During the holidays, it’s easy to get carried away with the over-indulging. An extra forkful of pecan pie leads to feelings of guilt and remorse three slices later. But it doesn’t have to. With healthier twists on the classics and wholesome options on the table, you can have a healthy holiday season that keeps your taste buds happy and your body healthier.
Everyone saves room for dessert, which is why you should try these five low-sugar treats for your last course as a sweet and satisfying way to end the evening.
1. Cinnamon Baked Apples
In lieu of apple pie, try this recipe, which gives you that warm, spicy-apple taste without the crust and the calories. It’s a mere 100 calories and 19 grams of sugars per serving — a very healthy holiday desert option.
- 4 medium Granny Smith apples
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons Splenda or Stevia
Heat oven to 350°F. Slice apples thinly. Place in a 9×9-inch baking dish or pie dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and Splenda or Stevia. Mix until all apples are coated. Place a small amount of water in the dish (about 1/4 inch). Bake apples uncovered for 30 minutes or until apples are soft and break apart easily.
2. Apple-Pecan Upside-Down Cake
If you are craving that classic pecan pie, this substitute can fill that sweet desire with significantly fewer calories at only 176 calories per serving.
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen egg product, thawed
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup flour, all-purpose
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar, brown, packed
- 1/4 cup sugar, granulated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup nuts, pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon peel, finely shredded
- 3 cups sweet apples, sliced
- Frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)
Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar, beating on medium speed until combined. Beat for two minutes more. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in pecans and lemon peel.
Arrange the 3 cups of apple slices in the prepared pan. Spread the pecan mixture over apples (the batter will be thick and may not cover apple slices). Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert cake onto a platter. Carefully remove the foil. Serve warm. To serve, cut the cake into squares. If desired, top each serving with cooked apple slices and/or dessert topping. Makes 12 servings.
From Everyday Health
3. Spoonable Pumpkin Pie
Ah, pumpkin pie — the pinnacle of the holiday meal. You don’t have to give up this highlight to be healthy. This version has only 163 calories and 7 grams of sugars per serving.
This type of low-sugar recipe is a wonderful alternative to the standard sugary dessert.
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup light butter, melted
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
- 1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
- 3 (1 ounce) packages fat-free, sugar-free, reduced-calorie vanilla instant pudding mix
- 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2½ cups fat-free milk
- 1 (8 ounce) container frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
- ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°F. For crust, combine graham crackers and melted butter in a food processor. Process until well mixed. Press mixture onto the bottom of a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Bake 10 minutes or just until golden; cool. In a large mixing bowl beat pumpkin, cream cheese, pudding mix, 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Gradually add milk, beating until smooth. Spread mixture over crust. In the same bowl, fold together whipped topping and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; spread over pumpkin layer. Sprinkle with pecans. Cover and chill 4-8 hours before serving.
4. Cranberry Magic Bars
It’s too easy to snag a brownie bite or blondie bar from a dessert table. Try this dish 166 calorie instead.
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 9 graham crackers, broken
- 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, broken if large
- 1 ½ ounces (1/4 cup) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line bottom and sides with parchment; spray again. Pulse graham crackers, 1/4 cup of the pecans and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and pulse until fine crumbs form. Press into an even layer in pan. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is dry, 12-15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Combine cranberries, orange juice and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small pan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture has reduced to 1 cup (8-10 minutes). Spread evenly over crust. Sprinkle coconut and remaining 1/2 cup pecans on top and gently press into cranberry mixture. Scatter chocolate over top; press in. Bake until filling is gently bubbling and coconut is golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Lift out of pan using parchment. Cut into 16 squares.
5. Almond Butter Cups
Have a hankering for chocolate? This four-ingredient recipe is a fun way to substitute something healthy in the place of a traditional peanut butter cup.
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3/4 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup almonds
- Pinch of salt
Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray or coconut oil. In microwave-safe dish, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil, stirring every 30 seconds. Once melted, pour the chocolate mixture into the muffin tins. Place tin in freezer 5-10 minutes until chocolate has set. Remove from freezer. Place almond butter into a microwave safe dish and microwave for 10 seconds. Pour almond butter over top of chocolate. Put almonds into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds and pour over top of almond butter cups. Set cups in the freezer for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt (optional). Using a knife, remove each almond cup out from pan.
From The Almond Eater
This holiday season, enjoy a few healthier treats. With these recipes, you won’t miss a thing!