3 dietitian-approved healthy holiday treats 

brownie with colorful sprinkles

With all the traveling, holiday soirées and family dinners, staying healthy during the season of joy and cheer can be hard. Luckily, with the right recipe, it’s possible to stay on track while enjoying your favorite holiday sweets. These 3 healthy recipes are nutrient-packed, tasty and made with just a few simple ingredients that’s friendly to almost any meal plan. 

Be sure to give these recipes a save so you can whip them up for your next holiday party– you’ll be sure to impress! 

1. Date Brownies 

While these brownies are just as decadent and rich as your everyday brownie, they contain an added boost of antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats. 

Dates replace sugar in this recipe for a sweet kick and added dose of healthy fiber. Fiber helps keep your blood sugar steady so that you feel satisfied long after eating. It also helps you stay regular- a bonus during the holiday season when your diet may be lacking in fruits and vegetables.  

Cacao powder gives these brownies their rich chocolate flavor and is full of polyphenols, which has a host of health benefits like supporting healthy levels of inflammation and helping maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Cacao also contains a high amount of magnesium. A much-needed mineral that aids in many of your body’s functions, including regulating your nervous system and helping you stay calm.1 

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup dates 
  • ½ cup cacao powder 
  • 1/4 cup almond milk/milk of choice 
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup 
  • Pinch of salt 

Frosting: 

  • ¼ Cup Cashew butter 
  • 4 tsp Pure Maple Syrup 
  • 2 Tbs Cacao Powder 
  • 2 Tbsp Water 
  • ¼ Cup Sprinkles 

Directions: 

  1. In a food processor combine the walnuts and dates together and pulse until finely chopped, until a dough starts to form. Next add in the cacao powder, syrup, almond milk, and salt to the food processor and continue to pulse until there are no more chunks and the dough is smooth.  
  1. Once the dough is formed, place it in a brownie pan (8×8 baking pan) and press down firmly. 
  1. Place in the fridge while you mix the frosting together. Once the frosting is mixed, smooth over the brownies and top with sprinkles. Let the brownies set in the fridge for 1-2 hrs., cut and serve! 

2. Sweet and Salty Turtle Bites 

Do not be fooled by this seemingly indulgent sweet and salty combo- these turtle bites are rich in healthy fats.  

Peanuts and pecans provide a hearty dose of monounsaturated fatty acids which are essential fats your body uses to support the structure of your cells and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. In fact, monounsaturated fats have been linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol (a.k.a bad cholesterol) in your blood and a lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.2    

Ingredients 

  • 2 Cups Pretzels 

Caramel sauce 

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup 
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter  
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/8 tsp of salt if your peanut butter has none 

Chocolate sauce 

  • 1 cup Chocolate 
  • 1 tsp coconut oil 
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans 

Directions:  

  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pretzels flat on the sheet leaving some space between them.  
  1. Next, add the caramel ingredients to a small saucepan and melt together on low heat. Let it cool for 5 minutes and then add a spoonful of the caramel sauce to each pretzel. 
  1. Then melt together the chocolate and coconut oil like you did for the caramel sauce. Add the melted chocolate on top of the caramel and sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of the melted chocolate.  
  1. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to let cool and then enjoy! 

3. Gingerbread Blondies 

It wouldn’t be a holiday without gingerbread! The spices that make up the classic gingerbread cookies aren’t just for flavor, they provide some amazing health benefits as well! 

Ginger is not only good for spreading holiday cheer, but it also helps relieve nausea and stimulates digestion, which can help ease bloating and constipation after meals. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory qualities that have been linked to heart health.3  

Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory qualities that have been linked to healthy levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides.4 Cinnamon is also known to help keep blood sugar levels balanced.5 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour use gluten-free, if needed 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp ginger 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • ½ tsp all spice 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/4 cup cashew butter  
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 6 Tbsp brown sugar 
  • 1 Tbsp of molasses 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips 

Directions:  

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8×8 baking pan with some parchment paper and set aside.  
  1. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, all spice, and cinnamon together and set aside.  
  1. In another bowl, beat together the egg, cashew butter, sugar and brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla extract.  
  1. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir well. Add in the white chocolate chips and stir until combined. 
  1. Add batter to the baking pan and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let it cool and enjoy! 

View more of Holly’s healthy recipes. 

About Holly 

Holly is a Licensed Registered Dietitian with her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Michigan State University and completed her supervised practice program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Holly’s goal is to inspire and empower others that living a healthy life is not only easy and enjoyable but attainable to all!

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.    

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.     

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       

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References:

  1. Andújar, I., Recio, M. C., Giner, R. M., & Ríos, J. L. (2012). Cocoa polyphenols and their potential benefits for human health. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2012, 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/906252   Cacao 
  2. Gillingham, L. G., Harris‐Janz, S., & Jones, P. J. (2011). Dietary monounsaturated fatty acids are protective against metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Lipids, 46(3), 209–228. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-010-3524-y  Fats 
  3. Fakhri, S., Patra, J. K., Das, S. K., Das, G., Majnooni, M. B., & Farzaei, M. H. (2021). Ginger and heart health: From mechanisms to therapeutics. Current Molecular Pharmacology, 14(6), 943–959. https://doi.org/10.2174/1874467213666201209105005 
  4. Akilen, R., Tsiami, A., Devendra, D., & Robinson, N. (2010). Glycated haemoglobin and blood pressure-lowering effect of cinnamon in multi-ethnic type 2 diabetic patients in the UK: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Diabetic Medicine, 27(10), 1159–1167. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-5491.2010.03079.x 
  5. Kirkham, S., Akilen, R., Sharma, S., & Tsiami, A. (2009). The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 11(12), 1100–1113. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1463-1326.2009.01094.x 
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