You don’t need to skip dessert to be healthy—it’s all about moderation. ‘Tis the season for indulgence after all. In fact, according to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average American increased their weight by more than five pounds over the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It’s easy to understand why. Between traveling, added stress, and a more-the-merrier attitude in regards to sweets, a bit of weight gain is expected. Whether you’re dedicated to a specific diet or are simply trying to find a few ways to be healthier this season, it’s not impossible to keep it light. It’s all about being mindful of portion control so that you can eat—and enjoy—whatever you want. That includes holiday desserts.
Get inspired with these four simple recipes for holiday desserts that taste delicious and won’t leave you feeling deprived.
Chunky Biscotti by Beth Warren
One of the easiest ways to revamp a traditional biscotti recipe is by making it gluten-free. “You are saving added carbohydrates from the traditional recipe, and this recipe has just the right touch of sweetness without driving your sugar load to the extreme,” says Beth Warren, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl. Bonus: This recipe contains the perfect ratio of protein to fiber, making it an ideal snack.
Yield: 20 biscotti
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup coconut sugar
1½ cups almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries (optional)
½ cup sliced almonds (optional)
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla, and coconut sugar.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, and salt until combined.
- Combine the dry ingredients with the egg mixture while mixing slowly.
- Fold in any of the optional ingredients you wish to include.
- On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pour the batter and form into a flat loaf.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top begins to brown. Remove and cool completely before slicing.
Chocolate Truffles by Nealy Fischer
“Nothing says holidays quite like chocolate, and nothing says easy treat more than these truffles. With just three ingredients and a slew of customizable options, this recipe is a definite crowd pleaser,” says Nealy Fischer, founder of The Flexible Chef. For this recipe, Fischer suggests using darker chocolate as a healthier option. The darker the chocolate, the less sweet it will be, so it’s a good idea to use 70 percent dark chocolate if you prefer more of a bitter taste.
Additional simple switches include using coconut cream instead of whipping cream for a lighter nondairy option. Fischer notes that you should buy a high-fat coconut cream rather than a runny coconut milk.
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
½ cup whipping cream (or coconut cream for a lighter, nondairy version)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a saucepan, bring the whipping cream or coconut cream to a boil. Turn off heat.
- Add the vanilla extract and chocolate a bit at a time, and whisk in until smooth. Consistency should be velvety and runny.
- Allow to cool and harden at room temperature.
- Use a piping bag or a teaspoon to shape into bite-size balls.
- Dip in desired topping.
- Chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Keeps for up to two weeks.
Black-Bean Brownies by Beth Warren
By swapping black beans for the white flour in classic chocolate brownies, you gain 4 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein in just one brownie. The protein-to-carbohydrate ratio will help you feel full and satisfied. Beans also provide a boost of folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium with added antioxidants. This recipe is gluten-free and has a reduced amount of calories in comparison to a traditional brownie—it doesn’t get much better than that!
Yield: 12 brownies
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and dried well
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup agave syrup
½ cup coconut oil, melted
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅛ cup chocolate chips, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 7×11-inch glass baking dish.
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
- Blend well for 5 minutes, until all ingredients are thoroughly combined, stopping periodically to push the batter from the sides. After it’s blended, use a spatula to fold in chocolate chips, if desired.
- Pour the batter into the greased dish. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and cool 8 to 10 minutes. Refrigerate so the brownies develop a firm texture.
Chunky Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cookies by Beth Warren
If you want to make a more traditional dessert, Warren suggests replacing white flour with spelt flour. “The whole-grain option contributes to the blend of protein and fiber (2 grams each),” Warren says. Additional benefits for your recommended daily intake include iron, magnesium, zinc, and niacin.
Yield: 8 cookies
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons coconut sugar
½ cup coconut oil
1½ cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash sea salt
¼ cup coconut chips
¼ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the vanilla, egg, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. In a separate bowl, combine the spelt flour, cinnamon, and sea salt. Whisking constantly, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
- Fold in the coconut chips and chocolate chips, if desired.
- On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place 1-tablespoon scoops of the dough. Push down softly, as the cookies do not rise high.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely before slicing. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes for a crunchier texture.
Per serving (1 cookie): 150 calories, 11g fat, 9g saturated fat, 15mg cholesterol, 5mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 2g protein
Now that you’re fully armed with some of the tastiest holiday desserts, you don’t have to worry about skipping sweets or even avoiding seconds.