3 Easy Baked Goods to Give as Holiday Gifts

Bake healthy treats with The FIRM


For me, one of the most nerve-racking aspects of the holiday season is finding gifts for everyone on my list. I want to say “thanks” to so many people, but it’s really hard to find the time and money to do it all.

So I blow off the department stores, and hit my supermarket instead. I stock up on baking ingredients (plenty of sales this time of year!), and I start baking muffins, cookies, breads, and other baked goods and food gifts for all of those near and dear to me. This is a very personal way to share good cheer, and while all that baking may sound time-consuming, it actually saves me time (and lots of money). If I get an early jump on baking, I’ll freeze the delectables until gift-giving time.  

Here are three of my favorite food gifts. Enjoy! 


Apple Bran Mini-Muffins

These muffins are the healthiest muffin recipe I have been able to come up with, and are chock full of fiber. Plus, the cranberries in this recipe make the muffins look quite festive! I like to give a mixed box of mini-muffins that includes chocolate banana nut, zucchini, and apple bran. 


  • ¾ cup Kellogg's All-Bran Cereal

  • ¾ cup 1% milk

  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar

  • ¼ cup canola oil

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour

  • ¼ cup wheat germ

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp baking soda

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ¾ cup chopped apple

  • Handful of chopped cranberries

  • Non-stick cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the cereal and the milk and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the egg, brown sugar, and oil and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. Add the bran mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold in the chopped apples and portion the mixture into mini-muffin tins that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with chopped cranberries and bake for about 12-16 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the muffin.


Box of Gingerbread Men

There is nothing more festive than adorable little gingerbread men! And the best part is that these delicious cookies are not all that unhealthy.


  • ¾ cup butter, softened

  • ¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

  • ½ cup molasses

  • 1 egg

  •  1 tsp vanilla extract

  •  3 cups all-purpose flour

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until it is well combined and fluffy. Then add the molasses, egg and vanilla to the sugar and mix again with the electric mixer. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Then gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using the electric mixer on a slow speed. The dough should begin to form. Press dough into a large ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours.

Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness and using cookie cutters (about 4-5 inch cutters work best) cut the gingerbread men as desired. Place on ungreased baking sheets, 1-inch apart from each other, and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool. Decorate if desired.


Cranberry-Pumpkin Bread Loaves

These loaves are so festive because of the red cranberries. Wrap them in green cellophane for a pretty holiday gift. Feel free to add chopped walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour

  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2½ cups sugar

  • 15-ounce can of pumpkin

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 cup canola oil

  • ½ cup orange juice

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch loaf pans. Combine the flours, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, canola oil and orange juice and beat until just blended. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir until moistened. Stir in the cranberries and pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pans to cool on a plate or wire rack.

What are your favorite homemade treats to give, both edible (food gifts) and nonedible (like bath salts)? Let us know in the comments section!


Beat holiday weight gain by working out with The FIRM on GaiamTV.com!

Photo: Gaetan Lee


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Eat Well & Be Merry: 4 Festive and Healthy Holiday Recipes

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