Healthy Holiday Classics: Desserts

Just like dessert is the best part of Holiday meals, it’s also the best part of our Healthy Holiday Classics series. You may have stayed away from salty appetizers and fattening side dishes at the table, but there is no escaping the sugary, buttery overload of Holiday pies, cookies, whipped cream and chocolate.\r\n\r\nIt’s true. These desserts are good because they’re fattening and loaded with sugar and delicious flavors like caramel and chocolate. They are many people’s favorite part of the meal. Who doesn’t love when mom and grandma spend hours baking so that there are days on end of confectionary goodies?\r\n\r\nOk, so you may also dislike the baking time, but there are plenty of ways to cut down on the worst part of dessert – the calories. Sure, you might say healthy desserts just aren’t as good, but we’ll prove you wrong with some healthier alternatives.\r\n

Pistachio Chocolate Biscotti

\r\nFor those that refuse to eat whole pieces of pie and just want coffee for dessert (those people are out there, it’s true), this healthy biscotti is easy to make and richly flavorful.\r\n\r\nWhat you need\r\n\r\n2 cups all-purpose flour or white flour substitute such as almond flour\r\n\r\n3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process\r\n\r\n7 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp baking soda\r\n\r\n3 eggs\r\n\r\nPinch of salt\r\n\r\n1 1/4 cups light brown sugar\r\n\r\n4 tbs unsalted butter, softened\r\n\r\n1 tsp pure coffee extract\r\n\r\n1 tbs pure vanilla extract\r\n\r\n1 tsp pure almond extract\r\n\r\n1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios\r\n

Directions

\r\nPreheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 cookies sheets with wax paper. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Beat eggs in a mixer at low until you have a crumbly dough. Beat brown sugar with butter and vanilla, coffee and almond extracts. Stir the mixture into the crumbly dough and mix at medium speed until you have a soft, gooey dough.\r\n\r\nAdd chocolate and pistachios and beat at low speed. Divide dough into 4 clusters and transfer 2 to each cookie sheet. Form each clump into an 8-inch-long string; pat the string until they’re about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. Bake for about 22 minutes, until each is puffy and springy; rotate pans halfway through baking.\r\n\r\nCool for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 200°. Cut the logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; each log will yield about 20 cookies. Return slices to cookie sheets and bake for about 30 minutes longer, flipping the biscotti once after 15 minutes. Cool.\r\n

Greek Soufflé

\r\nGreek yogurt has become a year-round morning breakfast staple, and a favorite of healthy eaters for its tart flavor and Vitamin B12 value. It is also naturally non-fat, so it is guilt-free and fun to blend with many things, such as agave syrup and fresh fruit. This recipe is a twist on your old favorite.\r\n

What you need

\r\n1 cup plain Greek yogurt\r\n\r\n3 egg whites\r\n\r\n3 egg yolks\r\n\r\n3 tbs all purpose or almond flour\r\n\r\n1/8 tsp salt\r\n\r\n1/2 vanilla pod\r\n\r\n1/8 tsp cream of tarter\r\n\r\n1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute\r\n\r\nolive oil and “real” sugar for ramekins\r\n

Directions

\r\nPreheat oven to 375ºF. Grease with olive oil 6 6oz ramekins. Coat inside with sugar and get rid of any excess. Place on cookie sheet. In a large bowl, whisk yogurt, flour, egg yolks, vanilla and salt. In a medium bowl or mixing machine, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy, then add sugar and whisk until soft peaks are created.\r\n\r\nAdd in 1/3 of egg white mix to the yogurt mix and combine. Fold in another 1/3 and continue. Keep volume up for fluffiness to remain.  Scoop into ramekins evenly. Bake on cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until evenly risen and golden brown at the edges.\r\n

Sweet Potato Pie With Coconut Whipped Cream (Dairy-free)

\r\nThis Thanksgiving classic is usually chock full of butter and eggs, but there are a few substitutions to make it healthier and more focused on those nutrient -and-fiber-rich sweet potatoes. Cook and peel sweet potato before moving forward; bake and cool crust before filling it and refrigerate coconut milk overnight before making the coconut whipped cream.\r\n

What you need

\r\nFor crust:\r\n\r\n1/2 cup pecans, chopped\r\n\r\n1/2 cup rolled oats\r\n\r\n1 cup whole wheat pastry flour\r\n\r\n1/4 cup coconut oil\r\n\r\n2 tbs maple syrup\r\n\r\nFor filling:\r\n\r\n3 tbs cornstarch\r\n\r\n3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar\r\n\r\n2 sweet potatoes, cooked\r\n\r\n3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk\r\n\r\n1 tsp nutmeg\r\n\r\n1 tsp cinnamon\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp sea salt\r\n\r\nFor the coconut whipped cream:\r\n\r\n1 can chilled full-fat coconut milk (fat solids only)\r\n\r\n2 tsp maple syrup\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp vanilla extract\r\n

Directions

\r\nGrind pecans and rolled oats in blender to a powder – don’t make a paste! Put flour in a medium bowl and add pecan and oats; mix. Pour in coconut oil and mix with fork until combined. Stir in maple syrup; blend to form a dough that will hold together when pressed. Put mix in a 9-inch pie pan. Poke holes in bottom and sides of crust.\r\n\r\nBake at 375ºF for 20 to 25 minutes. Let the crust cool. While crust bakes, whisk brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add sweet potato, nutmeg, cinnamon, almond milk and salt and whisk. Pour mixture into crust. Bake one hour or until edges are set and center slightly jiggles. Let cool at least an hour before serving.\r\n\r\nOnce pie has cooled, open can of coconut milk – turn upside down, and open. Pour out the liquid at the top; you’ll will not use the liquid, just the cream.  Pour the coconut fat into a chilled mixing bowl and whisk gently with a hand blender. Add maple syrup and vanilla and whip again. Spread onto pie and refrigerate.\r\n\r\nRemember, maintaining a good weight this Holiday season does not have to be difficult. It does take discipline and a conscious effort, but with these easy recipes, you won’t be overloaded with dishes full of fat and calories. Check out our recipe guide for other healthy recipes and check the fitness class schedule at your favorite gym location to stay on top of your fitness routine.