Gluten-free (or sugar-free) desserts are only the beginning. With nuts, dried fruits and other foods, a healthy snack gift basket is a welcome surprise.
No question about it, the holidays are mostly about food. (Come to think of it, aren’t all days? Food, after all, is a necessary part of life.) Besides the family feast, a hearty Christmas breakfast and regular meals, the holidays are filled with baked goods and many other snacks…and we’re filled with them, too!
All in all, it can be a challenging time for people who, for various reasons, need to avoid or at least cut back on snacks and sweets. But there are ways to make the holidays less challenging for everyone…and, as an added bonus, they make great gifts. And that makes holiday shopping less challenging.
Healthy Snack Gift Baskets and Boxes
Who doesn’t like getting food baskets? Baskets are the perfect package for many gifts. Even things that don’t necessarily feel like gifts—like healthy snacks, maybe?—achieve instant gift status when they’re nicely packed in a basket. If you’re looking for something more shippable, an assortment of items artfully arranged in a gift box is equally impressive.
If you want to DIY healthy snack gift baskets, your local craft store will have a nice assortment of baskets from which to choose…but you can save money by visiting a dollar store, thrift store, or even a garage sale. If you’re visiting a craft store, you can also pick up some nice stuffing or shred (if necessary), and a bow and/or wrap (such as cellophane), if desired. Of course, these items can be upcycled or even created at home. If you have a paper shredder for your documents, go green by using that shred in your gift baskets. Healthy eaters are often concerned with the health of the planet, too, so your efforts will most likely be appreciated. As for bows, don’t ever throw away the ones you get on gifts! Save them for gifts you give others; no one will know.
And don’t limit yourself to only using baskets! Decorative tins, vases, bowls, flower pots and other useful items can all be used to build healthy snack gift baskets.
Now about those healthy snacks…
Any discussion of healthy snacks should start with nuts. These nutritional powerhouses provide quality calories in the form of protein and good fats, and each variety of nut has its own unique health benefits. A generous tin of mixed nuts will ensure that your gift recipient gets a good combination of the most popular nuts.
Dried fruit is another snack packed with nutrients. You can find nicely pre-packaged tins of individual dried fruits—no assembly required—or artistic arrangements of mixed dried fruits on woven trays that serve as their own ready-to-go gift baskets!
If your healthy snacker is big on protein, consider jerky and meat sticks. Skimpy on fat and loaded with protein, these savory snacks are great for watching all those bowl games during the holidays, or for active folks to pack along on skis or snowshoes.
Gluten-Free Desserts and Snacks
We all know people who have to avoid gluten…and there’s an increasing number of people who simply choose to. Eating gluten-free can be a challenge, especially when it comes to desserts. Thankfully, most nuts and dried fruits mentioned above are gluten-free. Jerky and meat sticks, however, are not because wheat gluten is usually present in the soy sauce and other flavorings used to season them. Cheese is also deliciously gluten-free. Other gluten-free snacks include crackers, chips and even pretzels based on rice, corn, chickpeas, nori (seaweed), sesame and other naturally gluten-free ingredients. There are many options out there for assembling healthy snack gift baskets.
What’s really challenging for gluten-free folks, however, is finding good gluten-free desserts. Because of the ease of gluten contamination from standard baked goods, gluten-free desserts are often made in a separate facility. The good news is that more companies today are offering gluten-free snacks and desserts, so you can put together a variety of components for gluten-free gift baskets.
Sugar-Free Desserts and Snacks
Another consideration when putting together healthy snack gift baskets is sugar content. Traditional food gift baskets are typically loaded with sugar and carbohydrates…but there are many ways to satisfy those who need to go sugar-free.
Nuts, once again, top the list. They’re low in carbs and a good source of nutrients. Dried fruits, not so much. Drying fruits concentrates their natural sugars, making them a risky gift for the sugar-averse. But there are other great sugar-free snacks…
The above-mentioned jerky and meat sticks will have a small amount of sugar in the cure and/or seasoning, but not enough to make them glycemic deal-breakers. Cheese is a low-carb food that provides protein and pairs well with fresh fruit, crackers…and wine. Yes, wine is acceptable (in moderation, or course) for those who are watching their sugar. Just stay away from the sweeter dessert-type wines that have a lot of residual sugar. Dry reds are the best choice, and the perfect partner for meat and cheese gifts.
On the subject of beverages, coffee is an excellent sugar-free choice…but not those coffeehouse mochas and frappés. Home-brewed coffees are the way to go if you want to avoid extra sugar and fat calories. Gourmet coffee samplers make great breakfast gifts, and are available in an interesting variety of flavors to accompany a wide variety of sugar-free desserts and sweets.
Whether you put together your own healthy snack gift baskets or take the easy route and have food gift baskets delivered, there are lots of ways you can help provide a happy, healthy holiday season.