Though the holidays are a great joy for those of us that love to cook, it can be a decidedly unpleasant time for those that get stressed out in the kitchen. Whether you are planning a party or headed to a potluck, these simple, healthy holiday desserts will find a happy home at a Thanksgiving dinner, a Hanukkah celebration or a Christmas meal.
All of these recipes feature natural, plant-based ingredients, which means that you are also making an effort towards celebrating a healthy lifestyle, too. More and more studies show that eating a plant-based diet is the most healthful for our bodies and for the planet. This is especially important during the holiday season, when people are tempted to indulge all their cravings! But don't worry– these healthy holiday desserts are nutritious and delicious!
Chocolate Spice Pudding
This is a super decadent dessert hiding healthy secret ingredients– avocado, dates and coconut! The creaminess in this pudding comes not from dairy or tofu, but from the natural, healthy fats in avocado and coconut butter. You can use more or less dates for a less sweet pudding, and add any holiday spices you might like: ginger, cardamom, clove or even chili powder! Shown in photo above.
¼ cup dates, pitted
1 Tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
½ cup coconut butter
½ cup raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
Honey or agave, as needed
- Blend all ingredients together until totally smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more dates or spices as you like. If it is not sweet enough, add some honey or agave as needed. Enjoy at room temperature or cold. Makes 2 cups pudding.
Who doesn't love caramel corn? It's salty, sweet and totally snackable! These recipe uses a homemade caramel sauce that can be used on other desserts too: use as a sauce for ice cream, brownies or on apples.
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
½ cup popcorn kernels
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Earth Balance vegan margarine
¼ cup plant-based milk
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
- To make popcorn: Heat 1 Tablespoon coconut oil in a large stockpot. When oil is warm, add popcorn kernels. Cover, shake cook on medium-low until most popcorn has popped. Shake pan gently to ensure even popping- but don’t open the lid or your popcorn will escape! Remove from heat after popping noise slows down- be careful not to burn the popcorn.
- To make the caramel: Add brown sugar, Earth Balance and milk to a small saucepan. Simmer on very low heat for five minutes, stirring once or twice. Mixture will be very bubbly. Remove from heat after five minutes and stir in salt if using. Hot sugar is very dangerous- please be careful!
- Add popped popcorn into a large cookie sheet and drizzle with caramel. Toss to coat, and let set for five minute to set and dry. Makes about 8 cups caramel corn.
Carob Spiced Nuts & Seeds
These sweet and spicy nuts and seeds make great toppings for puddings or pie, but they are also a great snack in between meals. Choose whichever nuts are your favorite: pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are the best options. If you are not familiar with carob powder, this is the perfect place to enjoy its earthy, malty flavor. Find carob powder (raw or toasted, both will work here) in the baking aisle or bulk section of your natural grocery store.
3 cups nuts or seeds
¼ cup coconut sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons carob powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
- In a large skillet, dry toast the nuts/seeds over medium heat until fragrant.
- Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, coconut oil, carob powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.
- When nuts are finished toasting, add coconut oil mixture and toss to coat. Let cool completely before serving. Makes 3 cups.