Are you looking for ways to save this holiday gift-giving season? With your children’s teachers, neighbors, doctors, and even loving grandparents your gift list just keeps growing. This year give the gift that keeps on giving, without blowing your budget. Homemade goodies reserve a special place amongst the array of store bought gifts. Fruitcake isn’t the only food worth giving this season.

One of my favorite gifts to give are quick breads. Too busy to cook around the holidays? No problem quick breads are easy to make and can be made ahead of time and frozen.
I promise, Chocolate Zucchini Bread is one of my absolute favorite nutritious-and-delicious quick breads, so don’t let this combination startle you. Easy Cranberry Yam Bread is another family favorite that gets requested every year! Also, make the bread in different size loaf pans to give an assortment of different type breads €”or maybe you need just a little something for a present.

Another great gift idea is my yummy Snack Mix. So easy to whip up, I often find myself craving the combination of this sweet and salty treat. You can use red and green M&M’s to get into that festive holiday spirit. Fill decorative containers with the Snack Mix and this fun gift becomes functional as they have the container to use forever.
The holiday season is often thought of as a season to splurge. Give your wallet and your waistline a break with these holiday favorites. By adding a personal touch to your next holiday gifts you can let your gift-giving list grow without worry. These delicious homemade recipes are the perfect economical gift everyone will enjoy – with a trim and terrific twist.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
This delicious chocolate bread gets extra moisture and nutrition from unassuming zucchini. Chocolate lovers will be delighted.

16 servings/serving size: 1 slice

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup skim milk

1. Preheat oven 350 ° F. Coat 9x5x3-inch nonstick loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In bowl combine flours, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder. In medium bowl, mix brown sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla until blended. Stir in zucchini and walnuts.
3. Using third of flour mixture each time, add flour mixture alternating with milk to zucchini mixture, stirring lightly after each addition just until moist.
4. Transfer batter to pan, bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Do not overbake.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 177, Calories from Fat 72, Total Fat 8 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 27 mg, Sodium 108 mg, Total Carbohydrate 24 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Sugars, 14 g, Protein 3 g, Diabetic Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 fat

TERRIFIC TIDBIT: In quick breads, replace up to half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour an easy way to add more nutrition to the bread and enhance the nutty flavor.

Easy Cranberry Yam Bread
Cream cheese gives this incredible, yet easy, bread a rich flavor packed with the natural sweetness of yams and a burst of cranberries. It will top your quick bread list. Toss in some pecans for added flavor and crunch.

Makes 16 slices

1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 (15-ounce) can sweet potatoes (yams), drained and mashed
2 eggs
11/2 cups biscuit baking mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries, or 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries

1. Preheat oven 350 °F. Coat 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in sweet potatoes and eggs. Stir in biscuit mix, cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries until just blended. Transfer to prepared pan.
3. Bake 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes before serving.

Nutritional information per serving
Calories 189, Protein (g) 4, Carbohydrate (g) 31, Fat (g) 6, Calories from Fat (%) 26, Saturated Fat (g) 3, Dietary Fiber (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 37, Sodium (mg) 231 Diabetic Exchanges: 1.5 starch, 0.5 fruit, 1 fat

Quick Tip
Mini loaves of quick bread make wonderful homemade gifts. Make ahead, wrap in plastic wrap, place in zipper-lock bags, and freeze until ready to give.

Snack Mix
Here’s an easy recipe that makes a great snack mix any time of day. Sweet and salty mixes are always a great combo and this mix is addicting!

Makes 20 (1/2-cup) servings

3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
4 cups crispy wheat cereal squares
6 cups mini pretzels
1 cup soy nuts
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces

1. Preheat oven 250 °F. Whisk together sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, garlic salt, and onion powder.
2. Toss together cereal squares, pretzels, soy nuts, and peanuts in large bowl. Drizzle oil mixture over cereal mixture, tossing gently to coat.
3. Scatter mixture on foil-lined jelly roll pan, bake 25 minutes, stirring often to prevent too much browning. Turn off oven and let cereal stay in oven 1 hour to continue crisping. When cool, toss with chocolate candies. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Nutritional information per serving
Calories 242, Protein (g) 8, Carbohydrate (g) 32, Fat (g) 10, Cal. from Fat (%) 37, Saturated Fat (g) 3, Dietary Fiber (g) 3, Cholesterol (mg) 2, Sodium (mg) 400, Diabetic Exchanges: 0.5 very lean meat, 1 starch, 1 other carbohydrate, 2 fat

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