8 (Mostly) Diet-Friendly Holiday Recipes to Celebrate the Yummiest Season

Enjoy the delights of the holiday season - and stay on track with your goals - with these delicious, festive recipes.

The holiday season is filled with so much (edible) goodness it can be tough to stay focused on healthy eating. Whether you’re at home or the office, there always seems to be a bowl of holiday candy or a plate of cookies or a few boxes of sweet treats within reach. Add in the rounds of holiday parties (and if you’re in my family, half a dozen birthdays) and dieting seems like a bigger battle than it has in the past eleven months.

Indeed, from Thanksgiving to New Years, it’s easy to get sidetracked and find yourself caught up in all the yummies. But aspiring to healthier living requires a year-round shift in your habits, not just when temptation isn’t around…and the truth is, all those holiday yummies are loaded with the worst things: refined sugars, cholesterol, sodium, and loads of fat.

I’ve had to modify my own thinking a lot this year, but I’ve found the swing in attitude during the holiday season to be especially poignant. The giant snowball cookies and iced cakes and muffins from my childhood just aren’t conducive to a sustainably healthy lifestyle, no matter how much I associate them with pleasant memories. In an effort to change, I’ve spent hours poring over different relatively diet-friendly recipes that will meet some need in my spirit as well as the appetites of my family and friends.

It hasn’t been easy.

Until I reminded myself of one thing: life isn’t about food. It’s about our relationships and the love that we give and receive, and feeling healthy enough to enjoy those love and relationships. With every forkful of nourishing food, I am honoring myself and the people I love. While I may miss the buttery Christmas cookies of my youth, they aren’t more important than my health.

But still, let’s be real…the cornerstone of any festivity is good eats. Thankfully, it is possible to indulge without all the unhealthy stuff, and with a few substitutions you can still have sweet and enjoyable delicacies this holiday season.

Give these yummies a try this year. Their level of healthiness varies, but they are all guaranteed to light up your holiday table!

Gingerbread Mousse

When you need sweet and decadent without all the heavy, this Gingerbread mousse is just the thing. It’s light, it’s fluffy… and oh so gingerbready. Is that a word? Doesn’t matter, because your taste buds are gonna get some gingerbready lovin’ from this recipe. It’s like a little slice of heaven! Bonus? It’s super simple to make! And we all need a little more “simple” at this time of the year! 

Pomegranate Bites

I have a friend who’s a nurse in a wellness clinic. Ya know the kind of place… they teach you how to eat healthy and how your diet plays such a huge role in your overall health. Recently, she confessed to being just like the rest of us. She loves chocolate. It’s her downfall. She’s a self-proclaimed addict. Her confession gave me all the feels, and after I nodded in approval, she explained how she gets around her little problem: she only eats good, dark chocolate with nuts or fruit in it. I don’t know about you, but I can totally get behind that dietary plan. So that’s why I’m all about these dark chocolate pomegranate bites this year. Oh, and they’re also delicious! 

Clean Cranberry Orange Scones

The great thing about the holidays is the fact that every meal is special. Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, from Chanukah to Christmas, even breakfast can take on a distinct specialness. But no need to panic over heavy syrups, butter, and glazes. Instead, try this better scone recipe! It’s gorgeous dished up on a plate with a side of warm coffee.  

Cranberry Chocolate Cookies

I may be on a cranberry kick… or every single recipe from The Big Man’s World blog is just amazing. He has yet to disappoint! So when I saw these, my little Christmas heart did a jump for joy and halfway through this writing I had to stop to check which ingredients I had in the pantry and what I needed to add to the grocery list. Trust me: you want these cookies. You need them in your holiday line-up!  

Spiced Hot Fruit Bake

This may be presented as a breakfast treat, but let’s be honest: it’s suitable for any time of your festive day. Seriously. And I can even imagine this over ice cream in the summer. You’ll thank me later… 

Cranberry and Feta Pinwheels

In my book, no gathering of friends and family is complete without the ever-present Pinwheel. It’s a party staple. Unless you’re me… then it’s a go-to emergency product for any and all trauma including, but not limited to break-ups, lay-offs, and family drama. That’s right. I’ve been known to skip the ice cream and head straight to the novelty freezer section of the grocery store. But that’s another story. Let’s focus instead on the fact that this is a healthy take on an indispensable appetizer and the fact that it’s red and green. It’s packaged itself for holiday cheer, folks!  

Gingerbread Cookies

This recipe puts a healthier twist on an old standard by using whole wheat flour and coconut sugar. Also, I’m pretty sure this little recipe could be rolled out (after some chilling in the fridge) to make gingerbread men for decorating parties with the little ones. 

Sugar Cookie Cheesecake Dip

The best thing about this dip is the fact that’s its versatile—you can make it healthier by offering a variety of dippers, like cookies or fruit—and the fact that it’s one of those recipes you can make ahead and forget about while you’re rushing around getting ready for whatever event is on your schedule. Oh… and its sugar cookie flavored. Anything sugar cookie is alright with the better half of America. Or the world. Ya know, because sugar cookies are just amazing. Any time. Anywhere. 

Make it WayBetter

Start a healthy holiday recipe swap with friends! Even if you don’t have friends trying to lose weight, chances are you know friends and family members looking to healthify their holiday meals. Sharing your favorite, tried-and-tested healthy recipes will make it easier for all of you!