The big night is almost here! Santa and his elves at the North Pole are getting ready for the big night–Christmas Eve! And children all around the world are doing their very best to be good, not fight with their siblings, and clean up their rooms to prove they’re worthy of receiving the gifts on their Christmas lists. As a sign of gratitude and profound love for that jolly, old elf, millions of plates of cookies and glasses of milk will be left by the tree for Santa.

According to the History Channel, the tradition of leaving cookies and milk in the U.S. dates back to the 1930’s when parents, struggling with rations and the Great Depression, aimed to demonstrate gratitude to their children to be thankful for all they would receive. When you give, you receive. Say thanks. Be grateful. Share what you have–all timeless lessons.healthy-santa

But the roots of leaving gifts for Santa and his reindeer go as far back as Norse mythology when children would leave gifts for Odin (yes, comic book fans, that Odin) and his eight-legged horse, Sleipner, to entice them to leave gifts in the midwinter Yule celebration.

All these years later, cookies and milk are the go-to treat for Santa. It doesn’t take a mathematician to understand why Santa’s belt gets a wee bit tight around the holidays! That’s a lot of cookies!

This holiday season, let’s take a health lesson from the treat plate next to Santa’s that’s left for his reindeer, and add color and a few more veggies to Santa’s plate! It’s a great opportunity to show kids the importance of healthy snacks, for themselves, and for people they love, like Santa.

It’s a great opportunity for a lesson in giving and giving thoughtfully with an eye on health.

What are some healthy treats kids can make and leave for Santa’s to energize him on his late night journey? Peanut butter and all-fruit jam on whole wheat bread or crackers! Almond butter on whole
grain graham crackers! Turkey and spinach roll-ups in a whole what wrap! Happy face orange slices! A bunch of grapes and a banana! Apple slices with yogurt! A smoothie with fruit, veggies and low-fat milk or yogurt! Or a fancy yogurt parfait with granola and berries! And, of course, for his reindeer, healthy carrots, celery and broccoli!

This Christmas, give the gift of health for you, your children…and, of course, Santa. May he live a long and healthy life!

Happy Holidays from the American Heart Association! Get more tips for healthier living at www.heart.org/healthyliving 

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