Gifts From the Kitchen






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Publication: Vibrant Life
Author: Reseck, Heather
Date published: November 1, 2010

Whether you're a kitchen klutz or a gourmet cook, it's easy and fun to surprise someone with a personalized gift of food. Healthful, homemade food gifts warm the heart and nourish the body without breaking the pocketbook. Another bonus: creating edibJe "works of heart" in your own kitchen can be less stressful - and more rewarding - than fighting traffic at the mall.

Let these guilt-free homemade food gifts inspire you to start a tradition of giving "seasoned greetings" from your kitchen. And don't forget to make extra for you and your family to enjoy!

Lentil-Barley Soup Mix

YIELD: 1 MIX (APPROXIMATELY 10 SERVINGS) PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY

1 ½ cups lentils, picked over * ½ cup pearl barley * ¼ cup dried minced onion * ¼ cup dried celery flakes * ¼ cup dried diced carrots, optional * 2 tablespoons dried parkley flakes * 2 teaspoons salt * ½ teaspoon oregano leaves * ¼ teaspoon thyme leaves

For gift giving, layer half of the lentils in the bottom of a clear fiat -bottomed cellophane food gift bag or a decorative jar. Add barley to form another layer. Top with remaining lentils. Stir the dried vegetables and seasonings together in a small bowl. Pour seasonings into a small bag (about 3'' x 4'') and seal. Place seasoning bag on top of layered lentils and barley. Tie with raffia or ribbon. Label and attach the following directions:

Lentil-Barley Soup Mix

In a slow cooker: Rinse and drain lentils and barley. Place in a 3 ½- to 4-quart slow cooker. Add 9 cups water, 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the contents of the seasoning packet. Cover and cook on high 8-10 hours or on low 1 2-14 hours, until lentils and barley are tender.

or

On the stovetop: Add 10 cups of water Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1 ½-2 hours.

Nutritional information per serving: 170 calories, 2 grams fa!, 560 milligrams sodium, 30 grams carbohydrates, W grams fiber, 9 grams protein

Orange-Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Mix

YIELD: 45 COOKIES ? PREPTIME: 10 MINUTES ; DIFFICULTYLEVEL: EASY

½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour * ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour * 1 cup granulated sweetener, such as evaporated canejuice crystals or sugar * 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed * 1 teaspoon baking powder * ¼ teaspoon baking soda * ½ teaspoon salt * 3 cups old-fashioned oats * 1 cup dried cranberries

Stir whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, granulated sweetener, ground flaxseed. baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowi. Pour into a large clear fiat-bottomed food gift bag (or decorative jar). Layer oats and dried cranberries in a separate bag; seal and place on top of flour mixture. Tie with raffia or ribbon. Label and attach the following directions:

Orange-Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Mix

Heat oven to 350°F. Pour flour mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir ½ cup water, ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons neutraUtasting oil and ½-1 teaspoon orange flavoring or grated orange peel together in a liquid measuring cup. Stir into flour mixture until mixed Stir in oats and dried cranberries until mixed. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or cookine spray, spacing two inches apart. Sake 5 minutes. Rotate pans Bake 3-4 more minutes until slightly browned on edges Do not overtake. Cookies will not look done in the center, but will firm up as they cool.) Let cookies cool 5 minutes before transferring to w,re racks. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Variations:

Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies: Substitute raisins for cranberries. Substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for orange flavoring. If desired, add ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and/or ¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: Substitute chocolate chips for cranberries.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies: Substitute ½ cup sorghum flour, ¼ cup corn flour, and ¼ cup tapioca flour for the wheat flours; use gluten-free oats.

Nutritional information per serving: 70 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 50 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber. 6 grams sugar, I gram protein

Maple Nut Granola

YIELD: 8 CUPS (16 SERVINGS) | PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES | DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY

8 cups old-fashioned oats * 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut * 1 cup walnut or pecan halves * ½ teaspoon salt * ¾ cup honey * 1½ tablespoons natural maple flavoring, to taste * 1 tablespoon vanilla extract * ¼ cup oil * 1 cup dried fruit, such as cherries, cranberries, raisins, chopped apricots, or dates

Stir oats, coconut, walnuts, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Heat honey, rnaple flavoring, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over medium heat until honey is liquefied. Pour honey mixture over dry ingrethents, stirring until oats are evenly coated. Stir in oil until well mixed. Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.

Traditional baking method: Bake at 250°F stirring and rotating pan between oven racks every 10 minutes, or until golden brown and dry, about 40-50 minutes. If granóla is not lightly browned, increase the oven temperature to 325°F and bake 10 minutes. Stir, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Shortcut overnight baking method: Bake at 175°F overnight, 8-10 hours, or until dry and lightly browned. If granóla is not lightly browned, increase the oven temperature to 250°F and bake 10 minutes. Stir, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Let granola cool. Stir in dried fruit. Store in airtight container. Package in a decorative jar or tin, or a jar with a fabric topper.

Variations: Omit maple flavoring and substitute vanilla extract with 1-3 teaspoons almond or orange flavoring (to taste).

Chef's Tip: This recipe can easily be doubled. Bake 2 pans at the same time, rotating between upper and lower racks each time the granola is stirred.

Nutritional information per serving: 220 calories, 12 grams fat, 28 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams sugar, 3 grams protein

Pasta Mix With Basil and Garlic

YIELD: 1 MIX(8½-CUP SERVINGS) | PREPTIME: 10 MINUTES

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY

8 ounces multicolored vegetable rotini pasta (about 3½-4 cups) * 4 teaspoons dried basil leaves * 2 teaspoons chicken-style seasoning or vegetable broth powder * 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes * 1½ teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour * ½ teaspoon garlic powder * ¼ teaspoon salt

Place pasta in a clear, flat-bottomed food gift bag or a quart jar. Stir basil, chicken-style seasoning, parsley flakes, flour, garlic powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Pour into a small plastic bag and seal. Place seasoning mix on top of pasta and/or tie bag with raffia or ribbon. Label and attach the following directions:

Pasta Mix With Basil and Garlic

Cook pasta in 8 cups boiling, salted water for 8-10 minutes, until tender. Pour seasonmg mix into a small bowl and crush herbs between fingers. Stir in ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon olive oil into seasoning mix. Let stand for at least 5 mmutes. Drain pasta and toss with seasoning mixture.

Variations:

You can use other pasta shapes and sizes. Just be sure to measure by weight because the volume measurement varies.

Gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta and flour for a gift for someone with special dietary requirements.

Nutritional information per serving: 120 calories, 2 grams fat, 210 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams protein

Honey-Lemon Glazed Popcorn Snack Mix

YIELD: 32(½-CUP SERVINGS) | PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES | DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY

12 cups plain air-popped popcorn * 4 cups bite-size crispy wheat, rice, or corn cereal squares * 2 cups pecan or walnut halves (or other nuts) * ½ cup honey * 1/3 cup oil * 1 tablespoon minced lemon peel * ¼ teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 300°F Stir popcorn, cereal, and nuts together in a large bowl. Heat honey, oil, and iernon peel to boiling in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil one minute. Pour over popcorn mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Divide the popcorn mixture onto 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring and rotating pans every 10 minutes, until mixture is crispy. Remove from oven. Stir occasionally as mixture cools. Store in a tightly covered container. For a gift, package in a decorative tin or jar.

Nutritional information per serving: 110 calories, 7 grams fat, 55 milligrams sodium, 13 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 1 gram protein

Festive Fruit and Nut Truffles

YIELD: 24 TRUFFLES | PREPTIME: 15 MINUTES

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY

½ cup almonds * ¾ cup dried cherries * 1½ cups pitted dates * 1 tablespoon water * ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut * 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed * ¼ cup unsweetened finely-shredded coconut (to roll finished truffles in)

Process almonds in food processor until finely ground. Add dried cherries and process until chopped. Transfer to mixing bowl. Place dates in food processor and sprinkle with water. Let stand 5 minutes. Process dates until finely ground and mixture forms a ball. Add to mixing bowl. Add ground flaxseed and coconut. Knead with hands to mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in coconut. Refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container up to one month. For attractive serving or gift giving, place truffles in colored petit four cups and arrange on a platter, or place truffles in a candy box with a window.

Variations:

Nut Truffles: Substitute pecans, walnuts, or cashews for almonds.

Exotic Fruit Truffles: Substitute other dried fruit such as pineapple, apples, papaya, apricots, raisins, mango, or cranberries.

Flaxseed Truffles: Ornit coconut and increase the nuts and/or ground flaxseed.

Coconut-free Truffles: Instead of coconut, roll balls in finely-chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds.

Dried Fruit and Nut Squares: Instead of forming into balls, pat mixture evenly into an 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle with coconut. Refrigerate 1-2 hours, until firm. Cut into small squares.

Chef's Tips:

* The dried fruit can also be ground in a food grinder, finely chopped with a knife, or cut with kitchen scissors.

* The truffles tend to dry out even when in an airtight container in the refrigerator, so don't make them too far in advance.

Nutritional information per serving: 70 calories. 3.5 grams fat, 0 sodium. 9 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 1 gram protein

Spiced Nuts

YIELD: 2 CUPS (16 SERVINGS) | PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES | DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY

2 cups raw walnuts, pecans, almonds, or macadamia nuts * 1 tablespoon oil * 1 tablespoon granulated sweetener such as evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar * 1 teaspoon chili powder * 1 teaspoon ground coriander or cumin * 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or paprika * ½ teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350°F. Stir nuts and oil together in a bowl until nuts are coated. Stir sweetener, chili powder, coriander, smoked paprika, and salt together in a small bowl. Pour seasonings over nuts and mix well to coat evenly. Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir. Bake an additional 2-3 minutes, until nuts are fragrant and toasted. If needed, bake an additional 2-3 minutes. Cool. Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate for longer storage. For gift giving, package in a small decorative jar (such as a jelly jar) or in a small cellophane bag tied with ribbon.

Nutritional information per serving: 90 calories, 9 grams fai, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugar, 2 grams protein

Author affiliation:

Heather Reseck is a certified wellness coach and a registered dietician who specializes in vegetarian nutrition and food sensitivities. She is the author of Fix-It- Fast Vegetarian Cookbook (available at wwwAdventist BookCenter.com or 1-800-765-6955).

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