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Picture -Perfect Kitchen Pantry
Are You Prepared? Emergency Kit Items You Need in Your House Page 4 A Guide to Organizing for Style and Function Page 9 Mix Up Your Holiday! Throw the ultimate
“Friendsgiving”… Page 13 Give your recipes a healthy twist… Page 16 Reduce your festive footprint… Page 19
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The holiday season is upon us once again! While the holidays are all about celebrating family traditions, that doesn’t mean you can’t break from your normal routine or try something new. In this issue of Home Sweet Home Magazine, you’ll find a holiday guide that’s all about mixing things up. If you’re looking for some healthy alternatives to your favorite holiday meals, you’ll find a list of some easy (and delicious) substitutions. If you plan to forgo a big family meal for a more casual dinner with friends, learn how to plan a stress-free gathering that takes the weight of planning off your shoulders. And if you’re dreading your post-holiday clean-up and waste removal, you’ll find some tips for minimizing your holiday footprint.
Plus, just in time for the holidays, you’ll find the ultimate guide to organizing your pantry for easy meal planning.
Also in this issue, learn how to prepare your home in case of an emergency with important disaster preparedness tips. While no one likes to imagine anything bad will ever happen in their home, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your family will be safe if it does. This holiday season, I wanted to remind you that I’m never too busy for your referrals or to help you with any real estate needs you might have yourself. I’m just an email or text away if you have any questions for me or if your friends want a free estimate on the value of their homes.
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Is YourHomeDisasterProof? Fires, falls, acute medical conditions and natural disasters probably weren’t at the forefront of your mind when you bought your home. But while you can never anticipate when an emergency might occur, you can be prepared to take action if and when a disaster hits too close to home. The Ultimate Guide toOrganizing YourPantry Having an organized pantry can prevent you from buying more of an item you already have, help you see what you have at a quick glance and maybe even inspire some delicious culinary creations! Tips forHostingaHoliday PartywithPals Holiday meals can be stressful, especially if you’re planning a get-together with extended family members. It’s no wonder more people are opting to host “Friendsgiving” — a laid- back gathering with friends — over a traditional holiday meal. IndulgeWithout Guilt! The holiday season may be the ultimate cheat time, but if you’re looking to have an equally satisfying mealtime experience without all the guilt and grief, it’s easy to switch out a few of your favorite traditional recipes for healthier alternatives. ‘Tis the Season forWaste Prevention According to Stanford University, people throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than during any other time of year. Find out how you can reduce your impact with these easy tips! Table of Contents
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Is Your Home Disaster Proof? HowTo Prepare for Emergencies in Every Roomof Your House
may not always be able to prevent kitchen accidents, you can be prepared when they happen. In the kitchen, choose a location for your emergency kit that can be accessed if you fall or collapse to the ground. In other words, choose a low and easily-accessible cupboard for your emergency gear, but make sure it’s secured away from pets and children.
Fires, falls, acute medical conditions and natural disasters probably weren’t at the forefront of your mind when you bought your home. But while you can never anticipate when an emergency might occur, you can be prepared to take action if and when a disaster hits too close to home. Kitchen The kitchen is the most common location for home accidents. That
means it’s important to watch for spills that may result in falls, keep pets and other tripping hazards out of the kitchen and use high- quality oven mitts when handling hot items. Make a point to double check that all heat sources, stovetops, small appliances and ovens are turned off when you are done cooking. Even with these safeguards in place, sometimes the unavoidable occurs. (They are called accidents for a reason.) Even though you
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First Aid Kit Your kit should include items specific to common kitchen injuries. Include bandages in a variety of sizes, burn cream, gauze and tape, scissors, aspirin in the event of a heart attack, instant cold packs and emergency phone numbers for your doctor, neighbors, family members and friends. Fire Extinguisher Fires happen in a flash. The ability to act quickly is pivotal to prevent a small pan fire frombecoming a house fire. You should always have a fire extinguisher or two within easy reach. Beneath the sink is a good spot, as long as it isn’t obstructed by other items. A better location is mounted on the wall or even sitting in a corner of the counter. In addition to a fire extinguisher, always keep a large box of baking soda in an easy-to-reach location close to the range. Baking soda will quickly smother flash fires in the oven or on the stove. Remember that if there is any grease in your pan, you should NOT use water to put it out. Again, reach for the baking soda, or use the fire extinguisher for a larger blaze. Small cooktop fires can also be extinguished with the lid of a pot or pan, which cuts off oxygen and clears the area so you can turn off the unit.
Bathrooms and Laundry Room Bathroom and laundry room emergency kits should look similar to the ones in your kitchen. To avoid slips and falls, adhere non-slip mats inside the tub or shower, and consider installing safety handles. Also protect against electrocution by keeping all water and electrical items far away from each other. For your bathroom and laundry room, include: ▶ ▶ First aid kit ▶ ▶ Fire extinguisher ▶ ▶ Cellphone ▶ ▶ Phone numbers ▶ ▶ Flashlight or candles
Make sure you know how to use your fire extinguisher, and check a few times each year to make sure it’s fully charged. Daylight savings time changes mark good dates on the calendar to tackle this task and also check the batteries in your smoke and CO2 detectors. Phone Perhaps the best emergency kit item you have is your cellphone. Ideally, you should wear it in a holster or keep it in a pocket if you are home alone. If you have a home phone, place it in a central area of the kitchen. If you or someone you know is elderly and/or lives alone, consider signing up for an alert program for emergency response at the touch of a button, or rely on a walkie talkie or intercomdevice. The key is to have a plan for getting emergency help if and when it’s needed.
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Bedrooms Each bedroom should include a grab-and-go bag. This can be anything from a small backpack to a carry-on suitcase. The point is to have some essentials packed in case you have to quickly depart your home because of a fire or natural disaster. Keep a bag for each family member, or store everything in one larger bag. You can also place these bags near an exit or in a centralized location where everyone knows how to find them. Here are some important items to include: ▶ ▶ Change of clothing ▶ ▶ Medications, eyeglasses and contacts ▶ ▶ Flashlight and extra batteries ▶ ▶ Emergency contact numbers ▶ ▶ Insurance information ▶ ▶ Critical documents ▶ ▶ Phone charger ▶ ▶ Cash (ATMs and cardmachines may be offline) ▶ ▶ First Aid Kit ▶ ▶ 1-3 days of food and water ▶ ▶ Baby diapers, wipes, formula and other essentials ▶ ▶ Personal hygiene supplies ▶ ▶ Pet supplies. Also prepare a grab-and-go for any pets you have. Include medications and food.
Shelter in Place Gathering the essentials to shelter in place means putting together a list of items that not only includes emergency response items (like the first aid kit and fire extinguisher) but also items you’ll need to survive several days or longer, perhaps without electricity or water. As a side note, you should also keep a shelter-in-place bag at work or in your car that includes food, water, medications, a flashlight and a change of clothing including comfortable shoes. Food Canned goods can include store- bought or home-canned options. Be sure to rotate your stock every year. Also stockpile dehydrated foods, especially fruits, vegetables, jerky and nuts. You can also pick up pre-packaged dehydrated meals, which have a shelf life of up to 30 years! If you lose power, minimize how often you open the refrigerator and freezer. If it looks like the outage will be lengthy, cook all fresh foods before digging into your long-term storage. Water Storing water should be the very first thing on your list. The average household should store one gallon
per family member per day. There are several things you should keep in mind when storing water. When using plastic jugs, use only those labeled for consumption. These are identified with the plastic codes 1, 2, 4 or 7 on the bottom of the container. Also, do not use containers that previously held other foods or liquids, such as milk containers. If you use metal containers, make sure they are stainless steel. All other metals will break down over time and contaminate your water. Also, ensure your water container has a tight-sealing lid. Never store water in an open container. Glass containers are safe and effective, but you should protect them by cushioning them in fabric, bubble wrap or newspaper.
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source for emergencies. This might include electric space heaters if you have a generator or indoor propane heaters if you don’t. Also stock up on quality blankets and sleeping bags. Tools Being preparedmeans adapting as you go, so keep tools handy like an axe, hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, flashlights and other lighting, batteries and portable chargers, a battery or hand-crank transistor radio, multi- purpose knife and walkie-talkies.
Store water in a cool, dark place and replace it every six to 12 months regardless of the container you use.
Heat and Power
If at all possible, have a generator backup for your home, even if it’s a small unit for charging phones or running appliances. Also make sure you store plenty of fuel, but replace your supply every six months. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, keep your wood supply constant. If you don’t, figure out another heating
at home, you can use your existing supplies like pots, pans, utensils, cups, plates, can opener, cooking knife, and towels. If sheltering elsewhere, those items should be in a grab-and-go tote.
You’ll need a stove and the matching propane, wood or gas to go with it. Do not assume you’ll be able to use your home stove, which won’t work if you lose power or your natural gas lines are affected by an earthquake or other issue. If
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▶ ▶ Paper map ▶ ▶ Phone charger and portable charger (that is charged) ▶ ▶ A quart of oil and some antifreeze
In the Car Every car should also be equipped with the tools and supplies you might need while away fromhome. In addition to the basics of food and water, make sure you have: ▶ ▶ Flashlight ▶ ▶ Blankets or sleeping bags (consider winter vs. summer needs) ▶ ▶ Jumper cables ▶ ▶ Flares ▶ ▶ Safety triangle or cones ▶ ▶ Gloves ▶ ▶ Boots ▶ ▶ The chuck for the locking lugnuts, spare tire, lug wrench and jack
A Household Plan The time to plan for emergencies is now. Check with your city planners or neighborhood watch groups to see if there’s a plan in place for your area. This includes evacuation routes from fire or flooding, meeting places for supply distribution, etc. Also find out how the organization will relay information, andmake sure your contact info is up to date. If there
is no community plan, get your neighbors together and start one.
Armed with your grab and go bags, an alert system and an evacuation route, practice the drill at least once each year. Make sure all family members understand how to get out of the house and where to meet in case of emergency. Although no one ever wants to imagine they’ll need an emergency plan and supplies, having a plan in place could literally save your life.
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The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Pantry
Step 1 - Remove Everything Start the process by completely emptying the space. Now is a good time to make wall repairs and apply a fresh layer of paint if needed.
large or small. Not only will this prevent you from buying more of an item you already have, but it will help you see what you have at a quick glance and maybe even inspire some delicious culinary creations! Here’s a step-by-step guide to organizing your pantry for ultimate efficiency.
Kitchen pantries come in a variety of styles and sizes. Whether yours is a converted hall closet with shelves or a walk-in pantry with all the modern bells and whistles, your pantry is an essential part of your home’s main hub: the kitchen.
It’s important to have an organized pantry, whether your space is
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for door-mounted racks that can add a significant amount of storage space. Also create a plan for the best use of your shelving. If you have adjustable shelves, create spacing that works for the baskets or totes you plan to use. If you have oddly- shaped items like a thin, long griddle, create a narrow space by bringing shelves close together. Alternatively, store the griddle vertically or put it on the top shelf. If needed, make more shelves DIY style or with the help of a local contractor or home improvement store. If you don’t have adjustable shelves and find yourself with wasted space, get some shelf helpers. These create additional shelf space within your pantry so you can place cans or boxes beneath and on top of shelves.
Step 2 - Sort Perhaps the most crucial step in the entire process is sorting the items you plan to store in the space. This gives you a master plan for organization. Will you have small items like seasoning packets? Will the space house the slow cooker, waffle iron and griddle? Do the kids forage through the food supplies hourly? (We know the answer here). Sorting also gives you a rough idea of the quantities that need to be organized. Plan for the maximum amount. For example, if you buy pudding in four packs and only eat it occasionally, your storage needs will be much different than if you buy them in bulk at Costco and the family takes them for lunch daily.
Step 3 - Evaluate the Space Now is the time to install
additional shelving or bring in a store-bought rack. Think about whether you want solid shelves or if wire racks will do the trick. If you decide on wire, it’s helpful to lay a thin board or other material on each shelf to help create a level surface and keep small items from falling through the cracks. Consider the entire space. Use the highest part of the pantry for rarely used items like the punch bowl and turkey roasting pan, or store the lightest items like toilet paper and napkins above your head. Also, consider the type of door on your pantry. There are myriad options
Step 4 - The Door Rack
Door racks attach to the back of the pantry door and provide space to hold an assortment of items. They come in endless varieties ranging from inexpensive plastic to custom wood options. One budget-friendly hack is to use an over-the-door shoe sorter to handle the job. When selecting your door rack, consider your budget, the size of the door, the depth of the rack, and the way
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bottom corner will keep the rack from swinging when you open and close the door. Your pantry door rack can provide additional space and also help you organize your food into categories. You can use it for pasta and sauces, spice jars and packets, soups, condiments, snacks, baking supplies, paper products, drinks or breakfast foods. Of course, the added space doesn’t even have to be for food. Placing cleaning supplies in the attachable shelves means they’ll be easily accessible and organized. Include rags, sponges, cleaners and scrub brushes. Alternately, you can create a gift wrap station, conveniently attached to your door to save you fromdigging through totes or drawers. Organize gift bags, wrap, ribbons, bows, cards, tape and scissors. Step 5 - Make Decisions Think about what really needs to be stored
in the pantry. Could you put the fabric softener in the laundry room, the shampoo under the bathroom sink or the coffee beans in a decorative container on the kitchen counter? Just because batteries and candles were kept in the pantry for the past five years doesn’t mean they have to stay there. Decide what stays and what goes. Donate older or unpopular items to a food bank. For expired items, try posting a quick ad on Craigslist or a Facebook page that advertises free items. Not everyone is scared off by expiration dates, and they will appreciate the gift. Also consider small and large appliances. If they are unused or broken, it’s time to let themgo.
the compartments of the unit are laid out. Also, look at the way the shelf mounts to the door to make sure yours will close properly. Some systems offer movable sections so you can adjust shelf heights to meet your needs. You may also be able to attach bins to hold small items that may not sit on a shelf, such as seasonings or fruit snack packages. You can find pantry door shelves at most department stores, specialty kitchen stores, online or in organizing stores such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond or The Container Store. Pantry door racks are typically very easy to install. Many of them simply hook over the top of the door, securing them into place. Some, however, screw into the door, which provides a more stable attachment. Once loaded, the unit can become quite heavy, so even if the door shelves you choose don’t require hardware, it’s a good idea to reinforce the attachment. Also be aware of the length of your screws. Make sure they are not too long or they will go through to the outside of the door. If your door shelf does not have hooks over the top, ask for help to hold it in place. Thenmake sure the rack is even by using a level across the top or on one of the shelves. Install a few screws to support the system before your helper lets go, then add additional screws as needed. Putting an additional screw in each
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Step 6 - Move in Although you’ve evaluated, sorted and prepped the space, you may need to make adjustments as you go, so be patient and have fun with the process. For example, adjustable shelves can be moved to create just the right amount of space for cans, or you can place cans stacked two high. Then again, maybe your canned goods (store bought or homemade) are best stored in the door rack. Whatever you do, keep like items together. Think about the way items are grouped in the grocery store. Dedicate shelves or sections for each category, such as: ▶ ▶ Baking supplies ▶ ▶ Pasta and sauces ▶ ▶ Rice and other grains ▶ ▶ Beans ▶ ▶ Ethnic foods ▶ ▶ Chips, nuts, pretzels and other snacks ▶ ▶ Soups and broths ▶ ▶ Vegetables ▶ ▶ Tomato sauce, paste, whole tomatoes Establishing categories keeps you ultra-organized whenmaking grocery lists and duringmeal planning. With a quick glance, you’ll know what you have and what you need to restock. Make the most efficient use of space by ditching large boxes and other unnecessary packaging. Use
Step 7 - Boost Your
clear totes, wood crates or baskets to hold items. These are easy to slide in and out so even the littlest hands and busiest parents can quickly find what they’re looking for. Totes are a great way to contain half-emptied pasta bags and keep rice from spilling all over the cabinet. Plus, they create a streamlined look to your food-storage pantry. Be sure to think outside the box. Rather than feeling the need to store the plastic wrap in a drawer, consider mounting it on a small curtain-type rod on a wall. Use one space for multiple things. For example, put the remnants of three types of pasta with similar cook times in the same container. Take the last few tea bags out of their boxes and place them in a small basket instead. Place the most frequently-used items at a convenient height, and remember to accommodate the little members of the household so they can help pack their own lunch.
Organization Getting organized is one thing, but staying organized is another. To ensure your space stays tidy, enlist the help of your family. Make sure everyone sees and understands the new protocols (No, the candles and batteries aren’t in the pantry anymore!). Grab the label machine and go crazy. Label containers, shelves and totes so everyone knows where things belong. Find an empty wall space, and hammer in a few nails. Place a chip clip on each one so open bags get a quick seal. Mount a plastic bag holder for easy storage and retrieval. Focus on solving common issues by keeping solutions easily accessible. The goal is to consider each square inch of your pantry area so you can use it efficiently. Taking the time to get it organized in the first place will help you maintain that organization in the future, saving you time, money, energy and frustration!
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Friendsgiving at its Finest Tips for Hosting a Holiday Party with Pals
regularly see rather than invite a lot of people from out of town.
“Friendsgiving” — a laid-back gathering with friends — over a traditional holiday meal. “Friendsgiving” get-togethers have become wildly popular in the last decade, and they eliminate the need for expensive travel plans and time off work. Plus, amid COVID-19 concerns, many people are choosing to spend time with smaller groups of friends they
Holiday meals can be stressful, especially if you’re planning a get together with extended family members. You have to cook the perfect meal, put together the perfect table setting and create an ambiance your in-laws will praise for years to come. That’s a lot of pressure! It’s no wonder more people are opting to host
“Friendsgiving” events can also be hosted in addition to traditional Thanksgiving and holiday gatherings, not necessarily on the holidays themselves. If you’re looking to plan one of your own this year, here’s a helpful guide to hosting a memorable and stress- free event!
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The Guest List + Invitations First things first. Who are you going to invite? Guest lists always have the potential to cause hurt feelings, so follow these pointers to make sure no one gets left out. ▶ ▶ If you’re inviting your best group of friends, invite their partners, as well. While you might not like or know everyone’s significant other, avoid the temptation to host a friends-only gathering, since most people won’t likely want to attend without their partner on a holiday. ▶ ▶ If you’re inviting neighbors,
Now, for the invitations. You can either tell guests about the gathering over the phone or in person; you can invite guests on social media; or you can create inexpensive printed invites. The days of heading to an office superstore are over (though you can still go that route); just visit a website, design your invitations and print them out at home. Here are few invitation pointers: ▶ ▶ If you want the party to end at a certain time, include a start and end time on the invitation. ▶ ▶ If you want guests to dress
▶ ▶ Ask guests to send you a confirmation, so you don’t end up with too little or too much food. The Setting Where will you host the party? If you live further south, outdoors might still be an option, but if you live in a colder climate, it might already be too cold to pull this off. Here are three options.
invite the whole street. Want to solve your parking
woes? Invite your whole street to the table. Not everyone will come, and you won’t have to worry about dotting the curb with vehicles. ▶ ▶ If you’re inviting people from an organization you’re in (PTA, Book Club, etc.), invite everyone in the group. We do not advise leaving people out of your Bible study group, book club, bowling team or any other group. The ill will potentially created is not worth it, and you might just find yourself (or your kids!) left out of the next event.
a certain way, bring their own seating or bring their own alcoholic beverages, don’t forget to include that information.
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▶ ▶ The Backyard If you live in a climate where November is pleasant, our vote is for a backyard soirée. It’s pandemic friendly, easy to clean up afterward and offers space for kids to run around and have fun after dinner. If you choose outdoors, make sure to bring coverings for inclimate weather and insect spray —mosquitoes are year- round in some areas! ▶ ▶ Indoors Indoor meals don’t have to take place around a formal dinner setting — though there’s nothing wrong with that if you have the time and motivation. A great room with plenty of casual floor seating is one option we love, or try the sunroom, the basement or even the garage set up with space heaters. ▶ ▶ A rented facility, such as a clubhouse We’ve all attended parties at rented facilities, and if you are fortunate to have access to a clubhouse, pool house or similar space, it’s a great idea — especially if you plan on hosting a few more people than you’re comfortable having at home.
The Entertainment ▶ ▶ For adults Obviously, great food and conversation will be the main entertainment highlight for the grown-ups, but you could take things a step further and have a few lighthearted party games on hand. Whether you
If you’re planning to host a more casual party, you have two options: create your own menu with simpler versions of festive favorites, or ask guests to bring an item of their own to add to the menu. While some hosts will want to be in charge of the entire menu, most Friendsgivings opt for the second method — a “potluck” style. So how can you make sure you don’t end up with four green bean casseroles if you host a potluck? This is where the invitations come in handy. With paper invitations, you could list suggested items for a menu and have guests announce their contribution when they RSVP. If you are using social media to invite your guests, an online discussion will do the trick. What should you provide as the host? Turkey would be the most obvious answer (and/or a vegetarian option) but we’re also in favor of choosing whatever your “best dish” is and letting guests know what you’ll have on hand. You won’t go wrong with serving one main course, one unique side and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages such as punch, iced tea or seltzers. Then, ask your guests to provide the other sides, desserts and the beer/wine of their preference.
choose board games, card games, or “parlor games”
such as charades, a game can break the ice and keep people laughing and talking. ▶ ▶ For kids Younger kids can entertain
themselves with their imaginations, but sulky
preteens and teens might need a bit of help getting off their devices. Some fun options are Exploding Kittens, Apples to Apples, Jenga, Monopoly, What Do You Meme and Twister.
The Menu The food is the focal point of most holiday gatherings, but when you’re hosting friends or neighbors, the rules can be more flexible. Sure, you can create an entire spread using your great- aunt’s recipes if you choose, but a laid-back Friendsgiving party doesn’t demand it.
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Indulge Without Guilt ! Holiday Dishes, Reimagined
While you might not be able to control the urge to overindulge, you can feel better knowing you’re filling yourself with better ingredients. We’ve put together a list of easy substitutions to help you get started.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that routine — the holidays are the ultimate cheat time, after all! But if you’re looking to have an equally satisfying mealtime experience without all the guilt and grief, it’s easy to switch out a few of your favorite traditional recipes for healthier alternatives.
After a typical holiday dinner, your post-meal routine might involve releasing your top button, groaning audibly to your family that you are “never” eating that much again, then moving slowly into the sitting room and sinking into a food coma.
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▶ ▶ ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste ▶ ▶ ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste ▶ ▶ Sliced sautéedmushrooms for garnish, optional ▶ ▶ Chopped parsley for garnish, optional Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot such as a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallot, cook for 1 minute, until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, until tender and browned. Transfer all the contents of the pot to a bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pot. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and whisk it quickly into a paste. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the stock a little at a time, whisking out the clumps between each addition.
Green Bean Casserole
Increase the heat back to medium-high and allow the soup to simmer well for 3 minutes. Add the mushroommixture back to the pot and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. The stock will thicken slightly to be somewhat creamy. Let cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with mushrooms and parsley, if desired.
Green bean casserole is a beloved holiday side, and the traditional recipe is simple to make (it’s essentially canned green beans, packaged onions and condensed soup mixture). But the original dish has a lot of salt and preservatives. Luckily for green bean lovers everywhere, plenty of alternative recipes exist with healthier, fresher ingredients.
Old Ingredients: Canned beans, packaged onions, canned mushroom soup New Ingredients: Fresh green beans, homemade fried onions and a homemade mushroom soup recipe, courtesy of The Mushroom Council and used with permission.
Another popular green casserole, broccoli casserole can easily be a bit healthier and lower in fat when you use a healthier cheese or cheese alternative. In traditional broccoli casserole, the ingredients can include butter, full-fat cheeses, mayonnaise, canned soup and crushed butter crackers!
Homemade Mushroom Soup
▶ ▶ 3 tablespoons unsalted butter ▶ ▶ 2 garlic cloves, minced ▶ ▶ 1 shallot, finely chopped ▶ ▶ 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped ▶ ▶ 4 ounces white button mushrooms, chopped ▶ ▶ 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour ▶ ▶ 3 cups chicken stock
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Dial it back a bit, and you will still get raves from your crowd without the calories.
points if you bake it yourself —use lower-fat proteins, and add fresh fruits and herbs for flavor.
This classic stand-by is a must in most holiday spreads, but there’s no reason you can’t make it a bit healthier by taking out some of the incriminating ingredients and replacing themwith lower-calorie substitutes. Of course, if you REALLY want to make themhealthier, you could forgo potatoes entirely and use mashed cauliflower. But it’s the holidays, andmost people prefer traditional spuds.
Old Ingredients: Cheddar cheese, mayo, butter, canned mushroom soup, butter crackers for topping New Ingredients: Cottage cheese, olive oil, homemade mushroom soup (see recipe above), panko bread crumbs Sweet Potato Casserole Even though they’re made from vegetables, a lot of sweet potato “casseroles” are pretty much glorified desserts. But sweet potatoes are actually quite nutritious — they are known for having fiber, iron, calcium, B vitamins and C! And they’re naturally sweet (the name says so), so why cover all their good qualities up withmarshmallows and sugar? Instead, opt for a more basic version of this beloved dish: baked sweet potatoes with healthier toppings.
Old Ingredients: Butter, bread, sausage New Ingredients: Olive oil, sprouted grain bread, turkey sausage, seasonal fruits (apples, cranberries) and herbs
Pies As far as traditional desserts go, pumpkin pie reigns as the most nutritious pick at your Turkey Day table. Pumpkins have fiber, after all, but you canmake yours EVEN healthier with a few ingredient swaps. If you aren’t a pumpkin pie fanatic, these swaps would work with other pies, too – just consult the original recipes for ingredients you can substitute. Old Ingredients: Pumpkin pie filling, refined sugar, full- fat dairy New Ingredients: Organic plain pumpkin, coconut sugar, milk alternative
Old Ingredients: Butter, sour cream New Ingredients: Olive oil, Greek yogurt
Stuffing or Dressing The best home chefs have their own spin on stuffing or dressing to accompany their holidaymeals, and the region you live in likely plays a role in what ingredients go into this classic side. Tomake yours healthier, swap out the challah or brioche bread for sprouted bread—bonus
Old Ingredients: Sugar, marshmallows New Ingredients: Cinnamon, honey, salt, pepper
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'Tis the Season for Waste Prevention
Be a Deliberate Shopper The process of avoiding holiday waste begins with smart buying habits. Look at your packaging options, both when shopping online and in person. Avoid toys and other gifts packed with bubble wrap, which is not recyclable in traditional home bins and will have to be taken to a plastic filmdepository.
Whether you’ve been aiming to reduce your bill or are working to minimize your environmental footprint, making some simple changes can greatly reduce the waste produced and hauled away from your home during the holidays. The best results come frommaking a plan ahead of time. Here are some ideas to get started planning for your (nearly) zero-waste December events.
The holidays are just around the corner, and that means your calendar will soon be filled with parties, gift exchanges and copious quantities of delicious fare. But the season of giving also brings with it a fair bit of overindulgence. In fact, according to Stanford University, people throw away 25%more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about one million extra tons per week.
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box liners, Ziploc-type storage bags, plastic envelopes, air pillows and bubble wrap. Be sure to deflate the air pillows, and clean and dry all items before drop off. Check out PlasticFilmRecycling.org for more information. Reduce Purchases There’s an undeniable connection between the amount you buy and the amount of waste produced. If you’re looking to reduce the latter, start by evaluating the former. If you find you need a roasting pan,
consider buying from a second- hand store or borrowing from a friend instead of buying new. For gift giving, dive into DIY by making your own spirits, oils, baked goods, jams, canned goods, vinegars, heat pads, quilts, woodworking projects and washcloths.
Also watch out for polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, which is difficult to get rid of. Seek out merchants who proudly tout sustainability practices by using cardboard and paper for shipping and packaging, which is all easily recyclable. While shopping in store, bring your own reusable bags. In fact, keep some in your car at all times or buy yourself a few compact foldable bags to store in your purse. If you take your own produce bags (which are easy to make out of pillowcases or order online) you can skip the plastic bags in the vegetable aisle, too. For bulk food, bring your own containers instead of bringing everything home in bags. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle The three pillars of eliminating waste are reduce, reuse and recycle. What and how to recycle varies widely across the country and around the world. The majority of municipal recycling centers, however, accept cardboard, nearly every type of paper, aluminum cans, glass and plastic jugs. Many grocery stores have a return spot for plastic bags, which can include things like bread bags, toilet paper and paper towel wrapping, dry- cleaning bags, produce bags, cereal
a turkey platter or an electric knife,
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Ditch Disposable Decor
Give the Gift of Waste-Free Gifts Look around after any gift- giving events, and you’ll find an abundance of discarded wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbons, bows, tissue paper, boxes, and other debris. Thinking ahead will greatly reduce the task of cleaning up and the amount of waste that ends up in the trash. Basic wrapping paper that is void of sparkles, glitter, sequins, foil, artificial texture, sticky gift labels, or plastic is completely recyclable, so pay attention when making your selection. Alternatively, use the Sunday comics, magazine pages, maps, or other paper sources. For ribbons, skip the plastic curling ribbon and prefabbed plastic bows. Instead, grab a roll of real ribbon from the craft store and reuse it year after year. Similarly, you can avoid plastic ribbon waste by using natural materials such as jute, twine, burlap, fabric, or cotton. They are also reusable but will biodegrade once disposed of. Stanford University reports, “If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just three presents in reusedmaterials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.” Similarly, use paper gift bags that can be reused or
recycled. Avoid the waste altogether (even the recyclable kind) by using a scarf, piece of fabric, or cloth napkins to wrap gifts. Make the wrapping part of the gift by using a photo box, basket, beach bag, crate or jar. You can also find reusable gift bags with drawstrings. Waste-free Meal Plan Food is central to most holiday festivities, yet kitchen waste multiplies as a result. A plethora of holiday garbage comes from single-use plates, silverware, cups and napkins. Although using real dishware will involve doing the dishes once the party is over, it’s one of the easiest ways to avoid a full garbage can. Dig out the china, or use everyday plates. Skip the red Solo cups in favor of regular glassware. Resist the plastic silverware by using the real stuff instead. Borrow a few items if needed, or ask your guests to bring some fromhome. Once again, waste reduction really starts in the shopping aisle. Again, bring containers and bags to the store with you. Move past the prepackaged lettuce and bags of apples, potatoes and grapes. While the plastic bags can likely be recycled along with the plastic film, the bubble packs that fruit and other items come in are rarely recyclable in any way.
Decorating for a holiday should be fun, and there are many ways to incorporate meaningful and eco-friendly decor options. Go for a natural centerpiece, such as a pine bough from your tree clippings, or use gourds to embellish instead. Rely on the classics like candles or flowers, too. Avoid balloons, decorations with the year printed on them you will never use again, and single-use plastic table cloths.
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Reuse We’ve discussed reducing consumption and recycling as much as possible. But it also helps to think about ways you can get multiple uses out of what might otherwise look like garbage. For example, thick shipping envelopes that can’t be recycled make a sturdy bag for scooped kitty litter. In many places, the plastic containers for cottage cheese, butter and yogurt are not recyclable. If that’s the case in your area, wash them and use them to send leftovers home with guests or to store them in your own home. If you still receive holiday cards in the mail, cut out the pretty pictures, punch a hole in them, and use them as gift tags.
Address Other December Waste While parties and gifts result in the majority of holiday waste, the end of the year is a good time to eliminate some other culprits, as well. For example, contact companies sending you product catalogues you have no interest in. Also sign up for paperless billing from every business who offers it. Food waste is an issue throughout the year, so if you don’t already have one, a composter is a great solution for upcycling kitchen waste into a usable garden compost. You can add any plant-based product to the mix, including many items that typically hit your garbage can like egg shells, banana peels, leftover salad, coffee grounds, and vegetable peels. The composter is also great for toilet paper rolls, napkins, coffee filters, and other paper-based household products. Get a jump start on your holiday season with a plan to reduce waste, which will be a gift to your budget and the planet.
If you’re able to plan ahead, order meat from a local butcher or farm. Alternatively, buy from the meat counter at the grocery store where foods are typically wrapped in paper rather than plastic. Also, anything you can make from scratch will reduce your holiday waste footprint. Bake bread fresh or buy it in paper bags. Make cookies, and skip the plastic containers. Put together your own potato salad. Make a salad from fresh greens instead of a bag. Have the kids help bake pies. Use homemade whipping cream rather than buying it in the convenient can. The idea is to give some thought to each item you buy and evaluate how much of it will end up in the trash.
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WHAT IS YOUR Home Truly Worth? To Request a Copy of My Free Home Value Report to Determine What Your Home is Truly Worth, Call 123 456 7890 or Email AgentName@Domain.com .
If you would like my free, professional opinion on the value of your home, I’d be glad to help. We can talk on the phone, or we can meet in person. I look forward to helping you!
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