How to make healthy choices every day

Infused Syrup Gift Jars

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I do it to myself every single year. The holidays roll around and I find myself in a complete frenzy – not buying gifts, but making them. All of them. Like I am some kind of spectacular, one-woman craft factory. Hand-dipped beeswax candles, beaded earrings, woolen mittens, porcelain teacups, or how about personalized lino block monogram stationery? And every year I curse myself for being unable to achieve a true likeness in the watercolour painting I did of your cat.

Well, this year that’s all about to change. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the first four weeks of motherhood, it’s that I am not only unable to maintain spectacular, one-woman craft factory status, but that I am lucky to take a shower on a regular basis. I surrender.

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A few weeks back, before baby, I had a dear friend and fellow foodie over for dinner. She brought with her a small jar of mysterious, yet delicious-looking matter that turned out to be dried apricots and spices in a lime syrup that tasted amazing on, oh, just about everything that came out of my kitchen. Needless to say, I copied her. And then the wheels of the craft factory got to turning and I whipped up a second batch with honey, nuts, and a whack-load of holiday spices that I dig. It came together so quickly and effortlessly, that I realized this would be a perfect gift to give this holiday season – inexpensive, simple ingredients, and best of all, totally achievable to make with a baby on the hip (or in the blink of an eye that he’s napping for). Hoorah!

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So far I’ve tested this versatile delight on salads, cooked whole grains, grilled cheese (to die for), savoury crepes, and roasted veggies. It’s kind of like the exclamation mark that every dish deserves. And as a die-hard fan of anything with the salty-sweet balance, I am looking forward to all the semi-bland meals I can punctuate with these incredibly simple little syrups. If you’re looking for some sweet-on-sweet action, the adventurer in you would surely love either one of these delicacies drizzled on oats, yogurt, pancakes, French toast, or ice cream too.

There aren’t really “recipes” for these jars of goodness, just guidelines. If you don’t like a certain ingredient, omit it and maybe find one that suits your tastes and if you are really a fan of something in particular, add lots. Be intuitive, be creative, and enjoy the process of crafting something special for someone you love.

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Infused Syrup Gift Jars

Maple + Apricot
pure maple syrup
dried apricots (please ensure they are sulfite-free – they should be dark brown in colour)
pink peppercorns
rosemary sprig
star anise

Directions:
1. Roughly chop apricots into small chunks and place in a jar. Add all other ingredients in the amount you desire.
2. Cover with maple syrup. Store in the fridge.

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Honey + Nuts
raw liquid honey
walnuts (lightly toasted, if desired)
pistachios (lightly toasted, if desired)
orange peel
fennel seeds
cloves

Directions:
1. Roughly chop nuts into chunks and place in a jar, keeping some of them whole. Add all other ingredients in the amount you desire.
2. Cover with honey. Store in the fridge.

 

Here are a few more ideas for MNR holiday edible gifts. Out of all the crafting I do, these are my favourite things to give any time of year.

Superfood Haute Chocolate Mix
Holiday Granola
Simple Gourmet Granola
Orange Cranberry Hazelnut Cantuccini
Zata’ar Spice Blend
Chai Tea Spice Blend
Detox Tea Blend

Keep in the fridge until giving:
Superfood Nut Butter Cups
Chocolate Fudge
Hazelnut Butter
Raw Salted Caramel Apple Dip
Fig Lavender Walnut Jam
Chlorella Cream
Green Giant Cilantro Pesto
Energy Orbs

And because I’ve been receiving emails from readers about what to serve at a healthy holiday feast, I’ve rounded up my favourites from the last year that would combine to make a great meal. Don’t forget to check out my past post about this topic, with a few complete menu plans: Holiday Menus

The Life Changing Loaf of Bread
Beet & Black Lentil Borscht
Crispy Cornmeal Sweet Potato Fries
Blood Orange Braised Cabbage on Barley
Spaghetti Squash Baby Cakes with Crispy Sage
Cinnamon Wreath

I wish you all the very best this year from me and my very new family! Have a safe, healthy and happy holiday everyone.

Love, light, and gratitude,
Sarah B.



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