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Ideas for Healthy Food Traditions

Ideas for Healthy Food Traditions

The holidays are a joyous time to celebrate with loved ones. It can be challenging to balance meal preparation and cooking with family activities and social outings. So why not try and combine them? Here are ideas on how to free up time in the kitchen by transforming food tasks (like cooking dinner or baking cookies) into food traditions your family will look forward to every year.

First of all, ease the efforts of your holiday food tasks:

  1. Plan it. Schedule time for holiday cooking and baking in advance. Visit our ‘Shopping Sense’ section for tips on meal preparation. Take a look at Sophia’s blog to learn about essential kitchen tools and pick up items you may need to help with your recipes before you get down to work.
  2. Budget it. Holidays can add financial stress. Look for deals by flipping through flyers. Use the Healthy Families BC Meal Planner to create shopping lists and plan meals. Visit Andrea’s blog for more tips on how to save money on food during the holidays.
  3. Do it together. Santa has helpers, why can’t you? Assign each member of the family a task so that everyone is helping prepare your holiday feast. It’s a great way to spend time together and also an opportunity to help kids develop food skills.

Try one (or all three) of these ideas to create lasting, enjoyable, and healthy family traditions:

  1. Think healthy choices when building traditions. Get the family involved to create a healthier gingerbread house using graham crackers and hold it together using peanut butter. Decorate with dried fruit and nuts and use shredded coconut for snow.
  2. Have recipe and meal exchange parties. Pull together your favourite recipes with your kids and invite family and friends to do the same. For the party, have guests prepare a favourite dish and bring extra portions to exchange along with their collection of recipes to share. Learn more from Andrea’s blog, The New Cookie Exchange.
  3. Involve your kids with holiday cooking and baking. Spend time with your kids by choosing and preparing healthy recipes together. Find healthy recipes from Bake Better Bites: Recipes and Tips for Healthier Baked Goods or Tips and Recipes for Quantity Cooking: Nourishing Minds and Bodies. But while you’re here, why not start with the Chewy Spice Cookie recipe below?

Do you have food traditions in your family? What are some other tasks that could be turned into fun and healthy family traditions?

Recipe: Chewy Spice Cookies

(Bake Better Bites: Recipes and Tips for Healthier Baked Goods, p. 13)

Makes about 64 cookies

125 ml (1⁄2 cup) soft non-hydrogenated margarine or unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 ml (1 cup) granulated sugar
1 egg
50ml (1⁄4 cup) molasses
20 ml (1 1⁄2 tbsp.) strong liquid coffee
250 ml (1 cup) all-purpose flour
250 ml (1 cup) whole grain wheat flour
5 ml (1 tsp.) baking soda
5 ml (1 tsp.) ground cinnamon
5 ml (1 tsp.) ground ginger
2 ml (1⁄2 tsp.) ground cloves
125 ml (1⁄2 cup) raisins
125 ml (1⁄2 cup) chopped dried apricots
50 ml (1⁄4 cup) chopped candied ginger
25 ml (2 tbsp.) granulated sugar


  1. In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugar until light. Beat in egg, molasses and coffee.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger and cloves.
  3. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture. Stir in raisins, apricots and candied ginger. Knead dough together and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Each log should be about 16 inches (40 cm) long.
  5. Place logs on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press flat. Bake in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Logs should still be soft. (Do not over bake or cookies will not be chewy.)
  6. Sprinkle cookies with sugar. Cut on diagonal into 1-inch (2.5-cm) slices. You should have about 7 or 8 cookies per strip. Cool cookies on racks.

Related blogs

Kitchen Essentials
5 Tips to Save Money on Food Over the Holidays
Planning - Get Organized. Plan Ahead. Make a List.
The New Cookie Exchange

Recommended resources

Healthy Families BC: Meal Planner
Bake Better Bites: Recipes and Tips for Healthier Baked Goods
Tips and Recipes for Quantity Cooking: Nourishing Minds and Bodies



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