3 Holiday Desserts Made Healthier
Healthy eating probably isn’t the first thought that springs to mind when you think of the holidays. But the “giving” season shouldn’t mean gifting yourself and extra five pounds that aren’t easily returned!
This year, instead of overindulging in your favorite treats, expand your dessert repertoire to include more fruit-based options and use the calorie- and saturated fat-slashing tips below to make lighten up your favorite holiday recipes. You’ll be amazed at how small recipe changes can yield big nutritional payoffs—without sacrificing taste.
Here are some of my favorite tips to slim down holiday desserts.
– Cut ¼ of the sugar from recipes.
– Slash fat by replacing half with an equal amount pureed beans, canned pumpkins, applesauce, or shredded beets
– Replace buttercream frosting on cakes and cupcakes with lower fat meringue frosting, made from just sugar and egg whites.
– Swap half the white flour in a recipe with an equal amount whole wheat flour for more nutrients, antioxidants and fiber.
– In boxed brownie mix, replace every 2 eggs and ½ cup oil with ½ cup fat-free yogurt to cut calories and increase calcium
– Add veggie and fruit pulp from your juicer to quick bread recipes (for example, a blend of ginger, carrot and beet pulp would be a great addition to a spicy zucchini bread).
– Use nonfat or low-fat plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in recipes.
I also use recipes that are naturally lower in fat and added sugar, such as fruit-based desserts. If your family will never forgive you for skipping your famous pie this year, try turning it into a tart by omitting the top layer of crust
Here are three lighter desserts that will dazzle your family and friends this holiday season:
Pecan Apple Tart (serves 16)
For the pie crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup canola oil, frozen
6 tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling:
½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar and mix well. Add frozen canola oil and cut into flour using a pastry cutter, until oil is the size of small peas. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing gently and briefly with a fork after each addition. Dough will begin to form a ball when enough water has been added. Gather dough with dry hands and form into an even ball. Let cool for 5 minutes in the freezer. Roll dough to a 12-inch circle. Gently drape over a 9” tart pan and lightly press into pan.
3. In a large bowl, combine sugar and corn syrup. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Add melted butter and continue to beat. Add pecans and vanilla and mix well. Set aside.
4. In a small bowl, mix apples with lemon juice. Spread apples onto bottom of pan and pour egg mixture over apples. Bake tart for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until set.
5. Cool on rack before cutting into 16 pieces.
Calories: 200 per slice
Skillet-Baked Pear-and-Apple Crisp (serves 8)
For the topping:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup frozen canola oil
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds firm Bartlett pears—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup dried currants or raisins
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Cognac
1. Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with canola oil cooking spray.
2. In a food processor, combine the sugar with the flour, pecans and cinnamon. Add the frozen canola oil and pulse until the mixture is fine. Transfer the topping to a bowl and press into clumps.
3. In a large bowl, combine the apples and pears with the currants, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, honey and Cognac and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Spread the fruit in the skillet and scatter the topping over the fruit.
4. Bake the crisp in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is browned. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Calories: 360 per serving
Spicy Pumpkin Bread (makes 24 slices)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
Canola oil cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 7 ingredients (flour through cloves) in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine sugar and the next 5 ingredients (sugar through pumpkin) in a bowl, and stir well with a whisk until smooth. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
3. Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with walnuts. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaves in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool loaves completely; cut each loaf into 12 slices.
Calories: 161 per slice
This post was co-written and recipe tested by Talia Kasher.