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by Anne Finch, Accredited Practising Dietitian for LiveLighter

Don’t panic.

But it’s nearly Christmas. Instead of stocking up on wine or boxes of chocolates to take to your host, why not try something a little different this year? We love the idea of giving something homemade, and these are tasty, affordable and look very cute in little jars (ribbons and handmade cards optional!).

Hot tip: start keeping your jars now, or buy them new from supermarkets, variety stores, discount shops or home-wares stores.

1. Spiced nuts

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There are a couple of ways you can go with these. The easiest is to get a big pan or wok, dry fry your spices until they smell amazing, and then add your nuts and seeds to the wok and stir for 5-10 minutes. Easy!

For something a little more involved, get a big bowl and whisk up an egg white till nice and foamy, then add 3 tablespoons of sugar, and your spices. Add the nuts and seeds and mix well to coat. Spread them out on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes on 150 C. Take them out, break them up and turn the oven down to 125 C and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Watch them closely here, you don’t want them to burn!

Once the nuts are done, let them cool completely, then pop in an airtight container. They should be good for a couple of weeks.

Some of our favourite combos are Chinese five spice peanuts, curry powder cashews and smoked paprika almonds. Go wild and add some dried fruit, popcorn and pretzel sticks just before serving and you’ve got yourself a grown up trail mix.

2. Toasted muesli

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For every 3 cups of oats, mix through 1 cup of nuts and seeds, 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of oil. Heat up a large frypan or wok and toss the muesli in there, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until everything is nice and golden and toasted. Once the muesli is cool, mix through a cup of dried fruit and some bran flakes. Store in an airtight container.

3. Spice mixes

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Mix up your favourite spices in a jar or refillable grinder if you’re going with whole spices. Some of our favourite blends

2 parts smokey paprika
1 part cumin
1 part coriander
½ part dried oregano

2 parts cumin
1 part coriander
1 part paprika
½ part cinnamon

2 parts coriander
1 part cumin
½ part turmeric
½ part garam masala

4. Potted herbs

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You can get potted herbs at hardware stores, garden stores and even at the supermarket! Basil and mint are hardy and happy to spend their life in a pot on the windowsill. Other herbs like coriander and dill might need to be planted into the ground and are a bit higher maintenance. The all look and smell lovely!

5. Infused oils and vinegars

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I have to admit that I haven’t tried this before, but it’s on my list for this year! I’ll be trying out this recipe, it’s got lovely step by step photos.

(Heads up that garlic infused oil is a bit of a tough one – there is a risk of developing botulism, a very serious health risk. That combo might be best left to the experts.)

All the best making handmade treats this year!

Happy holidays from the LiveLighter team!

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