12 Healthy Christmas Treats, Cookies, and Desserts

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, desserts may be your favorite part of the Christmas season. Seasonal flavors of spicy gingerbread, creamy eggnog, and winter fruits like cranberry and orange create delicious treats that can have you drooling well into the new year.

Fortunately, living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean giving up these tasty treats! Whether you choose the occasional indulgent sweet or reimagine classic favorites with lightened-up ingredients, you can certainly enjoy dessert as part of a nutritious eating plan.

There’s something for every preference among these 12 healthier Christmas desserts—from truffles to cookies to cheesecake.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies

low-carb cranberry walnut cookies

Judy Barnes Baker

 

Christmas cookies are a hallmark of the holiday season, and cranberries are perhaps the most famous of winter fruits. The two combine forces in these low-carb sugar-free cranberry walnut cookies from Verywell Fit. Using almond meal, whey protein, and liquid stevia makes a batch of berrylicious treats that come in at 5 grams of protein and just 2 grams of carbs each.

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies With Naturally Colored Frosting

Whole wheat sugar cookies with naturally colored frosting

Real Mom Nutrition

The Christmas cookie tradition continues with whole wheat sugar cookies with naturally colored frosting from Real Mom Nutrition. Whole wheat flour, higher in fiber and B vitamins than white flour, offers a nuttier, more complex flavor you may find adds a welcome depth to the typical sugar cookie.

Meanwhile, beet or spinach juice in these cookies’ frosting provides an all-natural alternative to the synthetic dyes in food coloring. (Don’t worry, a few drops of almond extract will cover up any veggie-like flavors.)

Dairy-Free Cheesecake

Dairy-free cheesecake

Dennis Lane Photography / Getty Images

If you're dairy-free, cheesecake can stay on the holiday menu with this dairy-free cheesecake from The Spruce Eats. The secret is soy-based cream cheese. Vegans, too, can enjoy this classic dessert, as it uses a plant-based egg replacer instead of chicken eggs.

For individual portions of creamy goodness, make this recipe in six 4-inch springform pans. Then add to the impressive presentation with a topping of sliced fruit or chocolate sauce.

Winter Citrus and Pomegranate Mascarpone Cups

Winter citrus and pomegranate mascarpone cups

Julie Andrews / The Gourmet RD

Although pomegranate season tends to peak by November, these fruits are often available into the winter. The crunch of their ruby-red nibs (called arils) shines alongside zesty clementines in these pretty winter citrus and pomegranate mascarpone cups from The Gourmet RD.

A whipped combo or mascarpone cheese and Greek yogurt serves as a creamy backdrop to the tart fruit. Serving in individual cups also keep portions in check.

Quinoa Dark Chocolate Bark

Quinoa Dark Chocolate Bark

Teaspoon of Spice

Got 20 minutes? That’s all it takes to whip up this three-ingredient quinoa dark chocolate bark from Teaspoon of Spice. In this unusual recipe, you’ll give high-fiber, high-protein quinoa a quick toasting in a saucepan, then let the microwave do the work of melting antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.

Stir both ingredients together and spread the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and voila! A healthy, unconventional chocolate bark!

Pear and Cranberry Rustic Tart

Pear cranberry rustic tart

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

This pear and cranberry rustic tart from Simply Recipes features an impressive four pounds of ripe, juicy pears, plus a full cup of jewel-toned cranberries. That means each of its six servings contain one and a half servings of fruit. Each pear also provides 5.5 grams of fiber and a sizable dose of vitamin C.

Meanwhile, with its rustic look, there’s no need for perfectionism when assembling this tart. Asymmetry will only add to its appeal.

4-Ingredient Scotcheroo Bites

4 Ingredient scotcheroo bites

The Real Food Dietitians

You can never go wrong with the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. This holiday season, try four ingredient scotcheroo bites from the Real Food Dietitians—a bite-sized, healthier version of the staple Midwestern bar.

With an ingredient list consisting of only peanut butter, chocolate chips, brown rice cereal, and coconut oil, these treats are suitable for all sorts of special diets, including vegan, gluten-free, and low-sodium.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Kaleigh McMordie

Round out your Christmas cookie platter with the hearty flavors of pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from Verywell Fit, made with pumpkin puree, rolled oats, white whole wheat flour, and dark chocolate.

These single-bowl drop cookies could make an easy introduction to holiday baking for kids (or just make life a little simpler when you need to whip up a dessert fast). Plus, they come in at just 76 calories per cookie.

Slow Cooker Fruit Compote With Cinnamon

Slow cooker fruit compote

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

With everything you likely have going on around the holidays, it’s nice to know a healthy dessert is one less thing to worry about. A couldn’t-be-simpler slow cooker fruit compote with cinnamon from The Spruce Eats could be just what you need to, well, simmer down.

In this fix-and-forget recipe, you’ll fill your slow cooker with canned and frozen fruits (since many are not in season at Christmastime). Peaches, cherries, pears, and apricots, marinate in a sweet sauce of orange juice, brown sugar, and earthy cinnamon over the course of three to five hours. When ready to serve, garnish with a bit of freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Raw Vegan Gingerbread Truffles

Raw vegan gingerbread truffles

Kara Lydon Nutrition

Forget visions of sugar plums—dreams of these raw vegan gingerbread truffles from Kara Lydon Nutrition are sure to dance in your head. A few quick pulses in the food processor bring together sweet and spicy ingredients like pecans, cloves, ginger, and cacao powder, while low-glycemic index Medjool dates add sweetness without spiking blood sugar. Form into balls and you’re all set for a pop-able post-dinner treat.

German Baked Apples

German baked apples

The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Sometimes a heavy holiday meal could use a simple ending. German baked apples from The Spruce Eats (or Bratapfeln) are a not-too-sweet way to finish off a feast. Cored apples get stuffed with a buttered raisin-nut mixture, then baked until tender. A creamy vanilla sauce adds an unexpected touch to the finished product.

Bonus: Not only are these apples an easy means of adding fiber and immune-boosting vitamin C to your Christmas table, they’re suitable for gluten-free eaters, too.

Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

Pecan pie cookie bars

Nutritious Eats

Can’t decide between pecan pie or cookies? Pecan pie cookie bars from Nutritious Eats bridge the gap between the two in one tasty package. These bars start with a rich, sugar cookie-like base made of almond flour, then add a gooey pecan filling on top.

Although pecans have a high fat content, research shows that people who eat nuts on a regular basis actually are less likely to experience obesity and type two diabetes.

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