Monday, November 26, 2012

Guiltless Gifts

Well, it's that time of year again.  The leftovers are just about gone, holiday decorations are coming out, and you're hearing festive music in all the stores.  If you haven't started already, it's time to think about gifts for the ones you love.  The holiday season can take a real toll on your pocket book, however.  This season, why not try to do more handmade gifts?  They are more meaningful, save you money, and leave you feeling guilt free.  These can be anything from healthy treats to bath products, to culinary delights.  Here's a few of my favorite recipes:

This recipe is brought to you from the folks at Mountain Rose Herbs.  It looks delicious!


Chai Spice Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

1 cup organic all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 sticks softened organic butter
1 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup packed organic light brown sugar
1 large organic free-range egg
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups organic old-fashioned rolled oats

Powdered Chai Spice Mix
3/4 tsp organic cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp organic cardamom powder, 1/4 tsp organic ginger powder, 1/8 tsp organic clove powder, 1/8 tsp organic nutmeg powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, powdered spice mix, and sea salt together.
3. In another bowl, beat butter and sugars until fluffy and creamy. Add egg and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until combined. Scrape bowl with spatula.
4. Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until it just becomes smooth.
5. Gradually add oats and mix until well combined.
6. Roll 2 tablespoons of dough into balls with your hands. Place on parchment lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Gently press down each ball to about 3/4-inch thickness using fingertips.
7. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.
Makes 22-24 amazingly delicious chai cookies!

Just package them up and voila!

This next recipe is one of my favorite gifts to give.  I have to admit I always make a little extra for myself as well. :)

                                                             Dreamy Bath Salt Blend

    1/2 cup Sea Salt        1/2 cup Baking Soda
    1/2 cup Epsom Salt        5 drops each of Rose, Chamomile, Lavender, and Jasmine Essential Oil

    ~Mix all ingredients well.  Package up in a pretty bottle with a handmade tag.  Add to bath by tablespoons to desired strength.   Ahhhhh!

Finally, we have a super simple gift for those would-be culinary artists.  Infused oils and vinegars are incredibly simple to make, and make a powerful addition to any recipe.  The method of preparation is basically the same, so go ahead and make one of each!  These do take some time, so be sure to get started right away!

Infused Oils and Vinegars

 Herbs to Use: Almost any delicious smelling herb you can think of!  Use fresh herbs for vinegar when possible.  Use dried herbs for oil to prevent rancidity.  Popular choices are rosemary, basil, thyme, lemon balm, garlic, and cilantro.  Feel free to throw in some whole dried peppercorns, dried chiles, cardamon pods, caraway, or fennel seeds as well.  Be creative!

Oils to Use: Olive oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, or any other culinary oil of your choice.
Vinegars to Use: Apple Cider vinegar, white vinegar, rice vinegar, or any other culinary vinegar.

~Sterilize a pretty bottle or jar by washing thoroughly and then boiling for 10 minutes.  You can also use the Sanitation cycle on your dishwasher if you have one. Dry thoroughly.

~ For oil preparations, fill the bottle about 1/4 full of herbs, then top off with oil of choice.
~For vinegar preparations place a few sprigs, or about 3-5 tablespoons of herbs into bottle.  Top off with vinegar.

~Cap tightly, and let sit for about 2-4 weeks in a dark location.  You can strain the herbs out or keep them in for a more attractive look.

Have fun as you embark on your holiday creations!

Be Well,



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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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