Time to spread some edible holiday cheer! Everybody likes treats, especially when they’re homemade. And when they’re as delicious as they are nutritious (not to mention easy to make), your guests will enjoy the holiday spirit even more. Make these treats for your own table or take them to parties…or make them any time of the year!
- Freshly popped corn is a great whole-grain snack, plus it’s so easy to customize. Make it savory by tossing popcorn with extra-virgin olive oil and chili powder (or any spice or herb you like), or make it sweet by drizzling on some melted butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon. How about offering a popcorn sampler?
- Spiced nuts are always a hit. Just combine your favorite nut (raw or toasted) with your favorite spices or herbs and a drizzling of extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 300F, flipping halfway through, and then let the nuts cool before serving.
- Could chocolate-dipped fruit be any easier to make? Melt your favorite chocolate bar in a small pot over low heat on the stove (stirring often to prevent scorching), then dip individual pieces or slices of fruit into the melted chocolate to coat. Place the fruit on a plate covered with parchment or wax paper and refrigerate for an hour to set the chocolate. This works best with chocolate that’s at least 75% dark.
- Stuffed dates can be savory or sweet—either way, they’ll be a hit. Cut a slit in the dates, then pull out the pit and replace it with soft goat cheese and cooked chopped bacon (for savory dates) or mascarpone cheese and chopped chocolate (for sweet dates). Gently pinch the edges of the date together to seal in the stuffing.
- When making cookies and cakes, substitute whole-grain flours like whole wheat, kamut, and/or spelt for all-purpose flour. (For gluten-free baked goods, go with brown rice, millet, sorghum, and/or teff.) Instead of white sugar, use palm sugar or sucanat. Those easy swaps can transform favorites into upgraded new classics! Upgraded flours and sweeteners work especially well in baked goods that feature chocolate, nuts, spices, and/or dried fruits.
- Looking for gourmet hot chocolate? Use 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 to 2 tablespoons of sucanat or maple syrup per cup of hot chocolate. Fill halfway with boiling water and top off with your favorite milk. You can also stir in extracts like vanilla, hazelnut, even peppermint. Or add spices like cinnamon and ginger for extra holiday flair.
- If you’d like to offer a festive adult holiday beverage, try making homemade mulled wine: just add spices like whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and whole allspice to dry red wine and warm it to allow the flavors of the spices to blend into the wine. If you’d like some natural sweetness, throw in a handful of raisins. Or make mulled cider (if you’d prefer a non-alcoholic version) and then top the individual mugs of cider with freshly whipped cream.
And when you’re at holiday parties, keep an eye out for tasty and healthy options like cheeses, olives, meats, nuts, pickles, and fresh fruit. Dips like hummus and guacamole are great with cut-up veggies. And remember what the best part is about any party: spending time with friends and family.