Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Christmas is right around the corner. The streets are lined with twinkle lights, inflatables grace front yards, and evergreen trees glitter from front windows studded with festive ornaments and topped with angels and stars. Soon, presents with trappings and wrappings will line the floor, stuffed and taped, glittered and tagged. Boxes and bags with gifts for loved ones ready for the surprise of Christmas morning!
I love giving those gifts and feel genuinely warmed by the smiles, laughter and excitement of giving a really good gift. More often than not, it's an item that isn't big, but incredibly thoughtful. Something that the recipient didn't even realize existed and certainly something that is tailored for them; what they are about / like. Gifts for me aren't just a check on a list someone has made; they are more! An honest effort to use sentimentality during a joyous part of the year in appreciation of those that I love and respect.
But, I know that there are a lot of homes where Christmas isn't a many present affair; the resources for this idea of a holiday may simply not exist for some families. It is in those homes that sustainability can and must flourish!
Sustainability Spotlight: The world isn't only for the affluent and I contend that a sustainable world can not only be brought about, but can value the less fortunate or those that are not affluent. Long ago, I didn't have much money (really at all) and I struggled with Christmas. I wanted to give gifts, but I didn't have a lot of money to afford the "stuff" that most people give for Christmas. Instead, I would craft gifts from photos and the written word. Heartfelt, thoughtful and creative keepsakes that meant more to me (and the recipient) than just material things.
Here's some interesting stats about Christmas and our penchant for spending for gifts this time of year as Americans (courtesy of CapitalCounselor.com): 41% of Americans are willing to take on debt due to gift shopping; An estimated $15.2 billion is spent on unwanted gifts; In 2019, ~56% of Americans set a Christmas budget, but only ~64% of those with a budget actually adhered to said budget.
All this spending for "stuff" / material goods; many of which are purchased according to lists and have little thought or meaning. This accumulation of items is not sustainable. Many of the items purchased are used for a short time and then discarded; many come with packaging in layers (all of which are mostly discarded as non-recyclable plastics) and what about all the wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons?
So, what can you gift that comes from the heart and is more sustainable? Food gifts! You can create gourmet (vegan!) gifts for your family and friends. It's a great way to pour love into a present and it may even convince some doubters that vegan food is not only delicious, but can be creative in unique ways!
A traditional food gift is a quick bread, so I created this unique (and oh so moist) recipe to gift to others for the holidays. It can grace their tables for the day after Christmas when they might need a boost (and a break) from their feasting! I plan to include a copy of the recipe and individual notes to each recipient to show them how much I care about them, and the planet.
I hope you consider gifting this (or other) sustainable ideas this Christmas and beyond!
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/3 cup oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
zest of 1/2 orange
Flax Egg: 1 tbsp ground flax seed + 5 tbsp filtered water; set 5 minutes
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 orange (squeezed)
1/4 cup avocado oil
Mix Flax Egg in a small bowl; set aside to set
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
Spray the bottom of a bread pan with cooking spray. Line the bread pan bottom with parchment paper (cut to fit the pan). Set aside pan for now.
Whisk all Dry Ingredients in a medium bowl.
Stir in carrot, zucchini and orange zest till coated in the dry ingredients.
In a large measuring cup, add all Wet Ingredients (including Flax Egg) and stir with a whisk to combine.
Add the Wet Ingredients to the Dry Ingredients and stir to combine (do not overmix)
Now, spray your bread pan on all sides and bottom and immediately pour your prepared batter into the pan.
Slide the pan into the oven and cook for ~1 hour and 10 minutes (or until a toothpick; hopefully reusable inserted in the middle comes out clean).
Remove pan from oven and set to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
Invert pan to remove bread (it should slide out easily), and then (on it's "bottom" again) let bread cool completely on the wire rack.
Cut into slices and serve for breakfast, or as a healthy(ier) snack cake!
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie