10 Yummy Sugar Free Christmas Recipes

sugar free christmas recipes

Christmas is that time of year when delicious treats and baking abound. Everywhere you go, there is something else to indulge in, something else that tempts you. You try to resist, but …

The good news is there’s no need to deny yourself. You can enjoy delicious sweet treats guilt free this Christmas by creating one (or more) of these yummy sugar free Christmas recipes. Super easy to make and all naturally sweetened they are actually healthy and good for you – so you can feel good about what you are eating and indulge guilt free.

sugar free Christmas recipes

Coconut Balls – Healthy Christmas Truffles

sugar free Christmas recipes

Peanutty Blondie Bars

sugar free Christmas recipes

Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

sugar free Christmas recipes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Squares

sugar free Christmas recipes

Gingerbread Cookies – A Traditional Cookie

sugar free Christmas recipes

Classic Sweet Butter Tarts

sugar free Christmas recipes

Best Paleo Buckeyes

sugar free Christmas recipes

Easy Homemade Paleo Mint Dark Chocolate

sugar free Christmas recipes

Festive Gingerbread Protein Bites

sugar free Christmas recipes

Hermit Cookies – A Soft Delectable Christmas Cookie

Do you have a favorite sugar free Christmas recipes? Share in the comments below.

10-yummy-sugar-free-christmas-recipes-pinterest

Orange Cranberry Smoothie

IMG_6830I woke up Christmas morning this year feeling very excited! I felt like a kid all over again, the magic and anticipation of Santa and Christmas morning were very present. I didn’t sleep much, and by 5 am I was literally ready to get up and open presents. I seriously considered going and getting my parents up ‘for old times sake’ like when we were kids and getting up at 3 being told to go back to bed, then 4 then 5 and finally my parents would give up about 6.

I had the pleasure of sharing Christmas this year with both my parents and only me. No kids, no siblings, no in laws, just us, which is a rare and special occasion. It is not often that such an opportunity occurs and I felt that this in itself was a gift. Christmas Eve we watched a movie and my Mum and I sat up late talking and sipping gingerbread martinis. At midnight we toasted and wished each other Merry Christmas. We peeked outside, and experienced a calm beautiful evening. The snow gently falling and a peacefulness in the air, truly a unique energy that was not present earlier that day (or on Christmas morning when I popped outside either). It really was like in the movies, that magical energy, and presence there.

IMG_4491One of the things I love to do over the holidays is experiment with different festive recipes and on Christmas Eve I had already been thinking about trying a Cranberry smoothie of some kind Christmas morning. I googled a number of recipes and found some good ones, though undecided which one to try.

When I woke in the morning (or should I say finally got up around 8) I bounced out of the spare room wishing a Merry Christmas! Mum was at the sink, Dad dressing in red and I was moving towards the tree. Quickly with coffees or waters in hand we began a lovely ritual of opening gifts and sharing. After gifts Mum went to the kitchen to make brunch – a fabulous Impossible Quiche with Daiya smoked gouda, spinach and mushrooms and I proceeded to make the smoothies. I had decided to take the elements of some of the recipes I found that I liked and combine them, adding some of my own ingredients and creating my own. The result was fantastic! A smooth creamy, flavorful smoothie that we all socked back quickly, expressing how much we enjoyed it. I loved the added greens myself, which darkens the pink looking smoothie slightly but gets those greens in there without even tasting it! The added benefit is that cranberries themselves are considered a super food and are high in vitamin C, E, fiber as well as providing benefits such as improved immune system, antioxidant and decreased blood pressure.

When I arrived home after Christmas I made it again for the kids and they all loved it! Matthew who hasn’t been drinking many smoothies these days, tasted it said ‘Oh that’s good’ and drank the rest quickly. Chloe asks me every day since she tried it for one and has expressed that it’s her new favorite. Even my ex husband tried it the other day and said it was good (this is a big thing btw, as he is not really a smoothie guy and particular about tastes). I was quite pleased with the results and I think I drove my parents a little crazy that first day I made it when I kept saying throughout the day how good it was and how impressed with myself for creating it. Well it was good!

So if you’ve got a festive theme going over the holidays or simply want to try out a great new smoothie recipe, give this one a go! If you find it a little tart for your tastes just add more stevia when making it. Then come back here and comment telling me how you like it!

Orange Cranberry Smoothie

2 bananasIMG_6831

1 c. frozen cranberries

1 c. un sweetened almond-cashew yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. orange juice

1/2 of 1 g packet of stevia

handful of spinach* (optional)

Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Garnish with slice of orange and a few cranberries if desired. Pour into 8 oz glasses and serve.

*if you would like a bright pink smoothie do not add spinach as it will darken it. I love tossing in that bit of green as it is a great way to get those greens in a quick and easy way. And you don’t even notice it’s there!

Serves 3 (makes 3 – 8 oz servings)

Light Up the Night – Magical Musical Christmas Light Displays

IMG_2549Lights sparkle and shine as they dance with the music. Delight in the twins eyes as they wait in anticipation, the music building, wondering what will come. Then, in a crescendo of light and music together the spectacle really begins. Movement and rhythm, flowing and moving as their eyes follow the dance. This wonderful light display one of many that light up Calgary this holiday season.

I’ve always enjoyed those videos on youTube with the houses all decorated for Christmas and the musical accompaniment that goes in time with the light display. I always thought how cool that would be to see some of those live instead of just online. Little did I know that in Calgary there are a number of houses that do have such a light display. When my friend told me this a couple of years ago I was quite excited! So one night we went out and did a tour. It was wonderful! We enjoyed the light display from the comfort of our car, tuning into the posted radio station, which plays the music in time with the lights.

People are quite creative, incorporating all kinds of things with usually about 4 or 5 different songs before the show repeats. This year I took the kids out to see the lights for the first time. We made an evening of it, bringing hot chocolate and snacks to enjoy while we watched the lights. Luke and Chloe loved it! Dancing and moving it in the van while watching in wonder. We stayed at each house until the full set had run and then moved on to the next one.

IMG_2544The neat thing is that there are tons of them in Calgary and you can view as many or as few as you like. The site Lighten Up Calgary lists and maps out the houses that have such displays and you simply go to the site and create your route. We visited 3 houses when we went out last week but that was just the right amount for Luke and Chloe. And I thought it was great that they knew their limit and knew when it was time to go home. I would’ve have gone to one more, but they had seen, enjoyed and were ‘full’.

They fell asleep on our way home, tummies full of hot chocolate, and dreaming of dancing lights. Next year I’m sure we’ll go out again, as it’s another great free family activity to enjoy over the holidays. Most of them play every night in December and up until New Year’s. Who knows maybe one year we’ll even create our own display and be on the route – apparently it’s as simple as buying a kit. How fun will that be!

Sugar Free Hermit Cookies – a delectable soft Christmas Cookie

beet dyed & spinach dyed icingWhen I was growing  up one of the things I loved about Christmas time was all the delectable baking my Mum would make. She’d spend weeks making all kinds of recipes, putting them in containers and freezing them for the season. She’d make things like Isch Tarlets, Venetians and Neopolitans. The names alone sounded exotic and there was more!  We often found ourselves with a plethora of leftover baking come January and well, I happily ate threw it.
Of course we had the more common Christmas baking such as whipped shortbread with cherries on top and gingerbread, but I always loved the unique ones. In fact my favorite Christmas cookie was always Hermit cookies. A spicy, soft fruit drop cookie made with a little dash of coffee. The flavors in this cookie are divine, as they mellow with age and become even more delicious as the days pass. The good news was that my sisters and Dad didn’t care for them, only Mum and me, so I basically got the entire batch to myself!
When I ventured out on my own I would make these for my family, hoping that no one else would like them. As luck would have it my husband did not, but turned out that my son did.  So I shared, reluctantly.
IMG_0755When we went dairy and sugar free back in 2010, I didn’t make these cookies for a while as I could never get around the mixed fruit that goes into the cookie. Mixed fruit is deep in a thick sugary syrup, and though I tried to find alternatives or even make my own fruit mix, I could not find a way around it.
So this year I gave in. I really wanted these cookies! And I bought a container of mixed fruit to make these cookies. I modified the rest of the recipe for sugar free hermit cookies and resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted them I had to let this one thing go…for now.
I was so excited! As I was baking them I remembered all the unique flavors I love and the delectable cookie that would result at the end. I knew that my oldest would gobble them up, but these were new to the twins, so we would see if they liked them. The smells wafted through the kitchen and I couldn’t wait to try one!
Of course, they were excellent. Turning out perfectly. I was very pleased. And it turns out that Luke and Chloe do like them (taking after their mother), so I guess I have to share a little more 🙂
Sugar Free Hermit Cookies
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp saltIMG_6775
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. coconut sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. cold coffee
1 – 250 g container mixed fruit
1 c. golden raisins
1 c. walnuts (I usually omit these because I don’t care for nuts in my cookies but original recipe calls for them)
Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves onto wax paper. Beat shortening, coconut sugar, egg and coffee together until fluffy and light. Stir in flour mixture, blending well. Add mixed fruit and raisins (and nuts if using), mix well. Drop by teaspoon onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375F for approximately 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Let cool on wire racks. Once cool store in airtight container. Flavors will mellow and voila you have a soft, fruity delicious cookie! Makes 3 dozen.

Banff’s Santa Claus Parade

IMG_6729The main street is lined with people, children and adults alike. Lights all aglow, shops closed and waiting in anticipation for what’s to come. Snow glitters on the sidewalks and the majestic mountains surround us. It’s beautiful.

Excitement is in the air as children peek out from the crowd to look down the street to see if it’s begun. To see if Santa and his parade are coming. Waiting patiently, yet continually asking Mom and Dad if it’s time yet. This is Banff’s annual Santa Claus parade, held at night with the beauty and magic of Christmas lights all around.

IMG_6700We attended this beautiful event for the first time this year, and it is well worth the trip out to Banff. Currently run by Banff Lake Louise Tourism for the past 7 years, this event has been hosted by the Town of Banff for many years prior. The parade itself is actually the finale of a day filled with kid friendly and family activities such as face painting, balloon twisting, Christmas carols and a visit and photo with Santa down at the train station. There’s also horse drawn wagon rides, tasty treats and of if you’re up for it, a nice soak in the hot springs (which is available every day of the year but is always lovely).

I love touring Banff Avenue and spending time in the Christmas Shoppe. My youngest two, screaming in delight at the grand display of Christmas houses and towns. The ornaments are many, the options are delightful and there is no shortage of Christmas anywhere.

IMG_6723The parade itself is only half an hour long, which I feel is the perfect length for children, who remain engaged and excited the whole time. The floats were gorgeous, creative and unique all lit up as they moved down the street. From the Girl Guides to Sunshine Village there was an excellent representation of the town.

Of course I loved that it was at night. It just added to the atmosphere and excitement with all the floats magically lit up. Even my oldest son, who is 12 and I was unsure if he would like it, expressed that he did enjoy it and said it was “cool”, which meant we had success.

IMG_6677I think Santa Claus parades are such a fabulous idea and up until recently only knew of the big ones in Toronto and New York. I didn’t realize that many of the local towns in and around Calgary host their own Santa Claus Parades and they are quite well done! Parades are held in High River, Okotoks, Airdrie, and Cochrane (which if you still want to attend a Santa Claus Parade this season is this Saturday, December 12th). I think it’s a great way to celebrate the season and your community. And everyone has that little flare and does things a little differently, distinguishing themselves from the rest.

You can go to any of the town’s websites for details and pick the ones you want, or even do a tour! of Santa Parades – how fun would that be? We are already planning for Banff again next year, hoping to take full advantage of the day and all the activities they have to offer. We might even take the plunge and stay overnight!

IMG_6696It creates such great memories an event that I hope every family has the opportunity to enjoy.

Have you attended a Santa Claus parade this year? Share with us your memories and experience.

The Lions Festival of Lights – A Free Calgary Light Display

This weekend I attended the kickoff of the Lions Festival of Lights, a free drive by light display housed at Confederation Golf Course, and has been on in Calgary for 29 years.

IMG_6657Located along 14 St. NW, just south of 24 Ave., this light display has over 115,000 lights and is Calgary’s largest drive by display. Set up by over 3000 volunteer hours, this year the display is completely green with all LED lights.

Each year they kick off the event with family activities, concert and treats and this year was no exception. They were ice sculptures, Singing Santa and Mrs. Clause (who really got the crowd rocking) as well as free hot chocolate and cookies. I was having a great time enjoying the tunes and bee bopping with the crowd (Santa really was good and quite creative in his singing).

IMG_1355At 6 pm, the mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, threw the switch to officially open and light up the park for the 2015 season. And to top it off a beautiful display of fireworks lit up the sky for everyone to enjoy. People were then invited to stay and enjoy the lights and the park.

In my 17 years in Calgary, this was the first time I had ever gone to see this lights display. I had heard of it but never attended. And this was the first time that I was aware that they did any kind of official kickoff – and honestly I was impressed. Not only with the event itself but the reasons why the display existed.

IMG_6650The Lions Club does this display every year as a way of thanking Calgarians for all their support and generosity throughout the year. The Confederation Golf Course supports the display as part of their mandate is to provide other activities than golf for Calgarians, which is why they not only open up their grounds for the Christmas display but also for cross country skiing and sledding in the winter months. I think this is a fantastic way for everyone to give back to the community and benefit!

IMG_1348 - Version 2Even though this is largely a drive by display, it is just as enjoyable to park and take a walk through the park enjoying the lights in a more intimate way. The display really is quite phenomenal and the best part about it is it’s free! I find there are so many additional costs at this time of year that is it pleasant to be able to enjoy something at no cost.

So pack up the family, friends, significant others, even grab some hot chocolate and take a tour down to Confederation Golf Course and check out the Lions Festival of Lights! They are open nightly from 6 pm to midnight until January 8.

What Turkey, Christmas and Pizza have in common

turkey leftoversOne of the things I absolutely love about the big holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, is the big delicious feasts we have. All the decadent recipes we enjoy, from classic to traditional, to the new one you always wanted to try. So yummy! My mouth is watering just sitting here thinking about it (or maybe that’s the quiche I currently have in the oven?)

And of course there’s all the leftovers, usually enough at our house that we are eating turkey for a week before we tire of it and freeze the rest. Sometimes we’ll just enjoy the turkey on its own with the gravy, potatoes and leftover veg, or we’ll make something new out of the turkey, creating a whole new fantastic dish to enjoy!

From hot turkey sandwiches to omelettes and casseroles, there are endless delicious turkey leftover recipes to create. My absolute favorite though is hands down, turkey crepes. My mother found this recipe years ago, when I was probably 11 or 12. She made them one Boxing Day. I remember asking Mum what was for supper and looking at her like she was crazy when she responded. I thought ‘oh yeah those will be delicious…gross.’

Boy was I surprised. The rule in our house was that you always tried something once and if you didn’t like it fair enough, but you couldn’t say you didn’t like it if you had never tried it before. Plus that was what was for supper, if I didn’t eat it, there was nothing else. So I tentatively took a bite. OMG! These things were fantastic, they tasted just like pizza, but were lighter and fluffier. My sisters and I gobbled them up and eagerly asked for more. They quickly became the family favorite and the traditional dish on Boxing Day.

Now I make them for Christmas Day, as we have simplified the meal (and by simplify I mean reduce the amount of prep) on Christmas Day to allow more family time, and less time in the kitchen cooking. I have also adjusted the recipe to meet our dairy free requirements and they are just as delicious! In fact we have had a few guests over on Christmas Day and they are none the wiser (and also gobbling them up, in fact D’Wayne’s nephew requested the leftovers this year). D’Wayne too is also salivating as I am wrapping them up and putting them into the oven.

It is a fairly simple recipe, with some of the cooking being done easily in advance. I usually make the crepes a few days ahead (or if I am really organized earlier and freeze them), and the filling and final touches the day of the meal. Everybody loves them.

So if you are in need of a new yummy recipe for all the leftover turkey you have (or just want to try something new) definitely give this recipe a try!

Turkey Crepes

16-20 8″ crepes (recipe below)turkey

3c. cubed turkey

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

2 onions finely chopped

1 c. sliced mushrooms

1 clove garlic, minced

2 – 5 oz jars artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3 c. shredded Daiya mozzarella

1 – 28 oz. can tomato sauce

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. oregano

salt and pepper

Crepes:

4 eggsturkey

3/4 c. water

1/2 c. almond milk

1 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

Crepes:

Beat eggs and stir in flour. Add water, almond milk and salt, mixing until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour to let flour absorb liquid (can be left in fridge overnight if desired). Just before making crepes, melt Earth Balance in pan; stir excess butter into crepe batter. Batter should be consistency of light cream. If batter seems a bit thick blend in more water to get it to the right consistency.

Pour 1/4 c. of batter into pan and swirl to form a circle. Cook crepe until lightly browned, turn and cook other side for 1 minute. Repeat with remaining crepes. Stack cooked crepes between layers of wax paper until ready to use. Crepes can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time and kept wrapped in the fridge. Crepes may also be frozen for longer storage.

Makes 16- 20 crepes

Filling:

In a large skillet, melt Earth Balance over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender.  Add mushrooms and continue cooking until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in turkey and half the artichokes. Heat through, then remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place crepes on work surface with light colored sides up. Divide turkey mixture equally among crepes and roll up. Place crepes seam side down in a single layer in a greased 9×13 ovenproof dish.

In a medium size bowl, combine tomato sauce and remaining artichokes. Stir in basil and oregano and spoon over prepared crepes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

turkey

Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Serves 8

Festive Ham and Dairy Free Scallop Potatoes

IMG_4425Years ago we were away over Christmas for the first time ever, well not including university years or when we went somewhere else to visit. This was the first time we were not somewhere spending Christmas with other family or friends. We were in Australia, part of our 3 month stint back in 2007, and the beginning of a love affair with the Aussies (cause as you know we’ve been back since to Australia and there’s talk of going again).

This was the first time that we as a family were in a place where they was no family or friends to visit or stay with. We had no traditions that we had to uphold (not that there is anything wrong with traditions, everyone calls me a very traditional gal. I love them and uphold many, but there are times to break from or form new traditions) and no particular place that we needed to be. We were in Tasmania, the only island state in Australia, staying in Launceston at a lovely place called the Penny Royal Apartments (which are refurbished historical buildings turned into apartment accommodations). It was a lovely place.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (244)

Penny Royal Apartments

For Christmas, we kept it low key, enjoying a nice dinner on Christmas Eve and preparations for Santa Claus, with our paper tree and actual socks hung up for stockings. Christmas morning was even simpler with a present from Santa, some goodies in our stockings and a nice breakfast of french toast. Matthew was 4, and was super happy with his little Tonka trucks from Santa Claus and his few small gifts from us.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (246)We went to the beach for the day, we came back and went to a Christmas buffet at another local hotel. No one had to cook the big meal, no fuss, no muss, relaxing, easy. Simple. It was so nice because we got to spend time with each other, it was not about the toys and gifts, or the big Christmas dinner. There was no stress to have things perfect or a timeline to abide by. It was cool, it was authentic and was one of the best Christmases I have ever enjoyed.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (247)When we returned from Australia we decided to shift our focus, and make Christmas about the things we really want, which we had identified as being together, enjoying each other’s company, it didn’t matter what we were going to do. So we simplified things, we ordered pizza on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day we had turkey crepes (a fabulous dish made with leftover turkey, that is not only delicious but simple and can be made ahead of time, reducing time in the kitchen on Christmas Day). We still had a nice meal and used the nice dishes, we still exchanged gifts, but now no one was stuck in the kitchen all day making dinner. Which for was usually just us anyway and was all over in about 20 minutes. Now I make the big meal 2-3 weeks earlier, chop and freeze the turkey and toss the crepes together on Christmas day, takes maybe 30 minutes.

That being said I do love the spread at Christmas and I still love all the traditional items on the menu, like turkey and stuffing, ham and potatoes, with all the dressings. So I usually do a bigger meal a little bit before Christmas, when I have more time, less things competing for my time and can afford a day in the kitchen.

The beach Christmas Day 2007

The beach Christmas Day 2007

In fact just this past weekend I decided to make a ham and scallop potatoes, often a favorite on many Christmas dinner tables. I was so excited because this was the first time that I was making the scallop potatoes dairy free. I love scallop potatoes but for some reason since going dairy free I thought I couldn’t make them, that adjusting the recipe would be too complicated. I have no idea why I thought this, but for some reason the other day this ‘block’ lifted and I decided I could do it and what I would do. I knew exactly what I was going to do and what substitutes I was going to try.

Oh my goodness! The potatoes turned out so well. They were absolutely fabulous and I couldn’t believe that I had waited so long to adjust this recipe, or that I thought I couldn’t! It was really quite simple and easy (and in case you haven’t noticed I like simple and easy).

The ham was fabulous as well, I use my own mix to glaze and flavour the ham, though I have discovered that it is near impossible to find a ham that is not cured with sugar of some kind (at the moment anyway, I believe that will come). I ended up buying one from the local butcher, no hormones, no steriods, grain fed, but still cured in a brine that did contain a little bit of sugar, though the butcher assured me that it was much less than what you would find in the local grocery store. Rounded out with a nice green salad it was a fabulous meal and one that we all enjoyed. It was the first time the twins had scallop potatoes and though Luke rejected them because they looked different, once he tasted them, he gobbled them up.

So if you’re doing the Christmas spread this year and want to try a dairy free scallop potato recipe (you may have a lactose intolerant aunt who you can finally make a dish for) or have decided to keep it more simple (you could make the slow cooker version of these potatoes), enjoy yourselves, remember what is most important to you and make that your focus, when you do Christmas day will be perfect no matter what.

Glazed Ham

dry mustardIMG_4424

coconut sugar

water

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together to make a smooth paste. Be careful not to add too much water as you do not want it runny. Amounts of mustard and coconut sugar depend on preference for sweetness and tart, as well as size of ham. Spread mixture over ham. Place in covered roaster and roast for 2 hours at 350F for a 3.5 kg ham (increase or decrease cooking time according to size).

Scallop Potatoes

4 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread

4 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 c. coconut milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage, slightly thinner than regular coconut milk)

6 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly slicedIMG_4430

1 large onion, thinly sliced in rings

*optional 1/2 c. Daiya dairy free cheddar

In a medium saucepan melt Earth Balance. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Add coconut milk and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. If adding cheese stir into sauce.

Layer half of prepared potatoes and onions in large (2.5 quart) casserole dish, alternating a layer of potatoes, a layer of onion. Pour half the sauce over potatoes and onion. Layer the rest of the potatoes and onions the same way, then pour the rest of the sauce over top.

Bake covered at 350 F for 50 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes more to brown slightly. Potatoes should be tender, sauce warm and bubbling.

Serves 6

For the Love of Board Games

images-34I absolutely love board games! Growing up we played them all the time and had all kinds of them. From the traditional Monopoly to the unique and complicated Shadowlord, we would play board games for hours. My parents played with us to, especially my Mom, who still loves playing to this day.

Each year for Christmas we would get a new game. It was the family gift from Mom and we would wait in anticipation for what would come from under the tree. The challenge was of course as we got older, finding a game that we didn’t already have! But somehow Mom would find one and most of them were pretty good (cause some of them were not, though honestly I could not tell you the names).

images-32I have endeavored to continue the tradition with my kids, each year seeking out what’s new and hot, or faulting to some of the classics (cause yes all the games are still at my Mom’s house, so we have to buy our own. Which is totally ok cause then we have lots to play when we visit her). I have noticed over the years some of our favorites when growing up, are no longer available or have changed; like Survive (no longer available and not to be confused with Survivor), Pay Day (we really like the old version best) and Careers (also no longer available, but we loved!)

As a result my kids also enjoy board games, for which I am grateful, cause they will play with me! I also know that board games offer lots of learning in a fun way, like introducing colors and counting in Candy Land Board or strategies in games Settlers of Catan
as well as the basic concept of winning and losing and good sportsmanship.

I was very excited this year to find out what was new and hot in board games this year and discovered some great games. Some we already have but some we do not. Now the question is which one to buy for under the tree?

Hottest Games this Christmas

Settlers of Catan – hot and the current favorite in our house, Settlers is a strategy game, where players are trading and building in the mythical world of Catan. Dice is rolled to earn resources in which to build settlements, cities and roads and earn victory points. With the game board changing each time you play (and expansion sets to grow your game) you will never tire of this game.

Ticket To Ride – October 2, 1900 – it’s 28 years to the day that noted London eccentric, Phileas Fogg accepted and then won a bet that he could travel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Now, at the dawn of the century, some old friends have gathered to celebrate Fogg’s impetuous and lucrative gamble – and to propose a new wager of their own. The stakes: $1 million in a winner-takes-all competition. The objective: to see the most cities in North America – in just 7 days. Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure game. Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway.

7 Wonders – 7 Wonders is a game that lasts 3 ages. In each age players receive cards from a particular deck. Cards are played simultaneously in each age to pay or collect resources as needed. Each card has different strengths and advantages making it important to pay attention to your neighbor. This strategic card playing game will engage ages young and old alike.

Classics

images-33Jenga – I still remember the commercial for this game when growing up. “Take a block from the bottom and put it on top, take a block from the middle and put it on top. Jenga, Jenga, j-j-j jenga”. This classic block stacking game, challenges each player to build and then take turns removing blocks without the stack crashing.

Twister – A great fun family game, this is the game that ties you up in knots. Using the spinner each player has to place a hand or foot on the appropriate color. It gets challenging when the color start to run out or are a little too far away!

Clue – Figure out who killed Mr. Body by going from room to room in the mansion and making guesses. All the classic characters, all the classic weapons.

Pictionary – Get your partner to guess what you’re drawing before the timer runs out. Play against other teams and score points for correct guesses.

Chess – Trap your opponents King using your knights and pawns. An excellent game of strategy.

Checkers – Through moving and jumping the goal is to claim all of your opponents pieces.

Games for Toddlers

Hungry Hungry Hippos – I have always loved this game. It makes a lot of noise but is so much fun! Hippo mouths chomping to eat the most marbles, whoever eats the most wins.

Trouble – a younger version of Sorry, Trouble is a fun way to introduce children to moving their pieces around the board. As they race towards the finish, they also have to be careful to not get bumped back to the beginning. The best part of this game is the popper in the middle, so much fun to pop!

Let’s Go Fishin’ – The first time I played this game was actually with my niece a couple of years ago. It’s hilarious! (and also not that easy) watching these fish mouths open and close as you use your fishing rod to hook them and take them out. I laughed my head off it was so much fun. Is great for enhancing hand eye coordination and just a giggle to watch those gaping fish move all around.

 

Candyland

Candyland

Candy Land – Choose your sweet character and dance your way along the rainbow path to Peppermint Forest, the Lagoon of Lord Licorice and Princess Frostine’s Ice Palace! Let your imagination soar as you make your way to King Kandy’s Castle to win.

Connect 4 – Drop your round discs into the slots to create a line of 4, while trying to stop your opponent from doing the same. Sounds easy, but you can only drop one at a time!

All Round Favorites at our House

The Game of Life – Move around the board and try your hand at ‘life’. Choose college and student loans, marriage, kids, a new car. Goal is to build your wealth and see what kind of life you can create.

Sorry – A great game of slide and collide, as you move your men around the board trying to get home before the other players. Drawing cards to move your men, you try to bump others back to the beginning before they bump you!

Scattergories – A fun game using letters. Pick a theme card and roll the dice. From the list each player must come up with something that fits that item starting with the letter rolled. Sound easy? Well there is a time limit of course

Cranium – Cranium is a great game with 4 elements to it, allowing everyone to shine. Acting, drawing, data or words complete tasks in these categories to win points and advance around the board.

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Blokus

Blokus – This is a great strategy game we discovered a few years ago. The goal is to place as many of your pieces on the board while preventing the other colors from doing the same. The challenge is the pieces are in different number of tiles and shapes

Battleship – This classic game of who sunk my Battleship takes me back to days of asking for E4 with my sister. A two person game, each person places their battleships and then takes turns guessing on the grid to try and find and sink the opponents. They also have electronic Battleship, which is super fun, with all the explosion sounds and such.

Yahtzee – A great family dice game, rack up points by getting groups of numbers, straights and maybe even a Yahtzee. This game of luck and strategy makes it both challenging and exciting.

Taboo – Try and get your partner to guess the word on your card without using that word or any of the five other words on the card.

Survive, Careers, Trust Me (all no longer available :(, but have to mention – Ok Survive is the best! You build an island that is sinking and have to save all your men and get them to the safe islands on the outer rim, before the volcano explodes. Careers classic, create your formula of happiness, fame and fortune then go around the board on different career paths to achieve your dreams! (We love this game so much my Mother recreated the board so that we could play it at my house) Trust Me is a great game of buying, bluffing and making deals all for the most cash! (it is really too bad you can’t get these games anymore, I’ll never give mine up!)

Do you enjoy board games at your house? What are your favorites?

 

 

Gingerbread Delights

IMG_4387You know I love flavors and that I tend to go a little crazy when I find one I love! Making everything possible out of it. Like pumpkin, I love pumpkin (and actually this fall inherited a lot of pumpkin) so was making muffins, pies, ice cream, etc. Experimenting with all different kinds of recipes.

My recent obsession is gingerbread. Always fabulous this time of year and something I really enjoy. I love ginger in general and am often making fresh ginger tea and drinking it daily. (Ginger also has a lot of health benefits, like aiding with colds and flu, as well as prevent and eliminating nausea).

IMG_4334But I had never really thought you could do much more with gingerbread than cookies. I had tunnel vision and could not see out of the box. Cookies are the only thing right? Then last month I discovered a recipe for gingerbread waffles. Of course I knew right away that we had to try it. They were fabulous! and everyone gobbled them up. Which got me to thinking there must be other variations of gingerbread something out there. So I started looking – I had so far, cookies, waffles… what about muffins? Gingerbread muffins would surely be delicious.

IMG_0750I did a quick Google search and a number of recipes popped up. I looked at a few, picked the one I liked the best and whipped them up yesterday! Ok I tried to whip them up, I had a bit of a baking travesty. I checked on my ingredients and thought I had everything I needed but as I went along I first discovered I was almost out of barley malt, then ginger, both I had just enough. Phew! Nope, didn’t have enough Earth Balance – shoot! So I mixed it all together and set it aside until after I could run to the store.

Once I had my final ingredient, I finished mixing them up and put them in the oven to bake. I was curious and of course so were the kids (they always want muffins!) They poofed up beautifully and smelled delicious. That lovely gingerbread smell wafting through the house afterschool…Yum!

They were finally done, and after waiting a few minutes for them to cool, we dove in. They were delicious, super moist with just a subtle gingerbread taste, not too overpowering. Now I prefer a little more of a gingerbread flavoring kick, so I am going to play with the spices in this recipe a little to amp up the flavor. Once I do that, I’ll report back to you 🙂 But since I have 36 muffins at the moment to enjoy I won’t be experimenting with that one for a little bit.

You can easily half the recipe if you want to, 36 muffins is a lot, or you can bake them all and freeze them for later (if you remember they are in the freezer, personally I often forget that they are there and end up baking new ones anyway).

I also think these muffins would be fabulous with some kind of icing, which I am also going to experiment with and get back to you. For some reason I am thinking a nice cream cheese option would work…

Now that you are drooling, anticipating that warm moist gingerbread muffin in your mouth, here is the recipe. Completely sugar free and dairy free, it will be a hit at your house too!

Gingerbread Muffins

3 eggsIMG_4385

1 c. barley malt

1 c. coconut sugar

3 1/2 c. flour

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. ginger

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 c. hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Lightly grease muffin tins with Earth Balance. Spoon batter into muffin tin about 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 36 muffinsIMG_4392

What is your favorite gingerbread recipe?