Healthy Holiday Desserts

The holidays are a wonderful time to bring friends and family together. Making a fresh batch of holiday desserts is a perfect way to make connections and memories during the holiday season.

Think of your favorite family dessert, then think about how it makes you feel. Warm, nostalgic, happy, connected? Does it ever feel too sweet or unsatisfying? There is a way to enjoy your favorite sweets, while feeling satisfied and full! Think of some ingredients that boost protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, and low-fat dairy should pop into your mind! Most importantly, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, so choose the desserts that you and your family enjoy eating.

Here are some ideas for delicious holiday desserts, with a focus on healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients:

  • Use nature’s candy (fruit) to your advantage!
    • Mix and match fruits. Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried all work.
  • Use naturally sweet foods, like fruit, beets, avocado, coconut, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, zucchini, carrot, beans, or yogurt.
  • Half the sugar! You would be surprised how tasty your desserts are with less sugar.
  • Swap 1/2 cup of oil or butter for:
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
    • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • When a recipe calls for enriched white all purpose flour, replace half with whole grains like:
    • Whole wheat flour
    • Oat flour
    • Buckwheat flour
    • Rye flour
    • Rice flour
    • Corn meal
  • Add in whole grains, like oats or quinoa. This is a great for making a high fiber dessert that helps to keep you full and satisfied.
  • If using a boxed dessert, consider adding:
    • Pureed beans
    • Chopped nuts or seeds
    • Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits
    • Vegetables (carrots, zucchini, avocado, squash)
  • If using a ready to eat dessert, found in the bakery section of the grocery store, pair with a side of fruit.
  • Instead of ice cream with pie, try a scoop of low-fat Greek yogurt.

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