Three of the Best One-Stop Shopping Destinations for Holiday Gifts!

One-Stop Shopping Finds From Shopper's Drug Mart
One-Stop Shopping Finds From Shopper’s Drug Mart

As my youngest daughter always says, we all know that the holidays are coming, but not all of us are great at planning ahead for them!

This year, the holidays are different due to the pandemic. It’s just not the same, thinking about a virtual Christmas Eve mass and a virtual gift opening with local and distant family members.

Shopping for gifts isn’t the same, either. Some of us are in lockdown and are shopping virtually or doing curb-side pickup. Some of us are ordering online. And, some of us just want to be able to see and touch what we’re getting. That’s why I’m writing this blog post with places that are one-stop shopping experiences, and that are likely open for in-person shopping in your area.

For me, drugstores, specialty food stores, and hardware stores are the perfect places to find something for almost everyone on your list. This way, you can minimize outings and maximize your time.

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12 Of The Best Healthy Snack Recipes To Avoid Being Hungry!

Hangry Helpers Snack Recipes
Hangry Helpers Snack Recipes

Today I’m collaborating with 11 other bloggers to bring you our favorite snack recipes. I’m blown away by the variety and creativity of the recipes here! I hope you enjoy making them… just call us your personal #HangryHelpers.

With these 12 healthy snack recipes it’ll be easy to avoid being hungry or worse, enduring a bad mood brought on by hunger (better known as being hangry).  You and your family are going to love this collection of the best healthy snack recipes for hungry people, big and small. These recipes were created by some of the most talented health food bloggers and social media personalities – you can just call us your own personal Hangry Helpers. Be sure to check out their websites for more amazingly delicious, healthy snack recipes.

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip & Cranberry Cookie Bars

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The 1-1-1 Quick & Delicious Smoothie !

The 1-1-1 Quick & Delicious Smoothie
The 1-1-1 Quick & Delicious Smoothie

The 1-1-1 Quick & Delicious Smoothie !

One of the fastest, healthiest, and most filling snacks my daughter and I make is the 1-1-1 smoothie. We make it for breakfast, and for mid-morning or late-afternoon snack times. It’s so easy and delicious.

Here’s why it’s called a 1-1-1 smoothie: we use 1 cup of high-protein milk, 1 frozen banana, and 1 cup of fruit.

The reason this smoothie is filling is because we use high protein milk. We love the Fairlife brand of milk. High protein milk is cold-filtered and results in milk that is 50% more protein and 50% less sugar than regular milk. It’s also lactose-free.

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Oat Bran Cereal & Fruit Bars – Absolutely Delicious (With Vegan & GF Options)!

Oat Bran Cereal & Dried Fruit Bars
Oat Bran Cereal & Dried Fruit Bars

If you’re looking for a snack that is high in fiber, tasty, and portable, then you’re going to love my Oat Bran Cereal & Fruit Bars! BTW, I have been meaning to share these for years now. You can probably tell that from the style of photos taken during my early blogging days. And, bonus, you can make these in gluten-free and vegan versions by checking the variations at the end of this post.

These Oat Bran Cereal & Fruit Bars are delicious. They’re sweet and a slightly heartier version of rice cereal treats with the added fruits and nuts. The base is made with marshmallows and your choice of butter, including vegan butter. Add any high-in-fiber oat bran cereal (I use Nature’s Path Multigrain Oat Bran Flakes) and 2 cups of other mix-ins, including your choice of dried fruits, almonds, coconut flakes, and pumpkin seeds/pepitas.

Oat Bran Cereal & Dried Fruit Bars
Oat Bran Cereal & Dried Fruit Bars

I’ve made these bars with all kinds of bran cereal, including using combinations of bran buds and oat bran flakes. This recipe is a great way to use up the last bit of cereal in a box and the last of any dried fruits on hand. Think of these bars as a ‘clean out the closet’ dessert option. Continue reading

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No-Bake Cheesecake – A Perfect Summer Dessert

No-Bake Cheesecake
No-Bake Cheesecake

No-bake cheesecakes are a perfect summer dessert: they use ingredients you regularly have at home, don’t require an oven, and are easy to decorate with in-season summer fruits!

This recipe has been around for a long time. I remember it from when I was a kid, and I see it all the time on the Internet. It’s got a graham cracker crust that is topped with a cream cheese, condensed milk, and lemon/lime juice and zest. That’s it. Place it in the freezer or fridge to set, and top with whatever berries you have on hand. You can also top with cherry pie filling.

I make this no-bake cheesecake in a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. It’s easier and more presentable if you use a springform pan, but you can use a regular pie plate or dish. You can even buy a ready-made crust from the store.

No-Bake Cheesecake
No-Bake Cheesecake

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How To Make & Gift A Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake !

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

If you find yourself craving those large, decorated chocolate chip cookie cakes you can get at the mall, then you’ll love this post about making one for a celebratory occasion or as a gift for someone special.

I love classic-sized chocolate chip cookies as much as anyone else, but making a huge chocolate chip as a cookie cake is truly something fun and different. I can thank the Covid-19 pandemic for inspiring me to make chocolate chip cookie cakes as gifts. My daughter and I have made them for Canada Day, as graduation gifts, and as hostess gifts. You can check out my last post (click here) on making graduation day memorable with lots of desserts, including this cookie cake.

There are many recipes online for making a chocolate chip cookie cake. I like this recipe from Garnish and Glaze, which I’ve also included at the bottom of this page.

The point of this post, however, is to share my tips for making and gifting this chocolate chip cookie cake!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

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4 Graduation Party Desserts To Celebrate Your Grad!

Graduation Desserts
Graduation Desserts

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been bittersweet celebrating my daughter’s graduation from high school, but we’ve done our best to celebrate in many ways, including making as many sweet treats as possible!

We love dessert in our family and, yes, we understand the need to balance healthy food with yummy treats. But, what I”m sharing today is purely sugar based! The best part about making these celebratory desserts was searching for some of the ideas, choosing a theme (pink and blue), and decorating the house.

We received a lawn banner from the school and bought and received balloons as gifts. We decorated inside with balloons, garland, and streamers on archways in the house. And, one night I spent quite a bit of time going through old photos of the first day of school, group school photos, and other fun school and family moments. I put these on poster boards in the hallway and put up a long ‘congratulations’ banner underneath the boards. She absolutely loved this idea and the photos and boards are still up!

Celebrating 2020 Graduates
Celebrating 2020 Graduates

We were still in the ‘shelter at home’ phase when my daughter had her virtual graduation, so it was a nuclear family celebration. My daughter helped me make and decorate these dessert menu items, and we had a lot of fun decorating and catching up together.

Here are the Graduation Desserts we made: Continue reading

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Chocolate Almond Energy Bites – GF & Vegan

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites
Chocolate Almond Energy Bites

I always have energy balls or squares on hand because they’re the perfect snack right before a workout! Sometimes you don’t have time to eat something that takes a lot of prep time before you go for a run or before you head out the door. These chocolate almond bites are perfect as a grab-and-go healthy option.

BTW, you can also check out my recipe for Vegan Chocolate Fudge that I have shared in the past. The ‘fudge’ recipe is date-based whereas the recipe I’m sharing today is made with almond flour.

I’ve tried making energy balls with almond flour in the past and I love the texture and taste of almond flour, so I was very pleased when I came up with this recipe with the addition of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites
Chocolate Almond Energy Bites

What I like about making energy balls is the different ways you can ‘dress’ up these treats. Here, I’ve topped them with sea salt, peanuts, and slivered almonds. I highly recommend topping them with either peanuts or almonds  so everyone knows that these energy balls contain nuts! Plus, it’s a fun way to decorate these bites and to make them presentable for gifting.

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Sharing My Qatayef Recipe… Along With Sweet Ramadan Memories

Qatayef
Qatayef

Eid Mubarak to all of my friends and followers celebrating this week! Today marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. And, it’s time to celebrate with lots of traditional desserts, like Qatayef!

I grew up in Saudi Arabia where I was lucky enough to experience all of the activities, sights, sounds, and tastes of Ramadan. The night life in the souks was incredible, full of music, open shops, lots of fun foods, and lots of staying up late. One Ramadan night my brother was invited to hang out in a tent under the stars in the desert and I will always remember his description of how magical that experience was.

When I was a kid, Ramadan fell during the hottest months of the year but, because it’s a lunar holiday, it moves back about 11 days a year. That means that it takes about 33 years for Ramadan to complete its cycle and that some years it’s easier to fast than others. For example, the winter months are easier in that the days are shorter, and the summer months are the hardest.

There are many traditions around Ramadan, including the daily Iftar, which is the meal eaten after sunset when breaking the fast for the day. Iftar is a meal often shared with family and friends and there is always lots of food. I loved being invited to my friends’ homes for Iftar and just hanging out. In the Middle East, it’s very common to be invited to business Iftar meals as well. You always wonder what the host will serve and you almost always hope it includes qatayef!

Qatayef are similar to a pancake stuffed with cheese or nuts or ashta (a type of cream). Qatayef are traditionally fried and served with simple syrup and a sprinkling of nuts on top. The qatayef I’m sharing here are not fried because I wanted to keep things light. If you want them fried, shallow fry them in a pan or bake them in the oven after brushing them with some oil. I stuffed these qatayef with a mixture of crushed walnuts, sugar, and orange blossom water.

Qatayef Stuffed With Crushed Walnuts
Qatayef Stuffed With Crushed Walnuts

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Kale Salad With A Tamari Tahini Dressing

Kale Salad With Tamari/Tahini Sauce
Kale Salad With Tamari/Tahini Sauce

One of my favorite salads is kale salad: it’s versatile, healthy, and delicious. As someone who has a salad for dinner almost every night, I have to say that kale salad is at the top of my list. I like it on its own, with added protein, or as a side salad.

Kale is high in antioxidants and full of nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K. In the last few years, kale has been a popular addition to many menus and vegan diets. It’s perfect in salads as well as in soups and other cooked meals.

I love kale because it’s a heartier and a ‘darker greens’ option. It offers a change from romaine, arugula, and spinach salads. When I make kale salad, my husband and kids always like the different ingredient add-ins. I almost always include grated carrots, red peppers, and cucumbers. I add whatever fruits I have on hand, which is great in the spring and summer. And, I have been adding mint and basil, which truly elevates the flavors in the salad.

Kale Salad With Mint
Kale Salad With Mint

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