The holidays can be very food-centric- we celebrate and make memories with our loved ones while gathered around the dining table. With so many traditional treats tempting you, you may wonder how you can stick to your health goals while still enjoying every tasty bite this holiday season offers. While it's okay to enjoy some holiday staples that you might not have year-round, you can also include some healthy Christmas treats.
Part of being more health conscious during the holidays means being mindful of your sugar consumption, particularly if you have concerns about your blood sugar levels. Holiday eating can be healthy and delicious and still support your overall health. So we've rounded up 20 healthy Christmas dessert recipes to add to your holiday menu.
How to Add Healthy Treats to Your Diet
Sweets can be included in a healthy diet during the holidays. Not every dessert on the table has to be high in sugar and fat. Instead, you can consider sugar-free and low-fat dessert recipes. You may even opt for vegan or gluten-free to accommodate any food sensitivities.
It can be fun to experiment with new recipes, and plenty of delicious alternatives are blood sugar friendly and good for your health. Try these small swaps to make your favorite recipes healthier:
- Replace white flour with whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour has more fiber than white flour, which helps to control blood sugar. Fiber also helps improve digestion.
- Swap sugar for stevia or monk fruit sweetener. These non-nutritive sweeteners add sweetness to any recipe without adding the sugar that can cause your blood glucose levels to spike.
- Use bananas or unsweetened applesauce in place of oil. These substitutes are high in fiber and nutrients and low in fat. Using these ingredients instead of oil will reduce calories and fat. Bonus: they help keep your blood sugars stable.
- Replace whole eggs with egg whites or flax seed "eggs." Most recipes call for four to five eggs, some for only egg yolks, which are high in fat and cholesterol. Instead, you can add minimal fat and cholesterol by using 1 whole egg and the rest egg whites. Or, you can substitute flax seed "egg" for eggs. Add 1 tbsp of flaxseed to 3 tbsp of water and allow it to sit for 3-5 minutes. Use in place of 1 whole egg for added protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
- Substitute butter for nut butter. While peanut and almond butter are high in fat, they are also high in fiber and have healthy fats that butter does not. Nut butters also have protein, whereas butter only has fat.
Healthy Treats, Snacks, and Desserts For a Guilt-Free Holiday
Try making one of these healthier holiday treats to put on your dessert table this year.
These sugar-free gingerbread cookies are one of our favorite sugar-free Christmas cookies. They're sure to please your taste buds this holiday without spiking your blood sugar.
Think healthy Christmas desserts can't be delicious? Think again! You'll be surprised by this healthy holiday treat. This sugar-free berry cheesecake is easy to make, even for the novice baker.
This vegan gelato is sugar-free, contains minimal ingredients, and is ready in about 10 minutes. It's naturally sweet with a delicious crunch from toasted almonds and cacao nibs.
These decadent triple fudge coconut flour brownies are a must-have for your holiday dessert table. All your guests, whether gluten-free or not, will love these chocolatey, fudgy brownies. Loaded with lots of chocolate and nuts, these brownies can be ready for the oven in five minutes. Try adding crushed peppermint for a more festive flavor.
These chocolate-stuffed paleo blondies will have your guests begging you for the recipe. This healthy holiday treat is paleo, vegan, and tastes like real chocolate chip cookies! The best part- they're ready in 20 minutes.
Ginger is a traditional holiday flavor you won't want to leave off your menu this Christmas. Store-bought candied ginger is often high in sugar, which can spike your blood glucose. Try this homemade version that substitutes sugar with stevia or erythritol. Your health-conscious guests will thank you.
If you think the holidays aren't complete without wheat, dairy, eggs, and refined sugar, you'll be pleasantly surprised by this gluten-free gingerbread cake. It's richly flavored, super moist, and unbelievably good for you. Add this to your list of healthy Christmas desserts this year.
Looking for a healthy alternative to the traditional Christmas fruit cake? Look no further than this grain-free, dairy-free fruit crumble. This sweet and tangy apple and blackberry crumble is made with less than 10 ingredients and is made in one dish!
You can make a healthier fig pudding cake by swapping out just a few ingredients. For example, a traditional pudding cake has white sugar and white flour, which can cause blood sugar spikes. Instead, you can make this blood-sugar-friendly dairy-free, and gluten-free version. The figs, pecans, chickpea flour, and gluten-free flour add fiber to slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar.
If you love coconut, this one's for you. This dairy-free paleo ice cream recipe is decadent, delicious, and made with all-natural ingredients. You and your guests will love this healthy holiday treat.
These cookies are so gooey, chewy, and absolutely delicious. They make the perfect low-sugar Christmas cookies that even your not-so-health-conscious friends will enjoy. So remember to make a few extra to leave out for Santa.
We can't believe how good these cranberry bars are. The crust on these is deliciously crunchy and buttery, and they're topped with a sweet cranberry layer and pecan streusel topping. These make a great healthy holiday treat, and you can enjoy them for breakfast!
This low-carb keto swiss chocolate roll cake is sugar-free, grain-free, gluten-free, and incredibly fluffy and creamy. With only 2g of carbs, this is the perfect chocolate keto dessert for your holiday table.
If you or your guests are eating paleo, you'll likely be avoiding most of the traditional foods of the holiday season. This may include things like processed sugar, refined oils, grains, legumes, and most dairy. Give this paleo-friendly pumpkin pie a try to satisfy your sweet tooth. Bonus: the pumpkin in the pie provides some added nutritional benefits, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and iron.
This paleo banana bread is the perfect healthy Christmas treat; the best part is you can eat it for breakfast. The bananas, pecans, and almond flour add fiber to this breakfast staple (usually high in processed sugar). Sweetened naturally by the bananas and a small amount of maple syrup, this bread is the perfect low-sugar Christmas treat.
These healthy holiday treats are soft, chewy, and full of apple cinnamon flavor. This recipe has no eggs, grains, gluten, dairy, or refined sugars. It's the perfect Christmas cookie recipe if you're trying to watch your sugar intake and eat mindfully while still satisfying your sweet tooth during the holiday season.
This vegan lemon cream pie has just the right balance of tart and sweet. It's creamy, rich, simple to prepare, and only tastes indulgent. You can whip this up with just a few ingredients in no time.
These 5 ingredient coconut candy bars are vegan, nut-free, and super simple to make. The dark chocolate adds the perfect amount of sweetness, so there's no need to add any sugar. This is a great low-sugar alternative to the traditional Christmas cookies and candies we usually see around the holidays.
This is one of the most beautiful vegan Christmas treats we've ever seen. It's a lovely light tart with the tastiest roasted hazelnut crust, filled with deliciously fragrant spiced pear and coconut cream. It's easy to make and includes fresh, natural ingredients. You'll surely impress your guests with this one, vegan or not.
Fresh fruit is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. So if you're looking for low-calorie healthy Christmas treats, look no further than these Christmas fruit salad cups. Remember to add in the blueberries!
Eat Mindfully to Keep Sugar Intake Light
Eating mindfully can make a big difference in how you feel during the holidays. For example, research shows that people who eat mindfully experience more weight loss and weight maintenance, less stress, and are less likely to engage in emotional eating.1 Mindful eating is about being aware of how the food you eat makes you feel and focusing on the signals your body sends about taste, satisfaction, and fullness.
Keep your health in mind this holiday season by being aware of the nutritional benefits and drawbacks of the foods you have on your holiday menu.
Excessive consumption of foods high in added sugar and saturated fat can harm health and increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
The holidays only come around once a year, so enjoy the festivities and your favorite recipes, but know that you can include healthier treats that are just as delicious and supportive of your health.
Find Out More About Blood Sugar Levels and Your Body With Signos
When you eat mindfully, you tune into some of your body's signals. Signos helps you tune into every signal. Pair your continuous glucose monitor (CGM) with the Signos app to see how your body responds to the foods you enjoy this holiday season and learn how to make smarter choices to improve your metabolic health.
Find out if Signos is a good fit for you by taking this quick quiz.
Topics discussed in this article:
- Dalen J, Smith BW, Shelley BM, Sloan AL, Lehigh L, Begay D. Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): Weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2010;18:260–4.