29 Healthy Holiday Food Gifts That Aren’t Fruit Cake
Looking for a tasty gift, but tired of the rock-hard fruit cakes and heavy fudge that traditionally accompanies this season? Your family and friends will love these nutritious and delicious food gifts this year.
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Food, food, and more food
Most of us look forward to the holiday season for a lot of reasons—but one of them is usually the delicious holiday food. There’s so much of it—and food makes a great gift. But it’s important to keep in mind that overdoing it on unhealthy fare can add up and make us feel, well, lousy. That being said, we don’t want to put any food, including holiday favorites, off-limits because this makes us only want them more, notes Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy. Here are some of the best holiday foods to gift that aren’t totally unhealthy.
The news on nuts is good: There one of the healthiest snacks you can have—and here are the top healthiest nuts to snack on. From sweet flavors like caramel latte, snickerdoodle, and butter toffee to savory Bloody Mary, balsamic herb, or asiago cheese, California-grown almonds from Stewart and Jasper farms pack a nutrient punch with fiber, calcium, and healthy fats. They even carry almond butters and flours.
Crunchies Freeze-Dried Fruit in Dark Chocolate
This chocolate-covered snack counts as part of your nutrition. That’s because it contains freeze-dried blueberries, which are loaded with vitamin C, a key nutrient that helps the immune system work properly. “Just one serving (a handful or a cup) of blueberries provides 16 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C,” notes Natalie Rizzo, RD, New York City-based registered dietitian.
Fruit of the month club
Getting good fruit in the offseason can be tricky—though here’s one alternative that can get you through winter. But the food gifts that truly keeps on giving is fruit-of-the-month clubs from The Fruit Company. Choose from the Harvest Club with apples, pears, and oranges, or the Exotic Club which includes persimmons, kiwi, and star fruit. Organic options and various lengths of packages are available. Fresh fruit delivered to your home? Yes, please! If you’re looking for an all in one go option, check out these healthy gift basket ideas for your health-conscious foodie friends.
Soom Pantry Sampler
These delicious pantry staples are made from two Middle Eastern ingredients that are hailed for their health: tahini (ground sesame seeds) and silan (pressed dates). “Sesame is considered to be a natural antibiotic, which helps fight bacteria,” notes Luisa Szakacs, a naturopathic doctor and certified nutrition consultant with Marpe Nutrition. Dates have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and may even help prevent tumors, according to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. These simple habits will help you de-stress over the holidays.
DIY Poached Pear Kit
This kit includes a unique type of pear known as Beurré Bosc or Bosc, which hails from Europe (originally France or Belgium). It’s deliciously sweet and in this gift kit you can pair (pun intended) it with mulling spices and a bottle of merlot to make your own mulled wine. Eat these fruits for weight loss.
For the caffeine lover in your life, there are more and more reasons to indulge guilt-free thanks to news on the emerging health benefits of coffee. So consider a coffee of the month club. Beans from all over the world, including Guatemala, Peru, and Honduras are sent whole or ground. Grounds for Change guarantees that their coffee is Fair Trade Certified and organic, making the gift beneficial for the environment and the socioeconomics of the originating country. Decaf varieties available, too! Check out some more gift ideas for the coffee lovers in your life.
Christmas morning calls for pancakes and waffles—and this set comes with almost everything you need to make them, plus delicious toppings. Each kit includes Catskill Provisions New York 100% raw wildflower Fall and Spring Honeys, their Artisanal, Organic, Non-GMO Pancake and Waffle Mix, and a bottle of organic Grade A Maple Syrup.
High in vitamins C and A, fresh homemade salsas makes fabulous and healthy holiday food gifts. Looking for authentic and innovative flavors from the southwest? Try the Arizona Spice Company with salsas with fun names such as Arizona Reaper and Magnificent Mango. These award-winning condiments are all-natural; several varieties use the famous Hatch green chilies from New Mexico. Intensities range from mild, medium, hot, habanero and ghost pepper heats, so there’s something for everyone.
Full of phytonutrients, fiber, folate, and vitamins C and K, pomegranates make unique and healthy holiday food gifts. A box of seasonal Crimson Pomegranates is bright and festive in color, with tart-sweet flavors to include as healthy snacks or in fun holiday recipes. And they can help you cover the red part of healthiest foods from each color of the rainbow. Pomegranate juice is extremely high in antioxidants, too. Fun fact—pomegranates are in the berry family!
PIRRO’S, Rustic Vodka Sauce
If you’re part of an Italian family you can guarantee that there will be pasta on your holiday menu. Bring some natural, gluten-free sauce with a mouthwatering edge. Pirro’s is sourced fresh, from top-of-the-line ingredients—no artificial flavors or additives.
Figs and dates
The beauty of high-fiber dried fruit is longevity. They’ll keep for a while, so when the rest of the holidays fade away, this gift reminds of the sweet celebratory season. Figs and dates from Nuts.com are the perfect gift for friends following the Mediterranean diet, and are offered in pretty food gift baskets or trays. Here are some more ways to make your diet more Mediterranean.
$38.85 medium tin
Sweet and savory flavored popcorn suits everyone on your shopping list—plus, there are at least nine reasons why popcorn needs to be in your diet. Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn features non-GMO corn popped in coconut oil. Choose from jalapeno cheddar, cinnamon bourbon pecan, pumpkin spice caramel, dark chocolate pretzel, gingerbread, and more. Sold by the bag or decorative tin, popcorn is a fun food gift idea. Or, you could go the microwave route…
Quinn Snacks Microwave Popcorn
If you and your family love to enjoy holiday movies together during the festive season, you’ll probably want some popcorn to munch on. So why not go the healthiest route possible? Quinn’s popping bag is free of chemicals or plastic coatings. Also, the corn is organic, non-GMO, grown in the USA, and naturally gluten-free. These 13 holiday foods are actually good for you.
If you want to get more health benefits from your diet, add spices. Help your friends and family explore new international tastes with unique spices from World Spice. Rubs, marinades, whole spices and blends in an impressive variety of flavors. The blends range from Adobo to Za’atar, and everything in between. Some fun finds: shawarma, orange tarragon, jerk, mulled spices, Chinese five-spice, and 10 different curry blends.
Sitka Salmon Shares Holiday Box
This Community Supported Fishery (CSF) delivers some of the freshest Alaskan seafood straight to your doorstep—just in time for the holiday season. This holiday box includes a few pounds of wild-caught Coho Salmon, lingcod, specially-crafted spice rubs and pure Alaskan sea salt. Salmon is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids; numerous studies have found that these healthy fats can reduce inflammation in the body, report Harvard health experts.
Salted Eggnog Coconut + Cashew Butter
For the third year in a row, this innovative nut butter company is cranking out their holiday special: a salted eggnog cashew and coconut butter. It features all of the spices you’d expect from something eggnog-flavored—nutmeg, clove and cinnamon—all in a healthy nut butter that’s free of refined sugar, peanuts, gluten, and dairy. Here are unexpected reasons why you’re under the weather during the holidays.
Bean soup mix
You probably know that beans deliver amazing health benefits. And nothing says comfort food better than a hot bowl of soup in the winter. Bob’s Red Mill offers a four-pack of its 13 bean soup mix, which includes a variety of dried beans (high in fiber, protein, and magnesium). Simply add a few other ingredients, and dinner is done. Mason jars filled with colorful split peas, black-eyed peas, and kidney, black, pinto and white beans make attractive holiday food gifts.
Holiday Mixed Nut Crate
This savory blend of mixed nuts is not only a tasty treat but a nutritious one as well. These nuts are made of healthy fats, particularly omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation, explains Suzanne Dixon, RD, an epidemiologist with Cambia Health Solutions in Portland, Oregon. It also comes in a decorative wooden try that reads “Let it Snow.” Long after the snacks are gobbled down, it can serve as a festive display for years to come. Score these stay-healthy tips for the holidays.
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Creamy, decadent and packed with fiber, folate, healthy fats and B vitamins, avocados are practically a perfect food—unless they’re not yet ripe. Which is why you need to know the trick to ripening an avocado in under 10 minutes. Take a look at the Avocado of the Month Club: That would be my top pick for healthy holiday food gifts (are you reading this, beloved family?!). Farm fresh California avocados delivered to your door—what could be better than that? Spread mashed avocado on breakfast toast, sprinkle chunks onto a salad, or just eat the delicious flesh with a spoon.
Wisconsin Originals Gift Basket
This gift is perfect for the cheese lover—it includes four cheeses born right in the State of Cheese™, Wisconsin: Henning’s Longhorn Colby, Roth Prairie Sunset, Widmer’s Aged Brick Cold Pack, and Sartori Bellavitano Raspberry. Cheese is a great source of calcium, fat, and protein—and, according to Roger E. Adams, PhD, personal trainer, doctor of nutrition, and owner of eatrightfitness, the firmer ones are low in carbs!
Stash Teas sold as loose tea leaves, K-cups, or in tea bags, allow your recipient to sit back and relax after the hectic holiday season. You could try their six-flavor assortment because, after all, there’s a tea flavor for every mood. Herbal, decaffeinated, black, green and more—with over 60 varieties, there is truly something for everyone. Some holiday-inspired flavors include Christmas in Paris and chocolate mint, perfect Christmas gift ideas.
Nothing says winter like fresh citrus—and this particular fruit is a citrus superstar. Golden State Fruit in California ships beautiful boxes of ruby red grapefruit, navel oranges, and mandarins. The easy-to-peel mandarins are super sweet and bursting with vitamin C. Stick these beauties in stockings for a throw-back gift, or send a box to your relatives stuck in winter snow for a bright treat.
Growing herbs indoors works in any climate, providing cooking herbs at your fingertips. Individual herbs or an assortment of herbs in an Aerogarden are both top choices for healthy holiday gift ideas. Choose from small, medium or large units, all with self-watering systems. Keeping fresh herbs is easy with these storage tricks.
Prices start at $26.95
Did you know that artichokes fit into a Mediterranean diet, rich in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and iron? Consider gifting a box of these beautiful veggies straight from the California farm to your loved one’s doorstep. Include fresh artichokes in a food gift basket.
Smashmallow Candy Cane Marshmallows
Bring extra cheer to any holiday gathering with this marshmallow treat featuring a frosty chill of peppermint with a crispy crunchy twist. The marshmallows are made with all-natural, non-GMO ingredients, gluten-free, and low-calorie (under 100 calories!). These tips will help you relieve holiday stress.
Maille Gourmet Mustard Variety
Gift all the staples any at-home chef would need in one—Maille Dijon mustard Originale, Maille Old Style mustard, Maille Honey Dijon, and Maille Rich Country Dijon mustard. Not only does mustard taste delicious, but it’s also super low in calories—less than 10 calories per serving!
OCHO Organic Peanut Butter Trees
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer that’ll delight, these organic chocolate peanut butter trees are sure to do the trick. They’re gluten-free and organic and made from Fair Trade chocolate. They come in tiny little packages which it less tempting to over-indulge!
Della Terra Pasta’s Gift Sets and Pasta Club
This chef-owned pasta brand is homemade in small batches using American-grown wheat. It’s made the old-fashioned way: The pasta is drawn through bronze dies, which creates an ideal surface texture for gripping onto delicious sauces. This gift set includes two boxes of pasta each month.
Gaea Fresh Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
When investigating the foundation of a healthy diet, you will always find olive oil near the top of the list, primarily because the oil is linked to prevention of several chronic diseases. But you have to be sure you’re using a fresh product. Gaea is one of the freshest olive oils available, pressed fresh within 3 hours of harvest. The company uses advanced technology to seal the aromas and freshness, keeping it protected from oxygen, heat, and light. This is the one trick you need to avoid holiday weight gain.
Another option: Olive Oil Lovers have the answer when it comes to unique healthy holiday gift ideas. Select from olive growing regions (including Tuscany, Sicily, and Valencia) or flavored oils (basil, lemon, thyme). Can’t decide? How about an olive-oil-of-the-month club to explore all types throughout the year?
- Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy
- Suzanne Dixon, RD, an epidemiologist with Cambia Health Solutions in Portland, Oregon
- Natalie Rizzo, RD, New York City-based registered dietitian
- Luisa Szakacs, Naturopathic Doctor and Certified Nutrition Consultant with Marpe Nutrition.
- International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine: "Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumour activity"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Do fish oil supplements reduce inflammation?"
- PLoS One: "Fatty fish intake decreases lipids related to inflammation and insulin signaling—a lipidomics approach"
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: "Emissions from cooking microwave popcorn"
- Roger E. Adams, PhD, personal trainer, doctor of nutrition, and owner of eatrightfitness.com