This is the third week of A Gluten-Free Holiday, which focuses on gifts of good taste. I hope you’ve been enjoying the event; I certainly have. Even when I get a little overwhelmed with all the holiday season can entail, I know I can fall back on all the helpful information (recipes, tips, holiday strategies, etc.) offered in this series! Certainly one of the most stressful areas of the holidays can be gift giving. I know that should not be the case, but it often is.
There’s the fact that these are tougher economic times for many, there’s the fact that lots of folks don’t really “need” anything, and there’s the fact that you just don’t know what to buy Aunt Margie, Uncle Frank, or their son, Joey (who you only see once a year and you’re not sure he remembers your name) … just to name a few of the facts that can add stress to the holidays. In my opinion, the solution can be to go back to basics, back to everyone’s common denominator, so to speak—food.
This week’s hostess for our Gluten-Free Holiday event, Alta (Tasty Eats At Home), is sharing her recipes for gifts that will make everyone happy. Her choices are Macadamia Almond Brittle and Pistachio Coconut Macaroons (photo courtesy of Alta). Oh, to be closer to Alta and be on her gift list! But, no worries, because she tells us all how to make these heavenly delights, so I can enjoy some of these treats and make some for gifts, too. There’s a roundup for everyone to enter their foodie gifts or packaging ideas, as well as another giveaway you won’t want to miss.
This time you can win copies of two more well-loved cookbooks—Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking: More than 250 From Scratch Recipes from Around the World, Perfect for Every Meal and Anyone on a Gluten-Free Diet—and Even Those Who Aren’t by Pete and Kelli Bronski and Free for All Cooking: 150 Easy, Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy by Jules E. Dowler Shepard. I had the ultimate honor of getting to preview Pete and Kelli’s cookbook. I found their wonderful blog, No Gluten, No Problem, long ago. It’s still one of my favorites. You’ll find my review of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking here at gfe and my recommendation right inside the front cover of their book. I consider it a comprehensive resource for gluten-free cooking. Be on the lookout for Pete and Kelli’s new cupcakes cookbook in Spring 2011.
I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reviewing Jules’ new book although I plan to soon and the few reviews that are on Amazon are 5-star ones! (FYI–Her first book, The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten Free: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, is one I often recommend to new support group members.) Jules is also well known for her gluten-free flour mix that produces amazing results, as well as other products, including helpful e-books. You can check out her site here.
So head on over to Alta’s to check it all out, but please return to read some more gift ideas here and what’s in store for the Gluten-Free Holiday event the next few weeks!What food gifts can you make that will ensure that the folks on your Christmas list are happy? In my post on gift giving last year, I shared that one of my nephews had requested my Crustless Coconut Pie along with all the other cool stuff he requested. I was tickled that he found my pie that worthy and he was thrilled when he received his pie. He made it last for days! Remembering that still makes me smile.
This year, another niece and nephew have both requested my Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies. Now they didn’t just say please have your cookies when we get together for Christmas; they specifically asked for those as their gifts—sweet!
Mr. GFE’s late aunt and uncle always loved a particular snack mix that I made. A big tin of Gluten-Free Sweet and Crunchy Snack Mix was truly all they wanted or needed.
If you know that you have family members who love certain recipes, just make them as a gift for them. They will love your thoughtfulness and the fact that they don’t have to share!
How about “homemade” Turtle Treats for someone on your list? Made from Rolos, pretzels, and pecans, these turtles aren’t completely homemade, of course. But, they come together quickly, and, seriously, nobody on your list will complain. Place some tissue paper in a small box or tin, add a few of these turtles, and I guarantee your recipient will be pleased.
I’ve been told by several gfe readers that they’ve made my Pumpkin Butter in a “test run” and will be making more for holiday gifts. Great, easy recipe that only requires a few ingredients and some small, clean jars. (Recycled ones would work just as well as fancy canning jars.)
Last year, I shared how to make Honey Butter and Homemade Vanilla Extract (both shown in top photo). Honey butter is a gift that you can make pretty close to last minute and while the vanilla extract takes weeks to be at its full potency, most gift recipients don’t immediately open it and start using it. So it’s still a wonderful homemade gift option if you make it soon.
Are you familiar with the 3-Minute Chocolate Cake that is made in the microwave in a mug or a bowl? Give an oversized mug or pretty bowl with the dry ingredients included, all sealed with plastic wrap. Attach the recipe. The recipients will only have to add the liquid ingredients for an instant treat. They’ll think of you fondly every time they make that chocolate cake, and they will make it again, because it’s so easy to make and it’s somewhat addictive–so it’s sort of a gift that keeps on giving!
Speaking of cakes, a favorite gift of many is pound cake. Perfect Pound Cake will please any recipient. The fact that it’s gluten free and dairy free only needs to be mentioned to those who have those intolerances. Others don’t need to know and won’t have any idea; as the name says, it’s perfect. Make smaller or even super mini-loaves, if you like. Finally, if you have a lemon lover on your gift list, a reader’s question just reminded me that Alta (Tasty Eats At Home) made a lemon version of my pound cake. Check that out here.
This past weekend in the USA Weekend supplement to our newspaper, there was an article on Gifts from the Kitchen. All of the recipes came from well-known chefs. I scanned the recipes and the ingredients: Salsa All’Amatriciana … yes, gluten free … Basil Butter … basil, butter, and salt—gluten free … Honey Walnut Butter … a lovely variation on my honey butter, and, gluten free … Chocolate Bark … chocolate chips, oil, extract, nuts, etc.—gluten free? check! … Spiced Cocoa … just brown sugar, Dutch-processed cocoa, and cayenne pepper—again, gluten free … Pumpkin Seed Dried Cherry Trail Mix … nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and maple syrup—okay, safe! … and finally, Orangecello made using navel oranges, vodka (distilled alcohol is gluten free), water, and sugar—yippee—every single recipe was gluten free!
Now how cool is that? A whole section of gift ideas that were naturally gluten free—gfe, baby! Now there was not one mention of them being gluten free, but that’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s better than okay, because chances are if they were recipes that were identified as gluten free, they’d most likely contain processed foods and gluten-free specialty items. Not everyone wants to eat those or wants to pay what are usually high prices for them. Once you know which basic ingredients are safe, you can scan any recipes in an article or a cookbook and know if you can make them “as is” or make a simple substitution to make them gluten free.
Here are some other great Christmas gift ideas that are most definitely gifts of good taste:
Shelley, a reader at Get Rich Slowly (a personal finance blog I enjoy), shares inexpensive food and non-food gift ideas here. Even if you’ve read some of them before, I think you’ll appreciate the “jog” to your memory.
Originally published November 20, 2010; updated November 27, 2022.