Homemade Better-for-you Holiday Sweets

I know this tme of year gets even busier for busy professional working moms (just like me).  I was so busy that in last week’s post about Smart Strategies for Holiday Eating, I completely forgot to point out that you can also MAKE your own foods to BRING to the events.  When you’ve got better-for-you recipes like the ones I’m about to share, you can be confident in your food choices because you know exactly what is in them and just how delicious they are!  It’s so disappointing to “waste” calories on a sub-par goodie, isn’t it?  I’ve been known to (discreetly) spit out crappy chocolates and dry cookies.  If I’m eating it, it had better be DELICIOUS!

So, I assure you that all of the recipes that follow fit the bill for both better-for-you than their traditional counterparts AND delicious – AS delicious-tasting as the originals, if not MORE SO!  Some of the recipes are vegan, some are keto- and/or paleo-friendly and ALL of the recipes lack refined/processed sugar. I actually filmed full-length LIVE demos for FIVE of the recipes on  Facebook and I shared those same five recipes as my weekly Instagram video series.

Forgot about a class party?  Need to bring a dish to a potluck (as I suggested above)?  Just want to hide in the basement with some snacks until it’s all over?  I’ve got you covered!  For all of my recipes and MORE of my top picks from my favourite food bloggers, read on!

Vegan Chocolate Turtles

These delightful bite-sized sweets have all the sweet stickiness of the brand-name Turtles, with none of the refined sugar!  They also add a dose of fiber and some healthful fats.  Turtles, turtles, rah, rah, rah indeed!

Ingredients:

  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted and cut in half
  • 16 pecan halves
  • 3 ounces (85g) stevia-sweetened dark chocolate baking chips (I like Lily’s brand*) or a dark chocolate bar, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • Sea salt

Instructions:

  • Cut the dates in half and remove the pits
  • Press one pecan half into each date half, where the pit was removed
  • Spread the dates, cut side up (turtles on their backs) in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray, lined with parchment paper
  • Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double-boiler or the microwave, stirring until smooth
  • Spoon chocolate over the date halves to seal in the pecan
  • Sprinkle with sea salt
  • Refrigerate until set (20-30 minutes)
  • Store leftovers (if any) in the fridge

If you liked those bite-size sweets, you might also like:

Running with Spoons No-bake Brownie Bites

Keto Peppermint Patties

I think I’ve already discussed that there are two kinds of people: those who LOVE the combination of mint of chocolate (pick me!) and those who hate it.  There are only two camps.  If you’re not in the former, you can move right along to the next recipe.  If you’re with me, hang out here for a fun and surprisingly easy homemade peppermint patty recipe.  The only “specialty” equipment you need for this is a set of silicone muffin liners OR a silicone “wafer” candy mold.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut manna/butter, softened (I like the Nutiva brand*)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Liquid stevia drops (I have the Nustevia clear liquid stevia*)
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 ounces (85g) stevia-sweetened dark chocolate baking chips (I like Lily’s brand*) or a dark chocolate bar, chopped

Instructions:

  • Soften the coconut oil and coconut jars by placing the sealed jars in hot water or by microwaving
  • Add the stevia drops & peppermint extract
  • Use a whisk or hand blender to combine thoroughly
  • Pour the oil mixture into the bottom of the silicone muffin liners (~1/2 – 1 tbsp each) or silicone wafer candy molds and place in freezer to set (5-10 minutes)
  • Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double-boiler or the microwave, stirring until smooth
  • Let the melted chocolate cool slightly
  • Remove the coconut mint filling from molds and quickly dip each disc/wafer in the chocolate to coat
  • Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet
  • Return to freezer until set (10-15 minutes)
  • Store leftovers (if any) in the fridge

If you liked this recipe, you might also like:

Mint Chocolate Avocado Protein Pudding

Sugar-free Shortbreads

You might be wondering what a sugar-free cookie would taste like.  Well, the good news is (if you have a sweet tooth like I do, anyway) that there is a host of sugar replacement products for baking that measure one for one with sugar but with a fraction of the calories, so sugar-free cookies are just as sweet and have the same texture as their “carb-y” peers.  I like some of the newer alternatives on the market that supposedly are more “natural” – you’ll have to decide for yourself if they agree with your taste buds AND digestive system.  Here’s your chance to find out!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar replacement (I like the Swerve brand icing sugar*)
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or use your favourite gluten-free flour blend if you require)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Cream together butter and sweetener in a large mixing bowl
  • Add corn starch and flour and mix with a wooden spoon (and your hands) until a smooth dough forms
  • Roll into a large ball and cover with plastic wrap
  • Refrigerate briefly until firm (~30 minutes)
  • Flour work space and rolling pin
  • Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness and use cookie cutters for your favourite seasonal shapes
  • Bake for ~8 minutes until lightly golden
  • Enjoy with a refreshing glass of milk of choice – these are a great choice to leave out for Santa!  His waistline will thank you, too!

If you liked these cookies, you might also like these zesty sweets:

The Foodie Teen Lemon + Ginger Shortbread

Protein Pumpkin Pie

Pie has long seemed like one of the richest choices when it comes to holiday sweets.  The serving size is usually bigger than a single cookie or square, making it a dessert that can pack more of a caloric wallop than a main dish.  Through some tinkering, however, I realized that traditional pastry crust is one of the most calorie-dense parts of the pie, and the creamy smooth filling of pumpkin pie is actually a great fibre-rich dose of an actual fruit (yes, pumpkin is technically a fruit, along with tomatoes, bell peppers (!) and avocados – don’t believe me?  You can check out the debate, here).  So, I ditched the crust (you can use a pre-made graham cracker crust; they generally are much lighter than pastry crusts) and I swapped whole eggs for egg whites and some flavoured protein powder to pump you up!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix/filling)
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites (4 large egg whites)
  • 1 scoop (28g) vanilla protein powder (I like Quest Nutrition Vanilla Milkshake or Cinnamon Crunch for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly
  • Pour into prepared pie pan(s) (I spray two, 9″ pie pans with nonstick cooking spray)
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until no longer shiny/wet-looking
  • Let cool and enjoy!
  • One quarter of the recipe is ~85 calories with 11g of carbohydrates and 9g of protein (negligible fat)…you can eat the entire recipe for ~340 calories (if you wanted…just saying)
  • Consider serving with fat-free Cool Whip or protein ice cream (like Halo Top)

If you love all things pumpkin spice, you might also enjoy:

Paleo Grubs Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites

Soft & Chewy Vegan Grain-free Ginger Cookies

This recipe comes straight from one of my favourite food bloggers, The Detoxinista (Megan Gilmore).  Megan’s recipes generally have only a handful of simple, natural ingredients and are generally naturally-sweetened and often gluten-, dairy- and even egg-free and paleo-friendly.  These grain-free ginger cookies are no exception.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, softened
  • 1 tbsp organic blackstrap molasses (Whole Sweeteners has a good product*)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 2 tsp dried ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Coconut sugar crystals, for rolling (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Cream together the coconut oil, molasses and maple syrup
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
  • Chill the dough in the fridge until firm
  • Use a small spoon to help shape into small balls and press with a wet fork (option to roll in coconut sugar crystals) – the recipe says it makes 12 cookies; I got 14
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes
  • Cool slightly and enjoy (I like them best when they’re still a little warm from the oven!)

If you liked these cookies, you might also like:

The Lean Green Bean Gingerbread Protein Balls

Primal Palate Gingerbread Cookies – Revised

Have a fit (holi)day!

*Please note that I am currently NOT sponsored by or affiliated with any particular brand, company or product. Any ideas, comments or opinions are my own, as mentioned in my Product Review page.  However, if you choose to purchase new-to-you products I recommend using the link(s) I provide, I can earn a small credit.  More information on that is available here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s