Three Healthy Christmas Gifts in a Jar

It is that time of year again, time to reflect, celebrate, give, and be joyous. Christmas time is a festive holiday filled with colorful lights, Christmas village displays, gingerbread houses and cookies galore. During this season, I usually take a trip down memory lane and journey back into time to reflect on my childhood. They were fond memories of decorating the tree, visits to toy land, sitting on Santa's lap, and then impatiently waiting for him to come down the chimney with a sack full of toys. Although those days are long gone, throughout the years I have adapted to the tradition of gift-giving which is an important element for my holiday festivities. I love seeing the excitement and wonder in the eyes of the recipient and the bright colorful packages beneath the Christmas tree. Gift-giving has a way of connecting people and cultivating generosity in ones life. In the heart of holiday shopping, it can become stressful and challenging to search for the "perfect" gift for that special person in your life. Why should you scratch your head and circle the store twenty times before you find that unique gift? Sometimes you find yourself buying yet another pair of socks or sweat shirt to give your loved one. Inspire yourself this year and give the recipient the unexpected gift of making something you put a lot of thought and heart into.

If you are buying for your kids teacher, a friend, neighbor or family member, why not surprise them with a homemade "gift in a jar" which is something they will surely love and appreciate. These days, most people are looking to get healthy so why not present something that will nourish their body and fuel their energy. I am going to outline a few ideas to help you get your creative juices flowing.

Start with writing a list of the items below before you embark on this holiday shopping journey. Glass mason jars with lids (a variety of sizes), tags, envelopes, paper, hole puncher, scissors, satin or raffia ribbon, and ingredients for the recipe. You can pick these items up at your local craft store and market. Who knows, you may even have some of these items already in your house.

So now that you have your items let's start getting creative with these three healthy "gifts in a jar" ideas.

Healthy recipe in a jar #1- Holiday Goji Berry Crunch

Your loved one will enjoy this snack because it is versatile, they can add it to yogurt, cereal, or just munch on a handful in the afternoon.

Organic granola (buy in bulk) 
100% unsweetened shredded coconut 
Cacao nibs 
Organic dried Goji Berries 
Whole Raw Pecan Nuts or Pistachio Nuts 
A small bag filled with even amounts of cinnamon and chia seed

Directions: Get any size glass mason jar. Layer each ingredient in the jar, even amounts separately at a time. Optional: place the small bag of cinnamon and chia seeds last. Securely close the lid and attach a label with pretty raffia or satin ribbon. They can add a ½ or 1 tsp. of cinnamon and chia seed mixture to their Holiday Goji Berry Crunch.

Healthy recipe in a jar #2- Holiday Winter Vegetable Soup

Vegetable soup is the gift that keeps on giving. This will warm your body and soul during the cold winter months.

Ingredients for soup mix in a jar: 
1 ½ pint glass jar 
½ cup of dry green split peas 
½ cup of dried white kidney beans 
¼ cup of dried barley 
(First choice) ½ cup of dry quinoa (put in a plastic bag) 
(Another option) ½ cup of uncooked whole grain (put in a plastic bag) 
Attached a small bag of following seasonings; two bay leaves, one tbsp. of the following herbs, dried parsley, dried cilantro, and basil.

Directions: Lay the green split peas, white kidney beans, barley, pasta or quinoa and seasonings. Lastly, seal the lid tightly on the glass jar (Note: Store in a dark and cool place until ready to cook). Place the following recipe in an envelope, punch a hole in the upper right or left hand corner of the envelope, thread a satin or raffia ribbon through, wrap the ribbon around the lid of the jar securely in place and tie into a bow. Additional ingredients, two 32 ounces of organic low sodium vegetable broth, one 32 ounce of filtered water, one 28 ounce of organic crushed tomatoes, two garlic cloves (minced), ½ sweet onion (minced), two organic celery stalk (whole or sliced), teaspoon of red pepper flakes, two cups of sliced organic carrots, tablespoon of olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste. (Optional: add additional seasonal vegetables that satisfies their palate).

How to prepare the soup: First, take the bag of pasta or quinoa out, set aside. Second, rinse the beans and then soak overnight (8 hours) in a bowl of water, or until soft. The following day, get a medium to large pot, sauté minced garlic, onions, and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Next, add crushed tomatoes and carrots, sauté for 10 minutes. Lastly, add vegetable broth, filtered water, celery, soup mix (first drain from the bowl of water), seasonings, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Securely place lid on the pot and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. (Note: remove bay leaves when you are ready to serve)

In a separate pot, boil water and cook pasta until al dent or quinoa according to directions on the package. Serve with whole grain rolls.

Holiday recipe in a jar #3- Holiday Chocolate Chip Pancakes

What better way to start the morning with these delicious morning pancakes. Your loved one can serve with a bowl of fresh fruit and hot maple syrup.

1 cup of organic whole wheat flour 
1 tablespoon of organic sugar 
¼ tsp. of sea salt 
2 tsp. of aluminum free baking powder 
2 tbsp. of mini chocolate chips 
In a bag: (1-2 tablespoon of chia seeds and 1 tsp. of cinnamon)

Place whole wheat flour, sugar, sea salt, chocolate chips, baking soda and then place the bag of chia seeds and cinnamon on top in a small mason jar. Tightly close the lid and place the following recipe and additional ingredients in an envelope. Get the hole puncher and punch a hole in the upper right or left hand corner. Thread satin or a raffia ribbon through the hole securing it around the lid and lastly, tie a bow. These are the additional ingredients: 1 ½ cups of regular organic milk, almond milk or filtered water, 2 tablespoons of coconut butter, 1 beaten cage free egg. Directions: Get a medium size mixing bowl and mix all the ingredients in the jar and bag. In a separate bowl mix all the wet ingredients. Set aside. Lightly grease a griddle with coconut butter and turn on to medium heat. Pour ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle to make a round pancake.

Cook until the edges are slightly golden brown and then flip to cook the other side. 
You can give this gift with a bottle of pure maple syrup or a bag of coffee.