Healthier Holiday Swaps!

This time of the year brings many holiday goodies in the stores. Not all of these Christmas treats are great for us, many of them are filled with unnecessary ingredients. Heidi took a trip to Trader Joe’s and has some enlightening swaps for us!

Note… we do LOVE Trader Joe’s and they typically have many healthy options, we just happen to be highlighting some deceiving marketing in this post.

Trader Joe’s always looks so festive this time of the year, with many new, seasonal holiday treats in every section of the store. Candy cane green tea! Yum! Peppermint chocolate almond milk creamer! Eeeek…. let’s see what’s in these holiday varieties.




We turn the box around and see zero calories for the tea, and think it must be healthy for you.

… but why is there soybean oil in tea?

…and unfortunately there’s really nothing natural about ‘natural flavors.’ WHY?

There are some good ingredients in that tea, cinnamon, carob pods, vanilla beans – why do they ruin a healthy tea with unnecessary additions? Grrrrr.

Also consider the chemicals in the tea bags, many tea bags contain plastics like polypropylene and high pesticide residue.

What would be a better option? 🙂

Look for organic teas, with no strange additives, and possibly pick the loose-leaf versions – OR look into the company, and see if they advertise using safe tea-bags, free of chemicals and plastics.



I am personally a huge fan of Pique teas, they are organic, and screened for toxins like heavy metals, pesticides and mold. My favorites are their jasmine green, sacred lily oolong and their earl grey – but they have a mint green – that paired with some local honey would likely be an equally delicious treat, without the unnecessary “extras” from this Trader Joe’s holiday tea.

… So – I passed the tea. I continued my walk down the aisles and found a nut mix. Seasonal nut mix, full of healthy fats, omega-3s, fiber, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium…. nut and seed trail mix has to be healthy right? I flipped over the package and the ingredient list was massive– ingredients like whole milk powder, enriched flour, soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, butter, natural flavors (again).




Tricky. Nuts should be a super healthy snack, not filled with all of these additives.

A better alternative?

My personal favorite has been Witzi’s Raw Granola (it’s grain-free, just nuts and fruit), it’s local – from the Cleveland area, a small family owned company, and the ingredients for my favorite blend are simple: organic, raw (almonds, walnuts, pecans), organic bananas, organic blueberries, organic maple syrup, organic ceylon cinnamon, organic allspice, organic sea salt.  BAM. That’s real food.

Or make your own? Check out these recipes from Gimme Some Oven and Minimalist Baker!


Ready for another deceiving product?

Trader Joe’s Cocoa Peppermint flavored Almond Creamer. Does anything taste like Christmas more than peppermint mocha? And it’s plant based. Almond milk creamer – score. Plants are supposed to be anti-inflammatory – that’s what the internet said.

Ingredients: Water, sugar, chocolate syrup (cane sugar, water, cocoa processed with alkali, natural flavor, xanthan gum), almonds, sunflower lecithin, stabilizer (dipotassium phosphate, sugar, locust bean gum, gellan gum) natural peppermint flavor.

As dietitians, we see a lot of people coming in with problems with digestion. One of these things that we think may be negatively effecting digestion, is the addition of these gums in many of our foods. We always encourage our clients to attempt to avoid these non-food additives, ingredients that would not naturally be in our diets.

The best alternatives to these plant-based creamers – are MALK and Elmhurst – 2 brands of nut milks that offer options made up of just nuts and water. Mix in your own peppermint doterra essential oil or cocoa powder to change the flavor of your coffee. OR choose a fun nut milk – my favorite coffee lately has been mixed with Elmhurst’s Hazelnut milk, a pinch of sea salt – and a teaspoon of honey. Or you could join us for a cooking class – our dietitian Katie recently taught a class – where she made homemade nut milk creamer, pumpkin spice syrup and a frozen pumpkin spice latte with real pumpkin. We’re fun. You’ll like us. 🙂

We’re not here to depress you, just open your eyes to poor ingredient lists. Try one of Heidi’s alternatives, you’ll feel better afterwards, promise! 🙂



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