A whisper from the woods

Food for Thought, December 2023

Dec 4, 2023

All I Want For Christmas

Welcome to December!

Slowly but surely, the end of another year approaches. Another holiday season is about to take place. We are now less than one month away from Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

In this article, I will focus my attention on these celebrations, especially on Christmas. Christmas is a Christian festivity in origin but today, many non-Christians take part in it, too. Over the years, Christmas has become a bit of a global cultural event, even though people from different parts of the world might observe it in different ways.

For better or for worse, Christmas has also become a highly commercial event. Here are some unsettling statistics about Christmas, brought to us by World Economic Forum, in 2019:

  • Americans spent over $1 trillion on Christmas, in 2019.
  • The average American spends 15 hours shopping for Christmas.
  • Two-fifths of Europeans feel forced to spend money at Christmas.
  • 22% of Americans and 10% of Europeans went into debt paying for Christmas gifts or festivities.

Apart from the shock on family finances, Christmas comes at a heavy environmental cost, too. Some examples driving this impact are disproportionate waste production and meat consumption, and cutting of trees for decoration.

In another article, the World Economic Forum notes:

  • Canadians sent a whopping 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper to the landfill, in 2019.
  • Americans used 61,000 kilometers of ribbon (that’s enough ribbon to circle the Earth!).
  • Australians spent 400 million Australian dollars on 10 million unwanted gifts, in 2018.


Having all this said, I do like Christmas! I especially enjoy it as an opportunity to gather more people around the table.

In recent years, however, I started feeling some aversion to all the mandatory gifting. For me, it should be about showing love and appreciation. And that’s hardly measured by the size of the box.

Luckily, all this nuisance is easily fixed. We don’t have to buy expensive gifts. We can even make them ourselves. We can find different, more sustainable ways to beautifully wrap our gifts. And we can enjoy plant-based feasts!

Today, I want to show you some of what I have been experimenting with. The recipes below can be prepared to gift away or to present at your dinner table. Hopefully, it can serve as an inspiration for a less wasteful, more meaningful holiday.


Chocolate & Nuts


  • 300g of dark chocolate (use your favorite kind of chocolate)
  • 50g of walnuts
  • 15g of almonds
  • 30g of peanuts
  • 25g rice crackers
  • A pinch of salt


  • Coarsely chop the nuts and roast them on a pre-heated frying pan until they are golden. Be careful not to burn them. Let them cool down completely.
  • Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler.
  • Coarsely chop the rice crackers.
  • Add everything to a bowl and combine well.
  • Spread the mixture on a baking sheet as thinly as you want your chocolates to be. Let it cool down completely.
  • Once cool, use a knife to cut the chocolate-and-nut layer into whatever shapes you prefer. I went with triangles!


Pumpkin Spice Bars


  • 190g of dates
  • 90g of oat flour
  • 90g of coconut flour
  • ¼ cup of pumpkin puree
  • 130g of peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of plant-based milk (use your favorite)
  • ⅛ cup of rice syrup
  • 3 tbsp of flaxseeds
  • Spice mix: 1 tsp of cinnamon; ¼ tsp of ginger powder; ¼ tsp of cumin; ¼ tsp of nutmeg; ¼ tsp of curcuma; ⅛ tsp of clove; a pinch of salt & cracked black pepper.


  • Simply add all the ingredients to a food processor (don’t forget to remove the date pits first) and blend until you reach a crumbly but homogeneous consistency.
  • Transfer the mixture to a lined tray. The tray I used is 14x20cm.
  • Spread the mix evenly on the tray and press it down firmly.
  • Finish it up with some coarsely ground walnut on top. Press them down so that they stick onto the bars.
  • You can eat these bars as soon as you are done making them. It is a no-bake recipe. But I suggest taking the tray to the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the bars to set and the flavors to fuse together.
  • Finally, cut into bars and you are ready to go!



This granola recipe is as easy and simple as it gets. It is, we could say, the basis. From here, you can experiment with your favourite seeds and cereals, with different nuts, dried fruits, chocolate, or shredded coconut.


  • 100g of flaxseeds
  • 200g of sunflower seeds
  • 350g of rolled oats
  • 200g of rice syrup
  • 150g of peanuts
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 180º C.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Spread the un-cooked granola in an oven-safe tray or dish and take it to the oven for 20 minutes. Give it a toss halfway through to allow the granola to cook evenly and prevent the top from burning.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool down completely. The granola with crisp up as it cools, so don’t worry if it is still a bit soft once you remove it from the oven.
  • Store in nice gift jars or in a large one in your pantry.


Olive dip


  • 650g of olives, pit removed
  • 1 tbsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • ½ tbsp garlic paste
  • A pinch of cracked black pepper


  • Add everything to a food processor and blend until homogenous.
  • Store in glass jars or in some air-tight Tupperware.


Personally, I feel more inclined to make gifts, rather than buy them. This way, I am putting my own time, love, and care into them, and more often than not, that intention will transpire.

As you might imagine, gifting food products is just one option, in this case, informed by my love for cooking. If you have different hobbies, whether it is painting, knitting, working wood or other forms of handcrafting, consider putting those talents into action and offering love this year.

Share your ideas with us in the comment section below and help us inspire more people.

Thank you for another year of supporting our blog.

Wishing everyone a lovely holiday season.



Please share this. Thank you!


  1. Ruby

    Another dark chocolate yummy is called Christmas bark
    Melt dark chocolate in double boiler
    Add gogi berries ( red) pistachio nuts ( green) and spread out on a baking tray
    Can sprinkle coconut flakes on top
    Put in fridge
    When hard, break up and into recycled jar .

    • Kika Gusmao

      That sounds yummy, indeed! Thank you for sharing.


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