Healthy Food Gifts for the Holidays

Holiday horrors!  In recent years I have received the following gifts: A large pecan pie, a deluxe box of Godiva chocolates and Moose Munch, that crazy good caramel popcorn.

People mean well when they give food gifts for Christmas or Chanukah. But many adults, not only those with high blood sugar, just don’t want a box or basket of temptation.

A  local hair stylist who battles her weight told me that customers frequently bring her homemade cookies at the holidays.  The stylist said she and her coworkers routinely throw away plates and tins of high carb/high sugar treats before they go home.

“We brace ourselves at the beginning of December,” said the hair stylist, who asked to remain anonymous so as not to hurt her customers’ feelings.

 Thoughtful Food Gifts

Here are some ideas for food gifts that will be appreciated by both people who watch their diets and those who have no food restrictions. All the food gifts have no added sugar, have no or low saturated fat and start at $5.

Homemade roasted nuts. Nuts can make a great, low-carb  gift as long as the recipe has no sweetener.  Keep costs down by purchasing nuts in bulk or in large quantities at a membership club.  Seasoned roasted nuts are very easy to make and take less time than homemade cookies. I’ve included a recipe for roasted Cajun Pecans that is a cinch to make and delicious.

Fancy oils and specialty vinegars. (Available at many grocery stores, World Market and through Amazon.) With grocery prices so high, buying special oils and vinegars can strain a weekly grocery bill. If you give some of the fancy stuff as a gift, however,  the recipient will be able to enjoy interesting flavors at no cost.

Spices and herbs.  Trader Joe’s and other large supermarkets offer a variety of seasonings that can be mixed and matched. Again, this kind of gift allows the recipient to indulge without spending a dime.

If you have a bigger budget, give a gift certificate to Penzey’s spices, which are top of the heap in quality. If you have a Penzey’s nearby, look for special holiday deals.

Salsas  Chef Rick Bayless, owner of the famous Frontera Grill in Chicago, makes salsas that are much better than any other commercial varieties.    Flavors include: Double Roasted Tomato, Jalepeno Cilantro, Habanero Salsa and Especial Mango Habanero. (There are also varieties that do not contain cilantro, for the cilantro haters.)

Frontera salsas, which cost $5 or less for 16 ounces, can be found at regular supermarkets, Wal-Mart, Target and also can be purchased through Amazon.

DIY Roasted Cajun Pecans

I adapted the following recipe  for Cajun Pecans from Party Nuts, by Sally Sampson. I have reduced the amount of salt; those who are salt sensitive could reduce it even more. I also halved the amount of Tabasco; if you think the gift recipient can take the heat, adjust accordingly.

The nuts would be good scattered on a salad, stirred into a pilaf or served at a party.

Have fun giving healthy food gifts!


Roasted Cajun Pecans

Servings 8 People


  • 2 Cups pecan halves
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 Tsp Tabasco
  • 3/4 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 - 1 Tsp kosher salt do not sub regular salt


  • 1. First roast plain pecans for 10 minutes in 350F oven, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven, let pecans cool. Reduce oven heat to 325 F.
    2. Pour pecans into large mixing bowl. Mix seasoning ingredients in small bowl, then pour over nuts, getting pecans completely coated with mixture.
    3. Spread nuts in single layer on large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
    4. Put pan in oven, bake about 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to promote even browning.
    5. Remove pan from oven, let pecans cool thoroughly then place in Mason jar or plastic bag.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!








Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating