December 1: Eat a Red Apple Day
Did you know apples have been associated with beneficial health outcomes? Maybe an apple a day actually does keep the doctor away! The antioxidants in apples may have a protective effect on cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and asthma. This possibly extends to diabetes as well. Studies have suggested that the nutrition profiles of apples may be important in the prevention of several chronic conditions in humans. For more information on apples check out this blog post on Food Talk.
Hyson D. A. (2011). A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 2(5), 408–420. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.111.000513
December 4: National Cookie Day!
Looking to cut back on added sugar? This Cherry Chocolate Chip Trail Mix cookie recipe, from Diabetes Food Hub, uses Splenda instead of added sugar.
December 7: What is Elevate?
Elevate is a free program for Georgia couples in committed relationships. In this research-based program, couples are encouraged to grow in their relationship by learning to better manage stress, strengthen their connection with each other, handle their disagreements and differences in healthy and constructive ways, and improve the quality of their relationship. This program will be offered in March 2023 in Monroe County and registration is already taking place! To learn more follow this link.
December 10: Kids, Happiness, & Money
According to research the question of happiness tied to money is a complicated one. We have heard it said, “money doesn’t buy happiness”. Likewise, we’ve probably also heard people disagree with that. Research suggests that in terms of emotional well-being money can’t buy happiness. Check out my full article, here, to help you make financially wise decisions this holiday season.
December 13: Hot Cocoa Day!
This fabulous hot beverage we enjoy in the winter months has made its way through history and into your hands via three ancient tribes in Central and South America. Most notably the Aztecs, but also the Mayans and the Olmec, were the first to harvest cocoa beans from the cocoa tree and make a chocolate drink from the beans. It wasn’t a sweet drink; that came later in the 1800s in Europe. Most likely it was used in ceremonies and reserved for important individuals. It was made with spices and flowers, frothed by pouring it repeatedly from vessel to vessel, and served cold. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate today while considering what you hold in your hands is the product that has evolved and stood the test of time since the 13th century.
December 16: Reconciliation
We often think of reconciliation as synonymous with forgiveness, but they aren’t quite the same. According to Marina Cantacuzino and Katalin Karolyi, from The Forgiveness Project in the UK, forgiveness is a process which involves recognition and empathy. They define forgiveness as “the principled decision to give up your justified right for revenge; it also requires the forgiver to recognize that the offender is ‘human like myself’”. Reconciliation is, ideally the outcome of forgiveness involving a restoration of relationship and involves both parties. I like Karen Broenus’ definition, “a societal process that involves mutual acknowledgment of past suffering and the changing of destructive attitudes and behavior into constructive relationships toward sustainable peace.” Reconciliation is healthy for interpersonal relationships, but it is also healthy for communities. The holiday season is a good time to reflect on the mending of relationship. We know it can not only benefit our mental and emotional health, but our physical health as well.
Cantacuzino, M., & Karolyi, K. (n.d.). Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Community Toolbox. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/spirituality-and-community-building/forgiveness-and-reconciliation/main
December 19: Smart Budgeting for Travel
Travel expenses can pile up fast! Here are a few tips that will help save you some money:
- Pack meals, snacks, and drinks you can eat in the car. Make sure to follow food safety tips. Many rest areas also have nice areas with picnic tables if you need a break from the car.
- Consider stopping for bathroom breaks only at rest areas. Not having the temptation to spend extra money at a store or fast-food restaurant can add up.
- Make a packing list and check it twice. Having to run to the store to buy shampoo or toothpaste because you forgot it costs in gas and the product you are purchasing. If you are flying it may even cost you an Uber ride!
- Make sure to adjust your thermostat at home. While you are away your home doesn’t need to stay as warm, or cool, as when you are there. If it is wintertime set your thermostat at a level that will keep your pipes from freezing.
December 22: Cookie Exchange Day!
Cookies are one of our favorite things to enjoy this year. Why not enjoy them with friends. Plan a Cookie Exchange Party! As friends to make a batch to enjoy together and a second batch to divide between other guests.
December 25: Giving
Did you know that it is possible to reduce your taxable income by giving? Making a charitable donation to a qualifying tax-exempt organization could help you when you file your taxes! Talking with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the best way to understand how much a donation would need to be for you to benefit in your tax filings.
December 29: Eye Health
Just like a well-check with your family doctor regular eye exams can help to detect diseases early – when they are most treatable. According to Mayo Clinic, there are 3 main factors in determining when and how frequently you should have an eye exam. Your age is one, another is your current health, and the last is your risk for developing an eye disease. Learn more here.
December 30: Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
Sounds stressful just reading it! Life can present us with a lot of changes really fast. Some are no big deal, like a flight delay. Others are life-altering, like the death of a spouse or child. We can’t prepare for everything, but one way we can limit really big changes from being even more catastrophic is to plan well. When I worked in life insurance one of my friends from high school died in a car accident leaving behind a young son and wife. A few months later another classmate of ours suddenly lost her spouse. She was left a young widow with an infant. In both scenarios, neither family had life insurance. This left these young spouses in situations where they had to return to work immediately, cover the expenses of funerals, and overcome a number of other financial stressors while in deep grief. If you do not have life insurance consider the impact not having it may have on your family. You can learn more here. If you have life insurance make sure your beneficiaries are accurate and up to date.
December 2: Service Your Car; Prevent Pollution
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, regularly getting your car serviced will help to reduce emissions from your vehicle. Part of regular tune-ups includes following the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations and using the recommended fuels and oils.
December 5: Why Handwashing is Important
Proper handwashing is important because it is one of our most effective defenses against sickness. Germs spread from person to person and from contaminated surfaces we touch. Particularly during flu season, it is important to wash your hands well before touching your nose, mouth, or eyes. These three areas of your body are the most common pathways for viruses and infections to enter the body. The Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) recommends following these 5 steps every time:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
For more about the science behind the CDC’s recommendatoins follow this link.
December 8: Food Safety for Holiday Gatherings
December 11: Safe Toys & Gifts
December 14: Energy Conservation & Your Wallet
This short video on Energy Saving Tips for young renters has some universal tips. For a full article on energy and water conservation that will have a positive impact on your wallet check out this link.
December 17: National Ugly Sweater Day!
Have an Ugly Sweater Party with family or friends! Play some fun games, make dinner together, and enjoy each others company.
December 20: Play Games as a Family
Long holiday breaks from school can be hard on parents and kids. Taking time to play with your kids will be fun for you and them! Here is a resource to help you plan for things you can do with them. Being prepared ahead of time can help you take small breaks to play between your work commitments and household chores. It can also help you give them direction when they want to play with you, but you can’t at that time.
December 23: National Christmas Movie Marathon Day
We all have our favorite Christmas movies! Most families have at least a few that every member enjoys. So, pop some popcorn, pile on the sofa, and enjoy some Christmas movies as a family.
December 26: Slow-cooker West African Peanut Stew
Ingredients2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion (any type), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
1 can (15 ounce) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
5 cups vegetable broth, low or 33% less sodium
3 small sweet potatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 can (15 ounce) diced tomatoes, no salt added, with liquid
1/4 pound (1 large bunch, or 4-6 cups) kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
- Saute the onion for about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, ginger and chickpeas in the last minute.
- In a 6-quart slow cooker, add the chickpea mixture. Season with crushed red pepper, cumin, and chili powder.
- Pour the vegetable broth in and add the sweet potatoes. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- Remove some of the sweet potatoes and mash with a fork. Add mashed sweet potatoes back into the slow cooker and stir the tomatoes, kale, peanut butter, and raisins into the soup during the last 20 minutes of cooking.
- Save time by purchasing sweet potatoes already cubed, using jarred minced garlic (1 teaspoon for every tablespoon of fresh garlic), and substituting the fresh ginger with ground ginger (1/4 teaspoon ground ginger for every tablespoon of fresh ginger).
- Try substituting chickpeas with any canned bean (we love Great Northern Beans in this dish!) or chicken.
- Chopped collards or spinach can be substituted for kale. Allow adequate cook time if including the stems of any greens.
Recipe from Food Talk
December 27: Visit the Zoo Day
Do you love animals? If you do then this is a fun observance day for you… It’s Visit the Zoo Day!! We are fortunate to be close to a large zoo in Atlanta. If you can’t actually make it to the zoo today you could enjoy it from a distance with the Panda Cam.
December 3: Hug Day!
Oxytocin is a really cool hormone produced by our bodies! Sometimes it is referred to as the “feel-good hormone”. Some researchers have called it the “bonding hormone”. This is because Oxytocin is the hormone released in our bodies when we are physically affectionate. Studies have shown that in healthy relationships physical affection, like hugging, lowered blood pressure levels. The oxytocin response is more clearly associated with relationships, such as couples, where there is frequent physical interaction such as hugging. Not only is this positive news for your health it is also notable that fostering a healthy committed relationship with your partner may have even greater health benefits. Developing your ability to support your partner is good for both the giver and receiver. If you are in a committed relationship and want to grow that relationship please consider signing up for Elevate.
1. Inagaki, T. K., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2012). Neural correlates of giving support to a loved one. Psychosomatic medicine, 74(1), 3–7. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182359335
2. Holt-Lunstad, J., Ditzen, B., & Light, K. C. (2019). Oxytocin, social relationships, and health: An introduction to the special issue. International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology, 136, 1–4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2018.12.008
3. Waring, B. (2006, February 24). NIH Record. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://nihrecord.nih.gov/sites/recordNIH/files/pdf/2006/NIH-Record-2006-02-24.pdf.
December 6: Gazpacho
Gazpacho is a tomato based soup served cold. It’s country of origin is recognized as Spain, however there are Greek and Roman writings that mention the dish. Why cold soup in December? Well tomatoes are high in Vitamin C, which is a very helpful vitamin in controlling infections and wound healing. It also is a powerful antioxidant. Gazpacho is also a low-calorie dish, easy to make, and can be a nice option to take the hunger edge off so you don’t overdo it at those holiday parties. Try this recipe from the American Heart Association.
December 9: Llama Day!
You may think it is a little strange for a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent to observe Llama Day, but other than my personal infatuation with these awkward creatures I thought it might be helpful to know how to care for products that come from them. Specifically sweaters. Though the llama is relatively new to North America it has a long and important history in South America dating all the way back before the Inca. The modern descendants of the Inca, the Quechua, use llamas primarily for wool today. Llama wool is very warm, water-resistant, and flame-resistant. If you own items made of llama wool or are interested in this textile check out this helpful “Facts About Clothing” guide that includes llama wool.
December 12: Healthcare Coverage
There have been several times I have been grateful for various insurance coverages I have had. One was an emergency health insurance coverage I had in my mid-twenties. I didn’t have the option of insurance through my employer at the time and found myself in the hospital with an infection. That health insurance saved me from much larger expenses at a time when I was struggling to afford that health policy which didn’t cover much at all. That was the moment I realized why my health care policy payments were worth sacrifices on some wants. Follow a fabulous article titled, “Health Insurance: What You Should Know About Preventative Health Care”.
December 15: Your Furry Friends & the Holidays
Keeping your pets safe during the holidays can be a challenge. Especially if you aren’t fully aware of some items that enter our homes during this season that can be dangerous for them. This blog post by Candace Tucker gives a nice brief synopsis of some things to be aware of if you have pets.
December 18: Cauliflower Latkes
Ingredients1 16-ounce package riced cauliflower* (approximately 4 cups)
1 egg white or 3 tablespoons liquid egg whites
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup reduced fat (2%) cheddar or Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 large scallion, chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
¼ cup white whole-wheat flour
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl except oil. Mix well.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Pack a ¼ cup measuring cup with cauliflower mix, add to the pan and gently flatten. (Cook 4 pancakes at a time in the pan)
- Sauté for a few minutes until the bottom is browned and holding together. Gently flip pancakes. Cook the second side until nicely browned.
- Remove the pancakes from the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Repeat for the remainder of the cauliflower mix.
- Serve with sour cream, Greek yogurt, or applesauce. For an extra kick, add some sriracha or red pepper flakes.
Recipe from Food Talk; Makes 12 servings Serving size = 1 latkes
December 21: Flashlight Day
Being prepared for a power outage has to happen in advance. Make the preparation fun by getting batteries in time to play a fun game of flashlight tag when the sun goes down! Make sure when you finish to put the flashlights in a designated place the whole family knows about and keep some back up batteries with it.
December 24: Eggnog Day
For those of us who really enjoy eggnog, but want to be careful with our fat and alcohol intake here are 3 tips:
- Enjoy eggnog without the alcohol
- Look for a low-fat version
- Choose small portion sizes
December 28: For the Love of Sandwiches
If you’re anything like me, or Joey from Friends, you love a good sandwich. There are so many to choose from too!
Though this well-known food item got its name from the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, you may be surprised to learn that it has actually been around for thousands of years! Want to know more? Check this History Stories blog out.
December 31: Don’t Forget the Blackeyed Peas!
Many countries have New Year’s traditions involving food. In Italy it’s lentils, but for those of us in the South, it’s blackeyed peas!! As you ring in 2023 may you enjoy a prosperous and blessed new year – with or without the blackeyed peas.