The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family, friends and delicious food and drinks. While it’s okay to enjoy decadent foods in moderation, it can be tough to stick to your healthy eating plan and keep your diet on track. With a few weeks of celebrations upon us, making smart choices and splurging here and there can help you stay healthy and stick to your goals. If you’re heading to a party or having a gathering at home, here are a few healthy dessert options that everyone will love.
Lightened Up Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a food processor and pulse until the oats are finely ground. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and agave nectar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth and glossy. Reduce mixer speed to the lowest setting and gradually add the flour mixture until just incorporated; stir in the chocolate.
- Drop level tablespoons of the dough onto silicone mat lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (12 cookies per sheet). Transfer the sheets to the refrigerator and chill the cookies until solid, about 30 minutes. Bake until lightly golden around edges, about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool on the sheets for 1 minute; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 c. (200 g.) granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
- Red gel food coloring
- 1 c. (155 g.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 5 small peppermint canes or candies (70 g.)
- Preheat oven to 200°. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until whites are foamy and soft peaks form, about 1 minute. With mixer running, slowly add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, then increase speed to high and beat until meringue is thick, marshmallow-like, and holds firm peaks, 4 to 6 minutes. Beat in peppermint extract.
- Fit a large disposable piping bag with a large tip and fold top back to create a cuff. Using a small paint brush, paint a few thin vertical stripes of red food coloring inside bag. Rest bag in an empty drinking glass to prop it up, then use a rubber spatula to scrape meringue into piping bag. Fold back top of bag and twist top to seal.
- Pipe 2” cookies on prepared sheet pans, leaving 1” between cookies. Bake until cookies are very crisp and hard to the touch, 1½ to 2 hours. Turn off oven and let cookies sit in oven until completely cool, about 2 hours.
- Place peppermints in bowl of a mini food processor. Pulse until candy is broken up into fine pieces. (Alternatively, place them in a small ziptop bag and crush with a meat mallet or rolling pin.) Transfer to a small bowl.
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth.
- Working with one cookie at a time, dip bottom of meringue in chocolate and let excess drip off. Sprinkle some crushed peppermints over chocolate and return immediately back to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookies, then refrigerate until chocolate is set, 15 to 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container.
Chocolate-Pistachio Orange Slices
- dried orange slices
- white chocolate
- chopped pistachios
- Dip dried orange slices halfway in melted white chocolate and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with finely chopped pistachios and let dry.
- 1 1/4 c. (247 g.) granulated sugar
- 1/3 c. (57 g.) chopped semisweet (60%) baking chocolate
- 1/4 c. water
- 1/2 c. neutral oil
- 1/3 c. (28 g.) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 large egg whites
- 3/4 c. (90 g.) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
- 4 candy canes, crushed (about 1/3 c.), divided
- 1/3 c. (57 g.) chopped white chocolate
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 17″-by-11″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave granulated sugar, semisweet chocolate, and water in 20-second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in oil, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Let cool slightly, then stir in egg whites. Fold in flour and baking powder just until combined.
- Step 3
- Evenly spread batter onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with chips and half of candy cane pieces.
- Step 4
- Bake, rotating pan every 10 minutes, until firm in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Using parchment, lift brownie off baking sheet and transfer to a cutting board. While still hot, slice into squares with a sharp knife. (Brownie brittle will become crisper as it cools.)
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave white chocolate in 10-second increments, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Drizzle over cooled brownie brittle and sprinkle with remaining candy cane pieces.
Gingerbread Rice Krispie Treats
- 4 cups rice krispie cereal (gluten-free)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt *see notes
- 1 cup cashew butter
- 1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup if vegan)
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper with the edges sticking out on either side, to easily remove the Rice Krispie Treats later.
- To prepare, in a large mixing bowl, pour in your 4 cups of rice krispie cereal.
- In a separate, small bowl, combine your spices (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and salt) and stir till they’re well mixed.
- In a small pot, add your cashew butter, honey, and molasses, and stir till well combined. While stirring, bring the mixture to a low simmer and then immediately take off the heat and stir your vanilla and small bowl of spices into your wet ingredients.
- Pour your wet ingredients over your rice krispie cereal and stir together well, until all of the cereal is well covered with the mixture.
- Pour your gingerbread rice krispies into your pan and spread them evenly across your pan, so the top is smooth and as flat as possible. I like to use a spatula to spread the rice krispies around, and if your spatula sticks too much you can spray it with non-stick spray.
- Place your gingerbread rice krispie treats into your fridge and let them cool for at least an hour. Remove from your fridge, take your gingerbread rice krispie treats out with the edges of your parchment paper, and cut them into 12 bars.
Sweet Potato Bites
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
- 2 tbsp. melted butter
- 1 tsp. maple syrup
- Kosher salt
- 1 (10-oz.) bag marshmallows
- 1/2 c. pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 400°. On a large baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with melted butter and maple syrup and arrange in an even layer. Season with salt.
- Bake until tender, flipping halfway through, about 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and switch oven to broil.
- Top each sweet potato round with a marshmallow and broil until puffed and golden. Immediately top each marshmallow with a pecan half and serve.