3 Luscious but Healthy Desserts for the Holidays
It’s the last month of the year and the first thing that comes to people’s minds is not that the year is about to end… but that “It’s Christmas!” of course. And with this holiday comes the tons of delicious temptation.
Now, this holiday is originally considered a Christian tradition. It is to celebrate the supposed birth of Christ, after all. However, for the past century or so, it has become a globally celebrated holiday, regardless of religious affiliation.
And much like other happy occasions, its celebration always comes with tons of traditional festive fares. As a matter of fact, there are hundreds of recipe books, both old and new, just dedicated to this holiday. It has even become synonymous with binge eating and partying… so much so that people have found it hard to stay faithful to their health come December.
But do you know that you don’t really have to deny yourself all those tempting holiday nosh. After all, what’s a celebration without delicious food, eh? As with most things, however, you just need to be smart about it.
Don’t know where to start or how to go about it exactly? Well, how about you start with these scrumptiously guilt-free healthy desserts for the holidays then.
The gingerbread cookie is somewhat a staple cookie during the holiday season. In fact, it is one of the most iconic holiday pastries during Christmas season. According to food historians, the gingerbread has many origin stories, coming from different countries all over the world. But it was Queen Elizabeth I who thought of making them into hard cookies and got them decorated for special occasions, particularly for fairs and festivals. The festivals were even called Gingerbread Fairs. And of course, the spicy pastry was the star of the events. Its main ingredients are flour, molasses, and some spices, which of course includes ginger.
Here’s an easy Gingerbread Cookie recipe you might wanna try.
You will need:
- 1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 tsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla flavored stevia
- In a bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, ginger, and all the other spices on the ingredients list. Mix well.
- In another bowl, mix the egg, coconut oil, molasses, stevia extract, and vanilla. Whisk until mixture is well-combined.
- Combine the flour mixture with the egg mixture to make the dough. Mix well. Put the dough in the fridge and let it sit for about an hour.
- Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with wax or parchment paper and preheat oven to 325°F.
- Once ready, roll the dough into a sheet of about 1/8 inches thick.
- Use cookie cutters to make different shapes, preferably those apt for the holidays such as stars and Christmas trees. Peel off the excess dough and transfer the gingerbread men on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake the dough for about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Once done, transfer to a wire rack and let them cool.
Ginger, much like its superfood cousin turmeric, has tons of health benefits. It has been used for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties for centuries. In fact, many people use it to treat nausea, arthritis, and muscle pain. It can also help reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Another staple holiday cookie is the cute but aptly named snickerdoodle. (Don’t you just love saying the name? It sounds like some lovable gibberish. ^_^)
Often thought of as a German in origin, this cookie simply made of butter, flour, and sugar, and rolled in or covered with ground cinnamon.
This pastry is quite popular in North America, particularly Canada and the US. There are several theories as to how it got its name. One theory supposes that it came from the German word schnecke or Dutch word snekrad, both of which means shaped like a snail. However, several food historians believe that the cookie may have originally come from new England during the 1800s.
Curious if you can manage to make a batch of these delightful cinnamon cookies yourself? Try our recipe below.
You will need:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup & 3 tbsp sugar (or sugar substitute)
- 1 tbsp corn syrup
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375°F, while you prepare the dough.
- In a bowl, combine with a whisk flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda.
- In another bowl, combine butter and a cup of sugar. Combine well with a mixer. Add egg, corn syrup, and vanilla extract to the mix and mix well.
- Carefully add the flour mix to the beaten eggs, and mix well. Put in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Then in a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon.
- Once the dough is done chilling for 10 minutes, take a portion of the dough and shape into balls.
- Next, roll each dough in the cinnamon sugar mix and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Make sure to arrange them about 2 inches apart.
- Using a glass, slightly flatten each dough ball.
- Bake for about 5 minutes. Once done, let it cool before serving them or wrapping them up.
Cinnamon is a spice that’s not only good for pastries but is also full of awesome health benefits. Much like ginger, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. On top of that, it also boosts the immune system as well as reduces the risk of serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.
Buttermilk Pecan Praline
This is a traditional Christmas candy in the US, especially in the southern part of the country. It is usually given as gifts to friends and family during the holiday season. The confection owe its beginnings to French settlers who brought the recipe to New Orleans around the 19th century. However, praline was originally invented in France around two centuries earlier. Its main ingredients are nuts, sugar, and cream.
Try to whip up a batch of these delectable treats by following the recipe below.
You will need:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Dash of salt
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- In a saucepan, cook in low heat the buttermilk, sugar, baking soda, corn syrup, and salt. Stir constantly until all the sugar dissolves. Then simmer for about 10 minutes or until temperature of the mixture becomes 234°F. Remove from heat and let it settle for about 5 minutes.
- Mix in the butter, nuts, and vanilla, preferably with a wooden spoon. Make sure to combine sticky mixture well.
- Meanwhile, cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Get a teaspoonful of the mixture and drop it on the lined baking sheet. Do this until you’ve dropped all the mixture on the baking sheet.
- Let it cool and set or wait until after 20 minutes to serve them.
Pecans are high in flavonoids and phenols, which are antioxidants that help prevent oxidative stress and reduce the risk of heart diseases. These nuts are also anti-inflammatory, which means it also reduces the risk of asthma, arthritis, and other illnesses caused by chronic inflammation.
What to Do with the Tasty Treats?
Aside from serving these treats on Christmas dinners or parties, they also make great gifts to friends and families. You can even give them away to neighbors to spread some holiday cheer around your neighborhood.
And how to wrap them up? You can put them in nice cellophane and seal them with a festive bow, or in pretty pastry boxes. You can also place them in nice festive tin cans. These scrumptious sweets can be great treats for both the young and old, and may even help your guests stave off those hunger pangs as they wait for your holiday piece de resistance.
Now, Christmas baking is a common enough tradition for many families. It’s a time for parents and grandparents to impart the family recipes to the younger generation. It’s also a great way for family members to spend some quality time together as they prepare for one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. But it doesn’t mean you have to spend it with so much self-reproach and guilt afterwards, right?
So make those healthy desserts this Christmas for you and your family… without the accompanying guilt. Be smart in preparing your holiday feast… so you can stay healthy, even if you get to spend hours in the kitchen.