Choosing Healthier Holiday Treats

healthy holiday: cocoa nib cookies
Becky Striepe / Insteading

Yesterday we talked about organic junk food, and I promised that today I’d share some healthier ways to indulge over the holidays.

Like we talked about yesterday, junk food is still junk food, even if the ingredients are organic, and even the holiday treats I’m rounding up here are not totally health food. They’re just a bit better for you than the usual holiday fare. Holiday indulgences seem to fall into two categories: sweet and salty. So! Let’s take a look at how to satisfy your need for each with some treats that are a little bit lighter than your typical holiday food.

9 Healthy Holiday Sweet Treats

1. Fruit Salad – my mom makes the best fruit salads! The trick to a satisfying fruit salad is choosing good fruit. Back away from that honeydew melon, people! Choose organic berries, kiwi, citrus, pineapple, and any other fruits that are your favorites. Mom tops the whole thing with a splash of Manischewitz to make it extra decadent.

2. Raw-Inspired Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake – this cake uses dates to supplement the sugar, so you have less of the refined stuff.

3. Raw Apple and Pear Tart – whole fruit and nuts are the stars here!

4. Homemade Caramel Corn – this recipe uses quite a bit of sugar, but it yields a ton of popcorn, so each serving is lighter on the sugar

5. Superfood Brownie Bites – these have way less sugar than most brownie recipes, and there’s a good helping of fiber to help your body handle the sugar

6. Avocado Chocolate Pudding – instead of dairy or soft tofu, this delicious pudding uses avocado as the base!

7. Chia Pudding – non-dairy milk + chia seeds makes a healthier pudding that’s packed with fiber and nutrients to balance out that sugar.

8. Vegan Cocoa Nib Bites – packed with oats, these cookies are a little bit healthier and your typical chocolate chip cookie. Instead of sugary chocolate chips, they use raw cocoa nibs, which have no added sugar.

9. Raw Apple Pie Crumble – this dessert gets its sweetness from the apples, not from added sugar

Click here to check out our list of healthier salty holiday treats!

chili lime cashews

9 Healthy Holiday Salty Treats

Instead of salty, we really should have said savory. Most savory holiday treats are heavy on the salt, but you don’t need a ton of salt to have a ton of flavor!

1. Curried Lentil Hummus – instead of gloppy, greasy dips, try a different spin on hummus for a nice, spiced appetizer that’s a bit better for you. To up the health factor, serve with fresh veggies for dipping instead of chips.

2. Lentil Quinoa Falafel – I promise that these won’t all be lentil-based! Falafel might not feel like holiday fare, but bake these babies up in bite-sized pieces and set them out with tahini for dipping, and watch them disappear. Way better for you than sausage balls!

3. Black Bean Papaya Salsa – there’s something about fruit in a savory dish that’s so nice around the holidays!

4. Plain Ol’ Nuts – Just like with the fruit salad on the previous page, making that bowl of nuts appetizing is about skipping the boring stuff. No peanuts or Brazil nuts, you guys! Choose the nuts that people like: cashews, macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, etc. Go with lightly salted or unsalted nuts to make this even healthier. You can always salt them yourself later, if they need it – you’ll use a lot less than a food company would!

5. Chili Lime Cashews – if plain ol’ nuts seem boring, spice them up with some healthy seasonings! These have less salt and are less pricey than store-bought spiced nuts.

6. Baked Sweet Potato Fries – oven fries can be just as satisfying as greasier potato dishes but with less fat, less salt, and more nutrients.

7. Raw Sunflower Seed Pate – packed with fiber and protein, this dip is great spread on whole grain crackers or with carrot sticks and endive for dipping

8. Pine Nut Stuffed Mushrooms – instead of cream cheese, healthy nuts make these taste decadent with less of the….decadence!

9. Gingered Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup – soup is a great starter for a holiday meal, and this deeply-seasoned soup is much better for you than ones that are full of butter and cream!

What do you guys do to lighten up your holiday fare a bit? I’d love to hear how you’re having a healthier holiday!

Written by Becky Striepe

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