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Holiday Gifts From The Kitchen

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The holidays don’t have to be full of unhealthy food, too many Christmas cookies, and multiple naps on the couch—make this holiday an experience to remember with healthy and delicious foods that makes you feel happy and energized. If you feel good, your holiday experience will be so much better. Try making your holiday dishes extra healthy and delicious. Did you know that flavor comes from nutrients? When you use better quality ingredients in your favorite holiday dishes, you can’t mess them up. These foods will naturally be the most flavorful. The key is to choose healthier ingredients in all of your dishes. This includes whole foods and packaged items that have a short ingredient list and contain only items you can pronounce. If using flour or sugar make sure you are using high quality sources like local milled flour or organic white unbleached flour and organic raw cane sugar or coconut sugar. If using butter, choose grass-fed varieties or swap the butter for virgin coconut oil. Don’t take any shortcuts when choosing ingredients–the body knows what to do with real, wholesome foods.

When you think about it, everything in this world is centered on food—especially the holidays. Food is social. Food connects us. Food builds relationships. Food is fuel. Food is energy. Food is power. Food inspires us. Food is an experience. But most importantly, food is love and it is the greatest gift to share.

Did you know that the less time we spend cooking; the more time we spend cooking? The act of cooking and the smell of the food we cook is very satisfying. Research shows that when rates of home cooking go down, obesity goes up. We tend to eat for flavor and convenience when it’s the story of food that’s so powerful and how it connects us with the people we love.

There is no better way to show family and friends just how much you love them this holiday than with homemade gifts from the kitchen. Rather than buy expensive, processed and unhealthy granola, simply make your own for the perfect holiday gift. Need a stress-relieving gift for your high-strung Aunt? A sugar or salt scrub makes the perfect gift for a stress-free holiday.

Warning: gifts from the kitchen are shown to impress that special someone on your list and win over their heart. 

Gifts From the Kitchen

Homemade & Full of Love

The holidays are full of special moments and food is a huge part of these moments. These gifts from the kitchen are gifts that are sure to keep on giving even well after the holidays are over. These items make the perfect gift for that foodie on your list or for anyone who eats.

Traverse City Cherry Granola

Serves 8-10

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • ½ cup of dried tart cherries
  • 1/8 cup of flaxseeds
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice (for holidays)
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup of virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon local/raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. In a small saucepan, combine wet ingredients and heat over medium heat or until melted and mixed. Pour melted mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread granola evenly over sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir mixture on the cookie sheet and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer granola to a large decorative glass jar and serve as a gift for the holidays with recipe attached.

Homemade Body Scrub

Combine 1 cup of raw cane sugar and 1 cup of almond, coconut oil or jojoba oil. Add your favorite essential oils and mix well. Store in glass jar with festive measuring spoon attached.

*May use Epsom, Himalayan, or sea salt in place of sugar for a more calming magnesium rich scrub.

To gift, add scrub to a relaxing spa basket that includes an eye mask, facial scrub, and other rest essentials.

Overnight Oats with Dates, Figs & Apples

Serves 4

  • 1 cup oat groats (may also use steel cut oats but reduce cooking time by 2 hours)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 4 dried figs (or may use 4 pitted dates)

Rinse oats and soak in cold water for 1 hour. Drain and rinse oats and add to a small (1.5 quart) slow cooker. Mix in cinnamon and then stir in 4 cups of water, apples and figs.

Cook in slow cooker for 7-8 hours or overnight. Serve warm with almond or coconut milk.

Print recipe and tie to a holiday themed crockpot filled with recipe ingredients, a festive dishtowel, and utensils. May even fill it savory options like chicken broth, soup mix, and spices for a different spin.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • 3 vanilla beans
  • 1 cup organic vodka (Local Koval Brand)
  • Glass bottle with tight fitting lid

Use kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.

Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka. Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.

*Homemade vanilla extract lasts for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it- just remember to give it a good shake.

Banana Bread

Serves 10-12

  • ½ cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 3 ½ ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  • 2 tablespoons organic plain Greek yogurt or Siggi’s brand
  • ½ cup of local/raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Beat together the sugar and eggs on medium until light and fluffy, roughly 5 minutes. Very slowly, drizzle in the olive oil, still beating the mixture on medium. Then add the applesauce and continue mixing.

Add the banana, Greek yogurt, honey, and vanilla. Mix together on low speed until combined.

Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt and fold into the banana mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in toasted walnuts. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. (I use virgin coconut oil spray to grease)

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Wrap in festive holiday paper and gift to someone special.

Raspberry Chia Seed Jelly

  • ½ cup of pitted Medjool Dates
  • ½ cup of fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds (chia seeds can be used in place of pectin)
  • ¼ cup of coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until mixed. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to thicken. Use in place of processed jam or jelly. Makes a delicious filling for thumbprint cookies or used as a topper for your favorite pancakes or French toast.

Trail Mix Treats

Makes 10-12 Small Clusters

  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup whole almonds
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries or cherries
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 bag dark chocolate chips

Combine nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and set aside. Melt 1 bag of dark chips over a double boiler. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a ladle, drop small dollops of melted chocolate on the waxed paper. Sprinkle chocolate with trail mixture and let cool. Sprinkle with sea salt for a delicious salty flavor if desired. Serve in festive gift bags for the perfect stocking stuffers.

For convenience, choose store-bought trail mix combinations that include raw nuts, and dried fruits without added oil or sugar.

Homemade Food Bars

granola bar

Makes (12) 2 x 2 inch Bars

  • 2 cups of pitted Medjool Dates
  • 2 cups of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia)

Blend dates and nuts in a food processor until sticky and mixture binds together. Simply, mold mixture flat into a small baking dish, refrigerate, and cut into bars or roll date-nut mixture into small balls to create a fun energy bite.

Feel free to add other ingredients during the food processor step like shredded coconut, flaxseeds, or cacao nibs. Wrap in festive paper and seal with a ribbon.

Find more healthy and delicious recipes in the Target To Table cookbook here.