21 Healthier recipes to bake this holiday season

It's that time of year when we want to start making sweet treats – whether you eat them yourself, give them as gifts or share them with friends and family, baking during the winter months is great fun! We're huge fans of cakes, brownies and other treats but we recognise the need for a healthier alternative sometimes. Why should you give up the things you love when you can still have them, just with a healthy twist?

With that in mind, the team at Expertrain HQ have been busy collating this collection of 21 healthier recipes you can bake this festive season. So if you have some time off work and are looking to make some magic happen in your kitchen, or if you're having friends and family round, why not give some of these recipes a go and let us know which ones are your favourites?

#1. Mince Pies

Santa himself would love these delicious Christmassy mince pies from Deliciously Ella. They're super-healthy and loaded with fruit - raisins, dates, apples, sultanas, dried cranberries and spices in an almond-meal pastry case. These are the ideal alternative to fat and sugar-loaded supermarket varieties! We recommend trying one with a glass of mulled wine for a warming winter treat.

#2. Caramel Chocolate Slices

A healthier take on Millionaire's Shortbread, this fudgey, chocolatey, nutty recipe from Deliciously Ella is one of our favourites. Packed with cacao, a great source of antioxidants, plus healthy fats and protein from the pecans, almonds, nut butter and coconut oil, this is one recipe you'll love to bake again and again.

#3. Vegan Peanut Butter Choc Chip Cookies

These can be frozen and defrosted whenever you need a sweet treat! With creamy peanut butter, almond meal, bananas, dates and rolled oats, they're sweet, salty and filling, plus they're healthy enough to enjoy at any time of the day.

#4. Pecan Pie Cookies

Vegan and oh-so-tasty, pecans are loaded with vitamin E for healthy skin this winter. This recipe uses almond milk, so it's great for those avoiding dairy and it also uses coconut oil for healthy fat.

#5. Peppermint Brownies

These delicious brownies have a little peppermint extract added – peppermint boosts healthy digestion, but if you're looking for an ever healthier option, you could try adding peppermint to our sweet potato brownies recipe!

#6. Peppermint Crunch Sugar Cookie Bars

These may not be the healthiest treats on our list, but they're still better for you than shop-bought cake as they're 100% natural with no additives, plus they contain natural Greek yogurt. Yum!

#7. Triple Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Chocolate CAN be good for you, and this gluten-free recipe uses oats, semi-sweet chocolate chips, cocoa and Stevia to create a healthy yet delicious muffin that's sure to go down a treat with friends and family.

#8. Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

110 calories, loaded with chocolate and cherries – sounds too good to be true! This recipe uses Greek yoghurt to create a moist muffin and add protein, unsweetened applesauce instead of butter and coca powder for an intense chocolatey hit. We. Love. These.

#9. Orange Hazelnut and White Chocolate Muffins

With a whole-wheat flour base, puréed dates for sweetness and pure cacao butter (the stuff that's used to make white chocolate) plus hazelnuts and orange juice and zest, these muffins are amazingly light, tasty and good for you! You should be able to source most of the ingredients at the supermarket, but for cacao butter you may need to try health food stores or buy online.

#10. Orange and Almond Cake

This easy to make recipe uses just a few ingredients, with ground almonds and orange as the main flavours. We like to sub coconut sugar for regular refined white sugar for a healthier option, but the choice is yours.

#11. Banana Muffins

Simple, spiced banana muffins are great for the holidays, particularly if you're trying to eat more fruit. This recipe uses cinnamon and low-fat milk, but you could use egg replacer and dairy-free milk for a vegan alternative.

#12. Fruit Truffles

Fruit truffles are a great substitute for all those tins of Quality Street and Roses that will be lurking over the holidays. Packed with dates, raisins, walnuts and cocoa, these are simply yummy and would also make a great healthy gift. If you soak the dates first, you may find you don't need to add the spread.

#13. Gingersnaps

Ginger is a spice traditionally associated with Christmas, and these chewy, spicy ginger biscuits are perfect with some mulled wine or even a cup of tea. With ginger, cloves and cinnamon plus dark brown sugar, applesauce and molasses for a rich, satisfying sweetness, these are sure to curb your craving for something sweet.

#14. Nut and Seed Toffee Squares

We love that you can customise this recipe by adding whatever you like – these little squares are high in fibre and protein, making them the ideal snack or treat. With raw pecans, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, plus almond butter and honey, these are super-simple to make and we're a bit in love!

#15. Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirl

We love the title of this recipe, but not as much as we love the combination of sweet, sticky figs, dates and anise with a cookie base. These are perfect served with some hot cocoa.

#16. Tiramisu Cookies

It's not often you hear the word 'Tiramisu' in the same sentence as 'vegan' and 'gluten-free', but here you have it! Made with brown rice flour, flaxmeal, ground oats and raw cashews, these cookies are supremely nutritious, whilst coconut cream and coconut oil add healthy fat to the amaretto infused cream filling.

#17. Pistachio and Apricot Biscotti

Biscotti are great with coffee and these are ideal to keep for when friends pop over during the holidays! Pistachios are a 'skinny' nut and very low in calories, making these a healthy choice.

#18. Fig and Almond Biscotti

Whilst we're on a biscotti kick, this one uses figs for sweetness. We love these served with organic cocoa or an espresso as an afternoon treat – try them for yourself!

#19. Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

It's hard to believe that something so luxurious sounding could actually be a fairly healthy option. These vegan cupcakes are sure to be popular, made with real vanilla pods, almond milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips. A little bit naughty, but very nice!

#20. Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

Autumnal spices, moist pumpkin and coconut oil with cocoa powder and applesauce are combined to make a delicious chocolate loaf/cake that can be served at anytime. We love adding applesauce to baking as it adds sweetness and moisture yet is low in calories and sugar!

#21. Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe uses many ingredients you'll probably already have at home – coconut oil, sugar, almond milk and flour. Loaded with healthy fat, these cookies have an unusual flavour thanks to the rosemary, and they're a great treat.

READ THIS NEXT: 15 healthy dessert recipes for a sugar fix

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 12th Dec 2014 at 15:46

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