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Freezer, novel uses can make holiday treats the gifts that keep on giving
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Freezer, novel uses can make holiday treats the gifts that keep on giving

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You’ve reached the finish line, yet the pressure is still on.

Often times, post-holiday blahs set in. The flurry of activity ceases, and we must rediscover the daily routine of daily life, or our best guess at what that looks like.

And though the guests are gone and the kids are back at school, there's still a lot of food left: Tins of cookies, boxes of chocolates, wine, and a fruitcake.

If those delights are not in the freezer, put them there. Store in airtight containers to keep them as fresh as possible. Most cookies can be frozen two to three months. After a few weeks of sugar detox, thaw a few cookies as a treat, invite some neighbors and friends over, or take them to work. It’s a way to continue the festivities with much less stress and fuss.

Assorted chocolates will stay fresh in the freezer up to 18 months for best quality. That being the case, they can show up next year during the holidays, or sooner if you need after-dinner treats for guests. Place the original box in a heavy-duty freezer bag and seal tightly. Thaw frozen chocolates in the refrigerator.

Nuts, dried fruit, and homemade granola can be combined into trail mix. Store in an airtight container. Take along in single-serve containers or snack bags. It's also delicious in plain Greek yogurt, adding sweetness and crunch. Love chocolate? Add cocoa powder to the yogurt, blend well, then add the crunchy treats. It makes for a simple dessert or snack, with the benefit of protein from the yogurt.

Leftover boxes of crackers, pretzels, popcorn, dry cereal, and nuts make an interesting snack mix. Pour about 6 cups of whatever you have on hand into a 1-gallon freezer bag, breaking everything up into bite-size pieces. Combine ¼ cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, in a small bowl. Pour the melted mixture into the bag and shake to coat the crunchy snacks. Dump the mixture onto a baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake in a 250° Fahrenheit oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool before eating or storing in an airtight container.

Since most standard drinking wines are unstable and last only a few days once open, freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays to use in cooking. A cup of wine will be about 10-12 cubes from a standard tray. Add to sauces, soups, stews, glazes or roasts for an extra flavor boost. Use leftover red wine in a spray bottle to clean fruits and vegetables. The alcohol will kill germs better than water. White wine makes a good disinfectant as well because of the mix of alcohol and acidity. It's even an effective glass cleaner.

When it comes to the fruitcake, well, I’m not sure what to advise. My mother used to make them every Christmas, and they were very good. I think it had something to do with the amount of time the cake spent marinating in the rum. Johnny Carson famously joked that there is only one fruitcake in the world, and people keep sending it to each other, year after year.

There are those who hike and bike and carry fruitcake slices for fuel instead of energy bars. If you received a fruitcake as a gift, perhaps it’s a hint for you to get on the fitness track in 2020. Get moving, and remember to send a thank you note.

Carol Slager is a licensed pharmacist, author, blogger and health coach in Northwest Indiana. Follow her monthly in Get Healthy and at inkwellcoaching.com.

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