Healthy Dessert Ideas

Posted on Dec 12 2012 - 12:01am by Demelza Young

chocolate cake

We’re right in the middle of the holiday season, and of course nothing says “holiday treat” like desserts!  Plum puddings, fruitcakes, and gingerbread men abound this time of year.  While it is a good idea to enjoy a dessert every once in a while, some of us are still watching our weights or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle without overindulging.  How do you fit something like dessert into such a lifestyle?  You can try using some cooking substitutes to reduce the amount of fat and calories in your recipes, or try cooking lighter versions of some holiday favorites.

Looking for a healthy cake recipe?  Try this chocolate cake or these confetti cupcakes.  My sister asked me to make her a white cake for her birthday, so I simply left out the sprinkles and they were a big hit.  My mom thinks they taste similar to Nilla wafer cookies, and everyone at the kitchen table agreed that the cake is sweet enough on its own without the frosting. Angel food cake is another love of mine, and it’s delicious whether you use almond or vanilla extract, or – as I like to use – a combination of both.

How about a more “natural” dessert?  One that doesn’t involve a lot of ingredients?  Cooking light doesn’t have to be difficult.  Some of the best recipes are the simplest.  Baked apples are a delicious option, as are baked bananas.  If you’re serving a family, you might consider a warm comfort dish such as apple cranberry crumble.

For a dessert-like breakfast, try banana bread French toast, deep dish cinnamon roll pie (made with chickpeas!), or Lisa Lillien’s pecan caramel sticky buns.  You can nosh on those while making some cute gingerbread men (there’s also a raw option for vegans) with the rest of the family.

Food isn’t the only option for dessert; hot drinks are delicious, too!  A cup of cinnamon mocha coffee, a mug of cocoa, tea (Celestial Seasonings has some delicious holiday flavors, including sugar cookie, candy cane, and gingerbread), or some spiced cider also makes a great after-dinner treat.  If you’re feeling brave, you can ignore the cold weather outside and opt for frozen hot chocolate.  My friend Katie recently posted a healthy, vegan eggnog recipe on her healthy dessert blog (while you’re there, take a look at her eggnog spice cake).  Prefer candy canes and peppermint to eggnog?  This peppermint pie, trifle, chocolate chip candy cane cheesecake, and this DQ blizzard swap all fit the bill when it comes to cooking light.

Gift ideas.

If you want a fun, healthy dessert that you can wrap up and give as a Christmas present, try making some skinny yellow cake popsGingerbread truffles are another great alternative.  You can make either into a bouquet by wrapping a few in cellophane and tying them together with a colorful ribbon.  Lots of people also love to give fudge around the holidays, and this is a great chocolate peppermint recipe.

Another dessert that I love to bake and give out for the holiday season is biscotti.  You know, those long, thin, crunchy cookies that are great alone or dipped into coffee or cocoa?  I swear by this vanilla almond recipe.  If you like the flavor of angel food cake, you’ll love it, too.  Drizzle some melted chocolate over half and leave the other half plain to give your recipient some variety.  Is your crunchy cookie-loving friend more of a chocoholic?  Here’s a great recipe for them.  Just bake up the biscotti and put them in a decorative tin!


Demelza Young is a recent graduate of Northern Kentucky University. Her current plans are to attend graduate school and to study clinical psychology in the hopes of one day working with eating disordered patients.

23 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Amanda @ mommymaywe December 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Mmm, I will definitely be trying the Banana Bread French Toast this weekend! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kelly R December 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Another great post. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Groovy Mamma December 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    I have a little problem with sweets so I really appreciate this post!

  4. Norma December 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    This is great! I have such a sweet tooth but starting the new year my entire diet is changing. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Melissa December 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Great post !!   I love desserts and sweets !

  6. Suzi Satterfield December 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    I'm all about the sweets, so thanks for a way to make them a little less… naughty!

  7. Jenny K December 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Lots of great ideas! Thanks!

  8. Pam December 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    The banana bread French Toast looks amazing!

  9. Shannon December 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Great post.  Now I am craving biscotti and coffee 😉

  10. JaShawndra December 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Hmm I'm craving some yummy goodies now 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂 

  11. Melinda Dunne December 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    The gingerbread truffles sound fantastic!

  12. Sue InVegas December 12, 2012 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Would love that cake delivered to my house! 🙂   Looks so good!

  13. Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas December 12, 2012 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    I have gestational diabetes, so this holiday season has been tough! I find that baked fruit with cinnamon and real whipping cream satisfies the sweet tooth without messing my blood sugar up too much. 

  14. jheylo December 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    if those are healthy snacks and desserts i don't mind eating it all night hehehehe

  15. Annabelle December 13, 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply

    The banana french toast looks amazing, as does the cranberry apple crumble (and everything else!) The vegan egg nog is right up my alley. People give me the side-eye when I say I don't really like regular egg nog, but it's just too, um, eggy for me!

  16. Malia December 18, 2012 at 2:41 am - Reply

    great ideas!  Now I want a healthy dessert! 🙂

  17. Shydub December 18, 2012 at 9:07 am - Reply

    I love sweets and cakes. This post makes me crave for some delectable dessert

  18. maria @close to home December 19, 2012 at 11:22 am - Reply

    What great ideas, thx for sharing

  19. Richard December 25, 2012 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    I am suffering from diabetes, so I would rather share with my friends who love sweets and deserts.

  20. terri tillman February 10, 2013 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    i love to see the words 'healthy' and 'dessert' in the same sentence. 

  21. kaitlin February 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    My husband wants to start eating healthier and I know the hardest part for me will be sweets. I will definitely try some of these!

  22. Maria Iemma April 24, 2013 at 6:23 am - Reply

    When you have a sweet tooth it is really hard to stay away from candy and desserts and it is nice to find some ideas for healthy options.  

  23. krystel June 28, 2013 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    that cake looks deliciopus is about time theres dessert that are delicious but are healthy 

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