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Healthy Food Ideas for a Holiday Gift Basket

Fresh Baked Goods

A cookie is a cookie, right? Butter, flour, sugar, eggs, oil ...

As far as basic ingredients go, yes; however, a packaged cookie that's sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse has requirements a fresh-baked cookie does not. Most notably, it needs to stay in its current form for a very, very long time -- a feat manufacturers often accomplish by infusing their vegetable oil with hydrogen in a process called hydrogenation which produces manmade trans fats in the process [source: Micco]. Hello, clogged arteries.

Bakeries don't need their products to last for months, so those fresh-baked goods are a better choice. The best choice, though, is to bake at home, where you can use only the healthiest oils (canola and safflower are good ones) and make some careful replacements: trading some of the white flour for whole wheat flour and a bit of wheat germ; one of the whole eggs with two whites; some of the whole milk with 2 percent; and part of the sugar with honey and applesauce.

Try fat-free banana muffins, whole-wheat peanut butter cookies, honey-sweetened granola bars and oatmeal-cranberry scones.

Next, fruit isn't just a bag of apples ...