Healthy Food Gifts for Christmas
During the holidays, opportunities for gift giving abound. Friends, neighbors, teachers and youth leaders impact our lives all year, and deserve acknowledgement.
Picking up a box of candy or a scented candle is convenient and quick. But if you can spare a little extra time, it’s fun to offer healthy and delicious alternatives that you’ve created yourself. They can enjoy your present right away, or save it for another time!
Whole Grain Crackers & Unique Jam
Last year our Christmas gift budget was tight. So I made batches of marmalade and gave them out with whole wheat crackers. Turns out, everyone loved getting something they didn't usually buy for themselves. You make think this idea is too simple. But you’ll be giving them a nutritious snack or even a party appetizer to use during the busy holiday season.
You can purchase crackers, but making the from scratch isn’t hard and the result is yummier. If you go for a store-bought jam, look for a low-sugar version in a flavor you know that person really likes, or an unusual flavor like beach plum or currant. Locally-made preserves or honey is another neat choice.
For a special look, place homemade crackers in a small tin lined with wax paper. Tie a ribbon around the jar with a small label to identify the flavor. Then put everything in a small basket or gift bag.
Jarred soup mixes are available in the gift area of most department or grocery stores. The problem is that they usually contain dehydrated vegetables and broth, plus a lot of salt. And you don't know how long the container has been around. The answer? Buy the separate ingredients and assemble it yourself.
Beans, seasonings, and rice or pasta is enough to create a satisfying and healthy meal. You can use reduced-sodium bullion, and add suggestions for fresh vegetables people can add if they want.
One year I put some of my Cozy Day Soup Mix in plastic containers, along with the dry ingredients for cornbread. My family members said they thought of me later as they ate it. I felt like I'd prepared a special meal for them long-distance!
Easy and Special Gift Wrapping Ideas
Place homemade crackers in a small tin lined with wax paper. (Keep prepackaged crackers in their original container, unopened) Put homemade jam into a medium-sized mason jar. Tie ribbon around the top. Write the flavor on a label, or attach a small tag. Then put everything in a small basket or gift bag.
Large mason jars work best to show off the soup and baking mixes, though sturdy plastic containers can also do well. Decorate them by lining the lids with holiday-themed fabric. These you can surround with a colorful ribbon. Write up the ingredients and recipe on a small card, strung through the ribbon.
To pack them up for mailing, use bubble wrap or simply fill box with newspaper so that any jars fit tightly. Then print “Fragile” on the outside of the mailing box to ensure careful handling.
Prepackaged brownie and cookie mixes in the store have that great layered look that remind me of sand art. Looking at the labels, I realized I already had most of the ingredients in my own kitchen.
Making my own mix gave me the chance to make some healthy substitutions. I’ve used whole wheat flour instead of white (or a blend), less salt, and even sneakily added a couple of tablespoons of wheat germ to up the fiber.
Is there a favorite recipe in your family? Try turning it into your own construction of edible art. Suggest ways to "lighten up", such as using apple sauce instead of butter or flaxseed for an egg substitute.
Recipe: Flaxseed Crackers
A quick-to-make, satisfying snack that goes with anything from jam to cheese.
1 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Put a sheet of wax paper on a counter or other flat surface and pour the batter out on top. Put another sheet over the top. Roll or press the batter out until very thin (about 1/8 inch), making sure it is even from the center out to the ends. Transfer the batter still on the wax paper to a greased cookie sheet. Slowly remove the top piece of wax paper, then turn the batter upside down so that the other piece of wax paper is now on top. Remove this piece, using a knife to separate if needed.
Bake the mixture for 15-20 minutes, or it is until crisp in the middle (a little browning of the edges is okay). After it cools, break it up into smaller pieces. Store in an airtight container or bag in a cool dry place.