‘Tis the season! The holidays are in full swing. This busy time of year is full of parties of all varieties: office parties, neighborhood parties, family and friend get togethers…and then Christmas itself! It’s a blast but can also be stressful, especially when you know that tasty treats are around every corner.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the huge dessert spread and allowing them to thwart your health progress, try bringing a batch of your own homemade goodies! Not only will you then have something yummy to enjoy that is a conscious indulgence, but others will benefit from that healthier dessert and maybe it will even encourage them to adopt healthier habits.
I must point out that I am the ultimate recipe-changer and I never truly follow a recipe through without making edits! Consider the recipe a guide and feel free to switch things up to your preferences.
Here are my favorite lighter recipes:
1.Black Bean Brownies – inspired by our good USMC friends 🙂
-15 oz can unseasoned black beans
-1/4 cup water
-1 package brownie mix
-I vary things a bit and add dark and white chocolate chips, as well as a few flakes of sea salt on top before baking. You could instead add nuts, icing; whatever!
- Puree black beans and water, add beans to brownie mix and bake according to package instructions. Depending on your oven, you might find that these take longer to bake than typical brownies.
2.Banana Yogurt Cookies – inspired by The Pancake Princess
–1 1/2 cup all-purpose, whole wheat flour
-½ cup tapioca flour
-½ cup ground flaxseed meal
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt (I didn’t measure and probably used more!)
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
-1/2 cup brown sugar (I used a bit less)
-4 pitted dates
-3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (you can add more to make the cookies more moist)
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup mashed bananas (about 2-3 large)
-stevia to taste
-cinnamon to taste
-3 servings of chia seeds
-handful of pecan pieces or your favorite nut
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a bowl.
- In a food processor, combine the coconut oil, sugar, yogurt, egg, vanilla, stevia, dates, chia seeds, and mashed banana. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in nuts.
- Use a rounded tablespoon of dough per cookie and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown around the edges.
3.Layered Carrot Cake – inspired by myrecipes.com
-2 cups wheat flour
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-2 large eggs
-2 egg whites
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-3 cups grated carrots
-Vegetable cooking spray
Cream Cheese Frosting
-1/2 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
-2 tablespoons butter, softened
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1 to 2 tsp. fat-free milk (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pineapple and next 4 ingredients; add pineapple mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in carrots. Pour batter into 2 (8-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray.
- Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans to a wire rack; cool completely (about 1 hour).
Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. (Do not overbeat.) Beat in up to 2 tsp. milk for desired consistency. Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 2/3 cup frosting, and top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.
4.Skinny Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Hazelnut Fudge – inspired by Joyful Healthy Eats
–8 oz. of dark chocolate (it’s easy to use a bar) melted
-¼ cup of honey
-¾ cup of coconut oil
-½ cup of almond butter
-¼ cup of pomegranates
-⅓ cup of hazelnuts, chopped
-½ cup of dry cranberries
- Grease an 8×8 glass pan with coconut oil.
- Put dark chocolate in a large bowl and put in microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each time until it is melted.
- Add coconut oil, honey, almond butter, hazelnuts, and dry cranberries.
- Stir until smooth.
- Pour fudge mixture into greased pan, sprinkle with pomegranates on top.
- Place in a refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
- Slice and serve.
** When removing fudge from the pan, let fudge sit a bit (2-3 minutes). Using a knife dipped in hot water and wipe clean after each slice.
5.Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Quinoa Bars – inspired by Simply Quinoa
-1 flax egg (1 1/2 tablespoons flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water)
-1 cup cooked chickpeas
-1/2 cup mashed banana
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-3/4 cup quinoa flour
-1/2 cup coconut sugar
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)*
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-Pinch of salt
-1/4 cup hemp hearts
-1/2 – 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment and set aside.
- Whisk together the flaxseed meal and water in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blend the chickpeas, banana and pumpkin in a food processor until completely smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, reserving the hemp hearts and chocolate chips. Pour the chickpea-pumpkin mixture into the bowl along with the flax egg and mix to combine.
- Fold in the hemp hearts and chocolate chips.
- Dump the batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the center rack for 22 – 26 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan for 10 – 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.
- Slice into 12 – 16 bars. Store in an airtight container for 2 – 3 days.
If you can’t find vanilla powder, substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and add the vanilla to the food processor while blending the wet ingredients.
So I’ll leave it up to you about when you choose to disclose the true ingredients of your tasty treats…!
Let me know how your consciously indulgent desserts turned out and please share your favorite lighter goodies!
Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez,
PS Next week…talking my 5 fave fitness holiday gifts!
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