Tag Archives: Whole Foods

Gift Giving on a Budget

Christmas is rapidly approaching. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe it’s December already! This year we’re living (and giving) on a single income. So, we’re being creative and giving gift baskets. After all, Christmas isn’t about how much someone spends on you (or how much you spend on someone). We give gifts as a reminder of God’s greatest gift, His Son Jesus, to us on that first Christmas!

I came across this page on the Whole Foods Market website and can’t wait to try some of these ideas out! The majority are simple and contain budget-friendly ingredients, so you can customize each package. You could do themed gifts, like BBQ rubs and sauces for the guys on the list, home spa package for the ladies (see bath salts and oils recipes, or search for a homemade soap recipe), and “visions of sugarplums” package for the kids (check out the Mexican Hot Chocolate Buttons and Candied Cranberries recipes on the site).

Visit your local flea market, consignment shop, or Goodwill for baskets or containers to put your jars in (or just dig around in your closet or basement). Make sure to sanitize them, and maybe even line them with a pretty piece of fabric. If you sew the edges, the cloth can be used as a centerpiece napkin later on! Add a handmade piece of jewelry or a pretty ornament to brighten it up. And let your kids get involved, if you have them. Lots of these recipes are just mixing ingredients and require little to no heating elements.

The possibilities are endless. Start planning now (if you haven’t already). Many of these recipes can be made weeks ahead, so you can relax and work at your own pace without having to feel the holiday hustle and bustle.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Candied Lemon Peels, Orange Peels, or Cranberries
  • Infused Oils and Infused Vinegars
  • Seasoned Salts and Sugars
  • Chocolate-Dipped Figs or other fruits
  • Biscotti, Cookies, and other Baked Goods
  • Pancake Mixes or  Cookie Mixes
  • Barbeque Sauces and Rubs
  • Jellies, Jams, and Marmalades
  • Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Marinated Olives
  • Mulling Spice Sachets

For more ideas, search the “Gift” Category on the Whole Foods Market website or check out this page on the Country Living website (picture above from Country Living site).

Happy Giving! And Merry Christmas!

~Melissa

Tahini – Not Just in Hummus!

I finally found a good source for Tahini (sesame seed paste) here in Greenville. You can get a good size jar for about $5 at The Pita House on Pleasantburg. The Pita House is a delightful little Mediterranean restaurant that also has a small grocery inside! I buy my jams, dried fruits, nuts, etc. there because they’re all natural and cheaper than traditional grocers.

Their tahini is great. I add it to my hummus, and it really does make the difference between okay hummus and outstanding hummus! But it’s not just for hummus anymore! Check out this post on the Whole Foods Blog! It includes recipes for hummus, baba ghanouj (aka eggplant hummus), tahini dips and dressings, and one that I’m particularly interested in: Tahini Candy (“Make ‘candy’ from chopped dates, figs, raisins and tahini all combined in a food processor. Roll it into balls and then into coconut flakes or cocoa or carob powder.”).

So, go pick up some Tahini and try some of the recipes from the Whole Foods Blog today!

Naturally Dyed Eggs

The following post comes from the Whole Foods Market blog:

How To Have An Egg-cellent Easter by Mercedes Vaughn,

March 27th, 2010

“The Do’s and Don’ts of Dyeing

There are two methods used when dyeing eggs: cold dipping and hot boiling. Cold dipping produces subtler, more translucent shades and is generally the preferred method for using multiple colors on the same egg. Hot boiling produces much more intense shades, but these eggs are for decoration only, not eating.

The instructions below are for dyeing using natural ingredients. This can be a fun project for the whole family but be warned that it can be messy and is quite involved if you want to create multiple colors. (If using premade dye, please follow the instructions on the packaging.)

For both methods, use four cups of the selected fruit or vegetable (or one tablespoon spice) to four cups of water and two tablespoons of vinegar to make the dye. Also, be sure to wash your uncooked eggs in mild soapy water to remove dirt or oil that might adversely affect the dye. Wear gloves so as not to stain your hands!

  • Cold Dipping – Boil eggs and refrigerate until ready to use. Bring dye ingredients to a boil and then simmer for 15-30 minutes. Strain dye and allow to cool to a comfortable warm temperature. Remove boiled eggs from refrigerator and dip for 5-10 minutes, until the egg has reached the desired color, then dry on paper towels or drying rack. Remember to rotate the eggs in the dye regularly to create even coloring. If overlapping shades, repeat after egg has dried.
  • Hot Boiling – Place both uncooked eggs and dye ingredients into a pot and bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and dry on paper towels or drying rack.

Creating Colors Naturally

Here are some ingredient suggestions to get you started. Have fun, experiment and be sure to cover your work area!

  • Yellow – Lemon or orange peels, carrots, celery seed
  • Gold – Turmeric
  • Orange – Paprika, cumin, chili powder, yellow onion skins
  • Red/Pink – Cranberries, beets, raspberries, radishes
  • Purple – Hibiscus tea
  • Blue/Lavender – Red cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, purple or red grape juice
  • Green – Spinach leaves
  • Brown/Beige – Coffee, tea, walnuts
  • Keeping Your Creations Edible

    If you’re anything like me, then you’ll not only be enjoying the visual beauty of these eggs, but also their sheer scrumptiousness! With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to enjoy these holiday treats safely.

    Keep uncooked eggs in the refrigerator until absolutely necessary in the preparation process. Eggs with visible cracks after boiling and/or dyeing may be eaten, but should be kept in the refrigerator and not used in an egg hunt or placed on display. Also, since eggs may have fine cracks you’re not able to see, it’s always a good idea to hide them in places protected from dirt and other sources of bacteria.

    Most importantly, remember to only keep cooked eggs you intend on eating out of the refrigerator for a maximum of two hours. That includes hiding and hunting. Any longer than that and the eggs are no longer safe to consume.

    Lastly, all eggs should be eaten within one week, so try not to dye any more than you can manage.”

    Check out the full article for links to egg recipes.

    Here’s another blog that shows how to naturally dye eggs: http://jeannewinters.blogspot.com/2009/03/jesus-easter-eggs.html. I can’t wait to try this out. Maybe we’ll bring the stuff in for our Sunday School class this week…if I’m brave enough.

    “Jesus!” Easter Egg Display

    Are You Eating Something Green for St. Patrick’s Day? (Mar. 11, 2010)

    Check out this article from Whole Foods Market’s blog for some great green recipes! I’m excited to try the Creamy Asparagus soup (maybe I can actually get Bryan to eat asparagus)! I think it will go great with the Corned Beef Brisket I’ve been waiting to use. If anyone has a good St. Patrick’s Day recipe, please post it in the comments section below. Thanks!

    And if you can’t see the link above, it’s http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2010/03/are-you-eating-something-green/. Enjoy!