Healthy Food Ideas for a Holiday Gift Basket

Homemade Popcorn Treats

As with fats, carbohydrates can be more healthy or less healthy: Simple ones, like in white bread, are high in calories, lower in nutrients, and can cause damaging insulin spikes; complex ones, like in whole-grain bread (and those chestnuts), provide level energy and have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and various cancers [source: Mayo Clinic].

Whole grains as a category are not, perhaps, the most festive of foods -- unless those whole grains are popcorn, of course. Then, as long as you leave out the oil, butter and pint of salt, you've got a nutritious party going on.

Homemade (and air-popped) is the way to go to ensure a healthy popcorn treat. Try your hand at low-sugar kettle corn, parmesan- or cinnamon-dusted popcorn, honey popcorn balls, or a "party mix" of, say, popcorn, unsalted peanuts, unsalted sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and -- wait for it -- bits of dark chocolate.

Yes, dark chocolate. And here we arrive at one final, surprising addition to the healthy holiday basket ...

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