With a few changes you can still enjoy the wonderful desserts and sweet snacks for the holiday season. I’ve found some great ways to make holiday treats with a healthy twist. For instance, you can create a delightful caramel tasting mixture that spreads nicely and can be substituted for caramel in recipes that’s normally made from sugar, butter and cream. Simply process ¼ C of cashews with 2/3 C melted coconut oil in a blender until smooth, then mix it with 1 ½ C less a T pitted Medjool dates and return that mixture to the blender until it’s a thick paste. It has the caramel look and taste, but with far fewer calories and more healthy benefits. Create an apple caramel sandwich with the slices of a peeled cored apple and this caramel as the filling.
Want something gluten free and heart healthy?
These little treats can be eaten, but aren’t calorie free. They contain 55 calories each. Be careful. I find them addictive. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You’ll need to use parchment paper to line the bottom of 2 baking sheets. It’s important to do this step. I found parchment paper at dollar stores, so it’s relatively inexpensive. On a third baking sheet, put 2 ½ cups walnut halves that you chopped to a fine texture and toast them for about 8-9 minutes. Your nose will know when they’re ready because they’ll smell delicious. Mix with 3 cups powdered sugar, ½ C with an additional 3 T of unsweetened cocoa powder ¼ tsp salt, 4 egg whites and 1T vanilla extract. Mix dry ingredients first, add nuts and then add the vanilla and egg whites, just until mixed well. Put onto the parchment in teaspoon size mounds. Bake for 15 minutes and cool. Yummy!
Use fresh fruit and dark chocolate for a healthy combination.
Whether you’re dipping strawberries, pineapple chunks, oranges or apples in dark chocolate, a litte goes a long way. If you’re dipping apples, don’t forget to sprinkle the slices in lemon juice to prevent browning. You can choose to leave the stems on the strawberries if you like to give guests something to hold onto while they get the entire delectability of the fruit. You can then dip the chocolatey end in ground nuts if you like or sprinkle with a little sea salt. Bananas and white or dark chocolate are also great.
Holiday Crunch Balls are my mother’s favorite to make.
My mother created a recipe that is not exact, but tastes good. She mixed a bit of honey with peanut butter and then mixed in enough wheat germ until it was thick enough to create little balls that are slightly smaller than ping pong balls, which she rolled in more wheat germ as a coating. I use cashew butter, which has a sweeter flavor and reduce the honey in the recipe. Keep these in the refrigerator.
- Here’s a great recipe I found on the internet that is loaded with nutrition and has a superfood in it too. It’s vegan and no bake, too. It’s a No Bake Pistachio Cookie recipe.
- Mix air popped popcorn with nuts and drizzle with a little melted dark chocolate bits and some melted cashew, walnut or peanut butter. Use about 1T for every four cups. For an extra twist, drizzle the nut butter and dust lightly with cocoa powder. You can make this without the nuts for fewer calories.
- Rod pretzels broken in half with the broken end dipped in a mixture of equal parts of dark chocolate and nut butter then rolled lightly in ground nuts or coconut, give a mixture of salty and sweet that’s low in calories.
- Here’s one of my favorites to make for the holidays. Each two or three inch chunk is only 79 calories. Even the “non-healthy” eaters will love it. It’s Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Dried Cherries