Guest Post, Tammy Credicott from The Healthy GF Life: Redefining the Role of Treats

This week we’re visited by Tammy Credicott, blog author at The Healthy GF Life and the brilliant creator of Make Ahead Paleo, Paleo Indulgences and The Healthy Gluten Free Life. She is known for inspiring families to think differently about the food they eat, and today she does just that.

Today Tammy helps us think differently about how “treats” are used in our day to day activities, and shares a fantastic recipe that is perfect for holiday indulgences!


Do you get the feeling that special occasions aren’t really all that special anymore? Every time I turn around there’s another party, potluck, BBQ, anniversary, holiday, made-up holiday, “My kid is amazing so let’s have a cupcake!” day at school, and the list goes on and on. Back in the day, I was happy to get a chocolate cake from the infamous Betty Crocker (it was the 70’s & boxed foods were king) for my birthday, and a little somethin’ somethin’ during Christmas, Valentine’s Day and of course, Halloween. But in between those truly special occasions? Not much, except for the occasional summer strawberry shortcake or peach cobbler. My kids are faced with so much more.

Last year I kept a large container on my kitchen counter and planned on filling it during a month-long period with “special” treats my kids received. It was completely full in just 1 week. One! Between school rewards (Really? Candy as a reward at school? Why is this still allowed?), which was sadly the bulk of the items received, the bank, utility company, and pretty much any local business we visited, the kids were given candy, gum and cookies galore. Now add in family birthdays, celebrations and play dates, and you’ve got yourself a daily battle against even the best intentions.

TammyCredicott-PaleoParents-1As my container reached its brim, I asked myself, “What are we teaching our kids about ‘special’ moments?” If we constantly throw sugar at our kids to say – “Great job Johnny!” or “Thank you for being so quiet at the bank Sally!” – how will they ever learn that food is not a reward, but fuel, and that special moments don’t happen every single day…that’s why they’re special!

Obviously, what constitutes a special occasion is different for each individual and family, but it’s up to us as parents to decide, and more importantly, teach, what is special and what is excess. For my family, our celebrations include birthdays and Holidays – not Tuesday after math class. I think it’s important to choose which occasions are truly special to you and your family and do your best to provide a healthier version of a treat to celebrate it. Let the other stuff go and your kids will learn that junk doesn’t need to be consumed every day. In doing this, we can teach them that it’s ok to indulge every once in awhile, but doing it every day makes it mundane and unhealthy.

One thing I’m trying to do more, is be present at school functions and volunteer for more school celebration planning. My hope is to plant the seed for change in my kids’ school to stop the daily birthday celebrations and opt for once a month celebration instead (so all those with birthdays in a single month would celebrate together- once).  Last year, my kids were exposed to dozens of birthday junk-fests at school  (not counting birthday parties held off campus after school hours). Changing to a once a month plan would cut it down to 10 in a school year. Much less excessive. This goes for the work place too. Tired of Bob in the next office always bringing in donuts, or the office birthday cakes that seem to find themselves in the break-room every day? Start a petition for once-a-month birthday celebrations and push for a First Friday Feast where donuts (or whatever) are only brought in on the first Friday of the month. Spacing these “special occasions” out, plus knowing when they’ll be happening, can help you maintain your own sanity plus it gives you time to prepare a healthier alternative for yourself (and others if you’re feeling generous).

I know it’s a long road, since our society has gotten so hooked on any excuse for a sweet celebration. But I’m on a mission to teach my kids the difference between “special” and a bad habit. I’m curious…what are the special occasions in your family, and what things do you just say no to?

Here’s a recipe I don’t have trouble saying yes to! One of my favorite traditions during the Holiday season is making cookies with my kids for friends and neighbors….and, okay – a few for us too! This recipe for Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies comes from my latest book, Make Ahead Paleo, and has been in my family for years. I converted it to a grain free treat because, when it comes to the Holidays in our house, it just isn’t Christmas without the sound of giggles and the smell of fresh baked cookies! We enjoy and share them once a year, and they taste that much sweeter because they truly are, for us, a special treat.

Orange White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

Yield: makes 16 cookies

Orange White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies



  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a medium bowl add dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Add wet ingredients, except coconut oil. Blend with a hand mixer until combined. Add coconut oil and blend again to incorporate.
  4. Stir in orange zest, white chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten each dough ball slightly with the palm of your hand since they don’t spread while baking. (note: they will spread if you use butter instead of coconut oil so be sure to leave room).
  6. Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container or freeze until needed.

TammyCredicott-PaleoParents-3Tammy Credicott is a recipe developer, food photographer, public speaker, allergy-friendly cooking instructor, and the national bestselling author of Make Ahead Paleo, Paleo Indulgences and The Healthy Gluten Free Life. She has a passion for understanding health and wellness as it relates to nutrition and has used this knowledge to help her family overcome health issues such as celiac disease, multiple food intolerances, eczema and ADD.  She lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and two daughters.

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  • Jerri-lynn D

    What source of white choco chips do you use? Are they paleo? I’m thinking probably not, right?

  • Aulii Margeth VanBoskerck

    If I use butter do I use it the same way and in the same amounts as the coconut oil?

    • Checking with our source, more to come soon. 😉

    • Tammy_The Healthy GF Life

      Hello! Yes, you would use the same amount, but be sure to give them room to spread a little.

      • Aulii Margeth VanBoskerck

        Thank you!

  • Anita

    Thanks Tammy. Your post expresses how I feel lately. My children are preschool age and already we’re dealing with constant unhealthy treats/snacks at school, play dates, birthday parties, grandma’s house, outings with friends, BBQ’s, potlucks, etc. I can’t even go to the park without my kids seeing others eating cookies or chips and whining that they “need” a snack – even though we just ate a big meal beforehand. I was giving in and saying “just this once” is fine or thinking that I do not want them to feel deprived. But then I noticed that almost every day is yet another opportunity for bad food and I was giving in a lot. I want them to avoid the health and dental problems I have because of unhealthy food in my past, and the meals that I prepare for my family are healthy. But I’m still trying to figure out a balance for everything else that they are (and will be) exposed to. 🙂

  • Karen

    Youare right! Treats are so pervasive! I don’t know if people felt deprived growing up and like they need to overcompensate with their (and my!) children, but it seems that we are in a society now where everything must be available all the time. My eldest son just started junior kindergarten, so I am only now being exposed to the “dangers” of the classroom. Nuts are nowhere to be seen, but there are pizza lunches EVERY week! I remember pizza being a rare treat when I grew up! And you can get ‘gluten-free’ crust – I guess so even the celiacs can be exposed to the carb-overload and not feel deprived?? I’m grateful that my son is only in school half-days, but I am concerned about next year when he is full-time. I don’t want my kid to be ostracized, but I just don’t like the schools pushing their warped ideals of healthy eating on my kids. Even at day care, the caregiver feels like she is depriving my kids by not making them mac & cheese (we told her our kids have gluten allergies in order to get her mostly onside with our parenting). We used to keep the Halloween candy in a bowl so that our eldest could have a treat each night if he ate his supper, but last year the treats lasted the entire year! And that is with the parents helping themselves (since then we have all gone Paleo)! We just couldn’t justify our 4-year old eating candy EVERY night after supper, so we’ve done away with the bowl entirely. Now when he eats his supper, he can have a banana or blueberries or a small square of dark chocolate. Or his treat can be a trip to the playground after supper and before his bedtime. I recently read somewhere, maybe here, the idea of the kids “buying” a special toy with their Hallowe’en candy (ie. a “trade-in”) and I think we will do that this year (they can still have a couple of treats – it IS Hallowe’en after all! But I think we have to stop seeing these kids as deprived but instead as privileged because we are ensuring that they will be strong and healthy and have a good foundation for when they are older and on their own.

  • Nathan

    I am very excited to read all the great info and start connecting with like minded people…I feel as though my brain is on fire with how much info is out there. I’m just starting out with the Paleo diet…I feel so much better than before, and before trying the other diets. I came across a nice website and thought you guys might like it…the website aggregates all the paleo info from the web. Pretty informative. http://paleoheadlines.com/

  • Kim Wojcuilewicz

    THANK YOU! This post is great and is exactly what I’m trying to do at home. I’m a cake baker/decorator (think Cake Boss!) but I’m on a short hiatus and it’s been GREAT for having less treats around, however with the amount if orders I receive it just makes your point even stronger! Also, with Halloween coming up… Oh man. However, our youngest son has a bunch of food allergies so I’m going to be making my own Paleo treats and his older siblings are EXCITED! What?! I think this post should be shared with EVERYONE – focus on real foods, real fuel to keep your body going especially kids! Thanks again for a great post!