Homemade edible gifts are both thoughtful and a great way to save money, but the typical holiday standbys—sugar cookies, peppermint bark—feel as predictable as Grandma’s fruitcake. Odds are, your loved one is already on a sugar high from the rest of the sweets that dominate the season. So we developed four unique holiday nut recipes that are not only delicious but also speedy and loaded with good-for-you ingredients—perfect for the health nuts in your life.
Offer your pals an excuse to snack and relax. Pistachios’ potassium can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Get ready to hear “Mmm…ahhh.” Makes 24 pieces
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly coat paper with vegetable oil cooking spray.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 1 cup sugar, cup light corn syrup, cup water and 2 tbsp unsalted butter to a simmer; cook, stirring often, until mixture is a medium caramel color, 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tsp baking soda (mixture will foam), 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract and 1 cup dry-roasted shelled unsalted pistachios.
Pour onto baking sheet; spread into an even layer. Cool completely. Break into 24 pieces.
THE DISH: 242 calories per 3 pieces, 10 g fat (3 g saturated), 37 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein
Chocolaty almonds are better than a gift certificate for a facial. Vitamin E in the nuts gives skin a healthy glow, and chocolate—well, do we really need to sell you on that? Makes 24 pieces
Heat oven to 350°.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toast 1 cup whole skin-on almonds until fragrant and light gold, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely; transfer to a bowl.
Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch water; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Set a large heatproof bowl atop saucepan, making sure water doesn’t touch bottom of bowl.
Place 10 oz dark chocolate (60 percent to 70 percent cocoa) in bowl; cook, stirring, until smooth.
Remove bowl from saucepan; add another 2 oz dark chocolate and stir until smooth.
Stir in tsp pure vanilla extract, toasted almonds and 1/3 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped.
Pour onto baking sheet; spread into an even layer about inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour. Break into 24 pieces.
THE DISH: 237 calories per 2 pieces, 15 g fat (7 g saturated), 21 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein
Give your loved ones a sniffle-free holiday season. Pecans deliver ample magnesium, a mineral that helps strengthen the immune system. Makes 2 cups
Heat oven to 350°.
In a medium saucepan, warm 4 tsp vegetable oil over medium-low heat.
Add 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp dark brown sugar, 4 tsp water, 1 tsp five-spice powder, 1 tsp ground cumin and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper; stir until sugar dissolves and mixture bubbles.
Add 2 cups pecan halves; cook, stirring, until pecans are thickly coated, about 3 minutes.
Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; sprinkle with 1 tsp kosher salt.
Bake until fragrant and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely.
THE DISH: 226 calories per cup, 23 g fat (2 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein
Rosemary and thyme walnuts
Even the girl who has it all could use an energy boost. Walnuts’ protein will keep her going strong. Makes 2 cups
Heat oven to 350°.
In a bowl, whisk 5 tsp olive oil with 5 tsp pure maple syrup and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Stir in 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary and 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme. Add 2 cups walnut halves; toss well to coat.
Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until fragrant and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.
Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme and tsp kosher salt. Cool completely.
THE DISH: 228 calories per cup, 22 g fat (2 g saturated), 7 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein