3 Easy To Make Holiday Treats

3 Easy To Make Holiday Treats

Holiday recipes for when you want to be festive but can't bake.
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Recently, I was walking down King Street with one of my best friends at college talking about how beautiful everything looks in William Sonoma, and I thought about how a girl from high school took cooking lessons there for her senior project. I thought to myself, "I wish I could do that because I’m like the worst at cooking." OK, I can boil water to make pasta, and I’m the queen of boxed brownies, but when it comes to actual cooking or baking I’m a little lost. My mother can literally take a look in the fridge and pantry and just “whip up” something. I could never. My mom is so talented in the kitchen that she hardly uses recipes, but I’m lucky not to overcook pasta in the microwave at college. If the thought of bringing your own homemade batch of cookies to a holiday party gives you more anxiety than you can manage, these recipes are definitely worth a look for you.

1. The Sweetest Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

• 3/4 cup oil

• 3 eggs beaten

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 3/4 cup half and half

• ¼ cup water

• 1 yellow cake mix

• 1½ cup brown sugar

• ¼ cup granulated sugar

• 2 tablespoons cinnamon

• ¾ stick butter, melted

• ¼ powdered sugar

Instructions:

1. In a large mixing bowl. combine oil, eggs, vanilla, water and half and half together.

2. Combine egg mixture with cake mix and blend. Pour half the batter into a 9x13 pan.

3. In a medium bowl, prepare streusel by combining brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon.

4. Sprinkle half of streusel on top of the batter. Top with remaining batter and then sprinkle the remaining streusel on top.

5. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes.

6. Melt butter and whisk in powdered sugar. Remove cake from oven and drizzle butter mixture on top. Continue baking for 5-10 min. longer until done. Serve warm with a hot cup of your favorite coffee or milk.

NOTE: ½ cup chopped pecans can be added to the brown sugar mixture if desired.

2. Easy Cookies

Ingredients:

• (18.25-ounce) package chocolate or yellow cake mix

• ½ cup vegetable oil

• 2 large eggs

• 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

• ½ cup chopped pecans

Makes 4 ½ dozen

Instructions:

1. Beat first 3 ingredients in a mixing bowl at medium speed with and electric mixer until smooth.

2. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

3. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.

4. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes

5. Remove and cool on wire racks

NOTE: These cookies are definitely easy to put your own mark on. Lose the nuts and substitute the chocolate chips with peppermint chips or crushed Andes mints. Also, to make cookies more festive you could decorate with icing or add sprinkles on top.

3. Chocolate Nut Toffee

Ingredients:

• 1 cup chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts

• 1 stick of butter

• ¾ cup packed brown sugar

• 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips

Makes 12-15 pieces

Instructions:

1. Spread nuts in the bottom of a well-greased 8-inch baking pan.

2. Melt butter in heavy saucepan, add sugar, and boil the mixture for 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour immediately over the nuts and let sit a few minutes.

3. Spread chocolate chips over the top.

4. Cover with a baking sheet or wooden cutting board to melt chocolate.

5. When chocolate has softened, spread evenly. Refrigerate. When cool, break into pieces.

Cover Image Credit: Lindsey Ocock

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Delicious Alternatives to Soda

(Tea)lightful!
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What is there to drink on a hot day? I think of a refreshing can of Cherry Coke. Yet being delicious, one can of the stuff is high in sugar and ensures cavities just waiting to happen. Here are some equally delicious alternatives that will work to satisfy your cravings.

1. Alpha Wolf:

A revitalizing drink that gives you the energy to do more. In a hectic lifestyle, this drink was created by a go-getter that had a busy schedule and required a drink that could keep up. Some boosting contents in the bottle include: L-Citrulline, which is an amino acid found in watermelon that has been shown to increase blood flow, reduces fatigue and improves endurance during prolonged exercise. It also has caffeine, a staple for getting through a long work day.


2. Motto Sparkling Matcha:

Motto is the first ever bottled beverage to deliver all the health benefits of Matcha Green Tea! Some of the amazing ingredients in every bottle are; premium matcha, honey, organic agave, apple cider vinegar, and fresh lemon juice. This drink provides plant nutrients that promote health and wellness.


3.Old Orchard:

Old Orchard is not only family-owned but it is also Michigan made. They feature a wide variety of juices including 100% fruit juice (also comes in frozen form), lemonades, even mixers and cranberry cocktails (for those who want to spice up their next drink). Some of my favorite flavors are Limited edition Organic Mango Lemonade and Seasonal Watermelon Cucumber Lemonade.

4.Wild Poppy:

Wild Poppy is committed to supporting sustainable organic farming, which is why every bottle uses only real, organic fruit. My favorite flavors are Grapefruit Ginger, Blood Orange Chili, and Peppermint Lemonade.They also have organic soda that is sweetened by organic cane sugar. Their flavors are: grape, orange, and lemon.


5.Bee's Water:


6. Just Craft Soda:

Crafted using 60% fruit juice, organic cane sugar, and other natural ingredients this soda won't make you feel wired from a sugar high. Drink by itself or use as a mixer to spice up your drinks. My favorites are Lemon & Lemongrass Fizz, Apple & Ginger, and Peach & Habanero.


7.Numi Organic Tea:

A tea that is a calming and relaxing blend of real ingredients, not "natural flavorings". The tea is all gluten-free and some of the ingredients they use are jasmine blossoms, orange peel, and organic cocoa.

When you buy Numi organic tea you are buying into practices that create the tea without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation.

I would definitely recommend the sampler box! Flavors included are Aged Earl Grey™, Rooibos Chai, Breakfast Blend, Gunpowder Green, Jasmine Green, Orange Spice, Moroccan Mint, and Chamomile Lemon.


8.Zest Tea:

The caffeine in this tea gives a great boost of energy without the crash that you get from coffee. Perfect for keeping you awake for a long school day or shift at work, this tea will give you the boost you need! My favorite flavors are Cinnamon Apple Black, Blue Lady Black, and Pomegranate Mojito Green.


9.The Tea Spot:

Fresh, whole leaf tea that delivers a premium experience with proven health benefits. The company, through philanthropic business, donates 10% to cancer wellness and health programs.

Whole leaf teas are said to be helpful in fighting cancer, managing stress, and weight loss. Recommendation: The Tea Spot Subscription Box. This fun box contains six different teas and will give you a good idea of what your new favorite flavors will be.


10.Leaf and Twig:

Leaf and Twig was founded by Melissa Vertosick, an herbalist and certified holistic health coach. Herbs are a key element to living a healthy life; sipping on a cup gives you the chance to take a breather from your hectic day. Some of my favorites are Lady's Herb, Winter Comfort, and Morning Harmony.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Consider Moving To These 9 Cities If You Are Vegan

... Or just looking for some clean and fun eating!
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Changing your diet to more Vegan or Vegetarian-friendly options can be challenging, especially if you live in a town without a lot of tasty and affordable options. Right now, more people around the world are changing their diets to remove foods made from animals. There are about 6% of Americans who classify themselves as a vegan is on the rise by over 500 percent since 2014! With this rise in veganism, there has been a rise in vegan restaurants and cafes, but there still are not nearly enough in different parts of the country. Here are some of the top cities for vegan foods all around the world! Road trip anyone?

1. Los Angeles

I'm sure you have seen all the Instagram Ads and posts from celebrities in L.A., but Southern California is actually a refuge for plant-based foods! This great article from 'peta2.com' talks all about the benefits of eating vegan and some of the best restaurants in L.A.!

2. Melbourne

I recently saw a video on Facebook where someone who was not from AUS, went to Melbourne to check out the vegan options, and she was amazed at how vegan-friendly the city is! This article from 'The Urban List' talks about all the great vegan food in the Melbourne area, and if you are a Melbourne local reading this, like this great Facebook page called 'Melbourne Vegan Club' for up to date info about new restaurants, outings, and meetups with other vegans!

3. London

When thinking of traditional London food and drink, you probably think of Fish and Chips and Beer (neither of which are vegan!). In recent years, London has become a new home for vegan lovers around the world and has some amazing eats! This website called 'Vegan London' has all the up to date information about how to be a successful vegan in London!

4. New York City

New York City is home to a lot of tourists from around the world, many of whom are drawn to the cities fashion and food scene! When planning your next trip to the city, check out this post from 'Grub Street' on the best vegan options in NYC!

5. Berlin

The German capital is home to its very own, entirely vegan supermarket chain called Veganz! Besides this, the city is chock full of over 50 vegan restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. Check out this article from 'Happy Cow' on how to get the most bang for your buck in Berlin!

6. San Francisco

San Fransisco has always been a trendy city with food and atmosphere, but they are actually one of the top vegan cities in the world! This California city is where progress meets health and the great outdoors! This page on 'Yelp' lays out the best vegan restaurants in the Bay area!

7. Taipei

Are you a vegan buffet lover? Then Taipei, Taiwan should be a city you add to your bucket list! With a variety of vegan restaurants (around 30) that serve up a wide (and delicious) selection of mock meats, Taipei also is one of the most affordable on this list. Like Berlin, Taipei is home to an all-vegan market: iVegan. This post from 'Vegan Food Quest' lets you know where the good ones are!

8. Portland

Portland was actually named Peta's number 1 vegan-friendly city in 2016! This plant-based food scene is the perfect fit for the quirky city, which is focused on environmental efforts and promoting sustainability. This post from 'Happy Cow' shows you the 241 best vegan options in Portland!

9. Vancouver

Vancouver is always finding newer and more affordable ways to go green, and vegan restaurants are on the top of the list! This post from 'Bored in Vancouver' tells you all about the best ones, and you can even get vegan poutine! So Canada!

Cover Image Credit: NeonOnBrand

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