Nothing spreads holiday cheer like homemade gifts! This year, stay off Amazon and spend some fun family time making treats for the folks on your list. From exotic granola to gourmet popcorn, it’s easy to get creative with flavors and ideas, especially when you know that everyone appreciates having healthy snacks in the house. Edible gifts truly are one-size-fits-all! And who knows? Maybe one of your “gifts” will wind up in your own stocking. Just be sure to label your treats with the date you made them and what ingredients they contain.
Granola is a snap to make, plus it’s a handy breakfast or snack. First, toss rolled oats (use gluten-free oats to make gluten-free granola) with your choice of chopped raw nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, and/or seeds. Add a splash of maple syrup and just enough melted coconut oil to moisten the ingredients, then spread on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until the granola is fragrant and starting to turn slightly golden. Once the granola is cool, you can stir in chopped dried fruit if you’d like. Other optional ingredients in the initial granola mix include ground coffee, unsweetened cocoa powder, and/or spices like cinnamon or coriander. Go ahead—make more than one batch! Completely cooled granola can be packaged into pretty jars tied with ribbons and stored in a cool, dark place for several weeks.
Sweet Or Savory Nuts
Spiced nuts are made much like granola, although it’s best to leave the nuts whole. Sweet or savory? You decide. Toss the nuts with melted coconut oil and your choice of spices or herbs. (Example: chili powder and curry powder make great savory nuts, while allspice and ginger plus a drizzle of maple syrup or a dusting of sucanat make great sweet nuts.) Bake at 325F on a parchment-covered sheet for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the nuts are fragrant and almost golden. For extra-savory nuts, try including nutritional yeast and/or seeds (or seed meal) in your spice mix. Bonus tip: Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and poppy seeds can be ground into meal with a coffee grinder.
Chocolate Bark & Mini Cups
You’ve seen those fancy chocolate bars with the crazy flavors, right? The ones with bacon and ginger? Or pomegranate and blueberries? Time to let your own imagination fly! Start with a bar of good-quality chocolate, like Valrhona 70% or 85%. Think about what other flavors you want to include. Dried fruit? Spices? Toasted coconut? Cocoa nibs? Root chips? Whatever you decide, just melt the chocolate bar very gently over the lowest heat setting on your stove (pull it off before it has completely melted and finish melting it by stirring it), then stir in your flavors. To make a bar/bark, spread the chocolate onto a parchment-covered baking sheet and let cool, then snap into pieces. Or to make clusters, line a mini-muffin pan with parchment mini-cups, spoon the chocolate into the cups, and let cool. Choose holiday-themed cups for especially festive treats.
I love these ideas and am going to do with my family this weekend – I have a bunch of mason jars, and pretty ribbons that will make this a fun festive gift for lots of people…