If you’re like many watching their waistlines, the holiday season can be a minefield of temptation thanks to after-work cocktails, holiday parties, and over-the-top family meals. Then there’s the dessert table. It can be difficult for even the most self-disciplined to stick to one cookie or forego sugary sweets altogether for a fruit skewer or bowl of berries. The good news is you don’t have to.
Instead, allow yourself to savor the sweets this season without overdoing it. “Choose one to two desserts, not seven,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition. “In reality, you probably only really adore one to two of what’s being served; the others may just be visually appealing. Have a modest slice or piece and serve yourself some fruit salad and tea on the side to round it out with fiber and fluid to optimize digestion.”
Another strategy? Offer to bring dessert if you’re visiting friends and family, and serve any of the below festive treats. Each is at most 250 calories per serving, which means you can indulge without feeling bad about yourself.
Read on for the five mouth-watering and guilt-free desserts.
If cookie baking is a part of your holiday tradition, you can rest easy making this recipe from Primal Palate. Each gingersnap is only 108 calories thanks to clean ingredients like almond flour, maple or coconut sugar, and flavor-packed spices like cinnamon, allspice and of course, ground ginger. Top each with a sprinkling of granulated sugar for a diet-friendly treat.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Some may associate pumpkin with Halloween, but paired with a gingersnap crust and a dollop of whipped cream, these 238-calorie treats from Fit Foodie Finds scream holiday-time. Using store-bought ingredients like cream cheese, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, and crushed gingersnap cookies, these squares can be prepped in just 20 minutes, before baking for 50 minutes all in.
Holiday Peppermint Fudge 750x500
Whether you’re giving them out as homemade holiday gifts, leaving them for Santa, or enjoying them yourself, you won’t regret making this six-ingredient, 143-calorie delight from Skinny Ms. Perhaps the best part? There’s no need to turn on the oven since assembly requires a few minutes of stove work and refrigeration.
Served individual servings (you can use shot glasses, ramekins, or whatever small vessels you have on hand), this recipe from Low Carb Yum might just win Cutest Dessert of the Year. Each is only 197 calories, and made by combining ingredients like coconut cream, nutmeg, butter, egg yolks and vanilla extract before refrigerating. A dash of whipped cream atop each completes the look.
Healthier Maple Apple Crisp
After a decadent holiday meal, sometimes you want something a little lighter to top it off. This recipe from Ambitious Kitchen fits the bill thanks to maple syrup instead of sugar and an oat and pecan topping. Slice the apples thinly for optimal texture. This recipe can also be made gluten-free and vegan. Oh, and each serving is just 204 calories. Yum!
And if you end up over-doing it on dessert, try and relax.
“Remember the holidays are technically short, so even if you did go completely off the handle and the rest of the year you are fine, it wouldn't be a big deal,” says Auslander Moreno. “Your overall diet would still be statistically amazing. It's the fact that people snowball and have an indulgent food evening, and then say ‘might as well continue’ and do it again for three straight days after. Enjoy your indulgences, but carry on with nutritious business as usual following them.”