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Homemade Treats for the Holiday Season

Exercise and Nutrition
Author name: Ashley Lovetere, Registered Dietitian


This holiday season we might be trying to find more affordable gifts to give friends and family. What is more thoughtful than a homemade gift that they can cherish for years?

Vanilla extract is the key ingredient to most holiday baking. Often, store-bought vanilla is diluted and quite expensive. By making vanilla extract yourself, you’ll be able to refill your bottle with more vanilla beans and liquor and make it last for years. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Pair your gift of vanilla extract with a copy of your favorite recipe that uses vanilla extract.

Or, use our holiday recipe for Coconut Macaroons (see below).

Note: Remember to label your gift with the bottling date. The extract will need to steep for at least a month before use. In recipes that are heated, the alcohol content in the extract will be cooked off.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Makes 1 bottle of vanilla extract

8 oz swing top glass jar or any glass jar with lid

3-5 vanilla beans

8 oz. of liquor (vodka, rum, bourbon, etc.)

  1. Split each vanilla bean length wise using a knife.
  2. Place split beans into glass jar.
  3. Pour liquor over beans making sure they are completely submerged.
  4. Infuse for at least a month. Give the jar a shake every once in a while.
  5. As you use the extract, add more beans and fill the bottle with more liquor.

Coconut Macaroons

Recipe adopted from Taste of Home Magazine

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. Bake: 20 min per batch

YIELD: about 1-1/2 dozen.


  • 1-1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (can substitute unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (can substitute gluten free flour)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a small bowl, combine the coconut, sugar, flour and salt. Add egg whites and vanilla; mix well.

2. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

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