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Healthy Christmas Snacks – 7 Snacks to Stuff Your Stockings!

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Sleigh bells or alarm bells? Worrying on Christmas about what to eat is a surprisingly common problem, but there’s no need… Dig in with these 7 healthy Christmas snacks!


Before we get started, I should make a disclaimer that if you do actually put these food in your stockings, I am not held liable for any damage or strange smells!

With that said, I wish you all a truly Merry Christmas, and a much-welcome celebration after this strange year we’ve had.

Let’s get festive. 🙂

Contents List:

1. Antipasti (Savoury Healthy Christmas Snacks)

“Antipasti” refers to the traditional Italian first course ingredients of a complete meal.

You’ll recognise them as cured meats like salami and chorizo, pickles, olives, cheese(s), anchovies, olive oil and vinegars.

traditional antipasti healthy christmas snacks
Image by tomwieden from Pixabay.

In their pure or natural forms, these are nutrient-dense foods that make the mouth water and the spirits sing!

Here’s the deal: For a healthy platter, try to make every selection as low in processed and added ingredients as possible.

This means you should focus on whole ingredients and foods to get the best value for your money and your health!

Think, what would you find in nature? Or what would we have made in the past (cured meats without the chemicals, for example)?

Below is a general checklist, which you can use as a guideline.

Good

  • Olive Oil (especially extra-virgin)
  • Olives (in brine or olive oil)
  • Anchovies (in brine or olive oil)
  • Salt-cured meats (within reason)
  • Pure cheeses (especially organic and grass-fed / pastured)
  • Butter (especially organic and grass-fed / pastured)
  • Minimally processed dips and sauces (see snack number 6 below, or click here)

Bad (Avoid)

  • Vegetable and seed oils (sunflower, corn, soya, safflower, rapeseed, etc.)
  • Added sugars (sugar, syrups, honey, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, glucose, other “-oses”)
  • Nitrates (try to limit)
  • Processed cheeses / plastic cheeses (squares, strings, etc.)
  • Margarine and vegetable spreads
  • Highly processed dips and sauces (often sugar-loaded or vegetable and seed oil-based)

All in all, a little know-how makes antipasti brilliant healthy Christmas snacks.

The variety alone is just one good reason that it made number #1 on this list.

A “home hero” of mine is natural brine pickles! Trust me, you’ll be amazed at what you can make with a few simple ingredients – and you’ll get to impress your friends like a pro chef, hehehe…

You can pickle any vegetable with this method. The post linked below gives you the know-how to get started.

Lacto-fermented Pickled Vegetables without Vinegar: Carrot and Daikon Sticks
How to pickle vegetables without vinegar – a beginner probiotic recipe with carrot and daikon.
Show me the recipe…

P.S. Did you know that the singular of antipasti is “antipasto”? Me neither!

2. Chestnuts

Sing along with me… A 3, 2, 1… “Chestnuts roasting by an open fireeeeeee *scrreeeeech*!” – be thankful you can’t hear me.

Anyway, chestnuts are the ultimate classic christmas delicacy. We all know the song, and many of us the heartwarming scent and sweet, nutty flavour.

You’ll find them in households across the world, in fresh markets, and enriching the air of towns and cities as street vendors cook up servings! You can also forage your own if you’re lucky.

Plus, these healthy Christmas snacks can be enjoyed at any time as finger food, or when celebrating as party food.

In addition, they’re wonderful in Christmas Roasts (stuffing, nut roasts, alongside vegetables – especially sprouts) and as a nutritious dessert.

A one ounce (28.4g) serving of roasted chestnuts contains the following (^):

  • Calories: 70
  • Protein: 0.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
    • Sugar: 3g
    • Fibre: 1.4g
  • Fat: 0.6g

The same serving also provides a fair amount of vitamin B-6, vitamin C, copper, and manganese. These support a balanced metabolism, a healthy immune system, collagen, soft tissue, blood cell, and hormone production, and bone health, whilst also acting as important antioxidants.

How to Cook Chestnuts

Traditionally, chestnuts are roasted over a fire or in the oven, cooled, peeled, and savoured. Here are four simple steps to make your own:

chestnut dealer healthy christmas snacks
Image by Isa KARAKUS from Pixabay.

Time needed: 40 minutes.

How to Roast Chestnuts at Home

  1. Wash and Dry

    Make sure there’s no dirt on the chestnuts. This keeps them and your oven clean.

  2. Cut Across the Top

    Using a sharp knife and a chopping board, cut a slit or cross (traditional) across the top to allow steam to escape and prevent them from exploding. This is safer than trying to cut the flat side.

  3. Roast

    Place the nuts slit-side-up on a baking tray and roast in the oven at approximately 200C or 425F. They are done when the shells peel back, the meat is tender, and they present a nutty aroma – roughly 20 minutes.

  4. Cool, Peel, and Enjoy

    After cooking, they will be very hot and need to cool before you can eat them. Carefully place them together on a tea towel and wrap gently to keep steam in as they cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, simply peel the shells before eating (or using in a recipe).

Some supermarkets sell packaged and pre-cooked chestnuts. They’re more convenient if your short on time, but I highly recommend cooking your own (we only get them once a year!).

3. Other Nuts

In keeping with seasonal treats and the theme of chestnuts, all sorts of nuts are popular in the Christmas season.

They are all time favourite healthy Christmas snacks, often roasted and seasoned with salt and pepper or spices.

The most common nuts (besides chestnuts) include:

  • Peanuts (fun fact: These are actually a legume, not a nut)
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts

Picking up a bag or 2 of mixed nuts from your local market or supermarket will likely be very easy this time of year. Taking the opportunity to get them fresh for the season is worth it to make the most of Christmas.

Health Benefits

In general, nuts are high in plant protein, monounsaturated, omega-3, and omega-6 fats, fibre, B-vitamins, vitamin E (especially almonds), as well as beneficial minerals like selenium (especially Brazil nuts), manganese, zinc, copper, and some calcium.

Note: The sweet chestnut (above) is an oddity. It is high in complex carbs and some sugars, with little protein or fat, and lower vitamin and minerals concentrations.

It’s not uncommon to hear nuts referred to as “superfoods”.

Being so nutrient-dense, a potent source of inflammation-fighting antioxidants, and helping to boost digestion, heart health, brain health (especially walnuts), immunity, metabolism, and satiety, it’s no wonder why.

Plus, studies suggest that those who eat more nuts tend to live longer!

Tips for Choosing Healthy Nuts

Before you “go nuts” and grab those oil-roasted peanut packets on your next shopping trip…

Here’s a quick checklist of things to look out for:

Good

  • Raw
  • Dry roasted
  • Olive oil or coconut oil roasted
  • Boiled or steamed
  • Sea salt, pepper, herbs, spices, yeast extract, nutritional yeast
  • Sprouted or soaked (best option)

Bad (Avoid)

  • Vegetable or seed oil roasted (worst possible choice)
  • Added sugar
  • Flavourings
  • Chemical preservatives (the worst are ‘Butylated hydroxytoluene’ or BHT (E321), and ‘Butylated hydroxy-anisole’ oe BHA (E320))

4. Crisps (or Chips)

Now, I’m not telling you to go buy the closest packet of “Walker’s Ready Salted” or “Texas BBQ Pringles”.

Let’s instead see how to make your own healthy Christmas snacks, and the best tips for when you do have to buy them instead.

Below are 3 different kinds of crisps you can home-bake in less than 30 minutes, and some delicious seasoning ideas!

After that, there’s another checklist (who doesn’t love lists?) for shopping for healthy crisps.

homemade potato crisps chips - healthy christmas snacks Healthy Ronin
Photo by Mayu Yamamura on Unsplash.

Make Your Own (Minimum Effort & Maximum Results)!

A little fun in the kitchen, no going out, and no spending extra: Make your own – what’s the worst that could happen?

Best case: Delicious and nutritious snacks!!!

Worst case: It doesn’t come out perfect first time = Very little time wasted and a lesson learned for next time!

Three Top Types and Recipes:

These are the most common types of crisps to make at home, using everyday ingredients:

  • Normal Potato for something rustic – a finger-licking savoury delight;
  • Sweet Potato for keeping things sweet without the sugar;
  • Kale for lower calories and carbs, and more micronutrients (vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants);

Cooking up spectacular crisps takes less than 30 minutes in the oven, and you can get a much greater yield than packets if you so wish.

The simple steps are wash and dry, slice, soak (optional 30 min for potato types to soak up starch for a crisper texture), season, and roast. Check out these tutorials for each kind!

Recipe by The Spruce Eats

Recipe by Healthy Little Foodies

Recipe by Minimalist Baker

For a festive treat, season with a Christmas spice mix before cooking (as you toss them with olive or avocado oil):

Classic Christmas Spice Mix Recipe:

  • 3tsp – Ground Cinammon
  • 2tsp – Ground Ginger
  • 2tsp – Ground Nutmeg
  • 1tsp – Allspice
  • ½tsp – Ground Cloves
  • Sprinkle – Salt and Black Pepper
  • Sprinkle – Orange Zest (Optional)
  • When it comes to seasoning, your imagination and pantry are you only limits!

    Why not make multiple batches in one go and try out a spicy curry powder, or some mild smoked paprika, maybe a dash of traditional herbs like rosemary and thyme, or even enjoy plain?

    Either way, they’re perfect with good dips and sauces (below).

    Buying Healthy Crisps?

    To be clear, there are healthy crisps that you can buy!

    However, you’ll likely spend more money on them (for the amount), and miss out on the flavour and nutrition of any you could make yourself.

    Here are some of the best options and what to avoid to get the most “bang for your buck” without compromising the above.

    Good

    • Olive Oil or avocado oil roasted
    • Air dried vegetable and fruit crisps (still relatively high in natural sugars, but better than regular crisps)
    • Sea salt, pepper, herbs, spices, yeast extract, nutritional yeast

    Bad (Avoid)

    • Vegetable or seed oil roasted
    • Added sugars (sugar, syrups, honey, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, glucose, other “-oses”)
    • Flavourings
    • Colourings
    • Chemical preservatives (the worst are ‘Butylated hydroxytoluene’ or BHT (E321), and ‘Butylated hydroxy-anisole’ oe BHA (E320))

    5. Popcorn

    Disclaimer: Read below – don’t get the microwave packets.

    Believe it or not, popcorn is highly nutritious.

    … And it was never originally a movie snack: Popped corn kernels have been found in Peru, dating back to around 3600 BC (^)!

    Popcorn became a valuable food source for struggling farmers in the Great Depression, and candy shortages in WW2 are what led to it becoming the go-to theatre snack.

    Since then, we’ve come to enjoy this whole grain at all kinds of sporting events, festivities, and celebrations, and Christmas is no exception.

    Popcorn Nutrition and Benefits

    Overall, popcorn is high in nutrients and fibre, and low in calories. For this reason, it may be a viable food choice for those trying to lose weight (as long as you don’t coat it in sugar and added fats or oils!).

    P C F, Vitamins, Minerals (USDA %)

    Popcorn makes an awesome addition to your healthy Christmas snacks collection for family, friends, and movies.

    Why Not to Get Microwave Packets! (Important)

    Three facts about most microwave popcorn packets:

    1. The packets leach harmful synthetic chemicals (especially ‘per-‘ and ‘polyfluoroalkyl substances’ (PFAS’s)) linked to (^)(^)(^)(^):
      • Cancers
      • Immune system damage
      • Thyroid hormone disruption
      • Metabolic impairment
      • Pre and postnatal health issues
    2. They’re often loaded with toxic TRANS fats (a major driver in modern chronic disease and the reason vegetable and seed oils are so bad)
    3. They’re likely flavoured with sugar, syrup, or chemicals

    Plus, the same guidelines go for this as all of the other snacks. That is, avoid vegetable oils, seed oils, added sugars and flavourings, and other chemicals.

    Whole foods and ingredients trump processed foods and ingredients in every way when it comes to health, widely speaking.

    The Simple Alternative (Microwave or Stovetop)

    Overall, you’re best off making your own in less than a few minutes anyway. And, it couldn’t be easier.

    Microwave:

    1. Add ¼ to ½ cups popcorn kernels to a microwave-safe bowl
    2. Optionally toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, and some healthy herbs and spices, salt, or pepper.
    3. Cover with a microwave-safe plate.
    4. Cook for 3-4 minutes on high.

    Stovetop:

    1. Use a wide pan with a thick base for best results, and you’ll need a lid.
    2. Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil, coconut oil, or butter in the pan.
    3. Add a few kernels and cover.
    4. When they pop, turn off the stove and remove the pan from the heat, counting to 30 seconds to let it cool.
    5. Add the rest of the kernels (¼ to ½ cups), shaking to distribute evenly. Place back on medium heat and cover.
    6. Wait until the popping slows down (around once every 3-4 seconds), then remove the lid and pour the popcorn into a serving bowl.
    7. Optionally season as above.

    This will yield 2-4 servings.

    6. Homemade Dips and Sauces

    What’s better than healthy finger food?

    Healthy finger food with something to dip it in, of course!

    Take a look at this list, and guess what they have in common:

    Figured it out? They’re all based on simple, whole foods, abundant in nutrients.

    So why do I emphasise homemade?

    Because, the ones in the store are equally based on vegetable and seed oils and sugars (plus the extra chemicals).

    Not all of them – get an olive oil-based hummus or mayo, or a natural, sugar free chili sauce, for example, and you’ll be in for a treat… But many of them are.

    All in all though, real food dips and sauces make healthy Christmas snacks that extra bit more enjoyable… Or serve as healthy Christmas snacks in and of themselves (like those with a yoghurt base, for example).

    Tips and Ideas for Making Your Own

    In literally seconds, you can make almost any dip or sauce with a blender machine or a handheld / immersion blender, and a few household ingredients.

    Read: Is the Nutribullet Worth It? A NutriBullet Pro Review (One of our most popular posts, and also a fantastic gift idea? ;)).

    And some don’t need any blending at all!

    Plus, recipes are so easy to find online (some modern convenience is a blessing), just like those above.

    One of my favourite dips is an Indian Mint Sauce: Yoghurt and finely chopped fresh mint, a squeeze of lemon juice and maybe a touch of salt! That’s it.

    Pro Tip: You can even get a gut-friendly “live” yoghurt, full of beneficial bacteria that we call probiotics.

    In our lives, they do everything from absorbing nutrients, to regulating hormones and boosting mood, and fending off illness (bad bacteria)! We can’t live without them, making probiotic foods a pillar of a balanced, nourishing diet.

    Another thing we can’t live without is chili sauce… Unless you don’t like spicy foods.

    Homemade ‘Fermented Chili Sauce’ is all the craze in the health and cooking communities with its tantalising taste, long-shelf life, and fun involved!

    Shout out to Brad Leone from Bon Appétit’s for his entertaining video tutorial:

    This is even better enjoyed with pickles like my recipe above (under ‘1. Antipasti’). You could also grab sugar-free vinegar pickles if you’re short on time – it’s a quick and easy snack.

    7. Christmas Cookies

    It’s a once-in-a-year festive celebration. There’s no getting around it, the cookies are coming out!

    Besides, what else are you going to leave Santa? 😉

    Let’s get creative with some luxurious homemade cookie ideas (ingredients and combinations, plus the best hand-picked recipes much time searching and comparing on the web).

    Afterwards, I’ll share a recommendation if you’re only looking to buy these for your healthy Christmas snacks.

    Healthy Christmas Cookie Recipes and Guidelines

    There are endless ways to make healthy cookies, believe it or not.

    Tips for Sugar and Sweeteners

    Honey and stevia are the best ways to substitute refined sugars and syrups.

    In addition, erythritol, sorbitol, and xylotol are good choices for those without FODMAP intolerance. These are “sugar alcohols”.

    I’d usually recommend limiting these, including honey, too (unless it’s raw – which most are not!), but you have to enjoy your diet. Some “now-and-then” indulgences are better for you than not enjoying what you eat!

    A Note on Oats

    It’s best to ferment, soak, or sprout oats (or any grain). This removes antinutrients, aids digestion, and prevents minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc from being “blocked” from absorption.

    But again, exceptions are expected. Healthy holidays should be easy and stress-free, so if you need that extra convenience, don’t worry!

    As long as you don’t get negative symptoms, raw oats won’t have any significant impact.

    Top Ingredient Ideas and Combinations

    Healthy Base Ingredients:

    • Oats
    • Oat flour / blended oats
    • Coconut flour
    • Almond flour
    • Tapioca flour
    • Arrowroot starch
    • Wholegrain sourdough (preferably non-wheat)
    • Gram flour (best soaked, sprouted, or as sourdough)
    • Sprouted flours
    • Eggs*
    • Milk*
    • Unsweetened oat milk
    • Unsweetened coconut milk
    • Water

    Healthy Add-ons and Seasonings:

    • Grated carrots
    • Orange zest
    • Cacao or cocoa nibs and powder
    • Ginger
    • Cinnamon
    • Nutmeg
    • Flaked coconut
    • Peanut butter and other nut butters
    • Nuts
    • Seeds
    • Dates and raisins (try to limit)
    • Don’t forget the “Classic Christmas Spice” mix above (see here)
    • Honey
    • Stevia
    • Sugar alcohols

    Healthy Fats:

    • Coconut oil
    • Butter, Ghee, Tallow, Lard*
    • Olive oil
    • Avocado oil
    • Peanut oil

    *(Best pastured / grass-fed)

    With the lists above, you have endless possibilities – and there are still more ideas!

    My suggestion is to take what you like and incorporate it into simple recipes to make your masterpieces.

    Home is where the heart is, so make your Christmas food with love and it’ll go wonderfully! (… That’s how it works, right)?

    With that said, below are 5 of the best baked recipes I’ve found for you all online (and a bonus time-savvy recipe). There are so many more out there, so please do take a look – these are what I’ve hand-picked after many comparisons.

    The selections are based on ingredients and availability, method, simplicity, customasibility, and ratings.

    P.S. I intend to write my own soon, so let me know what you’d like in the comments and stay updated with our newsletter!

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    Healthy Christmas Cookies – Number #1:

    Recipe by Low Carb No Carb

    • Recipe base: Almond flour, egg.
    • Difficulty: Very easy.
    • Customisability: Very high.

    Tips: For a sweetener, use the tips above. As stated, ginger is perfect for a touch of Christmas (or the spice mix earlier in this post), but these cookies are a perfect base recipe to unleash your creative spirit on!


    Healthy Christmas Cookies – Number #2:

    Recipe by Paleo Grubs

    • Recipe base: Almond flour, arrowroot flour.
    • Difficulty: Very easy.
    • Customisability: Medium.

    Tips: Stick to the spices used for a delicious traditional treat. Flaked or crushed almonds could be a great form of decoration with the icing. If you can’t get arrowroot flour, tapioca is a suitable substitute and offers a slightly denser, chewier texture (you may want to use slightly more, too).


    Healthy Christmas Cookies – Number #3:

    Recipe by Brittany Mullins (Eating Bird Food)

    • Recipe base: Coconut flour.
    • Difficulty: Very easy.
    • Customisability: Very high.

    Tips: Replace the chocolate chips with cocoa powder or nibs. You can keep it simple with these and still get a rich flavour. But again, the few ingredients make it perfect for adding your own special touch with add-ons and seasonings.


    Healthy Christmas Cookies – Number #4:

    Recipe by EatingWell

    • Recipe base: Oats, oat flour, bananas, dates.
    • Difficulty: Easy.
    • Customisability: High.

    Tip: Here’s another recipe that’s easy to add to. You can also blend whole or steel-cut oats to make the flour, which are more nutritious.


    Healthy Christmas Cookies – Number #5:

    Recipe by MyNaturalFamily

    • Recipe base: Almond flour, tapioca flour.
    • Difficulty: Medium.
    • Customisability: Medium.

    Tip: Replace syrup with honey (it’s less processed). You could also do the same with the mollases, or substitute with mashed or blended dates.


    Healthy Christmas Cookies – Number #6:

    Recipe by Beaming Baker

    • Recipe base: Oat.
    • Difficulty: Medium.
    • Customisability: Medium.

    Tips: Pretend they’re not just for breakfast (I won’t tell anyone if you won’t). You could use normal eggs. Once again, a lower sugar or less refined sweetener would be beneficial: Take a look at my “notes on sweeteners” above.


    Bonus Hassle-free No-bake Recipe:

    Recipe by Love Food Nourish

    • Recipe base: Dates, ground almonds, walnuts.
    • Difficulty: Very Easy.
    • Customisability: Medium.

    Tips: Don’t use these ones for hanging on the Christmas tree!


    What About Buying Healthy Christmas Cookies?

    Although there’s nothing like homemade, Go Raw provide special value with their sprouted cookies, packing flavour, nutrition, and affordability into one.

    You can find them online, the best store being iHerb (free and discounted delivery, positive reviews, 24/7 international support).

    Their top varieties are the ‘Sprouted Choco Crunch Cookie’ Crisps Coming in at $4.55 (£3.43).

    Alternatively, view their full range of Go Raw products here.

    When looking in the supermarket for other cookies, three rules of thumb to stick to will make all the difference: Minimally process (whole food / natural ingredients), least added sugar, and no vegetable or seed oils.

    I hope this helps!

    “Wrapping it Up” (Get It?)

    That’s all!

    You’ve unwrapped all of my “Top 7 healthy Christmas snacks to stuff your stockings” (again, I am not liable for damage or strange smells if you do this)!

    Now wrap’em back up and make the perfect little presents!

    healthy presents - 7 healthy Christmas snacks
    Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash.

    The main point of this list is that healthy food isn’t a seasonal thing.

    Celebrations and festivities don’t have to disrupt a delicious and top-notch nutritious diet.

    At the same time, an occasion is an occasion, and balance is key.

    Remember that making healthy Christmas snacks like the crisps, cookies, and popcorn are also fantastic fun for kids and families, and what better time to cook together? Plus, you’ll be helping them enjoy and appreciate healthy eating!

    My favourite item on this list has to be the antipasti – I always look forward to savouring festive food with friends and family, and this always makes an appearance.

    Comment below: What is your favourite item on the list? Would you change the list, and why?

    I hope this article has helped encourage you all to get out there and make the most of your culinary genius this festive season!

    Remember to stay safe this Christmas and stick to social distancing guidelines on gatherings where possible. Have a safe celebration, a delicious Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! 🎄

    Until next time, stay healthy

    James

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