Ahhh the holidays – a wondrous period of giving, loving and sharing. The holidays are a perfect time of the year to practice charity and there is nothing like giving non-perishable food for food baskets to put one in the holiday spirit. Although the holidays are a time where your wallet may feel abused, there are foods you can buy that will give your wallet some R&R yet nourish the recipients of your food basket. Without further ado, here are some of the best foods you can give this holiday season, in no particular order!
1) Canned legumes.
Chickpeas, lentils, red beans, white beans and black beans are a source of iron and protein, which makes them a perfect substitute for meat (meat being quite pricey). They also contain fiber which helps bellies feel full. They are nutritious and non-perishable and can be added to soups, salads, chili, stews, pasta dishes, etc.
2) Plain oats
Oats are a great source of fiber – beneficial for heart health, digestion, and satiety. Skip the flavoured oatmeal packets and give the plain rolled oats (readily found in bulk format), to which berries, nuts, cinnamon, cocoa powder and soy beverage can be added.
3) Whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice
These grains keep for a long time and are known as complex carbohydrates, meaning the energy they provide is released slowly throughout the day, rather than causing a blood sugar spike followed by a blood sugar “crash and burn”. Fluctuations in blood sugar tend to leave people feeling cranky, tired, unable to concentrate and with cravings for salty or sweet foods.
4) Whole-grain crackers
Crackers can replace bread, go nicely with soup, or can be used as a vehicule for hummus and other luscious dips. These also keep for extended periods of time and provide a wonderful feeling of satiety. Some crackers are made using refined grains and have unhealthy saturated and trans- fats. Choose whole-grain crackers such as Ryvita, Kavli, Wasa, etc.
5) Nuts and nut butters
Nuts are a delightful source of healthy fats, fiber, protein and vitamins. If you wish to give nut butters this holiday season, choose those that are 100% natural (this means 100% actual nuts – without the addition of sugar, oil or salt). It is best to favour the creamy nut butters as opposed to their crunchy counterparts so as to reduce risk of choking for children who might consume them. Almond butter, hazelnut butter and other nut butters tend to be more pricey but can be a pleasant surprise for taste buds.
6) Dried Fruits
Dried apricots, dried mangoes, dried cranberries, prunes, goji berries, dried blackberries, etc. You name it, you give it :). These nutrition powerhouses keep well, and provide recipients with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals for energy and immune strength during bone-chilling winters.
7) Soy Beverage
Soy beverage has as much protein and calcium as cow`s milk but is a non-perishable food item (when unopened). Soy beverage is soy-ved (served :)).
8) Breakfast Cereals
Cereals are a quick and easy brekkie for adults and children alike and may also serve as a non-labour-intensive snack. However, their healthy appearances may sometimes be deceiving as many cereals have a fair amount of honey or sugar added to them. Opt for varieties for which the first ingredient listed is whole grains (whole-wheat, whole rye, oats, flaxseeds, quinoa, barley, brown rice) and which possess:
- less than 10 grams of sugar
- at least 5 grams of fiber
- less than 240 mg of sodium
You may not have elves (or maybe you do 😉 ) but make like Santa and spread some holiday cheer, why don’t ya?!
Be well! 🙂