Most Holidays bring with them a deluge of sugary treats. While most treats can be enjoyed in moderation it can be difficult to not over indulge. So I thought I would put together some Tips for having a delicious and fun Holiday without the high refined sugar overload.
Christmas Cookies! Making cookies for the Holidays is a big tradition in many households. There are plenty of options that are refined white sugar free. Here are some delicious recipes that I found on Pinterest but there are countless others if you just do a quick search. Santa will thank you as he works late into the night!
Christmas Stockings! Stockings can be a big refined white sugar source. If your child is already used to getting candy in their stocking and you don’t want to eliminate it cold turkey I recommend putting in one or two candy treats but then filling the rest with small toys and activities. The Dollar Tree is a great source of inexpensive kids items as well as stockings themselves, if you don’t already have one. They have puzzles, race cars, stickers, craft items, nail polish, you name it. Just try to avoid the candy isle…
Don’t forget the Pie! My go to pie recipes are Apple and Blueberry. And both can be done without too much added sugar. I feel that fruit pies don’t need very much extra sugar as the cooked fruit already has a ton of delicious natural sweetness of its own. My favorite apple pie recipe is by Chef Chloe which you can find here. Her recipe does call for refined white sugar but you could easily reduce the amount or substitute it with Agave or any favorite sugar substitute. And as for the blueberry pie I found this recipe that I altered, instead of using ¾ cup of granulated sugar I use ¼ cup of agave syrup. Its delicious and goes great with vanilla ice cream and to keep the sugar down you could make “nice”cream using frozen bananas, vanilla, maple or agave syrup and almond milk blended until smooth.
Apple Pie tip: Make sure you peel all of your apples, it plays a big role in the final texture of the pie.
Blueberry Pie Tip: The above recipe calls for 5 cups of fresh blueberries setting aside 2 cups. 3 cups are cooked down and then at the end you add the final 2 cups of fresh blueberries which gives a nice burst of fresh flavor with each bite. Fresh blueberries can be a bit pricey so what I do is I buy a big bag of frozen blueberries and use 3 cups frozen for cooking and then just buy two cups of fresh blueberries to help reduce the cost.
Apple and Blueberry Pie Tip: You can make your own crust from scratch, buy store bought that is ready to go into your pie dish or if you don’t have a pie dish they also have crusts that are already in a disposable dish ready to bake.
I hope you like these tips and I hope they help you to get through the Holidays a little healthier but still keeping it delicious. For more refined white sugar free recipes head over to my Blog at PineappleAspirations.com.
Escape 105 degrees to 80 degrees in 90 min. Mount Ord is a great destination to not only escape the heat but also to enjoy the beauty nature offers ascending from 1086ft to 7129ft above sea level. With young kids this trip is great because it’s not an entire day in the car and they will easily sleep on the way home.
This is a fire road that is regularly maintained. This mountain is above 7000ft and the weather/conditions can change very quickly. I have seen AWD mini vans at the summit in dry conditions. I have driven it in heavy rain/snow and the road can get very muddy and a little scary even in our Jeep.
We have been visiting Mount Ord since our son was 3 years old. We usually depart our home here in the Valley around 8am and arrive at the top around 9:30am. When parked at the top, there is a spot just over the gate and to the left with an old tree that gives nice shade and a perfect place to set up a picnic. We usually go up with friends and our German Shepherd so the kids can play and we can enjoy the views at 75-80 degrees. Once noon comes it does heat up and can quickly get to mid to high 90s.
We quickly discovered this was a great spot to snow chase!
One Saturday this past winter, we noticed the weather in this area supported snow fall. We are both from New England and miss the snow at time so we felt drawn to go explore. We piled into the jeep, brought warm clothes and ascended.
It had rained a lot in the area so the ground was soft with lots of mud. It was hairy on a few occasions as the mud was deep and slick at some ridge points.
It was so cool to cross the elevation point where snow was accumulating. As we continued, so did the accumulated amount. At the top there was 2-3” of fresh snow. Our kiddo loved it. We made a small snow man and threw snow balls but quickly ended up back in the jeep as it was a bit windy, wet and cold.
It was an amazing experience all packed into 4 hours and then, in 90 mins, we were back in the sunshine!
Let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. Any holiday that centers around that much love and glitter… it can be a lot even for those of us in relationships. But there is always a way to make a holiday your own – and Valentine’s Day is no exception!
We’ve compiled a few ideas for both low-key and actual outings, so no matter if you’re coupled up, on your own, or with the entire family, you can celebrate the day of love your way!
Re-create your first date
Revisit the first restaurant that brought you together or recreate the first cocktails you shared. Nostalgia can be awfully romantic… Have the kid’s hanging around? Bring them along to really create that stark reality of what was 😉
This is a luxury that shouldn’t be reserved for weekends away. Get up early, either together or with the kids, whip up something delicious, and then settle back in for a cozy morning meal together.
Create a photo book together
There is just something so special about having your photographs in print, yet it is so common for our photos to get lost in the cloud these days. Using apps and websites like
Artifact Uprising or Chatbooks is quick and easy with beautiful results. Plus, what’s not to love about the chance to cuddle up and reminisce on your visual love diary provided by your camera roll?
Who?? Yes, you! Don’t forget to love yourself on Valentine’s! Whether that means treating yourself to a manicure, sitting in the car listening to music in the driveway (we’re digging this Spotify playlist!), or a week-long getaway (take us with you?) – whatever it may be, make sure to schedule in some time for you!
A couple that sweats together, stays together! Pick a new trail to hike or a group class to attend. Bonus…you get to clean up together afterwards. 😉
Celebrate AZ Cocktail Week
It can’t be a coincidence that AZ cocktail week takes place February 17th to 19th. Hello, post-Valentine’s date night! See who is participating: https://arizonacocktailweek.com/
Bake something heart-shaped
This one’s for kids and adults alike. Pizza, cookies, pancakes, sandwiches…food is more fun when it’s shaped like a heart. <3
Letters of Appreciation
Take the hallmark out of Valentine’s by adding your own significance. Have the kids and your sig other create letters of appreciations for whoever in their lives. It’s a nice teachable moment that includes limited glitter!
Hold a family craft night
Nothing like glue and glitter to strengthen family bonds. No matter your kids’ ages and the kind of project you’re after, there is a Valentine’s Day DIY for you. This Pinterest board has all the ideas to craft to your heart’s content.
As we roll into December, there’s no avoiding that the holiday season is in full swing. So, if you’ve found yourself mesmerized by a twerking Santa in a random aisle in Walgreens, pondering how to bring holiday cheer to your loved ones, we’ve got you covered.
MOMnation scanned the globe (and even our AZ neighborhoods) and came up with some endearing, some unique, and some straight weird ways that families around the world get into the spirit.
Which one of these traditions are you going to adopt?
Thanks to a wildly popular advertising campaign in the 70s, Japanese families flock to KFC for dinner on Christmas Eve. The “Christmas chicken” bucket has become so popular that people order their bucket months in advance.
Bake & Bond
Whether or not you eat sweets during the holidays, baking is one of the best ways to bond with your littles and earn bestie status with the neighborhood mom stroller strides group. We’ve noticed that the traditional and iconic gingerbread cookies have taken a back seat to a slew of witty concoctions fed to us through Pinterest- (that never REALLY turn out like the pictures #MomFail)
One recipe that has been a consistent hit during the snowy season and has found its way as a ‘go to” staple is ::drumroll please:: “reindeer droppings. “ Yes, you read that right, as if us mom’s need another reason to say the word poop. Thanks to Google, there are many different, simple and inexpensive recipes that can fit your family’s dietary needs. Therefore, you have no excuse not to start this easy tradition with your family. ::YAY::
“Different” Versions of Santa
Not everyone in Europe subscribes to our American idea of Santa Claus. In Italy, Italian children await the arrival of Befana, a friendly witch who delivers presents because she feels guilty for missing the birth of Jesus – due to too much housework. We can relate.
Our personal favorite is the Catalan Christmas tradition of the Tió de Nadal (or Caga Tió) – the pooping log. First, a log is hollowed out and a smiley face and red floppy hat are added. Catalonian families begin “feeding” him small treats on December 8. On Christmas Day, the log is placed in the fireplace and beat with sticks until he, well, poops out candies, fruits and nuts. Bonus – there’s a song to go with the beating.
Poop nougats, Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
The end of the defecation session is signaled by a salted herring or an onion. Once everyone in the family has collected their gifts from Tió de Nadal, he is burned for warmth. Gracias, Caga Tió.
Non-Pinterest White Elephant
Surely, in one of your social circles you’ve heard of White Elephant. If you haven’t, this holiday tradition is an inexpensive, gutsy way of getting rid of something that collects dust in your house (Score!). Families who plan gift-giving parties together will select a “white elephant” gift from their own house to give as a present- whether grandma’s old rabbit embroidered pillow that needs a new home or a dead houseplant, these exchanges are fun and corky- not the new iPhone X- like one would hope. White Elephant is becoming a staple tradition in most homes across North America. If you decide to play the White Elephant game with your family, there are also different versions of this tradition such as “only homemade DIY items” or “something from inside your own home”- clarify with your crew so everyone’s on the same page!
Apparently, holidays aren’t JUST about gaining weight. This holiday tradition is actually festive and healthy. We’ve all heard of our cities having ‘color runs’ right? Well, the new tradition for your holiday season and for families across the states are organized ‘Santa Run’s’ or ‘Reindeer romps’. Clever titles will give you a sense of accomplishment and brings awareness to specified charities. Dress up as Santa, put bells on, hey, we’ve even seen someone dressed up as their best representation of a menorah. We especially love when strollers cruise by with sporting reindeer being pushed to the finish line. What’s better than communities coming together to spread holiday cheer with positive results?! Now, if we only could find our running shoes.
Elf on the Shelf
Please tell me you bought one of these behavioral tools? We have parent’s waiting for December 1st so that their children’s “friend” can come out of hiding. Why, you ask? Well these clever additions to your family are designed to help “watch” your littles behavior in order to calm meltdowns and improve listening. We know what you’re thinking, how did this become a holiday tradition? Well, these gimmicks play a magical roll in not only our children’s lives but our lives as well! Santa’s ‘Scout Elf’ has enough Christmas magic to fly to the North Pole every night and report to Santa whether your children have been naughty or nice. After their nightly report, the ‘Scout Elf’ flies back to your home and relocates in a different spot. Children love waking up to find the elf and hopefully* (major asterisk on that one) are better behaved while they know the elf is watching.
Garbage Party …?
If you’re looking for ways to get your kids to do more chores, introduce them to this tradition from Guatemala.
Guatemalan families collect garbage and sweep out their houses every year before Christmas, with each neighborhood creating a large pile. They then place an effigy of the devil on top and burn it. With the scent of burning garbage in the air, Christmas celebrations can commence.
All in all, holiday traditions are about having FUN and creating lasting memories with family and friends. Does your family have any fun/odd/awesome traditions for the holidays? We would love to hear your favorites and where they originated. And if you decide to have a pooping log this year, we want to see photos. And videos.
Merry Christmas, all!
Get yourself a stunning new home for Christmas! Check out this Queen Creek home we adore:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. The holiday season can be a difficult and stressful time for many, especially those families who are struggling financially.
MOMNation is built on the premise of helping other Moms through fostering a true digital and real-life community. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of websites and physical locations throughout Arizona where you and your family can find the assistance you need – and a little holiday cheer.
From essentials like food, clothing and housing to disability and veteran services, 211Arizona is an excellent resource for all human services. If you are looking for help regarding domestic violence, mental health support, employment services, or programs for veterans or those with disabilities, this site can point you in the right direction.
As the name suggests, this site is a one-stop shop for all things financial. Here you can find information on charity organizations and assistance programs that provide struggling families help with paying bills and taxes, mortgages, and debts.
Not only does this site include a nationwide directory that provides an extensive list of homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food banks by state, it also has an excellent directory of other resources.
With 2Hands, you can post about a specific need directly on the website, and if someone in their growing group of nationwide members can help you, you are connected through the website. By connecting individuals in need with those who have the means to help, this assistance platform allows people to help others on a very personal level. No Grinches here!
A New Leaf provides a broad spectrum of services for individuals and families alike. Not only can they help to support your family’s basic immediate needs, they can counsel you on critical lifelong skills like budgeting, career programs and housing assistance.
If you’re struggling to put food on the table, visit foodpantries.org. With nearly 300 food pantries in Arizona alone, this site is an excellent resource to locate local food banks and soup kitchens, as well as subsidized groceries. While food pantries can help you any time of year, the holiday season sees an increase in donations. Their directory can help you find free or subsidized food in your area.
One of the most well known organizations, the Salvation Army really ramps up their services during the holidays. With locations all over the Valley, you can look to the Salvation Army to provide youth and senior programs, homeless assistance, and worship services. During December, kids under 12 are eligible for the Christmas Angel program, so no child should go without the joy of a new toy on Christmas.
Phoenix Children’s Project Christmas Assistance
We all want our children to experience the joy and wonder of Christmas. This program helps children living below the poverty level in Phoenix get toys, home-baked treats, shoes, clothes and other essentials.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides food to people experiencing homelessness, low-income senior citizens, families and individuals, year-round There is no fee to receive emergency food assistance. For more information, visit them online or call: 855-432-7587
There’s no need to be ashamed if you need to reach out for help – at any time. The end of the year and the holidays that come with it can be overwhelming. But if you are in need of a miracle this holiday season, there’s a sleigh full of resources we hope you can take advantage of! And as always, reach out directly to MOMNation to receive support and guidance from your local community of MOMs.
“I never imagined we’d impact this many. My heart swells with excitement and gratitude each and every time we come together and even more so when it’s to serve the needs of others in the communities that we raise our children in.” says Katie Lambert, Founder of MOM nation.
Throughout the Thanksgiving holiday the group participated in the 5k Turkey Trot in Gilbert, AZ. The proceeds from the event were to benefit various children’s charities.
The group coordinates a monthly outdoor movie in downtown Mesa AZ that they call Movies on Main. In November the donation drive was for dog food donated to local shelters. In December the donation drive was for baked goods for Veterans in need. The event is free to get in, open to the public, and provides safe, kid friendly entertainment to the community while benefitting many local small business owners and various local charities with donation drives.
To kick off the spirit of giving, the group participated in Operation Christmas Child 2017. “20 of our beautiful Mama’s came together with their families to fill 100 shoe boxes with donated Christmas gifts for children to be delivered throughout the holiday season.” says Lambert.
This past week MOM nation partnered with sponsors (Banks Craft Company and Team Evolution Real Estate) to provide a free and very festive holiday craft table for kids at the weekly Farmers Market in Downtown Chandler. Next month at the market in Chandler, the group will be collecting donated items for local pet shelters and will be providing information on pet adoptions. Roxy and the Loan Dog might even make an appearance!
In February of 2017 the group plans to participate in the Team Bradley Bear 5k.This charity event is near and dear to one of the groups beloved members.
The Moms of MOM nation are incredibly passionate about uplifting and supporting each other and creating a positive impact to the members of the community. For more details on our community efforts, click HERE to contact us.
Holiday traditions make the moments so much more memorable! Our AZ Moms love these:
“Every year we watch movies in our christmas pajamas around the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve. Some of our favorites are White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch (1960’s version), and Elf.”