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Christmas in July

Maria is a master of public health, and a master gardener. She & husband Bo, known online as The Gardener & The Cook are in coastal Alabama.

Now, during the heat of the summer, we can really enjoy thinking of the coming winter months with their cooler weather, and all the holidays and time off from work. Just thinking of cooler weather, even cold, snowy days help us to forget the relentless heat, at least for a brief time.

Here it is mid-July, and I am already anticipating hanging my autumn wreath on our front door, knowing football weather will soon follow. It’s fun to go through all my Christmas ornaments now while there is no rush to decorate. So I decided to take this time to stop and think about what decorations to keep, what traditions to discard and which ones to keep, as well as to re-think our holiday menus.

We have the same menu every Thanksgiving and every Christmas. Bo has to have his French-cut green beans with ham (I hate green beans) and I have to have my sweet potato casserole.

Holidays Are Often Fraught With Emotions

The holiday season brings a flood of emotions to us all. They can be wonderful: filled with happy memories from childhood. They can also throw together people who don’t get along. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we plan, stress, eagerly anticipate, and dread family gatherings.

Whether it’s knowing all the gatherings built around food will compromise our health/weight loss quest, or force us to face difficult relationships, most of us can’t wait for the fall and winter holidays.

Recipes and Some Other Useful Holiday Information

These are some of our favorite holiday and special occasion recipes. One of them includes “gluten-free” in the title; it can be made without gluten-free flour. Similarly, others can be made gluten-free, by making just a few changes.

Peppermint Bark Recipe

This is our favorite candy recipe for the Christmas holidays. We made some changes last year. Here's the link to this delicious candy recipe:

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping Recipe

This is an old family recipe that I have modernized to meet our needs for healthier foods. While not fat-free, it is lower in fat and sugar than the original recipe that my mom used to make. Here's the link to the recipe:

Maria's Red Velvet Cake Recipe

This is our tried and true recipe for a delicious cake has been modernized to reduce the fat and sugar. I have served it at Christmas, Valentine's Day, and even on patriotic holidays like July 4th. For the 4th, I made it as a sheet cake and decorated it like Old Glory. Here's the link to this recipe:

The recipe for the icing is coming up next.

Cream Cheese Icing for Red Velvet Cake

This is just one of many variations on the classic recipe for cream cheese icing. I have reduced the fat content and, again, no one could tell the difference! I use this icing recipe not only on my red velvet cake, but also on carrot cake and devil's food cake, as well as on cupcakes. Here's the link for this recipe:

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Keeping Your Poinsettia Alive After the Holidays

This article includes valuable and user-friendly information to ensure your poinsettia survives the indoor climate during winter holidays. They are easier to care for than you may think. Here's the link to this article:

Pecan Pie Recipe

This recipe makes the best pecan pie I have ever tasted. It's perfect for your holiday desserts, or for any time you want a treat. It can even be used for little bite-sized tarts. Here's the link to this fabulous recipe:

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

This article shares the author’s first attempt at replicating her grandmother’s popular recipe. It actually turned out very well. I will try again before the holidays this year, just to be sure I have it right. Here is the link to this recipe:

Keeping a clean kitchen is the first step to food safety.

Keeping a clean kitchen is the first step to food safety.

7 Food Safety Myths Debunked

When planning gatherings around food, the safety of that food is paramount. There are many commonly accepted myths about food safety, and keeping a safe and healthy kitchen. As a public health educator, I am happy to debunk some of them, and help you keep you food and kitchen safe for your family and your guests. Here's the link to this article:

The Actual 12 Days of Christmas

The 12 Days of Christmas, also known as the season of "Christmastide" are the twelve days from December 26 to Epiphany on January 6. There is a fun and comical song, The Twelve Days After Christmas” that is hilarious. Unfortunately, it only perpetuates the misunderstanding.

This article shares the meaning and traditions of the Christian calendar. Here's the link to the article:

Bo's delicious chocolate truffle with raspberry puree. It doesn't get any better than this.

Bo's delicious chocolate truffle with raspberry puree. It doesn't get any better than this.

Chocolate Truffle Recipe

This rich, creamy desert is a chocolate lover's delight. It is similar to a flourless chocolate cake, but even better. It's always a hit at social gatherings. Here's the link to this scrumptious recipe:

Gluten-Free (or Not) Brownie Recipe

After I decided to reduce gluten in my diet, my husband, Bo, changed his scratch brownie recipe to make it gluten-free. All he did was to use gluten-free flour. So you can make them the way you prefer. If you make the healthier version, people will be amazed that they cannot taste the difference. Here's the link to his recipe:

Poinsettia Are Not Poisonous -- a Myth Debunked by Research

I hope to allay some of your fears about this beautiful plant. It's actually a shrub, but most are in small pots during all the winter holidays. This article provides information about the mildly toxic, but non-poisonous poinsettia plant. Here's the link to this very informative article:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 MariaMontgomery

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