Cookbooks You Need For The Holidays And Tips To Stay Healthy

Hey all you domestic little home makers! I put together a list of my fav new holiday cookbooks that you will want to check out before you start making your menu for Thanksgiving.

european cookiesEuropean Cookies for Every Occasion

Allright first of all, I love cookies. That said, it would be hard to find me a cookie cookbook I didn’t like. This one appeals to me though because of all the gorgeous pictures! I like pictures in my cookbook because then I know what to aim for and I like having a visual in mind when I’m trying a new recipe. My professional chef brother in law prefers his cookbooks without pictures but poo poo for him. I like me some pretty pics to look at. (Yay Pinterest!)

Secondly, of course, the recipes in here are amazing and easy to follow instructions make this book great for beginners (or busy, distracted moms!). If you want to wow your friends and family this Christmas with fancy baked treats then this is the book for you. The book by itself would obviously make a great gift, but I personally prefer to bake things as gifts and then put together “food baskets” as Christmas presents. Yes, I’m “THAT” person!

From Chocolate Crescents and Lemon Bars to Jam Blossoms and Cherry Kisses, European Cookies for Every Occasion includes cookies for every skill level. Each recipe includes easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions to make sure you succeed in making the perfect cookies for the holidays as a special treat for your guests or to give as a hostess gift.

Along with more than 200 full-color photographs, the book also includes tips on setting up your kitchen and techniques for working with marzipan, melting and molding chocolate, and handling dough so that your cookies will come out perfectly every time.

Price: $15.99 ($9.99 Kindle Version)

Buy It:

new england recipesChef Daniel Bruce Simply New England: Seasonal Recipes That Celebrate Land and Sea

Being from New England and having grown up here my whole life, I think this cookbook is pretty dang cool. Just in time for Thanksgiving too! With 125 original recipes and 158 color photographs, you will be baking away from now until Christmas.

In this beautiful cookbook, chef Daniel Bruce of the Boston Harbor Hotel highlights food that is deeply rooted in New England soil with dishes that are respectful of their ingredients and simple to prepare; dishes that he enjoys cooking at home and sharing with his own family and friends.

“Great food doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Bruce. “These are dishes that I make over and over again because they taste good and they work. I hope they will become part of your personal culinary history as well.”

Price: $24.80

Get It:

deliciously holistic book coverDeliciously Holistic: Healing Foods Recipes And Lifestyle Tips To Help Increase Your Energy And Immunity!

Some people think to themselves “Oh, it’s the Holidays! To hell with my diet! I’m going to enjoy myself!” Ya know what I have to say to that?! HAHAHA! How much are you going to “enjoy” yourself when you find yourself 10+ pounds overweight come January 1st? How much are you going to “enjoy” yourself when you have to spend $50+ month on a gym membership instead of treating yourself to a nice pair of shoes? Hmmm????? I stuck to my diet so well last year during the holiday season that I actually LOST 3 pounds over the holidays AND I still got to taste EVERYTHING.

Why not try something different this year instead of the same old vicious circle? Learn how to eat healthy foods that make you feel good and you’ll be less likely to let loose and eat junk for the next 2 months.

In “Deliciously Holistic”, holistic chef and certified healing foods specialist, Shelley Alexander, provides everything needed to prepare delicious, healthy foods that nourish, strengthen, energize, and helps heal the body. Deliciously Holistic demonstrates with 154 mouth-watering recipes that good nutrition never has to be at the sacrifice of great taste! This beautiful, colorful cookbook includes a comprehensive shopping guide; seasonal meal plans; vibrant color photos of prepared foods; and recommendations for useful online resources. This book also provides information about how to use healing superfoods; tips to improve digestive health; how to stock a holistic kitchen with the best proteins, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, natural sweeteners, healthy oils, and beverages; along with a bounty of recipes using healing foods.

Price: $22.31

Get It:

Tips For Staying Healthy During The Holidays

shelley alexander

Shelley Alexander

Wondering how you are going to bake all those delightful treats and Holiday meals and still stay healthy? No worries! Holistic chef and certified healing foods specialist Shelley Alexander, author of “Deliciously Holistic,” (, a new, full-color cookbook featuring more than 154 of her favorite healing foods recipes and 50 pages of holistic lifestyle tips to increase energy and immunity, offers six tips for quick and convenient healthy eating during the holidays.

  • When shopping, check labels and avoid foods with a long list of ingredients. The best whole foods have one or just a few unprocessed or minimally processed, easily recognized ingredients, Alexander says. Among ingredients to avoid: chemicals, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, MSG, genetically modified ingredients and preservatives (indicated by the initials BHT, BHA, EDTA and THBQ.)
  • Set aside a few hours each week to prep foods to eat in the days ahead. Cut up produce and store it in airtight containers. Lightly wash produce before using with natural vegetable wash or use one part white vinegar to three parts water. Make several homemade vinaigrettes or dressings to last all week so you can make leafy greens and vegetable salads in minutes. Clean and marinate enough meat or poultry for dinners over the next few days.
  • Start your day with a green smoothie. Cut and freeze organic fresh fruit to use in green smoothies. You can also buy frozen fruit that’s already cut up. Add organic kale or spinach, coconut water or nut and seed milks plus natural sweeteners such as dates or stevia for an energy-boosting beverage.
  • For your holiday dinners, plan on making at least three to four dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Good examples are pasture-raised, wild turkey with sage and garlic, baked wild salmon with lemon and herbs, steamed greens, roasted heirloom root vegetables drizzled with balsamic glaze, pureed winter squash soups, and desserts made with seasonal fruits, spices, and healthy sweeteners like coconut sugar or raw honey.
  • Invest in a dehydrator. Dehydrate fruits and vegetables and raw nuts or seeds that have been soaked in unrefined sea salt water (which removes anti-nutrients, kick-starts the germination process, and increases key vitamins), and you’ll have plenty of on-the-go snacks with a long shelf life. Dehydrators are convenient and easy to use; Alexander recommends Excalibur.
  • Make batches of fermented vegetables twice a month. Alexander recommends eating fermented vegetables every day to keep your digestive system healthy. They’re loaded with probiotics – the good bacteria your intestines need. Mix a variety of organic vegetables such as carrots and celery into brine with warm filtered water, unrefined sea salt, and cultured vegetable starter or liquid whey, and mix with shredded cabbage heads. Pack the mixture into sterilized glass jars and allow the vegetables to ferment for five to seven days. Once done fermenting, store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Food For Thought…

“Stick to whole, healthy foods this holiday season, and you’ll feel so good, you won’t want to go near the buffet table at your office party,” Alexander says.

Meal Preparation Tips for Busy Moms


When you’re not working, cooking is one of the things that is much easier to do – especially as you have more free time to do it. However, once you become a working mother, your time and energy becomes all the more limited.


Mouths still need to be fed though so it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Whether it’s ordering in, reheating prepared food or making a quick fresh meal, there are things you can do to make sure you a meal is ready every single day.


1. Order in


This is by far the easiest option and can also be the most diverse. Ordering in is not only cheap and quick, it also comes with a wide variety, making it useful as a treat for the family once in a while. For instance, in any local area you’re bound to find a wide variety of Chinese takeaway menus. This offers a diverse choice that can please any hungry family, without you having to cater to everyone’s needs and preferences.


Another benefit of this is that it allows you to be customizable to the very end. Children can be fussy, with an ability to change their mind on a lot of things, so letting them have a say in the matter can help keep them satisfied. You can always visit a local favorite, or encourage the family to try new things if you want to expand their palate.


2. Cold food


Whilst sandwiches aren’t typically suitable for that after-work dinner, cold food can have its advantages, especially when the weather is hot. Cold salads, for instance, can prove useful and quick to prepare. Likewise, cold meats, cheeses and other selection boards are simple to set up but allow the family to get stuck in and suit themselves.


3. Prepare in Advance


This is best left for the weekend, but having some free time in advance lets you prepare ahead of time. Sunday leftovers, for instance, can prove useful for dinner on Monday. This can be a real time saver, as you’re cooking once but making two days worth of meals, freeing up the time you would have usually spent on Monday.


This also goes well with cold food as, when in doubt, you can usually mix what’s left into a quick and effective salad. Chicken and other cold meats go well with lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables that can be grabbed out of the fridge for an instant, tasty meal.


Be sure to check out The Fashionable Plate, our cooking and home decor blog, for recipe ideas! Link at the top of the page!



Recipe for Mexican 3 Bean Smokey Turkey Chili

turkey chili

3 Bean Smokey Turkey Chili


  • 1 lb fresh ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb dry pinto beans
  • 1/2 lb dry black beans
  • 1/2 lb dry navy beans
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 fresh medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 fresh yellow bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 fresh cayenne peppers, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp McCormick Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp McCormick Cumin
  • 1 Tsp McCormick Chili Powder
  • 1 Tsp McCormick Cilantro Leaves
  • 4 Tbsp McCormick Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tbsp McCormick Sea Salt
  • 1 Tsp McCormick Black Pepper
  • 2 12oz. cans of turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 12oz. can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce


Soak the beans overnight in salted water.

Saute turkey in pot, add chopped onions and sweat them with the turkey. While hot, add a small portion of the turkey or chicken broth to mixture to deglaze the pot being sure to bring up everything that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and remaining chicken broth, making sure there is enough liquid to cover all ingredients. (Add additional water or brother if necessary.) Stir frequently and bring to a boil, then simmer for 3-4 hours or until beans are tender and desired texture is achieved.

Serve with tortilla chips, soft tortillas or on the side of a main dish like Black Bean Enchiladas, Chicken Tacos or my favorite Caribbean Tostones Rellenos.

Check out other Mexican Recipes at

Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway with McCormick and IMUSA

hispanic hertitage month giveaway

We’ve teamed up McCormick and IMUSA to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month! We are excited to embrace the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

We are excited to offer our readers a chance to win an amazing Cuban Giveaway Prize Pack filled with everything you need to have a Hispanic Dinner night with the amazing flavors of Cuba and the Caribbean!

The Cuban Giveaway Package includes the following: IMUSA Wood Mortar and Pestle, IMUSA Cast Aluminum Caldero, Imusa Jumbo Wood Tostonera, McCormick’s Black Pepper, Garlic Salt, Curry Powder, Paprika, Cinnamon, Oregano, Black Peppercorn Grinder, Chicken Bag ‘n Season, and Black Beans & Rice Mix!

The Flavors of Cuba & the Caribbean

McCormick Black Pepper: A deep dark brown to black, deep-set wrinkled berries, when ground has a characteristic, penetrating odor, and a hot, biting and very pungent taste.

McCormick Garlic Salt: A convenient blend of ground garlic and coarse salt crystals.

McCormick Curry Powder: A blend of spices used to make several Caribbean dishes.

McCormick Paprika: A combination of dried, ground pods of Capsicum annuum, a sweet red pepper.

McCormick Ground Cinnamon: A dried, ground bark of Cinnamomum cassia, it is brown to reddish-brown in color. The principal active ingredient in the volatile oil is cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for the characteristic odor.

McCormick Oregano: Carefully selected to insure consistency in leaf size, color and flavor, it comes from the hot and dry Mediterranean climate which yields a robust, full flavor with a slightly bitter and peppery taste.

McCormick Black Peppercorn Grinder: Stored in a glass bottle with a built-in grinder. Great on chicken, beef, pork, vegetables and salads.

McCormick Chicken Bag’n Season: Contains a blend of herbs and spices, as well as a cooking bag to eliminate messy cleanup.

McCormick Black Beans & Rice Mix: Made with the highest quality ingredients such as enriched long grain rice, black beans, onions and bell peppers, and is seasoned to perfection with garlic, ground red pepper and other spices.

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Check out the recipe for Smoked Paprika Roast Pork on The Fashionable Plate >>

Recipe for DIY Tropical Mango Body Scrub

In My Mind, I’m Somewhere Tropical
DIY Mango Body Scrub

Mango Body Scrub

With kids screaming and one million and one household chores to complete, sometimes it’s nice to take a moment, close your eyes and imagine you’re somewhere tropical. This month is Pregnancy Awareness Month, and whether you’re currently expecting or have passed the days of baby showers and infants, it’s the perfect time for each and every mom to take a second to take care of herself and de-stress with a gorgeous DIY beauty treatment that will leave her glowing and rejuvenated.

This DIY treatment is inspired by the tropical beauty of Honolulu – specifically the Na Ho’ola Spa at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. This gorgeous island destination is home to some of the most tropical and luxurious pampering spa treatments in the world. The masks and treatments are all-natural and inspired by the reinvigorating ability of a tropical getaway. During the LomiLomi Facial, estheticians harness the natural exfoliating properties of fruit acids – in this case, the fruit acids found in mangoes. Mango does absolute wonders for the skin, leaving the complexion purified and deeply exfoliated and cleansed.

Even if you aren’t jetting off for your own LomiLomi Facial anytime in the near future, you can steal this Tropical treatment inspired by one of the more popular hotels in Honolulu, for yourself in the form of this DIY Mango Body Scrub. It’s incredibly easy to make and use and is the perfect way to experience the relaxation of a spa day in an hour or less in your own home.


You’ll Need:

1 Finely Chopped or Pureed Mango
1/4 Cup Instant Oats
1 Cup of Castor Sugar
1 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil
4 Drops of Essential Orange Oil
1 tbsp Pineapple Juice

What To Do:

Place the peeled mango and oats into a blender and mix. Next, add the remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated. If you want a deep exfoliate, increase the amount of sugar used. The finished product will have a thick, gritty consistency and a very fruity, tropical smell. Take the scrub into the shower with you, and slowly rub in circular motions over damp skin to exfoliate, cleanse and tone the skin. When you rinse off, be sure to put some sort of covering over the drain to capture the remnants of the scrub. This treatment is luxurious, but can be a little messy. Remember to also wipe down the shower or tub after using any body treatment that contains oils, as they can make surfaces slippery. Enjoy!

How To Avoid Belly Bloat And Other Tips

If you are a fan of this blog then you might remember that last summer I lost 18 pounds in 8 weeks on the Dukan Diet. I learned SO much about health and nutrition, reading the book The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever. It helped me learn what foods would help me lose weight and keep the weight off and which foods I should avoid all together.

I have done a pretty remarkable job (*pats self on back*) at staying around or under my target weight all winter, even though I did gain about 5 pounds over the holiday season… I’m still thinking about getting “bikini perfect” soon though because Lord knows I wouldn’t want to bare-all right now! Good gracious…

Did you know there are “good for you” foods that can actually make you look and feel fat?

Franci Cohan - NutritionistWe are excited to share with you these tips and tricks on how to avoid belly bloat from certified nutritionist Franci Cohen suggests these meals that will not give you a bulging belly.

For a girl’s night out: Don’t be afraid to have a large meal beforehand (large meaning more than just a PB&J). If you are planning for an active night, whether dancing, bowling or party hopping, you will need the fuel. Franci Cohen has created the perfect meal for this situation:

  • 1 grilled chicken breast (approx 4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice and lentils
  • 1 cup steamed string beans

This combo will fill you up without weighing you down, and will give you the energy you need to dance the night away!
For a dinner- date: You’re wearing a stunning new BCBG dress that already had to be zipped up by your roommate. When you’re at the restaurant with your guy refrain from ordering a salad to make it look like you’re being healthy. All the veggies in the salad will actually cause your stomach to bloat more. Franci advises that a fish dish with one side of grilled veggies is the way to go! “Wild Salmon is jam-packed with heart healthy vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. If Salmon is not an option, mackerel, sea bass and lemon sole are all good options as well. As for the veggies, try to steer clear of cruciferous veggies (such as cauliflower, broccoli) that can cause bloating. Instead opt for grilled zucchini, asparagus, or carrots – which will keep your tummy tamed!”
For a day at the beach: It’s finally getting warm out and you can take that bathing suit out of hiding. If you’re going to the beach you need a healthy, energizing meal to get you through the morning but you don’t want it to show in your stomach.  You’re probably thinking that the easiest thing to eat before you head out is some Special K with skim milk. It’s low in calories after all, right? It doesn’t matter how low-cal it is, the dairy and multi-grains will expand in your intestines, causing your gut to stick out. Instead of cereal, Franci has an awesome recipe for oatmeal pancakes. Take 1/2 cup raw oats, 3 egg whites, 1/2 apple, and a dash of cinnamon and throw in a blender to create the pancake mix. This high fiber non-fat breakfast choice offers whole grain fiber plus additional fiber from the apple, and protein from the egg whites. It’s a great filling way to start the day, and will not create any abdominal gas or bloating, so you can go bikini-bare with ease!

For an afternoon luncheon: Eating a well-balanced lunch is essential for boosting energy and productivity; giving you power over that mid-day slump and keeping your metabolism active.  A lot of times people want to skip lunch in hopes of losing weight and grab an energy drink to keep them going. This is so bad! The carbonation from an energy drink will make you more bloated then a light lunch. Franci says, “For a mid-day luncheon, your best bet is a salad chock-full of fresh veggies and greens, and topped with a piece of grilled fish, low-fat tuna salad, or fresh turkey breast slices. Throw a few walnuts or almonds on top and dress with a low fat/low sugar dressing, to finish off your delicious salad creation!”

For traveling days: These days airports are getting bigger and so are the food courts. It’s tempting to give in to the convenience of fast travel food, but the combination of a high-sodium smorgasbord and air travel equals a very bloated body from head to toe. You absolutely must resist because there are better options. Eat before you leave for the airport.  Franci suggests packing your carry-on with fruits, veggies, and granola bars. Believe it or not these are available at kiosks. Also, avoid the beverage service on board. Stick to water, you will have a happier flight and feel revived upon arriving at your destination!

Above Tips From: Franci Cohen, Personal trainer, Certified Nutritionist & Exercise Physiologist


If you want to lose weight and have a healthier lifestyle, I personally recommend trying The Dukan Diet. (See: The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever) The high protein/low fat diet may not appeal to everyone though. If you don’t think the Dukan Diet is right for you, please check out Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Way to Lose Weight by Harry Papas.

About “Slimmer”…

Join the hundreds of thousands who are eating well and getting slimmer with the new Mediterranean diet book. Featuring delicious, fat-burning, easy-to-make Mediterranean diet recipes, a simple plan, and the psychological tools to stay slimmer, this international bestselling diet sensation takes the incredible flavors of the Mediterranean and adds new fat-burning ingredients that get amazing results.

Harry Papas, a certified dietitian in Greece, lost over 100 pounds by creating a revolutionary nutrition plan: a delicious, fat-burning Mediterranean diet coupled with the self-awareness he needed to combat the triggers that contributed to his weight gain.

You can learn more about the book on


I have an enormous library full of excellent cook books and health books. Here are a few that I’m reading right now and would recommend that you check out if you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle and/or trying to lose weight…


Interview with Hollis Wilder, Celebrity Chef and Author of Savory Bites

Hollis Wilder headshot

Hollis Wilder

We interviewed Celebrity Chef, Food Network Champion Hollis Wilder who recently authored the new book Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan that will be released this Saturday – April 6th!

I can’t wait to see her new book because I’ve heard of making cool recipes in cupcake pans but I haven’t had the chance to try any out. I think the kids are going to love this too!

Here are the questions we had for Hollis Wilder…

1. What veggies are the best ones to “push” onto your kids and what’s the best recipes you know of that will get kids to eat their veggies?

I don’t think of it as “pushing” as much as I think of making it my child’s idea to eat and enjoy vegetables. When my children come home from school they are starving. I have a crudité of fresh green beans, carrots, peppers, red and yellow tomatoes, and hummus waiting for them. I can get them to eat all 5 servings of vegetables at that snack. This is much easier for me to do when all they have to eat are veggies. When I send veggies in their lunches with other choices, the veggies come back home. When we make Savory Bites, meals in the cupcake tin, I use clear bowls filled with the very same vegetable options and I add sautéed spinach, blanched broccoli, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and tomatoes, grilled vegetables, so that when they are making “personal pan pizzas” or penne pasta gratins they can layer in the Colors they are attracted to first, instead of thinking about the taste. I have tricked not only my children but other children into using the cupcake pan as there pallet for creating the meals they want to eat, just because I have given them an edible paint brush to work with.

pic from Hollis Wilder's new book "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

3. What’s your favorite quick & easy family meal to make?

I like to keep it simple, protein, vegetables, are the main part of our meals. My children like Spinach Soufflé, easy ladies it’s Stouffers (freezer section) Salmon pan seared, fresh lemon and a Salad of romaine, apples, avocados, grapes, and a seasoned rice wine splash. We pretty much eat like this every meal.

Pic from Hollis Wilder's new book - "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

4. Do you have any tips of tricks for busy moms that want to entertain?

Whether you are entertaining for your neighborhood friends with families or having an adult only party, the most important piece of the meal is keep it simple sisters. I am with you! Don’t feel that you have to impress anyone, just make food that will make your guests feel like they are coming home and you will succeed.

Prep everything in advance. You can fill the wells of the cupcake pan the day prior and wrap in plastic wrap for fresh cooking the day of the party. Make sure that all of your side dishes are diced sliced and chopped ahead of time, so that you can make yourself and your home pretty prior to the guests’ arrival.

Get the rotisserie chickens from the grocery, cut them up into portions and brush orange marmalade or pesto, or BBQ sauce on them and re-heat. (No one will know)

Make more food than you think you will need. The best part of Savory Bites is that you can pack up leftovers in 6 inch square plastic containers so they guests can live your magic all over again the next day.

Pic from Hollis Wilder's new book - "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

Thanks to Hollis for taking the time to answer our questions!

If you like her tips and trick, be sure to get her new book Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more info!

Twitter: @HollisWilder