Holiday gift giving is right around the corner.  I always enjoy making and giving gifts to my family and friends.  A couple of years ago I made the Whipped Shea Butter lotion for my family.  It was a big hit and so easy to make.  Create a festive label to place on the jar, fill with the whipped shea – scented or unscented – and watch the joy on their faces!  My mother, who is difficult to buy for, loved it! Here’s the recipe:

Whipped Shea Butter Lotion

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. shea butter
  • Your favorite essential oil (optional)
  • 4 two-ounce glass jars

Instructions:

  1. Whip shea butter until it reaches the stiff peak stage. 
  2. Add in your favorite essential oil between 0.5%-2% dilution which equates to 3-12 drops per ounce.
  3. Divide between the four 2-ounce jars.

*Mountain Rose Herbs has an essential oil dilution chart you can reference here.

Cranberry Simple Syrup

Cranberry simple syrup (or any berry of your choice) is a fun and festive way to ring in the holidays.  Put it in a decorative bottle along with your favorite sparkling water.  It’s a crisp and delicious addition to your holiday parties. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • ¼ c fresh orange juice
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c raw, local honey

Instructions:

  1. Place cranberries, orange juice, and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat until boiling.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing up the cranberries as they cook down and soften and the flavors infuse.
  3. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then add your honey.

NOTE: You’ll want to allow the cranberry syrup to cool to 100o F before adding the honey so the natural enzymes and nutrients in the honey aren’t destroyed.

To serve: Add 2 T cranberry simple syrup to a glass and add your favorite sparkling water for a sweet-tart holiday beverage.

Gingerbread Granola

This is my favorite granola.  It’s originally from the Food Network Kitchens Cookbook but I’ve changed the ingredients to personalize it. I make it for family, friends, and even sell it at my local farmers’ market.  I’ve put a holiday flavor spin on the granola in this recipe.  Feel free to play with it as you like.  Originally the granola contained egg whites and butter.  For the plant-based community, I’ve swapped out the 2 egg whites for ¼ cup aquafaba plus ¼ t cream of tartar and for the 2 T butter, we’re using 2 T cocoa butter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ c rolled oats
  • ½ c dried blueberries
  • ½ c dried cherries
  • ¼ c green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • ¼ c hemp hearts
  • ¼ c sunflower seeds
  • ¼ c pecans, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ c whole unskinned almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2 T cocoa butter, melted
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 T dried ginger
  • ¼ t cloves
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • ½ t allspice
  • ½ c maple syrup or ½ c molasses
  • ¼ c aquafaba* plus ¼ t cream of tartar, whipped to soft peaks

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 225oF. 
  2. Toss the oats, dried blueberries, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, pecans, and almonds, in a large bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the cocoa butter, cinnamon, dried ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice and add 2 T of the maple syrup or molasses.
  4. Pour the syrup mixture over the oat mixture and stir to coat evenly.
  5. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet.  Bake until golden brown, stirring every 30 minutes for 1 ½ hours.  Remove the mixture from the oven but leave the oven on.
  6. Place the granola in a large bowl.  Stir in the remaining maple syrup or molasses and the aquafaba.
  7. Using a non-stick spray, spray a muffin pan and press the granola mixture into each muffin mold.
  8. Bake about 45 minutes.  Cool for at least an hour before removing from muffin pan. 
  9. Place into a decorative container for gift-giving.

Can be stored at room temperature for up to one month in a sealed container.  Granola can also be frozen and thawed before serving.

*Aquafaba is the liquid found in a can of chickpeas.  Strain out the liquid and use as an egg replacement.  Whipping the aquafaba with cream of tartar helps to increase the binding ability of the aquafaba in your baked goods. 

Sandy Morehouse is a functional herbalist and educator with WishGarden Herbs.  She is based in Northwest Arkansas and spreads the herb love to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.  She received her functional herbalist certification from Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine; certificate from Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in Medicine Making; and is continuing her education with Aviva Romm’s Herbal Medicine for Women course.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.