Combine the excitement of opening stockings on Christmas morning with the many health benefits certain nutritious and tasty snacks can provide.
As Jan. 1 approaches, more and more people begin to think about the goals they want to achieve and maintain. But before they can get to breaking or keeping resolutions, they have to get past the holiday season that can tax the arteries and strain the waistline. By eating just 200 extra calories a day, you could pack on two to three pounds during December alone. That doesn’t sound like much, except few people shed that extra weight in the following months and years.
You don’t need to deprive yourself, eat only dull foods, or take your treats with a side order of guilt. But you need to be careful.
And one way to help your friends and family is with what you put in the holiday stockings.
In addition to candy canes, peanut brittle, and chocolate that you might slip into stockings, consider adding in a few items that might help keep with good health. While it might feel good to gobble up high-calorie treats Christmas morning, and throughout the day, they will eventually leave you feeling sluggish as the day continues and could ruin your Christmas spirit.
The snacks that we tend to overload into family's and friend's stockings often contain harsh ingredients such as artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Eat too much of these ingredients over time and inflammation can occur, which is often associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and even cardiovascular diseases.
You don’t have to be a total scrooge and say no to all the treats, but putting a little bit of conscious thought into what you buy could make a big difference.
Substitutions do not have to be crazy, and you don’t need to go as far as stuffing your family's stockings with carrots or apples. That would bring some disappointing looks and even tears from the little ones. All you have to do is be sneaky with it and replace half of the “bad” and unhealthy snacks with healthier snacks that even include candy bars.
Here is a list of some healthy snacks you can put in an exercise addict’s stocking but will work for grandparents, teenagers, children, and even men, who tend to be on the pickier side. There is a great variety that ranges from chocolatey, sweet, and salty, to crunchy and even gummy.
KIND Bars are deliciously crispy and chewy, and combine a variety of mixed dry fruits and nuts. With flavors such as peanut butter dark chocolate, sea salt, and glazed maple pecan, there is no way your family and friends can say no. Not only do you receive a great serving of heart-healthy mixed nuts, but this bar provides bacteria-fighting fiber. Another benefit that these sweet-tasting KIND Bars offer is that they are low in saturated fat and high in healthy fats that contain essential fatty acids that your body can’t produce on its own. This fat also helps leave you full and satisfied between meals. There is also four times less sugar in these bars in comparison to “unhealthy” candy bars such as Hershey bars.
Justin’s Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs
Cute tiny protein-packed pouches filled with tasty and guilt-free peanut or almond butter, these squeeze packs are not only perfect for filling stockings but are great when running late to school or work. Justin’s Peanut Butter also comes in jars and is not like usual “healthy” peanut butter that contains that icky layer of liquid on the top that ends up spilling everywhere when you're trying to stir it around. It comes in a no-stir form and gluten-free. The packs come in many flavors, including classic peanut/almond butter and honey peanut/almond butter. They also come in peanut butter cups for all the Reese’s lovers out there.
Krave snacks are made with tender, gourmet cuts of meat and simple ingredients like black cherries and chili peppers. Every bite of Krave is low in fat, a good source of protein, gluten-free, and contains all-natural ingredients with no artificial anything and minimal processing. Ranging from sweet and tangy to savory and spicy, the uniqueness of each Krave flavor profile appeals to protein lovers, discerning palates, and health-conscious gourmands. Containing low amounts of fat, high vitamins, and iron, and 100 calories or less per serving, this is the perfect non-sugary stocking stuffer.
Annie’s Fruit Snacks
Swap out the usual gummies with these organic and gelatin-free fruit snacks. Annie’s snacks are made from real fruit juice and have tons of fun flavors for everyone including pink lemonade, sunny citrus, and berry patch. Also, in comparison to Haribo gummies, one serving of Annie’s is around 70 calories, while one serving of Haribo is 130 calories. This can make a big difference when trying to reduce the number of calories you eat in a day and also when you are trying to save some calories for the big Christmas dinner later in the day. Parents love that they are certified organic and don’t contain artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or high fructose corn syrup. Children love the delicious taste and fun bunny shapes.
When we think about popcorn during the holidays, we usually think of the popcorn that comes in those large tin containers. Each tin usually has three or four different sections containing a cheesy flavored popcorn, a caramel covered popcorn, and some original salted flavor. Sometimes, as you mix the different flavors, it can become an addicting habit, and then 20 minutes later, you realize you have eaten almost half of the container. Well, instead of eating that high sugar and calorie popcorn, try SkinnyPop Popcorn. This is such a better and healthier alternative because it is only 39 calories a cup, whole-grain, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and has about four times less the amount of sodium (75 mg compared to 270 mg sodium in Pop Secret popcorn). With all of these benefits, and flavors such as butter, white cheddar, and sweet and salty kettle, there is no reason not to include these in your stockings.
Theo Chocolate Bars
These deep and rich bars contain organic ingredients that you can pronounce, including cocoa beans, cocoa butter, almonds, and sea salt. Not only should you include them in your stockings this year because of these natural ingredients, but because of the company’s values. The founders of the company purchase their ingredients from farmers around the world so that chocolate can be made in a way that allows everyone in the bean to bar process to thrive. Therefore, you are not only receiving a great natural product in the form of a candy bar, but you are also helping the world connect in more ways than one.
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