Nothing beats the thoughtfulness and creativity of homemade gifts. And, thankfully, not all of them require construction paper, glitter, and the supervision of a second-grade teacher. We’ve rounded up some of the best homemade gifts you can make in the kitchen. As an added bonus, they’re all easy to make and healthy, too!
10 Healthy Holiday Food Gifts You Can Make Yourself
Gift friends and family with healthy, grab-and-go energy bars. While the holidays are full of indulgences, healthy, homemade bars can get the morning off to a great start. Try these fruit and nut bars or these chocolate peanut butter oat bars. To keep them from sticking to each other, wrap bars in parchment, and tie bundles up with kitchen twine.
A cross between a truffle and a healthy pre-workout snack, energy balls are a (usually) no-bake way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Stick with crowd-pleasing classic flavors, such as vanilla almond or carrot cake, or take advantage of holiday spices with these gingerbread balls. Or play around with whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruit, protein powders, nut butters, grains, and spices you have on hand to create your own flavor. Boost the nutrition in your homemade energy balls with Shakeology — this tasty, nutritious, protein-packed powder comes in seven flavors, including two vegan varieties.
Add some protein powder, whole grains, and nut butter to your cookie mix for a tasty, satisfying, and nutritious treat. This no-bake tiramisu recipe sneaks in four grams of protein per cookie and has just three grams of sugar. How’s that for a healthier cookie?
Candy doesn’t always have to be on the naughty list. These revamped peanut butter cups have all the chocolatey and peanut buttery flavor of the classic candy, but a whole lot more to offer in the nutrition department. With pumpkin puree, psyllium husk powder, protein powder, and peanut butter, one cup packs seven grams of protein and three grams of fiber. Or whip up some two-for-one gifts by dipping energy balls in melted dark chocolate. Hello, no-guilt truffles.
With just a few ingredients and a food processor, you’re minutes away from delicious, natural, homemade nut butters. Blend single-nut varieties, such as peanut, cashew, almond, or walnut, or get a little more creative by combining nuts (such as almond and cashew) and/or adding in seeds, dried fruit, pure extracts (such as vanilla and coconut), and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. If you want to get really fancy, gift a nut butter sampler with a few small jars of each of your different creations.
While it seems like all the dried fruit in the world gets dumped into “fruit” cake during the holidays, there are some more sensible ways to enjoy it. Enter: DIY trail mix. Combine dried fruit without added sugar, such as cranberries, apricots, cherries, mangoes, blueberries, and strawberries, with seeds, nuts, and out-of-the-box ingredients including roasted chickpeas, natural popcorn, dried edamame, or unsweetened coconut flakes. Kick up the heat with a sweet and spicy trail mix made with cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or wasabi peas, and dark chocolate morsels or chocolate-covered raisins.
Homemade vanilla extract requires just two ingredients: vanilla beans and alcohol. While vodka typically has the most neutral flavor, you can use rum, brandy, or bourbon, too. (We won’t tell anyone if you take a swig or two in the process.) Make sure to plan this gift ahead — vanilla beans should infuse for one month minimum. To make, split 10 vanilla beans with a knife, lengthwise, and place them in one liter of vodka — preferably in a bottle with an airtight seal. Store bottle in a cool, dry place and shake it up once a week. Allow to steep for at least four weeks, and up to six months, before using.
Spice up your gift-giving with a home-crafted spice blend or two. Create sweet American favorites, such as apple or pumpkin pie spices. To make apple pie spice, combine four tablespoons ground cinnamon, two teaspoons ground nutmeg, two teaspoons allspice, and one teaspoon of ground cloves; turn this into pumpkin pie spice by using the same proportion of spices, and adding two teaspoons ground ginger.
Treat friends and family to flavors from around the world including curry, garam masala, or Chinese five spice. To make a curry powder blend, add the following to a spice grinder: two tablespoons cumin seeds, two tablespoons cardamom seeds, two tablespoons coriander seeds, one-fourth cup turmeric, and one teaspoon cayenne. Grind to a fine powder.
To make garam masala, add the following to a spice grinder: two tablespoons coriander seeds, one tablespoon cumin seeds, one tablespoon cardamom seeds, one tablespoon black peppercorns, one teaspoon fennel seeds, one teaspoon mustard seeds, half teaspoon whole cloves, two tablespoons turmeric, and one dried red chili pepper, if desired. Grind to a fine powder.
To make Chinese five spice, add the following to a spice grinder: two medium cinnamon sticks, two tablespoons cloves, two tablespoons fennel seeds, two tablespoons star anise, and two tablespoons Szechuan black peppercorns. Grind to a fine powder.
Wash out and dry old spice jars, and replace the old label with an embellished sticker label, or use small, shallow jars with a hold-punched label affixed string to identify the homemade spices.
Chia seeds absorb a ton of liquid, and create a gel-like consistency, which make them perfect for a healthy jam base. Choose two cups of any fresh fruit that you like — in-season winter fruits include kiwi, mandarin oranges, passion fruit, persimmons, oranges, and dates — and cook the fruit for 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Mash the fruit, stir in one to two tablespoons lemon juice, one to two tablespoons pure maple syrup or raw honey, and two tablespoons chia seeds. Let jam sit for five minutes to thicken. If you want a thicker consistency, stir in an additional teaspoon of chia seeds, let sit for five minutes, then check consistency again. Repeat until the jam reaches your desired thickness. Once the jam cools to room temperature, transfer to jars for gifting.
Semi-Homemade Themed Baskets
Short on time? Mix homemade items with store-bought ones to create a themed gift basket. For instance, a breakfast basket could include a small cast iron pan with a bottle of 100-percent maple syrup and homemade protein pancake mix.
Creative, Pretty Ways to Package Homemade Edible Gifts
- Print customized jar labels: Search online for templates or pre-made jar labels you can print on adhesive paper.
- Create chalkboard labels: Paint chalkboard paint on jar labels, then write the recipe name once the paint dries.
- Pack them into colorful portion fix containers: The red and green containers are festively colored, and bonus: Your friends can use them after the holidays for their intended use — to teach people how to eat foods in the correct portions.
- Use fabric under jar lids: Cut out circles or squares of fabric to attach to jar lids with ribbon (or if your jars have two-piece lids, screw the band over the fabric).
- Reuse kitchen containers: Decoupage coffee canisters, jam jars, tin cans, and other food containers with pretty paper.
- Go for a natural look: Wrap gifts in kraft paper, tie with kitchen twine, and decorate with a sprig of evergreen.