Holiday Food Gifts: Healthier Goodies (cont.)

6. On the sixth day of Christmas, my FOODIE gave to me... 6 faux frying essentials.

This Faux Frying Gift Basket uses a brand spanking new nonstick frying pan as the basket (item No. 1). The pan is filled with these 5 other faux frying essentials:

  • A nonstick spatula to help "fry" food in your nonstick frying pan and bakeware.
  • A silicon brush, for brushing canola oil lightly onto food or your nonstick frying pan and bakeware.
  • A can of canola cooking spray for lightly covering your food or pans.
  • A small bottle of canola oil. Light frying often requires a small amount of an oil that can handle higher temperature oven-frying and light pan-frying.
  • A cookbook that contains recipes for lighter versions of "fried" foods. Of course, I recommend my own book Fry Light, Fry Right, which is all about having your favorite fried foods and eating light, too.

7. On the seventh day of Christmas my FOODIE gave to me ... 7 festive food bars.

To all your sporty friends, give the gift of fast fuel. Assemble an assortment of 7 of your favorite power bars, packaged with a new sports towel and sports bottle, and maybe even a small workout bag. A box of 12 bars costs about $15. Here are some suggested flavors:

From Clif Bar:

  • Iced Gingerbread
  • Caramel Apple Cobbler
  • Spiced Pumpkin Pie (include 2 of these bars for your total of 7)
  • Banana Nut

From Luna Bar:

  • Peppermint Stick
  • Chocolate Pecan Pie

You can find Clif and Luna bars at grocery stores and health food stores across the country, or order online at: www.clifbar.com or www.lunabar.com

8. On the eighth day of Christmas my FOODIE gave to me ... 8 Easy Cinnamon Rolls.

This bread machine recipe for lighter, higher-fiber cinnamon rolls makes two cake pans filled with eight rolls each. They rise in the refrigerator overnight and are ready to bake in the morning. You can either give them ready-to-rise, ready-to-bake, or ready-to-eat -- it's your choice! The best part is that this recipe makes one pan to keep and one pan to give.

Easy & Light Cinnamon Rolls

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal 1 roll as 2 small muffins OR 3 pieces of pancake, waffle, French toast

Dough
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk (105-110 degrees)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour (add 1/4-1/3 cup more if dough seems too wet in the pan after the first 5 minutes of mixing in the machine)
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons bread machine yeast (rapid rise)

Filling 1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup less-fat margarine (like Take Control) or whipped butter

Icing

1/2 cup light cream cheese
2 tablespoons less fat margarine or whipped butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Place dough ingredients in a 2-pound bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer (usually in the order listed here). Set machine to "dough" cycle and press START.
  • When dough cycle is complete, roll dough out on lightly floured surface with a rolling pin until it is about 21 inches long and 16 inches wide. It should be about 1/4-inch thick.
  • Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl with a fork or whisk. Spread margarine evenly over the top surface of the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture evenly over the margarine.
  • Working carefully from the 21-inch side, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. Cut the rolled dough into 16 slices (about 1 1/4-inch thick) and place slices (8 per pan) into two, 9-inch round cake pans that have been coated with canola cooking spray. Cover the pans with plastic wrap or foil and let rise in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for an hour.
  • Bake in preheated, 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until rolls are light brown on top and cooked throughout. While the rolls bake, beat the icing ingredients with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  • When rolls come out of the oven, coat each generously with icing and serve.

Yield: 16 cinnamon rolls

Per roll: 370 calories, 7.5 g protein, 66 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 330 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%

9. On the ninth day of Christmas my FOODIE gave to me... 9 ounces of nifty nuts.

You can find festive, 9-ounce cans of nuts from Planters in your neighborhood grocery store. Dress it up with a colorful bow and gift tag, and you're good to go. One of my favorite Planters Nut can collections is the lightly salted Heart-Healthy Mix with peanuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts.

As a bonus, the health claim on the label reads: "Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as peanuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

10. On the 10th day of Christmas my FOODIE gave to me ... 10 facts about flaxseed.

Send your special someone the healthy gift of flax, which I consider one of the most nutritionally powerful plant foods on the planet. You could send a pound of ground flaxseed along with a printed version of the "10 Facts about Flax" below. Or put together a Flax Pack: Package a cookbook with flaxseed recipes (like my book, The Flax Cookbook) with a pound of ground flaxseed, all wrapped up in ribbon with a shiny new tablespoon measure dangling from the bow.