Healthy Holiday Treats

By Jamie Miller, Camelback Village’s registered dietitian

‘Tis the season for pumpkin-spiced goodies, peppermint-flavored desserts, and so many more holiday sweet treats. While an occasional dessert can be a part of a balanced lifestyle, enjoying these indulgent items all holiday season long can leave us not feeling our best come the new year. So how do we navigate all the upcoming family gatherings, holiday parties, and gift exchanges without overindulging? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Tip #1: Don’t accept “defeat”

There is no need to write off the entire holiday season as a time to feel less than your best. While this may not be the time of year to start a new diet plan, we also don’t have to accept that we are doomed to gain weight over the next couple of months.

Tip #2: Eat only the treats you LOVE

Prioritize your indulgences! That may mean skipping a “so-so” cookie from a co-worker and waiting to have a slice of your absolute favorite pie made by a family member. Really savor the “splurge” with mindfulness, moderation, and no guilt. For example, plate your cookie and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee instead of eating it quickly while passing through the kitchen.

Tip #3: Consider setting a “quota” for the week

For example, you could intentionally decide to have four Christmas cookies throughout the week. This allows you to “budget” when you want to “spend” your time to enjoy the treat and what you want to spend it on to make sure it’s really worth it.

Tip #4: Satisfy with smart swaps 

If you want to partake in a sweet treat more often, try out some of these nutritious holiday dessert ideas that’ll keep you off of Santa’s naughty list!  These are totally crave-able and satisfying treats are delicious enough that you won’t feel like you’re “missing out,” and they will also help you feel nourished, energized, and healthy throughout the holiday season.

50-Calorie Hot Cocoa

  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • Sweetener to taste (1 Tbsp. monk fruit or 2 tsp. Truvia)
  • 1 drop peppermint extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond, cashew or coconut milk

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients in a blender, transfer to a mug, and microwave 1-1½ minutes until hot.

Paleo Salted Dark Chocolate Dipped Almond Butter Cookies 

  • 1 cup creamy almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 Tbsp granulated monk fruit (or coconut sugar or sweetener that measures like sugar)
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (or Lily’s stevia chocolate chips for a sugar-free option)
  • pink Himalayan salt or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the almond butter, egg, and either monk fruit or coconut sugar and mix until well combined. Spoon level one-tablespoon portions of the mixture about one inch apart onto baking sheets. Flatten the mounds with the tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern on the cookies. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven. Let cool on the baking sheet for another minute or two before transferring to a cooling rack. Once cookies are fully cooled, pour the chocolate in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave in 10 to 15-second intervals, stirring in between until chocolate is melted. Gently dunk each cookie in the melted chocolate and place on parchment paper to cool. Sprinkle salt on top of the chocolate if desired. Cool then serve.

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