Christmas wreath cookie recipes with Bible and Catholic Advent object lessons - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Advent was our favorite season when we homeschooled our children. We did holiday math, Catholic Advent writing, Bible reading, Christmas around the world social studies, winter science. Everything about Christmas is a teachable moment. Here are Christmas cookie recipes with Catholic Advent object lessons. Our family is nearing three decades making these holiday treats and our married daughter carries on the traditions with her family. Here's our wreath cookie recipeChristmas wreath cookie recipes with Bible and Catholic Advent object lessons


Family pickle soup, slaw and kebab recipes for National Pickle Day

Finding yourself in a pickle? Then celebrate because November 14 is your holiday! It's National Pickle Day says the Jewish Press. Just about any vegetable or fruit can be pickled (soaked in vinegar and salt brine). The most popular are pickled gherkins--cucumbers. Cucumbers originated in India and migrated via traders to the Tigris Valley in 2030 B.C., reports the NY Food Museum. From there, pickles enjoyed an illustrious career in healing, cosmetics and best of all, eating! Just in time for holiday munching, here are pickle recipes.  Family pickle soup, slaw and kebab recipes for National Pickle Day

National Nachos Day good-for-you nachos and diet-friendly dips 'n chips - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Happy National Nachos Day! On November 6, we celebrate nachos, said USA Today For The W!n Thursday. Though FTW writer Ted Berg pronounced nachos nothing to celebrate. In their common incarnation, they aren't. Tortilla chips smothered in some melange of fatty, salty, intensely caloric, MSG-soaked fake-cheese dip or topping. Given Americans' rapidly-expanding waistlines, we should run screaming from them. Unless you make veggie overload, fat-blasting nachos healthier and diet-friendly, like these! National Nachos Day good-for-you nachos and diet-friendly dips 'n chips - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Pumpkin Spice Recipes and Pumpkin Themed Kids Lunches, Treats, Snacks

Boy, pumpkin and pumpkin spice sure is a shtick for fall foods--everything from IHOP pancakes to coffee creamer, Oreos to beer. So I thought, why not tap into that beta-carotene goodness for my +Week-of-school-snacks and +Five-day-school-lunch-menu series? Here are healthy kids lunch and snack recipes featuring pumpkin. But no pumpkin beer, promise :)

Use fresh pumpkin (be sure to get pie pumpkin, not a jack-o-lantern) or take my lazy way out and use canned--not pie filling. Or substitute yams, sweet potatoes or squash. Involve toddlers and preschooler in preparations.   You can vegan-ize any of these recipes that call for dairy and eggs but swapping tofu, TVP or almond milk. These recipes are kosher, halal and diet-friendly, too! Click to read more. Weekly Snack Menu, Healthy Pumpkin Themed Kids Treats

How I Lost 100 Pounds: Sticking to Your Diet At Restaurants

I gained a lot of weight after losing two stillborn babies. Since 2012, I lost 100 pounds. Left is August 2014 and right photo is December 2012 (when I had already started to lose).

As you might imagine, I get asked a lot how I lost weight. So, I write diet tips and recipes to answer that question. Today's topic is eating in restaurants. Now restaurant food can spell diet disaster. Restaurant food is higher in salt, fat and sugar. Portions are bigger than recommended. But eating out is so common. Ironically (or not) overweight/obese people tend to eat out more. Don't get me wrong. I love going out to eat. But it's important, if you want (need) to lose weight, to learn how to eat in restaurants and stick to the diet.  How I Lost 100 Pounds: Diet Restaurant Guide to Lose Weight

Labor Day Picnic Salad Bar Recipes For Picky Eaters, Dieters, Gluten-Free, Allergies, Vegans, Vegetarians--Everyone!

Labor Day is the last official picnic day of summer. Trying to plan a picnic around special diets can be difficult. Are you serving vegan, vegetarian, kosher, lactose intolerant, gluten-free, halal, diabetic guests? Complicated. Throw picky eaters (aka kids) and dieters in the party mix and harried Labor Day hosts are at their wits end to know what to feed the hungry multitudes. Here's a Labor Day picnic buffet that will have everyone--and I do mean every single picnicker--totally satisfied. A salad bar of epic proportions, with everything but the kitchen sink (and that was only cuz I don't know how to chop it!) Read onLabor Day Picnic Recipes For Picky Eaters, Dieters, Gluten-Free, Allergies, Vegans, Vegetarians--Everyone!

Wine Drinkers Horoscope

Forget dream analysis, Rorschach, Tarot, tea leaves,  magnets, crystals, palm reading and Peter Answers. I can predict your personality type and even your future by the type of wine you drink. I can do this with beer styles too, but wine is more accurate and more fun. Remember the Latin 'In vino veritas' (In wine is truth.). If you don't drink wine, that says a lot about you also. We'll start out with the sweet wines and move on to the dragons blood that I drink.

Teetotaler: You are complex. You avoid strong drink, but it often isn't for the reasons that you tell people. You are deeper person than you let on. Basically, you don't trust yourself and you sometimes don't listen to your own inner wisdom. Worry is your ruling passion. Your icon: Michelle and Jim Duggar

Lambrusco: This wine is so 7-11 makes Slurpees of it for parents to give kids in place of Ritalin. If you like Lambrusco, you're non-confrontational and a bit dull. You want to be thought a wine enthusiast but don't want the commitment of a good dry red wine hangover. You'd make a good supervisor. Your ruling passion is caution. Your icon? Dan Quayle, Thomas Jefferson

  White Zinfandel or Grenache: Starting to get just a hint of fruit here. Slightly risky. And that's your personality. You're hiding something. You long to be naughty but still need safety. You could be a lot of fun at a party, but alas no one will ever know. That ultra conservative superego will never let you enjoy wilder. Like red zinfandel--now that's fun! You live vicariously and have a strong future as an author of romance novels. Fear is your ruling passion. Your icon? Prince Charles, Richard Nixon

  Pinot Grigio: Blah wine with fancy name. Teasing nose, prudish finish. Poser. Occupation: celebrity. Your ruling passion is show without go. Your icon? Pick one.

  Chardonnay: Now you're beginning to play the big league. Chardonnay perches between semi-dry red and dry white in a nice juxtaposition. If I didn't love red so much I'd drink Chardonnay. You are strong, idealistic, resolute and intelligent. You can see life on the other side of the wine fence; the wild dry red blow-outs, the table dancing with lampshades. But you are committed to doing the right thing. I admire Chardonnay drinkers. Ideally you'd be the perfect president, realistically you're probably a teacher or human rights activitist. Integrity is your ruling passion. Your icon: Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gandhi, Bella Abzug

  Pinot Noir: Like Loki, Mercury or Anansi the Spider you are a devious one. In common with your baby sister Pinot Grigio, you fool people and lead them on. Except you're all grown up and should know better. After all, you're a dry red. But you're also a sort of an adult child. You've never matured. Your job ideally should be circus performer or carnival ride operator. Unfortunately realistically you're a politician. Your passion is unreliability. Your icon? Rasputin, Peter Pan, George W. Bush.

  Red Merlot: You're a scion. But half-blood. A bastard. You have the personality, but you lack breeding and poise. You were born on the wrong side of the blankets. You are nouveau riche. And you've got the attitude to prove it. Your job is bookie or salesman but you could have been something better. Ruling passion: ruthlessness and resentment. Your hero? Stanley Kowalski, Rhett Butler, Molly Brown.

  Cabernet Sauvignon: You're the opposite of Red Merlot in many ways. You've got title without the money to support it in the lifestyle that your family was accustomed to. Your nose is in the air and your blood is blue. But you don't amount to as much as your ancestors did because life's much more damnably expensive. Your future is unsure. It's for you to decide. Do you make something of yourself on your own steam or wallow in your misery? Your ruling passion is pride. Your hero? Earl of Grantham, Lord Robert.

  Burgundy: You are the genuine article. Old Etonian. The right stuff. You're resting on your laurels and why shouldn't you? You deserve it. Quite right. But if you aren't careful, you'll be swept away by a new generation of doers and achievers. Again, fate uncertain. Remain safe or join the fight. Your job? Labor leader, recognized artist. Your ruling passion is stability. Your icon: Neville Chamberlin.

  Shiraz/ Petit Syrah. That's what I'm talking about! Not in any league anyone else plays in, you march to another drum beat. Ancient, primeval and oriental.  You are devout and mystical. You hear voices of prophecy and wisdom. You are all times and all places. Your ruling passion is: BE. Occupation: priest or unrecognized poet, author, musician, artist, writer. Your icon? Chief Joseph, Maya Angelous, George Washington Carver.

Carmenere. Your song has yet to be sung; your song to be written. No one has any idea what to expect from you. You're rich with promise, yet you still have to prove yourself. Occupation: prophet, missionary, student, freed slave. Hero: Jean Valjean, Moll Flanders

  Happy imbibing.

Red White and Blue Recipes for 4th of July, All-American Patriotic Foods

I love party planning, especially cheap, homemade bashes. I'm not big on over-priced, commercial party supplies. Feels generic, somehow. Themed food improvs are my magnum opus. For a fun 4th of July picnic, how about All-American patriotic themed foods and red-white-and-blue recipes? Here's an appetizer-to-dessert menu.  Patriotic Foods, Red-White-and-Blue Recipes for Memorial Day Parties

Budget Graduation Party Open House, Grocery Shopping Guide and Gradute-Themed Recipes

Hosting a graduation open house on a shoestring? Good for you! No need to blow a lot of money. You can do an budget party your graduate will love. Here's an affordable party planning guide to throw the perfect backyard! I've listed my best graduation-themed recipes plus shopping lists for groceries, supplies, decorations and equipment. Being the perennial penny pincher, I've listed cheaper and DIY alternatives--to save you money and hassle! Budget Graduation Party Open House Shopping Guide With Recipes

Cut Grocery Bill in Half? Eat Healthy Diet Food

I've lost most of the 100 pounds I gained after two stillbirths, early menopause and taking the antidepressant Paxil (known for causing weight gain, says Mayo Clinic). I lost weight by following Dr. Oz's advice and swapping fatty, high-carb foods for healthy, fat-blasting foods. Lots of people tell me diet food is more expensive and they can't afford it. They're right--about the commercial kind. But not natural, healthy diet food. I save money--like 50-percent off my grocery bill--buying it.  Want to Cut Grocery Bill in Half? Eat Healthy Diet Food

A-Z Fiber Foods, Omega Rich, Fatty Acid Fat Burners

I've lost almost 100 pounds and dropped nine sizes. I burned excess belly fat and trimmed other body fat. How? By swapping saturated and hydrogenated fat, starch, refined sugar and flour for high-fiber, fatty acids foods. Ironically, good fats--omega oils, MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) plus fiber are natural bad fat burners. Fiber and fatty acids work together to purge fat, especially belly fat. Many fiber-rich foods are high in fatty acids and also low in saturated fats. Here's an A-Z list of good-fat, high-fiber foods.  A-Z Fiber Foods, Fatty Acid Fat Burners for Weight Loss

Decadently Diet Dessert Recipes for Summer Picnics, Parties, Holidays

Yep, you read that correctly. Decadent and diet dessert recipes for summer. And no, they're not just fruit. Although fruit is a yummy healthy treat any time. These desserts feature food swaps from refined sugar and flour and high saturated/transfat, to low calorie, healthy fatty acids, whole grain flour and natural sweeteners. Serve at graduation open houses, wedding receptions, bridal and baby showers, BBQs, holiday entertaining, beach bashes and backyard cookouts. You can have 2-die-4 and 2-diet-for in the same dessert. Decadently Diet Dessert Recipes for Summer Picnics, Parties, Holidays

Patriotic Foods, Red-White-and-Blue Recipes for Memorial Day Picnics

I love party planning, particularly the cheap, homemade kind. I'm not much for spending big. My fetes are DIY and I specialize in themed food. For Memorial Day, how about creative, patriotic foods and red-white-and-blue recipes? Load your picnic table or buffet with foods from this all-American menu--appetizer to dessert. Patriotic Foods, Red-White-and-Blue Recipes for Memorial Day Parties


I Lost 98 Pounds With A-Z Fat-Burning Food Swaps

I've lost almost 100 pounds gained from taking the antidepressant Paxil. I've shaved 11 BMI points and eight clothing sizes--not with invasive steps like surgery. I cut calories, controlled portions and made healthier food swaps like those in Men's Health "Eat This, Not That." I follow weight loss gurus like Dr. Oz. I change my eating as I learn new food wisdom. I experiment. If something helps me lose, I keep doing it. Here's an A-Z guide to food switches that helped me lose.  I Lost 98 Pounds With These A-Z Fat Burning Food Swaps

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta With Latino-Inspired Food and Recipes

Ole! Time for Cinco de Mayo--and you know what that means? Fiesta! Here are fun, easy Mexican-themed party games, activities and food ideas. Recipes included. Click the link "Latino" or "cinco de mayo" on this blog for more Latino dishes. Or look up tacos, enchilada, burritos individually. Some recipes from my favorite stateside Latino neighborhood--Mexicantown Detroit. Kid-Friendly Cinco de Mayo Fiesta With Latino-Inspired Games, Crafts, Food

Recipes to Use Up Leftover Ham

Easter is done. The eggs have been colored and found. The chocolate bunnies are mostly eaten. And everyone is more than a little tired of leftover ham from Easter Sunday. Small problem. You bought a big one and there is quite a bit left. Here are recipes to use up that leftover ham plus the hard-boiled Easter eggs, in new and delicious ways.  Recipes to Use Up Leftover Ham 

Healthy Easter Snacks, Bunny-Themed Treats Recipes

Holidays involve way too much candy and too many sweets. What's an Easter basket without jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and candy eggs? With one in three kids overweight or obese, says KidsHealth, it's time to rethink our sweets craze. I've been dieting and lost 96 pounds by substituting sweets with healthy alternatives. Here are good-for-you Easter treat and snack recipes.  Healthy Easter Snack and Treat Recipes

Disney's 'Frozen' Party Food Recipes, Winter-Themed Snacks

 If you see one movie this winter, make it "Frozen." It's an arctic adventure like Hans Christian Andersen's "Fairy Snow Queen." It's the top-grossing cartoon of all times. Disney's Frozen is a perfect theme for a winter birthday or just-because party. Here's a menu of Frozen-inspired snacks kids will love. BTW, Olaf is probably my favorite Disney sidekick ever. Disney's 'Frozen' Party Treat Recipes, Winter-Themed Snacks for Kids

Superfood Artichoke Vitae Plus Fat Burner, Antioxidant

 I've been dieting for about 18 months and have lost 96 pounds. I've trimmed fat from every part of my body and dropped from size 20 to 4. My BMI has gone 34 to 24.7 (normal). One way that I keep diet momentum is to change it up. Every time I hear about a new diet superfood or supplement on a reputable source (Dr. Oz is my go-to). I give it a try.  Artichoke Vitae Plus Super Fat Burner, Antioxidant, Super Food

Diet Tip Abandon the Diet Sometimes

I'm going out to dinner with my husband tonight. He has to work another six-day week (nights) and may be working seven nights a week again (why do they not hire a new person when someone quits??) Anyway, I have been dieting intensely for 18 months and my advice is to occasionally abandon the diet for a day. Or at least quit calorie counting. Enjoy food! Diet Tip Abandon the Diet Sometimes

Gluten-Free, Breadless Sandwiches For Dieters, Gluten Allergies

 I've been feeling really tired and achy lately. So I'm exploring diet tweaks to help. A friend suggested eating less gluten. I don't think I have gluten intolerance, but I might be eating too much. I'm dieting and eating less meat, dairy and fat. I might probably eating more starch to feel full. Here are gluten-free, bread-less sandwiches, I invented.  Gluten-Free, Breadless Sandwiches For Dieters

Leftover Use Up Pizza Casserole with Pizzazz

Grocery shopping day--time for my weekly Waste Not, Want Not refrigerator clean out, leftover use up meal. Today's was Pizza Casserole with Pizzazz. Here's how I made it cleaning up all those bags of cheese, veggies, and leftover meat and pasta.   Leftover Use Up Pizza Casserole with Pizzazz

New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake Warms Us Up North

I opened the door yesterday to find a box bearing a Mardi Gras logo. My first thought was...King Cake? Which in fact was what it was. Compliments of our daughter and son-in-law down south.

Our family is solidly Michigan. Our daughter and SIL moved to Broussard, La., several years ago. They have been slowly infusing our northern midwest culture with Cajun-Creole traditions.  Here's more on the Epiphay-Lent King Cake tradition. New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake Warms Us Up North

Grand Rapids IWW Cooperative Vegan Bartertown Diner

 I'm a rebel girl. Not the pink camo jeep kind. My husband and I are labor activists. We're Wobblies (IWW Industrial Workers of the World). So we were happy to support via Kickstarter, our Grand Rapids GMB's creation of a worker-run cooperative restaurant, Bartertown Diner.

It's organic, vegan, green, collaborative sustainable--there are no bosses and every worker earns the same wage. It's equipped with recycled and reclaimed materials--from mismatched, secondhand dishes to a counter cum work of art comprised of scrap. Murals of IWW fists of asparagus, Che Guevara and Chairman Mao in chef hats decorate the walls. And the food? Manna from heaven.  Husband Approves Grand Rapids IWW Cooperative Vegan Bartertown Diner

Easy Food Swaps to Cut Calories, Fat

I've lost about 93 pounds and have been sharing tips on how I did that. Yesterday, I made baked chicken with cornbread muffins, squash and salad for dinner. Here are food swaps and substitutes to cut nearly two-thirds of the calories and fat and lost none of the taste. Seriously--the picky Mr. "I love fat, fat is our friend" didn't even notice!  Easy Food Swaps to Cut Calories, Fat 

Lowfat Carrot Spice Muffins or Bread for Dieters

I have lost 92 pounds and I'm still working on that last 8 pounds. I put on weight in menopause because I exercised less but still ate like I did when I was a young, busy mom. So to shed the weight, I tweaked recipes using lower calorie and lowfat options. I love those breakfast muffins but they can be upwards of 400 calories each. Most are super high in fat and sugar. Here's my breakfast quick bread or muffin recipe with one third the calories. Lowfat Carrot Spice Muffins or Bread for Dieters

Lowfat Garam Masala Butter Chicken or Tofu Masala with Veggies

Our family has developed a devotion to Indian food. An Indian restaurant opened near us. We ate there once and were instantly in love. I've always been a curry hound. But the curry was only the beginning. I can't get enough butter chicken, masala, tikka, vindaloo, tandoori and other fragrant dishes. I don't need meat--just the spicy sauces is enough, but only level one heat please. Here's my vege-fied diet tweaked garam masala butter chicken recipe for calorie counters.  Diet Recipe Lowfat Garam Masala Butter Chicken with Veggies

Baked Bean Soup with Holiday Leftovers

 Is your leftover holiday ham glaring at you, saying "eat me!" Are the sweet potatoes threatening to go sour? Are you sick of eating them but out of recipe ideas? Well before those leftovers go bad, stage a refrigerator coup and take the other food hostage, here's a healthy, lowfat, high protein and fiber recipe to use them up. Great for dieters. Vegetarian options, too. Baked Bean Soup with Holiday Leftovers and Veggies Galore


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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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