Stress Free Entertaining

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How can you keep holiday entertaining as much fun and stress free for you as for your guests? Be prepared. Plan your entertaining menu early. Purchase nonperishable ingredients and prepare any recipes that can be made ahead of time and then freeze. Store bought or slice-and-bake cookies or ready-made cakes are fine to serve if you add interest with special touches, such as serving them on nice glass plates, silver trays or a with special garnish. Add a special touch to your napkins by rubber stamping them with a special holiday greeting or pictures. Personal touches like this make your guests feel special. Replace your spices with fresh ones for the season’s cooking. This will ensure that your recipes taste fresh. The replaced spices can be used as a fragrant potpourri by keeping them warm in a potpourri pot or by simmering them in a pot on the stove. Make individual servings of your favorite pie or cake recipe. Instead of baking a whole pie, prepare it in tart shells or make mini cakes in special molds. Using fresh, natural greenery can add a wonderful holiday fragrance and beauty to any room. Cutting from pine, cedar, holly, and barberry are excellent choices for the holiday. Overnight guests always feel warm when they find a small, wrapped gift placed upon their pillow. Try to make it tailored to the individuals’ interests or likes. For example, a gardening friend would enjoy a few bulbs in a storage bag tied with a holiday ribbon.

Enjoy this delicious recipe from the American Diabetes Association and for more Food for Thought programs, activities and recipes, check us out online at

Crockpot Spinach Lasagna – serves 12

Cooking spray

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 ¼ cup part skim mozzarella shredded cheese, divided

1 10oz. box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained

24.5 oz. jar of lower sodium pasta tomato sauce

9 whole wheat lasagna noodles

8 oz. can no salt added tomato sauce

Spray a crockpot with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, ¼ mozzarella cheese and spinach. Spread 1 cup pasta sauce on bottom of crock pot. Arrange 3 noodles side by side on top of sauce, break noodles apart to fit, if needed. Spread about 1/3 cup of ricotta spinach mixture on top of noodles. Repeat layering with pasta sauce, noodles and ricotta spinach mixture 2 more times. Top with remaining pasta sauce and canned tomato sauce. Sprinkle top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Place cover on crock pot. Cook on low setting for 2-3 hours or until done.

Nutrition Information: 180 calories, 22g carbohydrates, 10g protein, 6g fat, 5g sugars, 4g fiber, 15mg cholesterol, 315mg sodium, 355mg potassium