Part of the excitement of the holidays involves the delicious meals and desserts shared with loved ones during this special time of year, but these tasty treats can be disastrous to your waistline and your health. According to a recent study, Americans gain an average of 1.3lbs between the week of Christmas and New Year’s alone.
While there are many ways you can combat this holiday weight gain -- from limiting your alcohol intake to arranging a post-meal walk with your loved ones -- replacing the sugary and fattening desserts with healthier options is an essential step in promoting your health this holiday season.
If you’re having difficulty coming up with holiday dessert ideas that aren't packed with sugar, fat and calories, then look no further! We’ve scoured the internet to find the healthiest, tastiest treats for you and your loved ones to enjoy together.
Healthy Holiday Dessert Ideas to Try
When it comes to preventing holiday weight gain, you don't have to sacrifice flavor to reduce your caloric intake. Whether you’re in the mood for cookies, pies or cakes, you can’t go wrong with any of these healthy holiday recipes that your whole family is bound to enjoy:
Iced Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies (courtesy of Cooking Light)
Baking cookies is one of the most universal traditions this time of year, but using all-purpose flour and icing will only lead to holiday weight gain. Whole wheat flour may seem like an odd replacement, but this ingredient will actually strengthen the vanilla and butter flavors in the cookies and help to cut calories.
Ingredients for Cookies:
- 9 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 10 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients for Icing:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- Naturally colored sparkling sugar (optional)
Double Crust Apple Pie (courtesy of My Recipes)
Although they’re a popular dessert option during the holiday season, apple pies are typically very high in sugar. Luckily with this recipe, you can enjoy even more flavor without the added sugar by tossing the apples in unsweetened apple juice.
Ingredients for Crust:
- 10.1 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
- 3 tablespoons vegan shortening (such as Earth Balance), chilled
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 6 tablespoons ice water
Ingredients for Filling:
- 6 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled apple
- 1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Baking spray with flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Fresh Gingerbread Squares (courtesy of Cooking Light)
In lieu of making a tempting gingerbread house with loved ones this year, opt for these fresh gingerbread squares instead. With their rich cinnamon and molasses flavors, these gingerbread squares are the perfect low-fat treat to enjoy on a cold winter night even after the holidays are past.
- 4 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
- 2.38 ounces teff flour (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup oatmeal stout beer (such as Samuel Smith)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 large egg
- Cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Pumpkin Pie Pudding (courtesy of My Recipes)
This pudding is a new take on a classic dessert your whole family will enjoy. Out of all the healthy holiday recipes listed here, it’s certainly the quickest and easiest to make. Plus, if you serve it right out of the slow cooker, it’ll taste just like a warm pumpkin pie without the crust!
- 1 15-oz. can pumpkin
- 1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup biscuit baking mix
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Garnish: whipped cream
Healthy Diet, Healthy Living
Preventing holiday weight gain by eating nutritious alternatives is not only essential in ensuring your health during this time of year -- it’s essential to your health year-round. Not only does a healthy diet ward off chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but it also can help keep your brain active and maintain muscle strength as you age.
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