the eco-friendly animals are both fun and creative. Choose from a cow, crocodile, horse, lion or any other number of species. You’ll please any animal loving child on your list and can rest assured that you are giving them a safe, eco-friendly toy.

For Teens

Check out the cool décor items from Green Rainbow Shop for the teens on your list. Vintage metal signs, cool throw pillows and beautiful candles can be had for great prices. The gifts are suitable for boys and girls and all products are made in the USA.

For Pets

The Green Petshop, is the perfect place to find a gift for all of your four-legged friends. From items like Katpak to bamboo pet food bowls, impress your friends and family with these great pet gifts. Every product for sale on the website follows the site’s rule of ‘safe for people, pets, planet!.’ What could be better?

For Neighbors

Have a great neighbor on your holiday gift-giving list? Good Gifts Naturally, has a wide selection of gift baskets that make perfect neighborly gifts. Organic gourmet gift baskets, organic spa gift baskets and special occasions (organic) baskets feature products like organic fruit, eco-friendly soaps and theme gifts. From gardening gadgets to holiday coffees, the gifts are sure to be a hit.

For Co-Workers

How many pots of coffee do you and your co-workers go through on a daily basis? If you think about it, the amount can be staggering. Consider purchasing one of the fabulous coffee gifts from Grounds for Change, for your favorite co-worker or the whole office. Purchasing organic, fair trade coffee not only allows you to give a great gift, but also supports the families and villages in underdeveloped nations. The site also donates 1% of its gross profits to social and environmental organizations.

Turning your friends and family into eco-friendly, environmentally conscious people can be tough, especially if they don’t know about all of the great green products out there. By giving them any one, or more, of these gifts for the holiday season, not only will they be introduced to organically made, sustainable gifts but your gift just may open the door for friendly conversation. By choosing to shop from these sites, you will be giving a great gift and supporting the environment at the same time. For green people, it’s a win-win!

About the Author

Author Tom Blanchard tries to be less wasteful about all things, and along with that is saving money that could be better used elsewhere. To that end, using discounts when possible, such as Coupon Croc of the UK, allows him to use money saved to donate to green projects whenever he can.

A red wine-poached pear takes on a velvety texture and ruby-red tint. Spices, like black peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon, add a mulled taste to the poaching brew, while lemon peel gives it a fresh, citrusy note. The pears become so tender and infused with flavor that you don’t even need to top them with ice cream if you’re looking for a lighter dessert – but the combo of the warm poached pear, good-quality vanilla ice cream, and sweet poaching syrup is hard to beat. The poached pears can be refrigerated in the poaching liquid for up to two days.

Pears Al Vino Tinto

Ingredients

3 cups Red Wine – such as a pinot noir
1 cup Sugar
3 whole Black Peppercorns
3 whole Cloves
3 ½-inch-wide strips lemon peel
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
1 pint Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
½ teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

Preparation

1. Bring the red wine, sugar, peppercorns, cloves, lemon strips, cinnamon stick, and ½ cup of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the mixture until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the pears and simmer until they’re tender and a paring knife easily slips into the center, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a large bowl and set aside.

3. Remove and discard the peppercorns, cloves, lemon peel, and cinnamon stick. Continue to simmer the poaching liquid over medium-low heat until it is reduced by half and is the consistency of thick syrup, about 30 minutes.

4. Return the pears to the thick poaching liquid and heat for 1 minute, basting the pears with the syrup. Turn off the heat and place 2 pear halves in the center of each plate or bowl. Drizzle the pears with 2 tablespoons each of the poaching syrup, and then top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if using, and a pinch of nutmeg.

About the Chef

Recently featured on The Biggest Loser, The Next Great American Restaurant and as a judge on Top Chef, Lorena Garcia is one of the country’s leading Latin Chefs. Her new cookbook, New Latin Classics: Fresh Ideas on Favorite Dishes was just released in September 2011 and offers simple 30-Minute Latin meals with a healthy twist. These recipes allow you to minimize your time in the kitchen and maximize time around the table with family and friends.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Chef Lorena Garcia.*

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.*

Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for gifts, decorations, and lots and lots of food. As a result, it’s also a time of spectacular amounts of waste. In the United States, we generate an extra 5 million tons of household waste each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, including three times as much food waste as at other times of the year. When our total food waste adds up to 34 million tons each year, that equals a lot of food. With the holidays now upon us, the Worldwatch Institute offers 10 simple steps we all can take to help make this season less wasteful and more plentiful.

As Americans prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, here are 10 tips to help reduce the amount of food we waste:

Before the meal: Plan your menu and exactly how much food you’ll need.

1. Be realistic: The fear of not providing enough to eat often causes hosts to cook too much. Instead, plan out how much food you and your guests will realistically need, and stock up accordingly. The Love Food Hate Waste organization, which focuses on sharing convenient tips for reducing food waste, provides a handy “Perfect portions” planner to calculate meal sizes for parties as well as everyday meals.

2. Plan ahead: Create a shopping list before heading to the farmers’ market or grocery store. Sticking to this list will reduce the risk of impulse buys or buying unnecessary quantities, particularly since stores typically use holiday sales to entice buyers into spending more.

During the meal: Control the amount on your plate to reduce the amount in the garbage.

3. Go small: The season of indulgence often promotes plates piled high with more food than can be eaten. Simple tricks of using smaller serving utensils or plates can encourage smaller portions, reducing the amount left on plates. Guests can always take second (or third!) servings if still hungry, and it is much easier (and hygienic) to use leftovers from serving platters for future meals.

4. Encourage self-serve: Allow guests to serve themselves, choosing what, and how much, they would like to eat. This helps to make meals feel more familiar and also reduces the amount of unwanted food left on guests’ plates.

After the meal: Make the most out of leftovers.

5. Store leftovers safely: Properly storing our leftovers will preserve them safely for future meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that hot foods be left out for no more than two hours. Store leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more convenient to grab for a quick meal rather than being passed over and eventually wasted.

6. Compost food scraps: Instead of throwing out the vegetable peels, eggshells, and other food scraps from making your meal, consider composting them. Individual composting systems can be relatively easy and inexpensive, and provide quality inputs for garden soils. In 2010, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to pass legislation encouraging city-wide composting, and similar broader-scale food composting approaches have been spreading since.

7. Create new meals: If composting is not an option for you, check out Love Food Hate Waste’s creative recipes to see if your food scraps can be used for new meals. Vegetable scraps and turkey carcasses can be easily boiled down for stock and soups, and bread crusts and ends can be used to make tasty homemade croutons.

8. Donate excess: Food banks and shelters gladly welcome donations of canned and dried foods, especially during the holiday season and colder months. The charity group Feeding America partners with over 200 local food banks across the United States, supplying food to more than 37 million people each year. To find a food bank near you, visit the organization’s Food Bank Locator.

9. Support food-recovery programs: In some cases, food-recovery systems will come to you to collect your excess. In New York City, City Harvest, the world’s first food-rescue organization, collects approximately 28 million pounds of food each year that would otherwise go to waste, providing groceries and meals for over 300,000 people.

Throughout the holiday season: Consider what you’re giving.

10. Give gifts with thought: When giving food as a gift, avoid highly perishable items and make an effort to select foods that you know the recipient will enjoy rather than waste. The Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit, works with farmers and producers in tropical areas to ensure they are practicing environmentally sustainable and socially just methods. The group’s certified chocolates, coffee, and teas are great gifts that have with long shelf-lives, and buying them helps support businesses and individuals across the world.

As we sit down this week to give thanks for the people and things around us, we must also recognize those who may not be so fortunate. The food wasted in the United States each year is enough to satisfy the hunger of the approximately 1 billion malnourished people worldwide, according to Tristram Stuart, a food waste expert and contributing author to State of the World 2011. As we prepare for upcoming holiday celebrations, the simple changes we make, such as using food responsibly and donating excess to the hungry, can help make the holiday season more plentiful and hunger-free for all.

About the Worldwatch Institute

Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute’s State of the World report is published annually in more than 20 languages. For more information, visit www.worldwatch.org.

Chef Lorena Garcia makes this stunning brown rice dish to add a healthy balance to a calorie-laden holiday spread. Cilantro and dried cranberries enhance the toasty, slightly chewy rice with their vivid green and red colors and wonderfully herby-sweet flavor. This is excellent alongside turkey, short ribs, roast chicken or fish.

Cranberry-Cilantro Brown Rice

Ingredients

1 cup Long-grain Brown Rice
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
½ Shallot – Finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves – Finley minced
¾ cup Cilantro – Finley chopped
½ cup Dried Cranberries

Preparation

1. Bring 2 cups of water, the rice, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Let the rice boil until some of the water is absorbed into the rice and the bubbles are popping closer to the surface of the rice, about 4 minutes. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is slightly al dente, 25 – 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, uncover, use a fork to fluff the rice, and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook while stirring until the garlic is fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir in the rice, cilantro, and cranberries and turn out the rice into a bowl. Finish with a sprig of cilantro and serve.

Tip from Lorena Garcia:

If you have leftover white or brown rice in the refrigerator, simple add it to the shallots and garlic and then stir in the cilantro and dried cranberries. You may want to add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and cover it to plumb the rice before serving.

About the Chef

Recently featured on The Biggest Loser, The Next Great American Restaurant and as a judge on Top Chef, Lorena Garcia is one of the country’s leading Latin Chefs. Her new cookbook, New Latin Classics: Fresh Ideas on Favorite Dishes was just released in September 2011 and offers simple 30-Minute Latin meals with a healthy twist. These recipes allow you to minimize your time in the kitchen and maximize time around the table with family and friends.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Lorena Garcia.*

If you are seeking a wonderful gift for the treasured women in your life this holiday season, then look no further than the newly released Where Women Cook Celebrate! This unique book showcases 28 inspiring women, taking a peek into their kitchens, hearts and homes! Filled with stunning illustrations, heart-warming quotes, and mouth-watering recipes – this is a gift to be used for years to come to refer to for meal ideas and inspiration!

One of “Mom’s” favorite authors, Susan Branch, is featured in Where Women Cook Celebrate!, and it was interesting to learn a bit more about the phenomenal woman behind the Heart of the Home books.

What recipes sound intriguing and delicious to “Mom?” Sandy Coughlin’s Pecan Pear Cranberry Green Salad, Marina Drasnin’s Harry’s Israeli Couscous, and Tricia Martin’s Morning Oats, just to highlight a few recipes!

Want to try a recipe from the book? With the holidays upon us, Ashley English’s Sugared Molasses Crinkle Cookies will definitely be a hit!

To learn more about Where Women Cook Celebrate! by Jo Packham, the extraordinary women interviewed and photographed for the pages, or to order copies for the holidays, visit Lark Crafts.

*Company generously provided a review copy and images for this piece.*

Living Vegan – Winter Comfort Meals

With the weather cooling down and winter approaching, now is the great time to update your repertoire of favorite soups and warm winter fare. Winter brings with it a bounty of vegetables and is a time for vegans to celebrate. This time of year gives you endless choices to make beautiful meals that the family will love all winter long. It really becomes a question of choosing the meals that fit your family the best. Here are some great recipe ideas that are easy to make with healthy sustainable ingredients and hearty tastes to satisfy your winter cravings!

Soups

Soups are a great staple for any season, but especially when it’s freezing outside and you want to get warm from the inside out. So head to your favorite farmer’s market and pick up some seasonal broccoli to make this awesome recipe!

Cream of Broccoli Soup (it’s amazingly cheesy!)

Ingredients

4 Cups of roughly chopped broccoli florets
3 1/2 Cups Hemp milk unsweetened and plain
½ cup of your favorite non-dairy creamer
1 ½ cup vegetable stock
¼ cup of arrowroot
6 ounces of vegan cheddar cheese
2 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of pepper
1 T of olive oil

Preparation

In a large saucepan add the broccoli, salt and pepper and cook until the broccoli is crisp then add the stock and cook around 10 minutes until the broccoli is tender. Remove from heat and stir in a cup of the hemp milk. Let cool then transfer to a blender. Put the blended mixture back into the pan and on medium heat add the rest of the hemp milk and creamer. When the soup begins to simmer then add the arrowroot and vegan cheese. This soup tastes amazing and lasts well for days so you can enjoy it all week long!

Stews

Vegetable stews are a great addition to any winter meal and are a hearty way to fill up the family. My favorite one is a great traditional white bean and kale version that takes no time at all.

White Bean and Kale Stew

Ingredients

1 15oz can of organic Northern or Cannellini beans
1 Bunch Kale (cut around the vein and rip leaves into pieces)
2 Medium carrots
1 Medium yellow onion
1 Cup of vegetable broth
1 tsp of sea salt
2 tsp of Herbs De Provence
Olive oil

Preparation

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent then add the carrots, beans and spices to the pan. Slowly add ½ cup of the vegetable broth. Continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes. While the mixture is cooking grab another pan and cook down the kale with ½ cup of the veggie broth. Add the cooked down kale to the bean mixture. Continue cooking on low for around 10 minutes or until it has a stew like texture. Super yummy!

Slow Cooker

Your crock pot or slow cooker is a great idea for vegan meals when you don’t have extra time. Just toss in the ingredients then go! Here is my absolute favorite easy baked bean recipe, and the ground cloves make the whole house smell like Thanksgiving. I can’t think of a heartier aroma.

Vegan Easy Baked Beans

Ingredients

6 Cans of organic pre-cooked beans (3 pinto, 3 kidney)
1 Cup of vegetable broth
1/3 Cup of brown sugar
½ Cup of Molasses
½ tsp of ground cloves
1 Onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 T of dried mustard
2 T of sea salt

Preparation

Drain and rinse the cans of beans then add to the slow cooker. Sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until onions are translucent, then add the mixture to the beans. Add the rest of the ingredients then mix well. Put the slow cooker on high for 3 hours then on low for an additional 3 hours, a total of 6 hours cooking time. Add extra broth to the mixture if needed. These beans are a great staple to add to any meal and are a great meal in itself!

Another great idea is to serve warm salads during the winter. Sauté some onions, garlic and beans then pour the mixture over some fresh raw spinach for a tasty warm spinach salad; or try a mushroom and onion sauté topping. I hope you enjoy making these delicious vegan meals during the winter— what a great way to keep your family warm and healthy for the holidays!

About the Author

Sarah Banfield is a vegan mother of three, and has found many good recipes can be found on the Greek Mediterranean diet plan, which are not that far afield from a vegan lifestyle. Check out this list of low acid foods for acid reflux which can also help reduce digestive issues.

*Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Making your own dressing is easy and much more flavorful with the help of Angostura® aromatic bitters!

Bitter Honey Vinaigrette

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup NAKANO Natural Rice Vinegar

3 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

2 tsp. Angostura® aromatic bitters

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

Preparation

Whisk together ingredients. Toss with mixed salad greens. Especially tasty with arugula and other slightly bitter greens.

Makes 2/3 cups.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Mizkan.*