Food gifts are appropriate for just about everyone. Homemade gifts can save time; energy and money as well as providing that personal touch. Food gifts can be tasty and nutritious at the same time. A healthy gift from home is always welcomed.
• Consider giving the food item in a container that can be used again or add a small gift that will promote healthy eating or an active lifestyle throughout the year.
• Make a no-salt seasoning blend and combine it with a heart-healthy cookbook.
• Fill a salad spinner with a bottle of low-fat salad dressing. Make your own dressing and share the recipe or add a bottle or two of your favorite purchased dressings. Add a bag of spiced nuts, dried cranberries or a can of mandarin oranges to dress-up their salad.
• Make Pumpkin Spice Bread or Cranberry Bread. Wrap with a cutting board and a decorative knife and tie with a bow.
• Combine dry beans, lentils or split peas along with spices and herbs for a hearty vegetarian soup mix. Don’t forget to share the soup recipe. A soup mug or small bag of low-fat crackers could be added.
Lentil and Split Pea Soup Mix
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried minced parsley
½ tsp dried thyme
½ cup red or brown lentils
½ cup yellow or green split peas
Combine all ingredients into an airtight container, a freezer zip-top bag or layer into a 12” decorator cone for a festive appearance. To make soup: combine mix with 4 cups water, cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking. To freshen the soup add a squirt of lemon juice or a dash of balsamic vinegar just before serving.
1 egg white
1 tsp water
½ tsp vanilla
12 packets Splenda
1 tsp cinnamon
4 cups pecan halves
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Beat egg whites, water and vanilla until foamy. Add the Splenda and cinnamon. Stir the pecans into the egg white mixture to coat. Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with a no fat cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour, stirring three times. Allow cooling completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container.
No Salt Seasoning Blend
6 Tablespoons dried oregano
6 Tablespoons onion powder
3 Tablespoons dried basil
2 Tablespoons dried marjoram
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
Combine all ingredients. Store in a tightly closed container or shaker. Use in salads, salad dressing, soups or for chicken, fish or vegetables.
A word of caution:
Always keep food safety in mind! Remember to include a note on storage of the food item. Use non-perishable items when filling gift baskets or boxes that will be kept unrefrigerated. If you include foods that need to be refrigerated, be sure to put a note on the outside of the package.
By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.