Healthy Holiday Gifts

(As featured on December 12 in The Telegram)

Think you might be on Santa's naughty list this year? One way to get on the opposite side might be to
give a gift of health. You're likely going to pick up something for the people on your list anyway, so
why not make it great and a chance to improve their well-being? A gift of health is truly something
that keeps on giving. When you think about it, really, there's no better gift you can give than that. Did
I mention healthy gifts also add personal touch and make a thoughtful lasting impression? Getting out
of the routine of buying a Pot of Gold box, or fast food gift card probably seems difficult and more
work, so let's see if I can encourage you with some of my experiences and ideas for healthy holidays.

Last season I experienced a gift revolution one might say. I really wanted to give meaningful things to
the very dear people on my list, but who also happened to be hard to shop for. Surprisingly it took a
while to figure it out. The answer however was actually quite simple. A gift of health. So off I went
making antioxidant rich vegetable soups, high fiber winter warming stews, and omega-3 rich nut breads
and muffins complete with handmade labels to show what they food was, and what made it healthy.
Like any sort of change, I wasn't sure how this would go over instead of 'gifts'. But truth be told it was
a hit and preparations are well under way for the same this year. The purpose of this story is just to
remind you that doing something simple and thoughtful for those you love, while making homemade
gifts and goodies (and feeling like a kid again!) – it's really what the holidays are all about and meant
to be.

More homemade healthy eats sure to go over well can include jam from berries picked over the
summer, freshly made nut butter with almonds, walnuts, or cashews, personalized trail mix with
dried fruit, nuts and small chocolate pieces, and favorite cookie and muffin recipes made with fun
modifications for reducing sugar and fat (such as applesauce, can pumpkin and even avocado). Don't
feel like being Santa's elf in the kitchen this year? Not to fret, there are still other great gift ideas for
health. Take for instance a fruit basket, or even simpler yet, a box of clementines in place of chocolates
or fruitcake. Assortments of fine coffees or teas instead of hot chocolate and sugary drink mixes are
sure to have more antioxidants with less calories. Ideas could also be a spice, oil or nut assortment, a
cookbook, or kitchen gadget like a slow cooker, bread machine, or blender filled with recipes someone
might enjoy. Don't forget about stockings! They can be part of the fun and healthy giving too. Does
anyone remember having an orange in the toe in their stocking on Christmas morning? Whatever
happened to that tradition? Along with the dark chocolate, mark it on your list to pick up some fruit
this year too. Oranges, bright red pomegranates, a green apple, or perhaps some dried fruit leathers or
raisins, fruit and veggies washes are alternate stuffer ideas. Be creative! Last year I included chocolate
flavored vitamin D tablets in my loved one's stocking. I wouldn't recommend this for kids, as we
wouldn't this to be confused this for candy, but it's a great idea for adults.

There will be lots of treats and goodies throughout the season, by giving healthy choices this year it's
sure to be a welcome change that will leave a lasting impression. You never know, it might even spark
a tradition for a family trend of healthy gift giving, like it has for mine. The holidays are certainly a
time for fun, but it doesn't mean health and nutrition has to go down the chimney. Here's to health and
happiness with gift giving this ho ho ho season.