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  • Hui Hui Lee, RD/LD

Celebrate your holiday with healthier treats





The Holiday season is the most joyous time of year (at least to me), as there are many delicious seasonal desserts/treats available at all times, such as gingerbread, hot chocolate, cakes, pies, cookies, and candy. How can we resist the temptation of all these tasty desserts/treats? So, to those who are practicing healthy eating or dietary restrictions, the holiday season can be very challenging and stressful.


I’ve been thinking if we want to enjoy treats with our families and friends, why not make something healthier, so that we feel less guilty while having those sweets. I know what you are thinking right now - healthy treats taste bland and boring. If you are thinking that way, I would like to take you to a whole new world of healthy tasty snacks. A healthier snack/dessert does not necessarily mean you need to compromise with the taste and appearances. Do remember, no matter how healthy the treats are being made, ALWAYS keep in mind that having the treats in MODERATION IS THE KEY!


Now, the question is what are the possible ways to prepare healthier snacks/desserts/treats.

  1. Make fresh fruits and veggies as your primary choices.

  2. Try substituting whole wheat flour for white flour in baking.

  3. Try substituting low fat for whole dairy products.

  4. Incorporate some unsalted nuts in your treat.

  5. Step out from your comfort zone, and explore new recipes (such as using avocado/tofu for mousse/pudding in place of heavy cream; using almond flour in place of all purpose flour for baking).

I have tried several healthy but delicious different dessert and snack recipes for the past several weeks. Now, I am very excited to share with you! NOTE, these recipes are not limited to holiday seasons, they can be made all year round.


Chocolate dipped mandarin orange slices: These mandarin orange slices are DANGEROUS, because they taste so good! You don’t need a recipe for this, all you need are melted dark chocolate and fresh mandarin oranges. And maybe a little bit chopped nuts, peppermint candy, and/or shredded coconut.




Gingerbread breakfast cookies: These cookies are so filling and flavorful! The one thing I love the most about this recipe is the cookies are NOT overwhelmingly sweet but enough to satisfy my craving. Did I mention that these cookies are super flavorful? It is because they are made with the warm spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice). I, of course, added more ground cinnamon than the recipe called for. You can definitely have these cookies for breakfast, or any time of the day (as a snack). The recipe was adapted from Mile High Mitts.





Breakfast Cookies: These cookies were prepared by Chef Brendan. Jessica and I gave them a try. We think these cookies will definitely taste better by adding a little bit more of ground cinnamon (Suggestion: make it about 1 tablespoon). The recipe was inspired by bowl of delicious .





Healthy Holiday buckeyes: This is a healthy alternative recipe to the traditional buckeyes. Super easy, protein-rich treat that you, your families and friends will enjoy. NOTE: do not skip the chocolate dipped part, as chocolate makes it better. Recipe was adapted from Fit Foodie Finds.





Chocolate covered nuts: If you are like me, you look for some pick-me-up snacks at 2pm. This chocolate dipped mixed nuts is going to be your new favorite snack! It is super easy to make, healthy and DELICIOUS! You don’t need a recipe for this item. What you need are your favorite unsalted nuts (which my favorite are pecans and almonds) and melted dark chocolate.





Healthy sugar cookies (gluten-free): These sugar cookies are made from almond and coconut flour. I have to admit these cookies do not taste like regular ones. They are slightly crunchier and have a coarser texture. BUT, still very tasty. My cookies took about 8 minutes to bake (they brown easily). The recipe was adapted from Fit Foodie Finds.





Shortbread almond flour cookies (gluten-free): Similar to the healthy sugar cookie, these cookies are crunchier. They brown very quickly, my cookies took less than 10 minutes to bake. I would recommend baking the cookies at 325℉ (instead of 350℉). I also added some dried cranberries to make shortbread cookies, and they taste SO GOOD. The recipe was adapted from Fit Foodie Finds.





Cashew ginger chocolate bark with coconut and sesame: Chocolate bark seems like a trendy snack lately. This heavenly delightful chocolate bark isn’t the regular one that you would get from the store. It has a very unique flavor, but not overwhelming. I like how the candied ginger blends so well with the dark chocolate. It is perfect for holiday gifts and gatherings. The recipe was adapted from Feasting at home.





Chocolate peanut butter crispy bars: a healthier alternative to scotcheroos has been discovered! We used brown rice crisps, and added some chopped pecans in this recipe! I would recommend you add more peanut butter for the bottom layer (peanut butter-crispy layer), as my end product turns out to be crumbling (Maybe ¼ cup more of the peanut butter). The recipe was adapted from Cookie and Kate.





Vegan chocolate tart with hazelnut crust (gluten-free): Using this recipe, I made it into 7 x 4” mini tarts (you may have some extra crust). I also use two avocados (medium-to-large) in place of the tofu. This delicate chocolate tart is super easy to make, silky smooth, and tasty. I highly recommend you to try this chocolate tart. The recipe was inspired by Feasting from home.





Gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting: I did a slight modification on this recipe - I used low-fat cream cheese (⅓ less fat) instead of the regular cream cheese, and cut back on the amount of powdered sugar (I used a total of 1 cup) for the icing part. The recipe was inspired by Cookie and Kate.





Double chocolate zucchini bread: this is a very moist chocolate bread (tastes more like a cake to me). Your families and friends will never be able to tell that you actually made this bread with zucchini (shredded). This chocolate bread tastes like a brownie (so rich). The recipe was adapted from Sally baking addiction.






*Some of the ingredients were sponsored by the DRH Health Food and Nutrition Service department.

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