Healthy Holiday Desserts

These treats are nice and not too naughty: Some star good-for-you ingredients (think nuts, dates, fruit, yogurt, dark chocolate). Others are light on calories and fat, and some are gluten free. All these recipes let you indulge your sweet tooth and feel virtuous

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Coffee-Infused Chocolate Sorbet

Makes 3 cups


¼ cup whole coffee beans

¾ cut water

½ cup grade B maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

5 ounces dark chocolate (65 to 70% cacao content), finely chopped

12/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plain almond milk


1.     Put the coffee beans in a small resealable plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin to coarsely crush them.

2.     Put the water, maple syrup and salt in a saucepan over high heat and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer for 1 minute. Add the coffee beans, cover, and remove from the heat. Let the coffee infuse for 5 minutes.

3.     Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Line a sieve with a piece of cheesecloth and place it over the bowl.

4.     Put the coffee infusion over medium heat and return to a simmer, then pour it through the lined sieve, directly into the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until well combined and smooth, then whisk in the vanilla.

5.     Scrape the mixture into a blender, add the almond milk, and process until smooth and frothy. Pour the blended mixture back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 4 hours.

6.     Remove the bowl of the ice cram maker form the freezer. Whisk the sorbet mixture until smooth, then pour it into the bowl of the ice cream maker. Process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7.     Transfer to an airtight container. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent freezer burn, then cover. Freeze to the desired firmness.


PER SERVING (3/4 cup): 240 Calories, 10 g Total Fat, 33.5 g Carb, 3 g Protein.

From The Longevity Kitchen, by Rebecca Katz with Matt Edelson (Ten Speed)

Reprinted with permission from The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson (Ten Speed Press, © 2013). Photo Credit: Leo Gong.

Roasted Strawberries with Pomegranate Molasses and Basil

Makes 4 servings


3 tablespoons grade B maple syrup

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1 ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups strawberries, hulled

2 teaspoons very thinly sliced fresh basil


1.     Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.     Put the maple syrup, olive oil, salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the strawberries and stir gently until the strawberries are well coated.

3.     Spread the strawberries on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Save any leftover juices to drizzle over the strawberries or to slurp with great enjoyment! Bake for about 90 minutes, until the strawberries are about half their original size, stirring and redistributing them halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the berries and any remaining juices to a bowl. Gently stir in the basil, then let sit for 5 minutes for the flavors to meld. Serve warm or at room temperature.


PER SERVING: 45 Calories, 1.5 g Total Fat, 8 g Carb, 1 g Protein.

From The Longevity Kitchen, by Rebecca Katz with Matt Edelson (Ten Speed)

Reprinted with permission from The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson (Ten Speed Press, © 2013). Photo Credit: Leo Gong.

Tiramisu Pudding

Makes 4 servings


2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 tablespoon sweetener

8 teaspoons sugar-free chocolate syrup, like Torani or Walnut Acres

1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk, divided

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder


1.     Place 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl with instant coffee and sweetener. Whisk well to combine. Stir in the chocolate syrup. Divide the mixture among 4 ramekins or parfait glasses.

2.     Place ¼ cup soy milk in a small saucepan. Sprinkle with gelatin; let stand until gelatin has softened, about 5 minutes. Do not stir. Place over low heat and cook 1 minute, stirring well, until the gelatin dissolves.

3.     Turn off the heat and stir in the sweetener. Cool soy-gelatin mixture 5 minutes or until it reaches room temperature. Whisk in the remaining soy milk, mascarpone cheese, and vanilla until smooth.

4.     Divide the mascarpone mixture among the four glasses; the syrup mixture creates a swirl as you pour. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon cocoa over each pudding and serve. Or store, covered, for up to 3 days in the fridge.


PER SERVING: 373 Calories, 25g Fat, 4g Carbs, 7g Protein.

From The New Atkins Made Easy, by Colette Heimowitz (Touchstone Books, December 24, 2013)

From THE NEW ATKINS MADE EASY: A Faster, Simpler Way to Shed Weight and Feel Great—Starting Today! by Colette Heimowitz. Copyright © 2013 by Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Touchstone, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Almond-Pear Linzer Tart

Serves 16


1 ½ cups white whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup toasted blanched almonds

5 tablespoons light stick butter

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

2 large egg whites

1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves

½ cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 ripe large pears, cored and cut into ½-inch slices


1.     Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 10-inch removable-bottom tart pan with nonstick spray and dust with flour.

2.     In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Put almonds in food processor and pulse until finely chopped; measure out 1 tablespoon almonds and set aside. Add butter and brown sugar to remaining almonds; pulse until blended. Add egg whites and pulse until blended. Add flour mixture and pulse until combined. Spoon mixture into tart pan and press evenly onto bottom of pan. Spread evenly with preserves, leaving a ½-inch border. Set aside 1 tablespoon cranberries and sprinkle remaining cranberries over preserves.

3.     Stir together granulated sugar and cornstarch in medium bowl; add pears and toss to coat. Arrange pear slices in pan in concentric circles. Sprinkle with reserved 1 tablespoon almonds and 1 tablespoon cranberries. Bake tart until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 50 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. To serve, remove tart ring and cut tart into 16 slices.


PER SERVING (1 slice): 150 Cal, 4 g Total Fat, 29 g Carb, 3 g Prot.

From Weight Watchers: What to Cook Now (St. Martin’s, December 24, 2013)

Weight Watchers/St. Martin's Press

Oranges with Fresh Raspberry Sauce and Chocolate

Serves 4


1 cup fresh or thawed frozen raspberries

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice

4 large navel oranges

4 tablespoons shaved bittersweet chocolate


1.     To make sauce, puree raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in food processor until smooth. Push puree through a strainer; discard seeds.

2.     With knife, cut away peel and white pith from oranges; cut into thick slices. Arrange slices evenly on 4 serving plates. Drizzle oranges with raspberry sauce and sprinkle with chocolate.


PER SERVING (1 orange, 2 tablespoons sauce, and 1 tablespoon chocolate): 160 Calories, 2 g Total Fat, 36 g Carb, 2 g Protein.

From Weight Watchers: What to Cook Now (St. Martin’s, December 24, 2013)

Sony Ho/

Pears Baked with Sweet Pecan and Brie Topping

Serves 4


2 firm ripe pears, such as Bosc (1¼ pounds)

¼ cup unsalted pecans

4 ounces Brie cheese

4 teaspoons lightly packed dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg


1.     Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2.     Halve the pears lengthwise, then core them using a melon baller or paring knife. Toast the pecans in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lighty browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then roughly chop them. Cut the Brie into 4 slices.

3.     Arrange the pears, cut side up, on an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet (cut a notch into the bottom of the pears if necessary to stady them) and sprinkle the tops evenly with the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Then top each pear half with 1 tablespoon of the pecans and a slice of the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and slightly bubbly and the pears are tender but still retain their shape, 9 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.


PER SERVING (1 pear half): 230 calories, 3 g Total Fat, 26 g Carb, 7 g Protein.

From Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less, by Elie Krieger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


Gluten-Free Almond Mandelbrot

Makes 30 Mandelbrot


¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest, freshly grated

3 cups Nosh AP GF flour*

1 teaspoon baking pwder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

14 teaspoon lemon oil, Boyajian preferred, or ½ teaspoon lemon extract

1/3 cup canola oil

3 extra-large eggs

1 ½  cups almonds, toasted and roughly chopped


*To make 3 cups Nosh AP GF flour, blend (using Authentic Foods superfine flours):  1½ cups brown rice flour, ¾ cup white rice flour and ¾ cup tapioca starch.


1.     Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.     Place the sugar in a small bowl. Work in the lemon zest with clean fingertips until the sugar is fully coated. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes before using.

3.     In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the sugar mixture and whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vanilla, almond extract, lemon oil, canola oil and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir. Stir in the almonds.

4.     On the prepared baking sheet, with wet hands, form the dough into two logs ½ inch tall and 2 inches wide. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn down the temperature to 325 F and bake for 20 minutes more. The logs will not be brown. Let cool thoroughly on the pan. Slice the logs gently with a serrated knife into 1-inch-wide slices. Be gentle—they tend to crumble at this point. Place the slices on the baking sheet. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Turn down the temperature to 275 F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes more, until golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a rack and let cool completely.


From Nosh on This: Gluten-free Baking from a Jewish-American Kitchen, copyright © Lisa Stander-Horel and Tim Horel, September 2013. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 

Tim Horel

Grapes Simmered in Port Wine Sauce

Serves 4


1 orange

1 cup ruby port wine

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon honey

2 ½ cups seedless red grapes

1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt or plain low-fat Greek yogurt, optional


1.     Using a vegetable peeler, strip off one ½ X 2-inch strip of the orange peel, being careful not to include any of the white pith. Juice enough of the orange to yield 2 tablespoons juice and reserve the rest of the orange for another use.

2.     Put the strip of orange peel and the 2 tablespoons juice in a medium saucepan along with the wine, cinnamon stick, and h0ney and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. Continue cooking over high heat until the liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, halve the grapes.

3.     Remove the orange peel and cinnamon stick from the saucepan and discard. Stir in the grapes, return to a boil, then lower the heat to medum and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until the grapes have softened slightly. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

4.     Serve in a small dish on its own, or top each serving with a ¼ -cup scoop of frozen or Greek yogurt, if using.


PER SERVING (about ½ cup): 180 Calories, 0g Total Fat, 30g Carb, 1g Protein.

From Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less, by Elie Krieger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

George Allen Penton/

Coconut-Date Truffles

Serves 4


¼ cup shelled unsalted pistachios

2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

½ cup Medjool dates (5 large)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of salt


1.     Toast the pistachios in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darker in color and fragrant, 3 minutes. Place the coconut on a small plate.

2.     Pit the dates, then place them in the small bowl of a food processor along with the pistachios, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Process until finely chopped.

3.     Form the mixture into eight 1-inch balls with your fingers, then roll each ball in the coconut, pressing down somewhat so the coconut adheres.


PER SERVING (2 truffles): 110 Calories, 5g Total Fat, 18g Carb, 2g Protein.

From Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less, by Elie Krieger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


Insanely Good Chocolate Brownies

⅓ cup almond flour, homemade or store-bought

⅓ cup brown rice flour

2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

8 ounces dark chocolate 
(68% to 72% cacao content), chopped

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 organic eggs

⅓ cup grade B maple syrup

⅓ cup maple sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional), toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with two pieces of foil long enough to overlap on all four sides. Lightly oil the foil.


2. Put the almond flour, brown rice flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.

3. Put half of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring often, just until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the olive oil.

4. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until frothy. Slowly add the maple syrup and maple sugar, whisking all the while, and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla extract, then gradually add the chocolate, whisking vigorously all the while, and continue whisking until smooth and glossy.

5. Add the flour mixture and beat for about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining chocolate and the walnuts. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature in the pan, then cover and refrigerate for at least 
1 hour before cutting into 16 brownies.

Variation: For fudgier brownies, replace the rice flour with another 1/3 cup of almond flour.

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 
5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

PER SERVING: (1 brownie per serving) Calories: 130; Total Fat: 9 g 
(2.5 g saturated, 5 g monounsaturated); Carbohydrates: 10 g; Protein: 
2 g; Fiber: 1 g; Sodium: 64 mg

From The Longevity Kitchen, by Rebecca Katz with Matt Edelson (Ten Speed)

Reprinted with permission from The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson (Ten Speed Press, © 2013). Photo Credit: Leo Gong.

Upside-Down Apple Tartlets

Serves 8
Sweetness: Medium 


2 cups blanched almond flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ cup coconut oil, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon vanilla crème stevia



6 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch slices

1 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place eight 1-cup wide-mouth Mason jars on a large baking sheet.

2. To make the crust, pulse together the almond flour and salt in a food processor. Add the coconut oil and stevia and pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

3. To make the filling, place the apples, apple juice, lemon juice, arrowroot powder and cinnamon in a large bowl, and toss to combine. Transfer the apples to the Mason jars so that each one is overfull. Divide the remaining juice from the bottom of the bowl between the jars.

4. Remove the dough from the freezer, place between 2 pieces of parchment paper generously dusted with almond flour, and roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment. Using the top 
of a wide-mouth Mason jar, cut out 
8 circles of dough and place one on
 top of each apple-filled Mason jar.

5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Serve the tartlets hot out of the oven.


Coconut Whipped Cream

Makes 1 cup
Sweetness: low 

This dairy-free whipped cream recipe calls for full-fat canned coconut milk. The fat is what makes the recipe creamy and luscious; light coconut milk won’t work and results in a watery mess.

1 (13-ounce) can Thai Kitchen coconut milk

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 drops vanilla crème stevia

Pinch of sea salt

1. Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator at least 24 hours before making the whipped cream, so it is well chilled. Chill a metal bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.

2. Take the coconut milk out of the refrigerator and remove the lid. Gently scoop out the coconut fat, placing it in the chilled bowl. Pour the remaining liquid into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator, saving it for another use.

3. Using a handheld blender, whip the coconut milk fat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Whip in the honey, vanilla extract, stevia, and salt.

4. Use right away or store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

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Reprinted with permission from Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes by Elana Amsterdam (Ten Speed Press, © 2013). Photo Credit: Leigh Beisch.

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