Should we feed Santa healthier snacks this holiday?

Chances are your kids put out the same snacks for Santa that you did when you were their age: Cookies and milk, with carrots for the reindeer. But is it time to leave Santa a snack that aligns with the healthful eating habits you foster in your children the rest of the year?

12 better-for-Santa snacks

  • Whole wheat pita bread wedges and hummus
  • Cranberry muffins
  • Dark chocolate-dipped strawberries
  • Spiced pecans
  • Whole wheat biscotti
  • Roasted butternut squash wedges
  • Homemade party mix
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Seedless black grapes, cheese wedges and French bread rounds
  • Dried figs dipped in chocolate
  • Hot cocoa in an insulated mug
  • Hot spiced cider

Even kids know that Santa and Mrs. Claus could lose a few pounds. After all, in The Night Before Christmas, he’s described as being “chubby and plump” and having “a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.”

Along with obesity, Santa may be at risk for sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Uh-oh.

Kids can help Santa be healthier and learn good eating habits by leaving him–and his reindeer–a more nutritious snack on Christmas Eve.

A fan of providing Santa other options on Christmas Eve is registered dietitian nutritionist Christy Wilson. “I think Santa enjoys the sweets,” she says. “But it’s probably a good idea to give him a little variety.”

Consider providing something festive, yet nourishing, for Santa who has a long night ahead of him. Why not give him a high-energy snack so he has the stamina to travel `round the world–without contributing to his round belly?

Christine Palumbo, RDN, FAND, is a Naperville nutritionist who swears by a mug of homemade hot chocolate with a candy cane stirrer for Santa. Find her at Christine Palumbo Nutrition on Facebook, @PalumboRD on Twitter or ChristinePalumbo.com.

Almond Coco-Cherry Chia Bites

Serving: 1 bite

Recipe makes 35  1-inch-sized bites

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 ½ cup rolled oats (sometimes labeled as Old Fashioned Oats)

½ cup almonds, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. unsweetened  shredded coconut

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

¼ cup 72% cocoa dark chocolate, roughly chopped into small pieces

½ cup dried cherries, roughly chopped

1

/3 cup honey

2

/3 cup almond butter

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, add the first six ingredients. Stir until combined.

2. Add honey and almond butter and mix all ingredients together until combined.

3. Place mixture into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to allow it to harden.

4. Shape mixture into 1-inch rounded balls and place on a platter or cookie sheet.

5. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to five days. You can also freeze and take out as needed.

Nutrition per bite: 80 calories, 9 g carbohydrates (4 g sugar), 2 g protein, 4.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 0 cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 2% DV

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