The holiday season sneaks up fast, and before you know it, we’ve gone from fruity smoothies to pumpkin spice everything to green-and-red goodies galore. But don’t resign yourself to the inevitable holiday weight gain — instead, use these recipes to stay mostly within your healthy eating program (it is the holidays after all!) and enjoy some reduced-guilt holiday cheer.
Pistachio Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Bark
Makes: 8 servings Ingredients 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
¾ cup pitted dates
¾ cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
Directions Add dates to a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak 10 minutes.
Drain dates and place in a food processor or blender container. Add coconut oil, salt, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and process until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine date mixture with nuts and pomegranate seeds.
Spread mixture over a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze to set, about 4 hours. Once set, chop into bite-size pieces. Store in the fridge.
*Number of candies may vary according to the mold.
Chewy Grain-Free Gingerbread Granola
Makes: 20 servings
½ cup raw almonds ½ cup raw pecans ½ cup raw hazelnuts 1/3 cup raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut ¼ cup ground flaxseed meal ¼ cup coconut oil 1/3 cup maple syrup 2 tbsp molasses ¼ tsp sea salt ½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground ginger 1/8 tsp ground cloves ½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 275 F.
In a food processor or blender, pulse almonds, pecans, coconut and hazelnuts into small pieces. Do not over-blend.
Heat coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses, spices and salt over medium heat in a large saucepan, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Place processed nuts in a large bowl and pour warm coconut oil mixture over top. Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseed meal and stir to combine.
Spread mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool and harden. Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 tablespoons): calories 159, fat 14 g, protein 3 g, sodium 33 mg, carbs 9 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 5 g
Cranberry Walnut Biscotti
Makes: 24 cookies
2 cups whole-wheat all-purpose flour* 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 1 tsp baking soda ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 2 egg whites, room temperature 1 whole egg, room temperature 3 tbsp butter, room temperature ¼ cup dried cranberries ¼ cup chopped walnuts 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add eggs, vanilla and butter and mix with a stand or hand mixer on medium, 1 minute.
Stir in cranberries and walnuts by hand until well-combined.
Form dough into 2 long, flat logs and place on baking sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until slightly browned and firm.
Remove from oven and allow to cool, 10 minutes.
Cut logs into ¼-inch slices to make cookies. Arrange cookies on 2 baking sheets and return to oven.
Bake another 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.
4 cups Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and diced 1 cup walnuts, chopped ¾ cup rolled oats ¼ cup whole-wheat all-purpose flour* 2 tbsp brown sugar 1 tbsp granulated sugar 2 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil 3 tbsp butter diced into small pats 1 tbsp cornstarch 2 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 9- inch-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
To make the crisp topping, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, sugar, melted butter, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Toss apples in cornstarch and spread evenly in baking dish. Top with walnuts and crisp topping. Spread butter pats evenly on the very top.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until apples are fork-tender and topping is lightly browned. Allow to cool before serving.
Flip your fave holiday recipe on its head by trading some questionably healthy ingredients for more goal-friendly ones.
1. Mix 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons water in place of one whole egg. This makes a recipe vegan-friendly and adds a boost of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Works well in muffins, cakes and breads.
2. Swap regular butter and oil for your favorite nut butter (in the same quantity) to ramp up the healthy fats and dial down the trans and saturated fats. Try this in cookies, cakes, muffins and sweet breads.
3. Use plain, nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream to slash calories and fat while increasing protein. Think: coffee cakes and cupcakes.
4. Try almond flour and coconut flour in place of white or wheat flour to go gluten-free, increase fiber and slash carbs. Great for breads, cookies, pastries and crusts.
5. Blend pitted dates or ripe bananas into batters to add sweetness and fiber without the added sugar. Try this in cakes, cookies, breads and brownies.
Written by Shoshana Pritzker RD Cdn for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.