Quick Bites: Go Nuts for Healthy Homemade Gifts

 Spread Healthy Holiday Cheer

The mail carrier, the dog walker and the piano teacher. What do these people have in common? They’re some of the helpful people in your life that you can thank with a homemade and healthy holiday treat. Why stick with the standard candy and cookies? Make a gift that keeps on giving energy, not just empty calories.

Stumped about what to make? Try roasted nuts. Choose from pecans, almonds or walnuts or go for a mix.  Although nuts are high in calories, they are a good protein source. The USDA food guide pyramid puts nuts in the same category as meats and beans because they can all provide some of the same nutrients.

Are Nuts Good for You?

About 80 percent of the calories in nuts come from fat. Much of the fat is “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, not the “bad” saturated variety found in many meat and dairy products.

Other healthful ingredients in nuts include copper, fiber, folate and vitamin E. They also have lots of an amino acid that helps the body relax blood vessels so blood flows easily.

Which nut should you choose? Almonds have slightly more vitamin E than walnuts and much more magnesium. Walnuts stand out as the only nut that has alpha-linolenic acid, the only type of the healthy omega-3 fat you’ll find in a plant-based food. Pecans and hazelnuts are also good sources of vitamin E. Choose just one or mix up your selection for roasting and gifting.

Roasting nuts adds deeper flavor and crispness. But be careful; they can go can go from almost done to overdone in less than a minute. Be sure to stay close by your oven and keep your eye on them as they roast. Most ovens have hot spots, so you want to move the nuts around for even roasting. Nuts on the edges often brown quicker than the nuts in the middle.

Try this nut recipe for healthy homemade gifts:
2 cups walnut pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary
1 handful of dried fruit
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over walnuts and add rosemary and salt. Toss to coat. Spread the nuts out on the baking sheet and bake for six minutes. Then stir and put them back in the oven for a minute or two until the nuts are browned and smell roasted, not burned. Keep a close watch to make sure the nuts don’t scorch. When they’re done, remove them from the oven and immediately transfer them onto a plate or a cool baking sheet. (If you cool the nuts on the tray they were baked on, you risk scorching them.) Add dried fruit and mix.

For easy gifting, place roasted nuts in a new or washed glass mason jar with a tightly sealed lid and tie a gift tag or ribbon around neck of the jar.

Add the finishing touches with the printable gift tag below!


Click to print off this tag or the image to download, print and attach it to the jar!