Heading to a holiday party and want to take a gift to the host?

Food gifts are always popular. So why not present something homemade and healthy?

Dietitian Kim Galeaz stopped by with some easy-to-follow recipes.

Spiced Candied Cashews

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup very firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin*
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne red pepper*
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) Kroger Simple Truth Roasted Cashews with Sea Salt

Heat oven to 300⁰F. Spread the tablespoon vegetable oil evenly on 18×13-inch rimmed baking sheet pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne red pepper and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk egg white and water until white and frothy. Add cashews and toss lightly to coat all pieces. Slowly sprinkle sugar-spice mixture over all cashews, tossing lightly to coast all pieces. Spread on oiled baking sheet in single layer.

Bake 10 minutes then stir and make sure cashews are in single layer. Bake additional 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes and arranging in a single layer, until cashews are evenly golden browned. Depending on your oven, it may take even a few more minutes. Cashews will “crisp up” as they cool, so avoid overcooking. Once cooled, place cashews (and crispy yummy sugar-spice goodness stuck on pan!) to airtight container. Store at room temperature. Makes roughly 4 cups.

*Depending on your preferred heat/spiciness level.

Cheddar Pecan Crackers

  • 12 ounces Kroger Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated (at least 3 cups)
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour (such as King Arthur)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) Kroger unsalted butter, cut into diced pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 Tablespoons ice cold water
  • 1/3 cup Kroger Simple Truth Roasted Pecans Sea Salt, very finely chopped

Grate blocks of cheddar cheese; set aside. In a large food processor bowl, add both flours, cornstarch, cayenne pepper, dry mustard and salt. Pulse 5 times. Add grated cheese and process about 30 seconds until everything looks well combined and is starting to form small pieces. Add diced butter in 2 additions, pulsing 7 to 8 times after each addition, until mixture looks like wet sand texture. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and water together. With food processor running, add egg-water mixture through food chute and process JUST until dough starts to come together in a mass. Add in chopped pecans and pulse about 10 times until blended. Avoid over-working dough or crackers will be tough. Dump dough on cutting board and form a large log. Divide dough in half and roll each portion into a 9 ½- to 10-inch log. Wrap each log tightly in wax paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to a couple days.

Heat oven to 375⁰F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap one log at a time and cut into ¼-inch slices (about 30 crackers per log). Place crackers on prepared sheet pan. (Kim fits 30 on her large cookie sheet. Just make sure they don’t touch. Crackers will not spread as they cook.) Bake about 15 to 20 minutes, until crackers are set, but not crisp, and golden brown on bottoms and edges. (They will crisp/harden as they cool.) Immediately remove crackers from baking sheet to wire rack to cool. Store at room temperature in air-tight container. Makes 60 crackers (5 dozen).

Bacon Fig Onion Jam

  • ½ pound thick cut bacon strips, diced
  • 1 ½ cups diced white onion
  • 1 very large garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 bags (7 oz. each) California Dried Mission Figs
  • ¾ cup water (may need a little extra while simmering)
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Kroger Private Selection Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Trim hard tip/stem from figs. In a food processor, add 1/3 of the figs and pulse about 20 times, until only small and medium pieces remain. Repeat two more times. Set dried figs aside. In a large Dutch oven (at least 5 quart size), cook diced bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until beginning to crisp and brown, but not completely dark/crispy. Remove cooked bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour bacon fat in a measuring cup. Measure out 2 tablespoons bacon fat and add back to pan. Add diced onion and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until just softened. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking onions, stirring frequently, until onion is a caramelized brown color, about 12 to 20 minutes. Add garlic during last 5 minutes of onion cooking. Add chopped dried figs, ¾ cup water, both vinegars, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper, along with cooked bacon, to pan and stir well. Reduce heat to low (simmer), cover pan and continue cooking about 30 minutes, until nearly all moisture is absorbed and figs have completely softened. Add another tablespoon or two of water if you think figs need to cook longer. Once mixture is done, let it cool before placing in jars. If desired for a smoother texture, use an immersion blender on part of the cooker fig-bacon-onion mixture. Store refrigerated. Makes at least 2 ½ cups jam.

Pretzel Mustard Dip

  • ½ cup Kroger spicy brown mustard
  • ½ – 2/3 cup favorite stone-ground mustard
  • ½ cup light reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • ½ cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish (from refrigerated jar)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne red pepper (or more!)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl until well-blended. Serve immediately with pretzels and/or pretzel nuggets (both soft and hard work terrific with this dip.) Or refrigerate first in tightly covered container. Always refrigerate leftovers. Makes heaping 2 cups dip.

All recipes by culinary registered dietitian nutritionist Kim Galeaz, RDN LD.