Oatmeal Cookies

It is the time of year for sharing food, especially cookies.  Our December recipe of the month, Oatmeal Cookies, is perfect for sharing.  Take these delicious cookies to a party, family gathering, or cookie exchange.

You can also make these cookies into a gift.  Start with a quart sized glass jar. Pour in any optional ingredients you would like to include from the recipe such as dried cranberries, raisins, white chocolate chips, or coconut.  Then pour in the oatmeal. Top that with the brown sugar. Pour in the rest of the dry ingredients – the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Close the lid tightly on the jar so there are no accidental spills.  Write out the instructions to the recipe on a card to give with the jar. Make sure to include amounts for the wet ingredients that are not included in the jar. You could even give out an individual serving size cup of applesauce with each jar – these are the perfect amount for this recipe.  Finally, share your jar as a gift! It is so fun to give and receive homemade gifts like this.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Last Minute Gifts

granola jarIf you find yourself racing to find a last-minute gift, look no further! Here is a collection of Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes that make great low-cost gifts.

  1. Oatmeal Pancakes – Simply combine the dry pancake mix and oatmeal in a plastic bag or jar and attach a label with the cooking directions.
  2. Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes – Bake a batch and separate them into plastic bags or containers with festive ribbons or tags.
  3. Whole Grain Cereal Treats – These are a twist on everyone’s favorite. Add some sprinkles or top with a bit of colored sugar for a festive look.
  4. Crispy Granola – You can make a big batch of this granola and put it in small jars or bags to share with friends.

People love to receive recipes so make a point of attaching the recipe for each of the “gifts” you give. A healthy and homemade gift is a great way to show you care!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Five Ways to make the Holidays Meaningful

With Christmas only a few days away I would like to share advice from one of my colleagues,  Malisa Rader,  Family Life Specialist and Let’s Talk…Child Care blogger.  Malisa says, “For many children the holidays mean just one thing – getting more things. Although presents are a part of the season, many parents are looking to turn down the commercialism while preserving significant holiday memories together as a family. It is important to make other parts of the holidays just as meaningful.”

What Parents Can Do

  1. Plan ahead. Have a family meeting before the holidays and decide what is important.
  2. Simplify your holiday. Focus on a few ideas and let the rest go. Say no to commitments that are not going to serve the greater good of your family.
  3. Plan for family time and mark it on the calendar — even if it is as simple as playing a board game.
  4. Make sure children have enough down time and that they are getting the naps they need. Also, watch their sugar intake.
  5. Teach giving. There are many things to do as a family that teach children the joy of giving, such as delivering a meal to shut-ins, caroling at a nursing home or making a treat for a neighbor.

Choose Appropriate Gifts for Children

The best advice for selecting a present for a young child was to choose something that is 10 percent toy and 90 percent child. The more a toy requires creativity, the better it is. Classic toys such as dolls, blocks, construction sets, dress-up clothes and art supplies have this characteristic and will stand the test of time, while appealing to children at more than one age or level of development. For example, rather than a robot that runs on batteries and performs specific functions, consider buying a set of connecting gears that would allow a child to build his or her own robot, or house or hundreds of other things.

Understanding Children – Toys, an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication provides a guide for choosing toys for different ages.

 

Holiday Gift Ideas

Check Out a Sneak Peek Inside

Need a holiday gift or an addition to a personal cookbook collection? We have a new cookbook, Healthy & Homemade, that is a great resource for any family.  Individual copies sell for $5 at the ISU Extension online store.

The cookbook  is a collection from the SpentSmart.EatSmart website.  It is designed for families who have limited time and want to stretch their food dollars. Eighty recipes are featured in the spiral bound collection; color photos are included for many of the recipes.  The cookbook includes a glossary of cooking terms, abbreviations and measurements, a list of substitutions, tips and options for each recipe, nutrition labels and meal ideas. There is a category for each section of the meal:  main dish, appetizer, salad, side dish, dessert and snacks.

I’m excited about the cookbook.  Reviewers were impressed with the helpful tips, menus and extras that were added to make each recipe simple to prepare.

Here are some other gift ideas related to cooking or food.

Kitchen gifts that will help save money

I am not much for lining my countertops with one-use gadgets such as bun warmers, ice cream cone makers, rotisseries, hot dog cookers, rice cookers, single serving coffee makers, etc. But, I do think that some small appliances can help make cooking at home faster, easier, or cheaper. Here are a few ideas for your gift list:

  • Slow cookers allow you to cook soups, stews, and broth without having to watch them all day. They are great for cooking less tender, less expensive cuts of meat and don’t take much energy to run.
  • Blenders are great for making smoothies out of fruit that is a little extra ripe. You can also use a blender to grate hard cheese, make bread crumbs, or make baby food.
  • Sets of food containers are helpful for storing family or individual servings when you make big batches of soup, chili, etc. If you have someone who eats alone or has difficulty cooking, buying food containers and filling them with meals is a great idea.

-pointers from Peggy

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