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University of Illinois Extension

From My Kitchen to Yours: Healthy Holiday Gifts

November 19, 2012

The holiday season often brings scrumptious cookies, pies, and holiday treats, often in the unhealthiest of forms. So why not give your loved ones a healthier food gift that doesn't have a ton of calories, fat, and guilt attached?

Jenna Smith, University of Illinois Extension Educator, offers many personalized food gift ideas that are both healthy and tasty. Many people love to receive soups in a jar because of their easy meal planning and preparation. Simply layer dried beans and peas with sodium free dried bouillon granules, onion flakes and herbs in a mason jar. Attach a recipe with a pretty bow and you're finished!

You can also try making vegetable dip mixes or even dry rubs by combining various herbs and spices. Make a gift card for directions on making the dip or ideas for using the rub. Trail mix and granola are also easy but colorful ideas. Add peanuts, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, pretzels, whole grain cereal, candy coated chocolate or other items and package them in a festive airtight plastic bag. You can also package homemade seasoned pecans, hot cocoa mix, and a book or magazine in a basket for that special someone.

"Making a holiday gift is not only unique and personable; it can be money saving", says Smith. In times of tighter budgets, gifts from your kitchen are the way to go. Just remember to think about food safety. Foods that don't have to be refrigerated or won't perish too quickly work best. Package foods in mason jars, plastic containers, or other decorative bags, but make sure these are food-grade containers. A food-grade container is one that will not transfer non-food chemicals into the food and contains no chemicals that would be hazardous to human health. Have a safe and holiday year, and enjoy the gift of gift giving!

Cinnamon Wheat Snacks

(12 servings)

1/3 cup butter or margarine

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups shredded wheat (small size)

1 cup salted peanuts

1 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, chopped figs, etc.)

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter/margarine.
  2. Blend in brown sugar and cinnamon; stir until sugar is melted.
  3. Reduce heat; add shredded wheat and peanuts; stir until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in dried fruit.
  5. Cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

Nutrient analysis per serving: 315 Calories, 12 grams fat, 45 grams total carbohydrate, 7.5 grams fiber, 87 milligrams sodium

Source: Jenna Smith, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, jesmith6@illinois.edu

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