All of Your Favorite Holiday Treats, Made Healthier

When it comes to the holidays, everyone has that special treat that makes things feel more festive. Maybe you can’t imagine the season without baking gingerbread from scratch, pouring a mug full of hot cocoa or frying up a pan full of crispy, delicious latkes. But while those holiday favorites may be super delicious, they also tend to be on the decadent side. This year, why not tweak your classic recipes to make them healthier without losing the taste you crave? Here are some recipes that do just that:

Photo: Deborah Lee Soltesz


Spending a night with the whole family creating one-of-a-kind gingerbread houses is an ideal way to ring in the holidays. Instead of piling on the icing and candy (half of which ends up getting eaten before it ever goes on the house), why not use healthier add-ons to create the festive flair? Replace the gum drops, candy canes and licorice with a colorful assortment of dried or fresh fruit (cranberries, pomegranate seeds, banana chips, dried kiwi and cherries look great) as well as nuts, seeds, pretzel sticks, coconut flakes and popcorn. That way, when little fingers reach for a handful to snack on, they aren’t going overboard with sugar. If you’d rather turn your gingerbread into cookies instead of houses, try these gingerbread recipes for cookie dough and icing that use healthier ingredients.

Photo: Chat W

Hot Chocolate

Typically super rich, sweet and comforting, hot chocolate can also be high in sugar and fat. So how do you make it healthier without losing the delicious decadence? Taking a homemade approach instead of using packaged mixes is a great start, since it gives you control over the amount of sugar you use. This hot chocolate recipe gets its sweetness from a little bit of maple syrup and the chocolatey goodness from cacao powder. And while you’re at it, why not finish off your mug with some of these healthy add-ons?

Photo: Meal Makeover Moms


Latkes are a staple in most Hanukkah celebrations. The crispy, fried potato pancakes are meant to commemorate the miracle of Hanukkah. They also happen to be full of fat and carbohydrates. For added nutrients and flavor, consider sneaking in different veggies this year, like beets, cauliflower or carrots. This latke recipe puts a nutritious and delicious spin on the traditional potato latke thanks to the addition of cauliflower florets and generous seasonings. By using less oil and more vegetables, you’ll be able to enjoy this savory holiday tradition guilt-free.

Photo: Brett Jordan


Classic holiday fruitcake can be super dense, sweet and full of unrecognizable candied “fruit.” This fruitcake recipe not only makes for a more appealing treat, but its natural ingredients and lighter batter make it a much healthier option for a holiday dessert. An assortment of dried fruit provides natural sweetness and warm spices like cinnamon and allspice give it that seasonal flavor you crave (as well as anti-inflammatory properties!). With these healthier touches, you’ll be able to have your (fruit) cake and eat it too!

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