Healthy holiday recipes from Tina Miller

Recipes from Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor

DETROITPersonalize your holidays by giving homemade gifts from the kitchen! Gift making doesn't need to be time consuming or costly, just made with love and thoughtfulness. Mason jars are trendy and make the perfect container for your holiday treat, some of us enjoy more traditional treats with a healthier twist, or for those who are pressed for time take advantage of no-bake treats that everyone can enjoy!

Make it in a mason jar: French market soup (recipe yields 14 jars or cellophane gift bags)


  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 pound split peas
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 pound dried baby lima beans
  • 1 pound dried soybeans
  • 1 pound dried red beans
  • 1 pound dried great Northern beans
  • 1 pound yellow split peas
  • 1 pound lentils
  • 1 pound dried lima beans
  • 1 pound pearl barley


1. In a very large container, combine navy beans, pinto beans, great Northern beans, split peas, yellow split peas, black-eyed peas, lentils, limas, baby limas, soybeans, barley and red beans; mix well. Divide evenly into 14 14 (1 pint) lidded jars or cellophane gift-giving bags.

2. Attach a card to each gift bag or jar with the following recipe and decorate your recipe gift card with glitter, etc. or cut with pinking shears for an added touch!


Friendship Bread Starter


1 pkg. active dry yeast

3 cups Meijer white whole wheat flour, divided

3 cups Meijer granulated sugar, divided

3 cups milk, divided


  • On Day 1: Soften yeast mixture in 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Set aside for 5 minutes then stir well to be sure yeast has dissolved. In a glass or plastic bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk. Stir in yeast mixture using a wooden or plastic spoon (don't use metal spoon or electric mixer—these will negatively interact with the yeast). Cover bowl loosely with paper towel, cloth, wax paper or plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature (don't refrigerate).
  • On Days 2, 3 and 4: Using wooden or plastic spoon, stir mixture once each day.
  • On Day 5: Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk; stir.
  • On Days 6, 7, 8 and 9: Using wooden or plastic spoon, stir mixture once each day.
  • On Day 10: Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk. Remove 3 cups of mixture and give 1 cup each to three friends (or freeze in 1 cup portions). Save remaining starter for yourself.

Friendship Dessert Bread


  • 1 cup Amish friendship bread starter
  • 1 cup Meijer granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 Meijer large eggs
  • 2 cups Meijer White Whole Wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. McCormick Vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. McCormick cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350?F.

2. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until well blended.  

3. Spray two 9"x5" bread pans with nonstick cooking spray; dust lightly with flour.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

NOTE: Approximately 1/2 cup of Raisins, chopped apples, drained crushed canned pineapple, candied fruit, coconut, mashed banana, chopped dates, chopped nuts or chocolate chips may be added to batter before baking.

Cinnamon-Apple chew mix (serves 6)


  • 5 cups Wheat Chex
  • 1 cup lightly salted almonds
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup Meijer brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. McCormick ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup diced dried apples
  • 1/2 cup yogurt covered raisins


1. In a large microwavable bow mix cereal and almonds; set aside. 

2. In a 2-cup microwavable measuring cup combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and cinnamon.  Microwave on high 2 minutes; stir to combine.  Pour over cereal mix and stir to coat.

3. Microwave cereal mixture 3 minutes, stirring after each minute.  Add apples; microwave 2 minutes.

4. Add raisins and mix.  Spread mixture out onto a large sheet of wax paper; let cool completely. 

5. Package in holiday treat bags or zip lock bags.  For Gift Giving:  Package in Mason Jars and decorate with holiday fabric and ribbon to make festive.

Source:  Meijer "Taste of the Holidays" recipe and entertaining guidebook.

Traditional treats with a healthier twist

Oven roasted nuts (Makes 24 1/4 cup portions)


  • 2 egg whites lightly beaten (or 1/2 cup liquid egg white)
  • 2 Tablespoons of water
  • 6 cups Shelled walnuts or Pecan halves
  • 1 cup Meijer granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. McCormick® ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. McCormick® ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. McCormick® ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. McCormick® Chinese 5-spice powder


1. Preheat conventional oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment baking paper or use a silicone baking sheet.

2. In a bowl beat egg white, mix in water, and add nuts.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together well all spices and sugar. 

4. Add spice-sugar mix to nut mix.  Mix well and spread in a single layer onto cookie sheet. 

5. Place in the middle rack of oven – bake for 30 minutes (no longer) until mostly dry, stir every 10 minutes.  Watch closely at end of baking time to prevent burning. 

6. Allow to cool completely before storing.  Do not refrigerate.  Seal tightly in an air-tight sealed container.  

Nutrition Information per serving: 301 Calories, 28g Fat, 4g Protein, 13g Carbohydrate, 105mg Sodium, 0 mg Cholesterol, 4g Fiber, 37mg Calcium.

Holiday pumpkin bread (Makes 1 loaf/12 hearty servings/3 mini loaves)

  • 3 cups Meijer White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. McCormick® ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. McCormick® ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. McCormick® ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter margarine
  • 1 16-oz. can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9"x 5" loaf pan with pan spray (or 4 mini-loaf pans). 

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. 

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat on medium speed margarine, eggs, pumpkin and then adding sugar last, beat until well blended. 

4. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix only until moistened.  Stir in chopped dates and walnuts.

5. Spoon batter evenly into pan(s). If desired, lightly sprinkle raw batter with additional ground nuts. Bake approx. 50 to 60 minutes (about 40 minutes for mini-loaves), until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (If top of loaf browns to quickly, loosely cover with foil until baking is completed).

6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.  Remove from pan, transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 305 calories, 7g protein, 49g carbohydrate, 9g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium, 4.5g fiber.

Holiday chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (Makes 3 dozen cookies)


  • 2 1/4 Cups Meijer White Whole Wheat Flour ("fluff" flour with a spoon prior to measuring)
  • 1/2 Cup Oatmeal
  • 1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seed (Flax meal)
  • 3/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 3/4 Cup Loosely Packed Meijer Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Smart Balance Butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 tsp. McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Pkg. (12 oz.) Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried Michigan cherries
  • Optional:  1 Cup chopped nuts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Combine flour, oat bran, flax meal, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. 

3. Cream butter, add brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add granulated sugar and beat until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again until smooth.

4. Add half of the mixed dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix well. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chips and dried cherries (and nuts if desired) and mix until well blended.

**Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets (line with parchment paper for easier clean up). Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Makes approximately 5 dozen 2" cookies. (For best results, refrigerate dough for 1 to 2 hours before baking).

No baking required

Rich chocolate pumpkin truffles (Makes 4 dozen)

Simply combine ingredients, roll and chill. A little coffee liqueur adds a spark of rich flavor.


2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 62)

1 cup ground, toasted almonds or other nuts

3/4 cup Meijer powdered sugar

2 tsp. McCormick ground cinnamon

1/2 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin

1 cup NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1/3 cup coffee liqueur**


1. COMBINE crushed cookies, ground almonds, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Blend in melted chocolate, pumpkin and coffee liqueur. Shape into 1-inch balls. Refrigerate.

2. Dust with remaining powdered sugar just before serving.

*Follow melting direction on NESTLÉ® package.

**1/3 cup apple juice can be used instead of coffee liqueur. Recipe source: NESTLÉ®, www.verybestbaking.com

Chocolate dipped dried fruit (Makes 8 servings)


  • 4 oz. semi-sweet dark chocolate (chocolate chips or baking melts)
  • Dried Fruit such as dried apricots, apples, dates, pineapple or your favorite dried fruit.
  • Optional: Sweetened coconut flakes, ground nuts


1. Chop or break chocolate in pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Place microwave on 50% power and melt for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly and microwave at 15 second intervals until chocolate is melted.

2. Dip dried fruit into the chocolate, coating the bottom 1/3 of fruit. Optional:  dip in coconut flakes or nuts. 

3. Place on waxed-lined sheet and refrigerate until set.