It’s that time of year again when the weather is cold, snow is falling, family is gathering and giving gifts is tradition. I love giving gifts to loved ones and what better way to give gifts by buying from companies that give back to charities and organizations that make a big difference in the lives of others?
This is the third year that I am dedicating my December newsletter to “Gifts that Give Back”. Here are some organizations that I think are pretty amazing and also have pretty incredible gifts that anyone would be excited to receive this Christmas.
Thistle Farms is an organization led by a community of women healing from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. Buying from Thistle Farms provides the funding for women coming out of jail or off the streets with clothing, basic necessities, and more. Through product sales, employees earn income and move towards independence and financial stability. A stable income allows Thistle Farms employees to purchase their own cars, pay their own bills and taxes, and support their families, their health, and their continued recovery. This past year, residents and graduates received over $600,000 in income through Thistle Farms. As a result, graduates have purchased their first home, driven their first cars, and dropped their children off at school for the first time. They have a range of products from bath products to greeting cards. My favorite is their lavender gift set. You can find it on their website and more information about their company by clicking here.
Conscious step is an “ordinary purchase with extraordinary purpose”. This company is pretty incredible. Everyone needs socks, right? And they make great stocking stuffers. This company makes socks that you can choose what cause you want to donate to. They have a collection of socks that fund organizations that Fight Hunger, Socks that Give Books to Educate Kids, Socks that Fight Poverty, Socks that Protect Oceans, Socks that Provide Water, Socks That Treat HIV, Socks that Plant Trees, and if you can’t make up your mind, they have collections of boxes that gives to more than one organization. I love this concept – an ordinary product that gives back to so much. You can find out more about this organization on their website here.
Love your melon has been raising money for research on pediatric cancer since 2012. Started by two Minnesota college entrepreneurs, they have raised over 1.5 million dollars to research and donated over 80,000 hats to children with cancer. 50% of all proceeds go to various nonprofit partners that fight against pediatric cancer. This is another product that is great for Christmas because the weather is chilly and everyone could use a hat to keep his or her head warm and cozy. Check out all their products and read about their amazing story on their website here.
If you are looking for a gift for your child, this just may be the answer. For every doll that is purchased, a doll is also donated to a less fortunate child in the United States and around the world. Not only are you providing a doll for a less fortunate child, but your child’s doll comes with 10 “tokens” that teaches your child about spreading kindness to others. What an incredible way to not only give companionship of a doll, but give a gift of empowerment and teach love and kindness to your child at the same time. To learn more about how it works and how this company is spreading kindness across the globe, click here.
Charity water is a non-profit organization that gives 100% or their public donations to fund clean water projects. Not only do their donations go towards clean water projects but also 100% of the profits from their goods go directly to funding clean water projects – that is pretty incredible. They have got some awesome things in their store from sweatshirts, bracelets, candles and even bicycles! These are all great gifts for Christmas, and knowing that your gift is funding clean water for those who may not otherwise receive it, is a gift in itself! You can shop their online store here.
This last gift is two-fold. I absolutely love and believe in this organization and support it wholeheartedly. This holiday season help The We Movement light up the world with positivity. We lights are all about making the world a better place. It’s about coming together this holiday season. That’s the heart of the WE Movement.
WE lights were created to raise awareness. For most children, the holidays are synonymous with gifts – making lists, writing letters, being nice – all in the hopes of getting that ‘IT’ present. And while gifting is a wonderful tradition, the season can have more meaning and that is what this project is about. Start this discussion while planning and crafting your WE Lights and take the focus off “me” and onto the “we” this Christmas season. To learn more about how We Lights can be part of a new family tradition, click here.
You can also give with ME to WE. When you shop their give guide, you help empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty. Through products that make an impact, families in developing communities are given the resources to build a brighter future, and you are also helping the women in Kenya to earn an income through these handmade gifts. You can shop the Me to We gift Guide by clicking here.
During the holiday season it can be a struggle to eat healthy, especially when you have decided after that big Thanksgiving dinner two weeks ago that you were going on a diet. But remember, dieting is about deprivation and healthy lifestyle is about learning how to properly feed yourself delicious and nutritious foods while maintaining balance. This can be done year round – even during Christmas when there is good food everywhere, I promise! Here are some tips that you can use right now, even during the holidays, and use them year round:
- Eat Breakfast! This is very important. You want to be eating meals every 3-4 hours, not starving yourself for one big meal at the end of the day. This leads into my next tip…
- Eat Regularly. Start eating ‘PC’ (lean protein with healthy carbs) or ‘FC’ (unsaturated healthy fats – like olive oil, avocado, or nuts, combined with healthy carbs) combo meals every three to four hours, so you are no longer fighting off food cravings and extreme hunger. Then, when you arrive at a holiday gathering you have more control over food choices and portions! You can learn more about these combos in my books.
- Eat Real Food. Avoid refined sugars, fats, and salt, and foods with ingredients you do not recognize or cannot pronounce.
- Stay Hydrated! Being hydrated curbs sugar cravings and often prevents overeating. If you notice a craving for junk food use that feeling as a trigger to first drink a full glass of water. Then, re-assess your craving before indulging in the treat.
- Don’t Drink Your Calories. Try to keep your drink intake to 1-2 drinks per event and even try a lower calorie option. In my last month’s newsletter I shared a video where I talk about some recipes for alternatives to those high-calorie drinks.
- Plan Your Meals. Planning your meals in advance can often help you make good food choices. When you are faced with a holiday party and you can’t plan ahead, fill up on the “healthy” food first – this can help you make better decision when it comes to the treats later. It’s ok to indulge and eat what you love, and if you are keeping your blood sugar stable through the day and making good food choices before the party, you’re less likely to binge when you get there.
- Create Healthy Versions of Your Holiday Favorites. This is what I love to do, and this is what I share with others! I have a variety of recipes on my website that do just this – they take classic recipes and put a healthier spin on them.
Speaking of creating healthy version of holiday favorites, here are three of my favorite recipes for Christmas that I’d love to share with you that do just that. Not only are they a wonderful addition to bring to a party, or simply for Christmas dessert, they make wonderful gifts to give to your friends and family this Christmas. You can see some of my gift ideas during my appearance on the 700 Club that features some of my cookies and an Avanti family tradition: The Holiday Pumpkin Mini Loaves! (Recipes below) Watch the full video here.
- 1 cup egg whites (raw)
- 1 1/2 cup pumpkin (canned)
- 1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cups sugar (white)
- 1/2 cup Splenda for baking
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
- 1/4 teaspoon clove (ground)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 2/3 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon walnuts (chopped)
Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350°. Coat 5 mini loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
Step 2 – Combine first six ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Step 3 – In a separate mixing bowl combine baking soda, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and flour.
Step 4 – Pour liquid mixture with dry mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into mini loaf pans, filling pans half the way to allow room for bread to rise. Bake for 25 minutes or until you can poke a toothpick into center that comes out clean.
Step 5 – Let cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, wrap loaves in colored plastic wrap and tie with a festive ribbon.
Nutrition Facts per serving (1/2 mini loaf): 162 cals., 5 gm protein, 35 gm carbohydrates, 5 gm fat.
Serving size: 1/2 mini loaf.
- 8 tablespoons softened butter
- 1/4 cup low fat cream cheese softened ((2 oz.))
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 – 12oz miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy milk
About This Recipe
A few less calories and a little more taste make these guys an instant favorite. As seen on The 700 Club.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 106 cals., 1 gm protein, 16 gm carbohydrates, 4.5 gm fat.
Serving size: 2 cookies.
Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350 F.
Step 2 – In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
Step 3 – Add sugar and salt. Mix until combined.
Step 4 – Beat in egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in flours. Stir in chocolate chips.
Step 5 – Shape dough into 1½ inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Step 6 – Bake for 15 minutes, until bottoms are golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Step 7 – Meanwhile, combine confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla in a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of soymilk at a time until icing reaches desired consistency.
Step 8 – Dip each cookie into frosting presentation side head first into frosting. Lightly sprinkle with green and red sugar crystals for a more festive design (note: the frosting dries quickly).
- 2 cups persimmon pulp ((from about 4 medium persimmons))
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 cup Z Sweet
- 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter ((preferably organic), at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 Large Eggs ((preferably cage free))
- 2 Egg Whites ((preferably from cage free eggs))
- 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup raisins
About This Recipe
We had a huge persimmon tree on our ranch and when they were ripe my grand- mother would simply dig a spoon into one and enjoy it as if it were a cup of pud- ding. She also used them to make smoothies. However I liked them best in her famous persimmon cookies. I’ve altered her original recipe here to offer a lighter, lower-sugar version and I must admit they taste just as delicious as Nonna’s.
Nutrition facts per 3-cookie serving: 140 calories, 3 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat
Makes 60 Miniature cookies
PFC Hint: Indulge after a PP meal or omit the carb from a PC meal.
Step 1 – Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Step 2 – Combine the persimmon pulp, sugar, Zsweet, butter, and coconut oil in a blender and process until well blended but not frothy. Pour into a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the eggs and egg whites.
Step 3 – Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg and baking powder in a separate medium bowl. Add to the persimmon mixture and mix well. Fold in the walnuts and raisins.
Step 4 – Drop the batter by the teaspoonful about 1 inch apart onto an ungreased baking sheet.
Step 5 – Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes. The cookies should be a little soft so be careful to not over bake.
Step 6 – Cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Have a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year!
Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”