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Healthy homemade food gifts

Need a healthy, unique gift idea for everyone on your list? Registered dietitian Sue Mah shares her favourite healthy homemade gift ideas

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Baked Treats

Who can resist a batch of homemade squares or cookies? To me as a dietitian, the key is to keep the portions small so they are a healthy gift. For example, if the recipe yields 16 lemon squares, you could cut them smaller to make 20 instead. If your recipe makes two dozen cookies, make smaller dough balls to yield three dozen. I also make mini loaves of banana bread or cheesecakes in mini springform pans. Wrap up the treats in plastic wrap first, and then bundle them up in cellophane with a ribbon. Or package them in a cardboard takeout container you can find at many dollar stores.

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Family Cookbook

Family Cookbook

Create a cookbook with your favourite recipes. It can be as simple or as fancy as you wish: You could handwrite the recipes on the pages of a hardcover journal; print them out on your computer and glue them onto a pretty notebook’s pages; or just put recipe cards in a small three-ring binder. Write a short description of each recipe. You might even take a photo as you make a recipe, and add that to the book. When it’s finished, attach a colourful spatula, oven mitts or an apron, tied with some nice ribbon.

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Ready-to-make soup

Mix Beans are one of the best sources of fibre, and soup is a great way to enjoy them. Fill a one-cup (250 mL) clear jar-jam jars work, and you can also use empty pasta sauce jars-with ¼ cup (60 mL) each of these ingredients, in this order: lentils; orzo or rice; dried split green peas; dried red lentils; dried navy beans, black beans or kidney beans; and herbs. (Be creative and add anything you like; for example, tri-coloured fusilli or barley.) You’ll end up with pretty, colourful layers in the jar. Put the lid on the jar and attach a tag with these recipe instructions:

1. Heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil over medium heat in a stockpot and sauté a chopped onion for a few minutes.
2. Add a chopped carrot, a chopped celery stalk and a minced garlic clove. Stir for about 5 minutes.
3. Rinse everything in this jar except the herbs, and add to the stockpot. Add herbs.
4. Add 5 cups (1.25 L) of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.
5. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until beans, peas and vegetables are tender.
6. Makes 4-6 servings.

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Mini Clementine wreath

In my culture, which is Chinese, the colours red and orange are symbolic of good luck and happiness. Last year, I gave red salad bowls filled with bright orange clementines as hostess gifts, but this year I’ll be making and giving this mini clementine wreath. You can buy the supplies you’ll need (minus the clementines) at a craft store. Here’s how it’s made.

1. Lay a 24-inch by 30-inch piece of clear plastic wrap on a large smooth surface. Line up eight small clementines along the 30-inch side of the wrap, about three inches from the edge. Space the clementines out one finger-width apart, leaving approximately three inches of plastic wrap at the beginning and end of the row.
2. Tightly roll up the row of clementines.
3. Tie ends with floral wire. Bring them together to form a circle and use floral wire to fasten the ends together.
4. Cut seven pieces of glittered wire or ribbon, each about 10 to 12 inches long, and tie one between each of the clementines (I used silver wire with stars for mine).
5. Finish with a festive bow at the bottom of the wreath where the two ends are joined.

Wreath image: Maya Visnyei

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Your time is the most precious gift you can give. Create your own coupons and use them as stocking stuffers for your family. Anything goes! My favourites to give to my husband are: “Dinner on me, at the restaurant of your choice” or “No garbage duty for the whole week” or “One free hand car wash by me.” For my kids, I’ll give simple coupons such as “Extra marshmallows in your hot chocolate,” “Foot massage” or “Movie and dinner with Mom.” Make the coupons redeemable any time of the year, and seal them with a kiss.

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