Healthy Christmas Snacks and Treats
Christmas is the time of year for Christmas cookies, chocolates, and other sweets. But all that sugar is far from healthy. Here are ten snacks and treats that you can make with your children to stay healthy this Christmas.
1. Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies – Just a few substitutions can turn a traditional sugar cookie recipe into one that’s healthier for your kids. Use whole wheat flour to add fiber, egg whites instead of the whole egg to lower cholesterol, and a minimum amount of butter.
2. Flavored Popcorn – Whole grain popcorn can be a fun snack and a great source of fiber, but all that salt and butter can turn it into junk food. Reduce the fat content by popping plain popcorn and flavoring it with canola oil and cinnamon sugar or maple syrup.
3. Cookies with Nuts & Fruit – Instead of chocolate chip cookies, try baking cookies with fruit and nuts. They’ll still have the sweet taste with an added crunch. There are lots of different combinations you can try, depending on what you like!
4. Holiday Trail Mix – Trail mix is always a good snack because it combines savory and sweet treats for kids to nibble on. Mix red and green M&Ms with healthy nuts, dried fruit, and seeds. Cranberries and pistachios are another red and green combination that you could add to make the mix more festive.
5. Snowman Snack – This is a snack that would make a fun party activity for kids. Have them spread low fat cream cheese on three round whole grain crackers – you may need to do this for little ones. Give them edible decorating materials like shredded carrots, raisins, pretzel sticks, and M&Ms.
6. Holiday Krispies – Kids love Rice Krispie Treats, but the marshmallows and corn syrup in them gives them a high sugar content. If you use a high fiber, low sugar cereal and replace half of the marshmallows with honey and peanut butter, you’ll have a healthier treat that kids will still love. You could even add a little red or green food coloring or cut out the treats with Christmas cookie cutters for a festive snack.
7. Tortilla Snowflake – Whole wheat tortillas have lots of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and iron. They can also be easily turned into snowflakes! Fold a tortilla into fourths or sixths and snip out designs as if you were making a paper snowflake. Spread a little butter on it and sprinkle cinnamon sugar and/or coconut on top. Warm it for a minute in the oven.
8. Roasted Nuts – This classic holiday treat is great to munch on during a holiday movie or while sitting in front of the fireplace. Roast pecans, almonds, or other assorted nuts in a pan with melted butter, cinnamon sugar, and cocoa powder.
9. Reindeer Muffin – Muffins are a good replacement for cookies because you can reduce the amount of fat and sugar in them. You can replace half of the butter or oil in a traditional recipe with natural applesauce. Then add berries for a little sweetness and color. After you bake the muffins, you can also decorate them with pretzels as antlers, raisins for the eyes, and a berry for the nose.
10. Vegetable Tree/Wreath – Believe it or not, you can get picky kids to eat vegetables by presenting them in a fun way. Serve green vegetables like broccoli, green peppers, or celery in the shape of a Christmas tree or wreath. “Decorate” the tree or wreath with red tomatoes, red peppers, or radishes. You can even use yellow squash for star shapes. For dip, you may want to consider beans, hummus, or salsa as healthy alternatives to cream or cheese.
Joseph Morris has been a professional chef for over 20 years. He also owns the site Culinary Arts College for students interested in getting a degree in culinary arts.