Holiday Nibbles Bites & Sips

Spiced Nuts PostAiming to maintain, not gain, this holiday season? Well then pay attention to those nibbles, sips and bites. Because they can really add up fast and before you know it, you’ve enjoyed hundreds of extra calories in one day. And many don’t offer nutrient perks – only extra calories.

Take a look at these approximate calories:

Bite of those iced sugar cookies in the break room = 30 calories.

A big sip of pumpkin spice caramel macchiato = 55 calories.

Whittle away at co-worker’s famous fudge in break room =75 calories.

Wait, another nibble = 50 more calories.

Handful of Hot Sweet Spicy & Smokey Mixed Nuts (recipe below) you made for the office party = 120 calories*

Another cookie bite = 30 calories.

Someone just opened the homemade peanut brittle, so 2 big bites = 160 calories.

This is a whopping 520 extra calories (at least) above and beyond your meals.

So be aware. Plan for these treats. Watch portions at meals to balance. And get moving. Movement = calorie burn. Get out of your chair!

*You brought these nuts to the office party because you know their calories are packed with tons of perks.

Hot & Spicy Grammy Perks:  heart-healthy fats, fiber, protein and dozens of essential health-promoting vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium.

Cooking with Grandkids: Even the youngest kids can pour nuts in the bowl, add oil and stir, help stir the spices and stir the spices onto nuts. Older kids can help stir nuts occasionally while cooking in oven.

Spiced Nuts Post

Hot Sweet Spicy & Smokey Mixed Nuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: snack, appetizer
Serves: 10 servings of ⅓ cup each
  • 1 cup walnut halves and pieces
  • 1 cup pecan halves and pieces
  • 1 ½ cups cashew halves and pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Mazola corn oil
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne red pepper
  • ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Coat a 10x15x1-inch rimmed baking pan with cooking spray or parchment paper and cooking spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix walnuts, pecans and cashews. Add corn oil and toss until blended. In a separate small bowl, mix sugar and all spices. Add to nut mixture and stir well, coating all pieces. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake, stirring several times, until nuts are browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely. Serve or store in airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature. Nuts will last about 5 days. Freeze if you have them longer.
  2. Makes about 3⅓ cups nuts (10 servings of ⅓ cup each).


Fall & Football Favorites

Touchdown! All these fall favorites – apples, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, chili, cornbread – score big time at your next celebration or tailgate party.

Intercept ho-hum tailgate sides with a batch of Maple Apple Baked Beans. Pass the apple and pear slices for my Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip. Huddle for more whole grains with my Skillet Cornbread. And tackle that bag of apples you bought by turning them into Homemade Chunky Applesauce.

Forward pass to my Recipe page for all four recipes and get in the game with great taste and good health for your tailgate party!
(Cornbread photo courtesy My Indiana Home magazine/Journal Communications)


Kim’s Whole Grain Skillet Cornbread
Serves: 8-10 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter or shortening for 10-inch cast iron skillet plus more for melting over top of cooked cornbread*
  • 2 cups whole grain stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk
  • ⅔ cup corn oil
Heat oven to 425°F. Add butter to skillet and place in oven to completely melt. In a large bowl, whisk together corn meal, flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and corn oil. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until combined with a wooden spoon. Carefully remove hot skillet from oven and spread cornbread batter evenly in skillet. Cook 15 to 18 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean or with just a smidgen of crumb. Immediately after removing from oven, rub top and edges with butter stick, melting it as you rub. Do this several times! Makes 8-10 pieces.

*A 10-inch skillet that is 10-inches across the bottom and 12-inches across the top rim.
Tips & Hints

  1. Find wholegrain cornmeal right near the other cornmeal and flour. Always store it in the fridge to keep it fresher.
  2. Corn oil is exactly the same calories and fat grams as other oils, and it works great for any baking, including corn bread, corn muffins and corn pudding.
  3. Lately I’ve been using full-fat buttermilk in my cornbread, but low-fat works well too.

Homemade Chunky Applesauce
Easy Homemade Chunky Applesauce
Serves: 10 servings of ½ cup each
  • 4 ½ pounds apples (combination of any favorite cooking apples)
  • 1 cup 100% apple juice (such as Simply Apple)
  • 2 tablespoons to ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • ¼ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
Peel, core and cut apples into 1-inch chunks. In a 4 to 5 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine apple chunks, apple juice, sugar, lemon and orange juices, zests, allspice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining desired cinnamon. Using a fork, wooden spoon or potato masher, mash apples slightly, leaving some chunks. Refrigerate in tightly covered container.

Tips & Hints

  1. Kim likes a less sweet applesauce, Jeff likes it sweeter! I use at least ⅓ cup brown sugar when I’m making a big batch for Jeff’s lunches.
  2. Use more or less spices and zests depending on how you like your applesauce.
  3. Best apples include Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh….just about anything other than red delicious.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip with Apples & Pears
Serves: 11 servings of ¼-cup each
  • 1 package (8 oz.) ⅓-less fat cream cheese
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until blended. Enjoy immediately or chill one hour before serving. Serve with thickly sliced apples and pears.

Tips & Hints

  1. I normally make a double batch for parties or get-togethers. Use 2 cans (15 oz. each) rather than 1 big 29 oz. can.
  2. Use as much or little of the spices as you want!
  3. If you don’t have time to slice pears and apples, just use gingersnaps, vanilla wafers or graham crackers. Even shortbread cookies.

Maple Apple Baked Beans

Maple Apple Baked Beans

Maple Apple Baked Beans
Serves: 15 servings of ⅔ cup each
  • 5 cans (15 oz. each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2¼ cups peeled, chopped Granny Smith apple (2 very large apples)
  • 1⅔ cups chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped, cooked bacon
  • 1½ cups hickory barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup stone ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well. Pour in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish coated with vegetable cooking spray. Bake 45 minutes, or until bubbly and heated throughout.

Tips & Hints

  1. Kroger’s new Roasted Bacon that only takes 2-4 minutes is an absolute timesaver for this recipe! Just look for boxes of it in near the refrigerated bacon.
  2. Definitely use hickory barbecue sauce to compliment the maple syrup.
  3. Tarter apples, like Granny Smith, really help balance the sweet maple syrup.


Buffalo Chicken Cheese Dip

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Dip
Serves: 16 (1/4 cup each)
  • 1 package (8 oz.) ⅓-less fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup light reduced fat Ranch dressing
  • ½ cup (4 oz.) finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup cayenne pepper sauce (such as Frank’s original)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked, boneless skinless chicken breast*
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese in a deep baking dish. Stir until smooth. Mix in dressing, cheese and hot sauce. Stir in chicken. Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated throughout. Garnish with fresh celery leaves, if desired, and serve with celery and carrot sticks, whole grain crackers, pita chips/wedges and/or pretzels. *Using fresh cooked chicken reduces overall sodium in dish and the reduced-fat Ranch dressing and lighter cream cheese helps keep fat grams and calories slightly lower.


Big Beef Chili

Big Beef Chili
Serves: 8 (2 cups each)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (soybean or corn)
  • 2½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 1½ pounds lean ground beef (such as ground round or sirloin)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) light kidney beans , rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (14.5 to 15 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
  • 3 cans (15 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup favorite porter or stout beer (optional)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoons ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper*
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 10 drops hot red pepper sauce
  1. Heat oil in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and ground beef. Cook until beef is thoroughly cooked. Carefully drain grease (if desired, since there won’t be much grease with these lean cuts of ground beef). Add rinsed and drained beans to onion-beef mixture along with all remaining ingredients. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 35 to 45 minutes. *Just substitute a little extra crushed red pepper if you don’t have Aleppo pepper.


Spicy Pork Sliders

Spicy Pork Sliders
Serves: 8 Sliders
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • ¼ cup finely chopped white onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 very finely minced garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ to ⅔ cup whole-wheat bread crumbs*
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten*
  • 1 large Asian pear, cut into 16 slices
  • 8 leaves Napa cabbage, Bok Choy or other Chinese cabbage
  • 8 mini-burger buns
  1. Heat grill to medium high. In a medium bowl, combine ground pork, onions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, brown sugar, mirin, soy sauce, bread crumbs and beaten egg. Stir just until blended. Form into 8 mini patties about 2½-3-inches in diameter. Grill 5 to 7 minutes or until instant-read thermometer registers 160°F. Serve each slider on bun with 2 slices Asian pear and 1 Chinese cabbage leaf. *The bread crumbs and eggs help bind the mixture so the small patties won’t fall apart while you’re grilling.


Cucumber Melon & Mint Sangria

Cucumber Melon & Mint Sangria
Serves: 8 servings
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 heaping cup honeydew melon balls
  • 1 heaping cup cantaloupe melon balls
  • 1 heaping cup watermelon balls
  • 1 small lime, thinly sliced
  • 1-1 ¼ cups seedless English cucumber slices, very thinly sliced
  • ⅓-½ cup mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
  • 1 bottle Traminette wine
  • 1 ½ cups club soda
  • Mint leaves, basil leaves, cucumber slices, lime slices for optional garnish
  1. In a large pitcher, bowl or container, stir lime juice and sugar until sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
  2. Add all melon balls, lime and cucumber slices, mint and basil, and lightly stir. Add wine and club soda and lightly stir. Cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours to blend flavors.
  3. Garnish individual glasses of sangria when serving.