it’s hard to believe that we’re just a week away from the big day! i don’t know about you, but the months have absolutely flown by since August for me. around this time, it’s much too easy to get thrown around in the tornado of hustling and bustling and trying to get every single thing done, every. single. day. i here you, believe me – i’m no where’s near “done” my holiday preparations, and likely won’t be until christmas eve. so! in the state of empathy and understanding, i thought i would share my general tips for stress and task-overload management. yay! (there are gingerbread men at the end of this post, so perhaps that will intrigue you to stick around????)
what i have found with managing to juggle daily life with holiday preparations, is that my method of management is pretty similar to the way i worked in school. so, take these tips along with you each day as they pertain to school, work, and christmas prep (which i know feels like a full time job this month!).
- prioritize and organize: i am a list-oholic, and feel totally unorganized and stressed without one. when you are swamped with seemingly hundreds of things to do, i feel that the only real way to get any of it done is to prioritize and organize it by when it needs to be completed by. in terms of christmas, there is only one “due date”, so perhaps organize by task: buying for one person at a time, decorating one day, baking a couple days. use a list and check off each of these tasks as you go to keep a clear mind about what you have already accomplished and what still needs to be done. if you can, work on certain things a little bit at a time – i found this to be extremely helpful in university if i had a large essay to be done, or studying for exams. lately however, i have been baking a few things each day and storing them in my freezer; baking gingerbreads one day, pies the next, etc.
- take time for you: i would have gone absolutely bonkers in university if i didn’t follow this seemingly simple rule that i set for myself. for me, i designated certain hours “work hours” and certain hours as time to relax and do things that i wanted to do. i know that when some people are faced with exams, they stay up all hours of the night cramming – this is not for me (besides, how much are you really taking in if you’re working right up until you fall asleep at your desk?). take time for yourself at the beginning, middle and end of each day and (if possible) insert an hour in between to do something you enjoy. lately, for me, this means upon waking up, i enjoy a cup of coffee and breakfast/read my favorite blogs then work work work until just before lunch, take time to do even just a bit of yoga, and making myself a nourishing and satisfying meal and getting away from technology, work work work until dinner, and then end the night with a few episodes of gilmore girls (haha!).
- eat well!: i hinted at this above, but when you’re busy trying to get work done, studying, or even just christmas shopping, it is SO important to stay fueled. you wouldn’t drive your car around the city with no gas, and your body is no different. i don’t know about you, but when i am hungry, i am ANGRY, UNFOCUSED and TIRED. a combination of those three equals no bueno for getting anything productive accomplished. i like to start my day with as much protein, fibre and carbs as i possibly can; usually in the form of half of a ripe banana, somewhere around a cup of plain greek yogurt topped with various nuts, seeds, dried fruit and honey. .
- remember, you are only human: sometimes things come up and/or don’t go as planned. that is OKAY. remember, it’s the holidays – a time to be with loved ones, eating fabulously seasonal foods, and gifting – n o t a time to be a weird super-human-robot.
OK, now, provided that i haven’t lost you to a slumber of sleep, i’ve got a pretty wicked soft batch gingersnap cookie to share with you. i hope you haven’t finished your holiday baking, because these cookies are perfect to have out and about for friends and family these days – or perhaps to put on a plate alongside a glass of (nut)milk for santa???? they’re soft and sweet and spicy with a depth of flavor provided by blackstrap molasses: perhaps my new favorite ingredient that i want to put on every. single. thing.
Soft-Batch Gingersnap Cookies
vegan, nut free, soy free
(makes about 20 gingerbread men, or 30+ round cookies)
- 2 flax eggs: 2 tbsp ground flax + 4 tbsp water, whisked
- 2 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 (scant) cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup earth balance (buttery sticks, not spread) *
- 1/4 cup solid coconut oil
- 1/4 cup cane sugar
- 1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses* (available at bulk food stores, health food stores, etc)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1.5-2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg (can be omitted)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
***Regular butter might work as a replacement, however I have not tested this. If using regular table molasses you will need to reduce the amount of sugar you use.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cookie pans with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together ground flax and water and set aside to gel.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together flours, baking powder and spices.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium mixing bowl, cream together earth balance, coconut oil, cane sugar and brown sugar until light fluffy. Add flax egg, molasses, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract and stir to combine. Add in dry mixture slowly (about a cup at a time if using a stand mixer, 1/2 cup if stirring by hand) until well combined. You’re looking for a texture similar to a peanut butter cookie dough – very thick and not at all crumbly.
- If making gingerbread men, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes and roll out remaining dough, and repeat. If making round cookies, roll balls similar in size to a ping-pong ball and flatten to about 1/2 inch thick (I used a small piece of parchment paper and the bottom of a glass). If dough feels overly sticky, refrigerate for a few minutes to allow the coconut oil to stiffen and continue. ***You can make hugging gingerbread men by stretching and folding over arms around a nut such as an almond, or dried fruit!***
- Sprinkle cane sugar over cookies just before baking. Bake cookies for 13-16 minutes, until puffed and just beginning to golden on bottoms. They will still feel quite soft to the touch but will set a bit harder as they cool.
- Allow to cool on baking sheet 5-10 minutes and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Can be eaten immediately, but are best in taste the following day after sitting in an air-tight container overnight.
happy holidays, ladies and gents!