The holiday season is the one time of year where you aren’t expected to ignore your sweet craving. And why should you have to?
There are plenty of healthier treat options out there – many of them tasting just as good as their conventional counterparts. Here are some of the best options for those who want to indulge without the guilt.
From skinny snickerdoodles to sinless sticky toffee pudding and hidden beetroot brownies to raw-paleo-vegan-gluten-free delights, these delicious treats will leave you both satisfied and nourished.
Not So Naughty Nuts (and Corn!)
Crunchy Vanilla Walnuts – walnuts are a great source of omega 3 essential fatty acids and they have proven cholesterol-lowering benefits. Adding spices and vanilla extract leaves you with a sweet and crunchy treat. One third of a cup has 243 calories, 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Vegan and gluten-free.
Cinnamon Spiced Nuts – crunchy, sweet and spicy all at once, these nuts are a great protein-powered snack. Made with pine nuts, pecans, almonds, macadamia, cashews, orange zest and spices. Vegan and gluten-free.
Holiday Popcorn Sampler – this popcorn sampler is a crowd-pleaser and the ideal thing to snack on during a Christmas movie in front of the fire. There are three flavors (caramel, cheesy and festive red and green corn) which all taste so good, you’ll never know you’re getting a healthy dose of seaweed and B12-rich nutritional yeast! Vegan and gluten-free.
Low Fat Gingerbread Men – these gingerbread cookies are lower in fat than most because the butter is replaced with applesauce, yet the taste remains! One cookie has just 56 calories (or 66 with icing) meaning you can go back for seconds without any guilt.
Skinny Snickerdoodles – sweet, buttery, sugary and soft, these snickerdoodles taste anything but skinny! They will keep for at least four days, but they’ll never last that long! Vegan and gluten-free option.
Healthy Snowball Cookies – also known as Russian Tea Cakes and Mexican Wedding Cookies, these are a festive favorite. This version replaces most of the butter with nonfat Greek yogurt, and uses whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour.
Healthy No-Bake Thumbprint Cookies – paleo friendly and free from refined sugar, these cookies require just one bowl and ten minutes of preparation. Add in some homemade berry jelly (or store-bought if it’s easier) and you’re ready to tuck in. Vegan and gluten-free.
Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies – you’ll never be able to tell that these delicious cookies are a ‘lightened-up’ version. With macadamia nuts, oat flour, coconut oil, chocolate chips and coconut sugar, they bake in just seven minutes – meaning you can satisfy your sweet craving pretty rapidly! Vegan and gluten-free.
Chewy Molasses Spelt Cookies with Candied Ginger – these come together really quickly and are lightened up thanks to nutty spelt flour, which works wonderfully with the molasses, cinnamon, and ginger flavors. Vegan.
Raw Oreo Cookies – Oreos are one of the most addictive cookies out there, but you can indulge in your habit guilt-free thanks to this raw recipe. Not only is this version free from refined sugar, but it’s high in fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants. Vegan and gluten-free.
Quinoa and Almond Flour Cookie with Chai Spiced Almond Butter – despite the long winded name, these pretty cookies are a cinch to throw together, thanks to the fact that they only contain six ingredients (plus the spiced nut butter). Vegan and gluten-free.
Banana and Cranberry Flapjacks – bananas, cranberries and oats are sweetened with some natural maple syrup for a rich and nutty festive snack. This batch makes 12 but they’re so good you won’t want to share! Vegan option and gluten-free.
Poached Pears in Spiced Red Wine – for a classic Christmas dessert, you can’t go wrong with pears poached in a nice red wine. The humble pear is rich in fiber and antioxidants so you may just be able to count this dessert among your recommended daily fruit and veg intake! Vegan and gluten-free.
Skillet Fried Apples – described as ‘apple pie without the pie’ you get all the goodness of the filling without any of the guilt. With no added sugar, these sticky slices are fried in their own sweet juices. Flavor with cinnamon and vanilla for a holiday feel. Vegan and gluten-free.
Winter Dried Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bark – chances are, you already have the ingredients for this in your pantry. A combination of dried fruit and nuts are combined with melted chocolate for a crunchy, bittersweet bark. Vegan option and gluten-free.
Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing – moist, soft and flavorful vegan carrot cake is perfected by the addition of a thick layer of cinnamon cashew frosting. With flaxseeds, orange, lemon and walnuts, it scores bonus points for containing good fats and real fruit and vegetables.
Low Fat Banana Apple Bread – naturally sweetened with over-ripe bananas and applesauce, and made with chunks of apple instead of walnuts, this version is one of the healthiest banana bread recipes around. Equally as good for breakfast as it is for dessert. Vegan and gluten-free option.
Pure Puddings & Pies
Chocolate Chia Pudding – unlike the chia pudding parfait breakfast recipe, this one doesn’t need to set overnight…it’s ready in just 30 minutes. Dates, coconut, cocoa powder and chocolate chips mean this doesn’t taste like the breakfast version either! It’s a protein and energy dense treat that is also vegan and gluten-free.
Paleo Vegan Chocolate Avocado Pudding – avocado is one of the healthiest fruits around so you can feel good about whipping up this sneaky avocado pudding complete with cocoa powder, almond milk and a sweetener of your choice. Vegan and gluten-free.
Sinless Sticky Toffee Pecan Pudding – this version of the classic has almost half the fat and sugar, yet still retains the perfect amount of sweetness. It’s also gooey, moist, and dense and is coated with a rich and dreamy toffee sauce. Vegan.
Caramel Banana Cream Parfait – made with whole food ingredients like bananas, maple syrup, coconut cream and almond butter, this delicious and impressive dessert is a whole lot healthier than it sounds! It’s ready in minutes making it perfect for serving to unexpected guests over the festive season. Vegan and gluten-free.
Grain Free Pumpkin Pie – free from grains, dairy and refined sugar, this cake is almost sinless. The crust in this case is made of a blend of nuts, coconut oil, egg and cinnamon, which is then filled with a medley of pumpkin, honey, spices and coconut milk. Gluten-free.
Strawberry Cashew Vegan Cheesecake – this raw, cashew based cheesecake recipe couldn’t be simpler to make. Just blend the ingredients for each step, assemble and chill. Be warned: it’s really rich so a little goes a long way! Vegan and gluten-free.
Salted Caramel Maple Pecan Pie Bars – top a soft, buttery pecan shortbread base with a nutty, fudgy, mixture and drizzle on salted caramel sauce. The end product is a little slice of heaven that you’d never know is Paleo-friendly, vegan and gluten-free.
Strawberry Chocolate Coconut Pie – a light macadamia crust, a layer of chocolate ganache and coconut cream combine to form this indulgent and fully raw dessert. The original recipe uses strawberries but cranberries could also work for a more festive feel. Vegan and gluten-free.
Raw Chocolate Peppermint Patties – peppermint anything just screams ‘Christmas’ which is why these raw patties are an idea holiday treat. Made primarily with coconut and cashews and covered with dark chocolate, they pair brilliantly with an after-dinner coffee. Vegan and gluten-free.
Chocolate Protein Truffles – these truffles have a little secret – they’re made with black beans! Yes, really! But give them a chance – you can’t tell this hidden source of protein is in there. They also have cocoa powder, coconut oil, maple syrup and chocolate which more than makes up for their bean-content. Add a little chocolate protein powder for an added boost. Vegan and gluten-free.
Raw Gluten-Free Christmas Pudding Bites – it will be love at first sight when you catch a glimpse of these adorable little mini-pudding bites. They’re totally raw and full of healthy ingredients (like almonds, dates and spirulina) yet still manage to taste like the real thing. Vegan and gluten-free.
Raw Peanut Butter Cups – peanut butter, coconut butter, coconut sugar, cocoa and pumpkin seeds make for a far tastier version of peanut butter cups than you could ever hope to find in the stores. Coconut sugar is lower GI than other sweeteners which means you’ll avoid those nasty post-treat sugar crashes. Vegan and gluten-free.
Mince Pie Energy Protein Bars – three ingredients and seasonings are blitzed into a mince-pie flavored, protein-rich bite. They make perfect on-the-go snacks too for those busy days of Christmas gift shopping (or gift-making)! Vegan and gluten-free.
Sea Salt Caramel Cups – salt and caramel make such a winning combination in this dessert – a fancier take on peanut butter cups. Dates, coconut oil, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, vanilla extract and sea salt are all you need to create these little delights. Vegan and gluten-free.
Goji Cardamom Rose Truffles – these dense, chewy chocolate truffles with a hint of cardamom and rose also contain goji berries – believed to increase strength, digestion, longevity and libido among other health benefits. What other reasons do you need to whip up a batch today? Vegan and gluten-free.
No Bake Coconut Delights – chocolate and coconut no bake delights that are free from sugar, grains, dairy and egg. Their snowball appearance makes them all the more festive! Vegan and gluten-free.
Dark Chocolate Beetroot Brownies – another decadent dessert that manages to sneak in strange-yet-healthy-ingredients, these Paleo-friendly brownies are perfectly rich and moist with just a hint of pink coloring thanks to their secret beetroot content. Gluten-free.
Nice-Cream & Sorbets
Christmas Cookie Dough Ice Cream – a healthy ice cream featuring red, white and green swirls and chunks of cookie dough. Kids – big and small – will love it! Vegan and gluten-free option.
Blueberry Lemon Sorbet – blueberries, honey and lemon combine in this super healthy and refreshing sorbet which is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and other healing properties. (Use agave or maple syrup for a plant-based version.) Vegan option and gluten-free.
Delicious & Nutritious Drinks
Peppermint Hot Chocolate – using real peppermint tea, coconut milk, chocolate chunks and honey, this drink is the perfect way to say ‘no’ to peppermint candy while still satisfying your cravings. Vegan option and gluten-free.
Vegan Eggnog – swap the eggs, milk and heavy cream in the traditional eggnog recipe for this version’s vegan-friendly coconut milk, rich in lauric acid which helps with dandruff, skin infections, wrinkles and dry and sagging skin. Vegan and gluten-free.
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte – this Fall and Winter favorite is often loaded with artificial ingredients and sweeteners. However, this homemade latte has just five ingredients – one of which is real pumpkin! Vegan and gluten-free.