By Lauren Denos: 12/19/2014 (Nutrition)

We are in the holiday season which means lots of sugary desserts we may not normally keep in the house. There is nothing wrong with enjoying some dessert, and you should enjoy the holidays, but if you are wanting to enjoy holiday desserts in a healthier way then there are a few things you can try instead of the normal candy canes and gumdrops.

These are not meant to be ridiculously healthy desserts like chia seed pudding. The purpose of these recipes is to simply have something a bit better than you would normally have but something the rest of your family will eat as well. If it is just you and you want something super healthy then there are many options, but when we have others that we would like to feed as well then we need to find things healthier and they'll like. I like simple recipes that do not take too many ingredients and do not take a lot to time to make. So if you are also someone like me who wants healthier options but has a busy life you will love these!

One more note: everyone has a different sweetener of choice. Some prefer honey, some prefer coconut sugar, or molasses. Stevia is used as a really good alternative for those with blood sugar problems so it's the default over here. Feel free to substitute the sweetener that works best for you!

Almond Bark

This is one of the simplest things to make. Choose an unsweetened chocolate and make sure it is a high quality. The better the chocolate the better this will taste. Ghirardelli is a readily available good chocolate. This recipe can easily be adapted for other things. You can use different nuts, coconut, or just about anything else you want. A touch of cayenne in any chocolate is a tasty option as well.

1 bar unsweetened chocolate of choice

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 tsp liquid Stevia

Start by breaking up the chocolate bar and melting it in the microwave. Since microwaves vary so much just keep an eye on it. Cook a minute at a time and stir to see where it is. Mostly melt the chocolate and then stir for a minute or two to get the rest of the chocolate evenly melted.

Add Stevia. Start with 4 or 5 droppers full of Stevia and see how that tastes. You can always add more. Everyone has a different preference on level of sweetness. Be aware that the chocolate will start to thicken once you add in the stevia, this is normal.

Once you have decided how sweet you want your chocolate stir in the nuts. Then all you have to do is either spread or drop like cookies on a cookie sheet and refrigerate until hard.

Apple Pie

I prefer galas, braeburn, fuji, and the like. I do not tend to use soft apples like red delicious. You can also use green apples if you like more of a tart kick to your pie.

3-5 apples depending on size

2-3 Tbsp corn starch

1 cup water

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp Vanilla

2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil

1/4 tsp cloves, ginger, nutmeg and orange peel (optional)

1 tsp liquid Stevia

Premade crust of your choice (or use the homemade recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut apples into 1/2" pieces and put into a pan with 1/2 cup water, the spices, butter/coconut oil, and vanilla. Cook for 10-20 minutes until apples are tender. Add as much Stevia until you have the sweetness you desire. Start with 5 droppers full and add more to taste. Stir all these together.

In a bowl mix corn starch and 1/2 cup water until smooth. Add this mixture in little bits stirring really well. Do not just dump it all in at once, You want it to thicken up the juice but do not need it clumpy. Once you have the juice thickened to your desire add it all to the crust and bake for 45 minutes or until crust is brown. If you decide to use the nut crust below you can just pour the thickened apple filling into the pie crust and put into the refrigerator to set up.

Chocolate Mousse

This is one of the easiest things to do and has so many uses. You can put this into a pie crust to make a chocolate mouse pie or you can serve with strawberries or other fruit for dipping. This recipe is not low fat by any stretch of the imagination so I personally think it is best to dip some strawberries into so that you do not eat too much of it. This is an option for people with allergies such as gluten, eggs, nuts, and sugar. When you cut that many things out what you get is something that is higher in fat. The higher the fat in a dairy product the lower the sugar content. Again this is meant as a once in a while dessert, if you do this one too often you will be consuming way too much fat and way too many calories.

2 cups Heavy whipping cream or coconut cream, size depending on need

1 tbsp Stevia

1/2 cup - 1 cup Cocoa powder

Whip cream until it is stiff. Add in cocoa powder and Stevia. Start with a 1/2 cup of cocoa powder at a time until you get the level of chocolate you like. This is really a personal preference. The more you put in the darker and richer it gets.

That's it! Once you have your desired level of chocolate and sweetness you can serve it up with some fresh strawberries and have something that everyone will like (except for non chocolate lovers, but they are just crazy).

Fresh Fruit Pie

This is another ridiculously easy one. I love this one because while it still has sugar in it, it also has the fruits vitamins and minerals intact making it a very healthy option.

3 cups soft fruit of your choice (my favorites are strawberries, peaches, plums, or raspberries)

3 Tbsp complimentary fruit preserves of your choice (i.e., if you are doing a strawberry pie use strawberry preserves)

Stevia (optional, if you need it sweeter)

Premade crust of your choice (or use the homemade recipe below)

Chop fruit into 1/2" inch pieces and toss in a bowl with the preserves. If you need extra sweetness then add a little Stevia at a time until you achieve the sweetness you want. Toss into baked crust or nut crust and refrigerate. That’s it! It is really easy. Be aware this pie does not have any of the clumpy gooey stuff that tends to hold pies together so it does not always come out in perfect pieces. This pie is also best on the day it is made.

Homemade Nut Pie Crust

There are two variations for this recipe. If you can eat sugar and just want a more wholesome option you can use the molasses. If you use molasses, you do not have to chop the nuts as fine as with the coconut oil since you have the molasses to help it stick together. If you are sugar sensitive, use the coconut oil and finely process the nuts.

2 cups nuts; almonds, pecans and walnuts are really good for this (raw is better)

2 Tbsp coconut oil or 1/2 cup molasses

Put nuts into a food processor and chop until the nuts are fine and just starting to get sticky, just before they start becoming nut butter. Add in oil and process until evenly mixed. Spread this mixture into a pie pan, covering bottom and sides. Put in the refrigerator to set for about an hour or until solid.

There you have it. A few ideas for easy holiday desserts that do not include tofu or chia seeds. Some of these are not the “healthy” type desserts that you would eat regularly but they are great for special occasions like a holiday party. Happy Holidays!



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