By The Sweat Life Editors
‘Tis the time of year! To have your friends and family over, spread love and cheer, and share your affection through the dishes that you lovingly prepare in the kitchen for your nearest and dearest. We asked our own beloved Sweat Life Food Writers to share their favorite healthy holiday dishes and traditions — feel free to make them your own!
I love this recipe as it is festive, comforting, and EASY! Pears are one of my favorite winter fruits, and there's something about baked fruit during the holiday season that feels like an indulgent but healthy treat. Plus it will be gorgeous in any holiday spread. I make this all the time!
2 large ripe pears
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional toasted)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
*to make it savory, sub out honey for 1/4 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese and a sprinkle of sea salt
Cut pears in half and core.
Stuff with walnuts and top with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey (1 tsp per half)
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until pears are soft or lightly browned
This recipe is a perfect replacement for stuffing at your big Christmas or holiday meal! Or it works as any side dish. I am all for healthy replacements for much loved holiday favorites.
Wild Rice & Bulgur Stuffing
Servings: 8. Prep Time: 55 minutes
1 ½ teaspoons avocado or olive oil
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup wild rice
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or bone broth
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup bulgur
2 cups water
½ cup pecans
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Preparation: Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, onions, and garlic; sauté for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in wild rice. Add broth and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed.
2. Meanwhile, place bulgur and water in a bowl. Let soak for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F.
3. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool and chop coarsely.
4. Place raisins in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
5. Stir the soaked bulgur, pecans, raisins and parsley into the cooked wild rice. Season with salt and pepper.
Like smoothies and hot oats, granola can be customized to satisfy any combination of flavors, and the opportunities are endless. Around the holidays, when our homes (or tiny, city apartments!) are filled with guests coming and going, a big, batch of granola is an easy and cheap way to make a lot of bellies smile. You can even put it in mason jars with a fancy ribbon and give it as a holiday gift! Feel free to sub out or add any ingredients such as nuts, berries, dried fruit, chocolate and more. Happy Holidays!
2.5 c rolled oats
1/4 c nut butter
1/3 c maple syrup
1/3 c dark chocolate
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs sugar (or a teaspoon of agave for a less sugary version)
1/4 c coconut oil
1 tbs flax seed
1 tbs chia seed
2-3 tbs goji berries
1 handful of dried banana chips
1 c raw cashews
Preheat oven to 340 degrees.
Combine oats, salt, sugar (if using agave, hold off until you combine the wet ingredients with the dry), seeds and nuts in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a pan on low/medium heat, combine nut butter, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Stir for 2-3 minutes until well mixed.
Combine heated mixture with dry ingredients. If using, add agave.
Spread mixture evenly on a baking sheet.
Cook for ten minutes and then stir.
Cook for another 10-13 minutes.
Remove from oven and add chocolate combining as evenly as possible.
Store in air-tight container. This will last for 1-2 weeks. Serve with your milk of choice, atop your favorite yogurt or smoothie, or get your paws in there for an easy grab & go snack!
This is a healthy treat I love to make with my little girls during the holiday season. It's simple to make and always a crowd pleaser. I try to use the darkest best quality chocolate I can find!
Yummy Dark Chocolate Bark
1 cup dark chocolate
Any nut, seed, and dried fruit (I love using pistachios, pepitas, and goji berries - seen here)
Line baking dish with parchment paper
Melt chocolate in microwave
Pour chocolate in baking dish and sprinkle with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
Freeze for 20 minutes
Break into bark and place in a sealed container either in fridge or freezer
This decadent, fudgy, and dense cake quickly became “the favorite” out of all my vegan baking recipes. Perhaps it’s the use of cocoa powder or delicious, creamy, and good-for-you avocados and coconut oil. Whatever the reasons (probably the chemical endorphins that are released after eating chocolate!), my family and I love this cake! If you’re making this cake for a special occasion, like the holidays, you can double the recipe and make a decadent two-layer cake. (Recipe from my Clean Green Eats cookbook!)
Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake
Serves 12. Makes one 8- or 9-inch round cake.
Coconut oil or olive oil cooking spray, for the cake pan
1 3⁄4 cups gluten-free flour
1 cup almond meal
3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and mashed until smooth
3⁄4 cup organic granulated sugar
1 1⁄2 cups water
1⁄3 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
ICING (if making a low-sugar cake, omit icing and lightly dust with cocoa powder)
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 teaspoons almond or coconut milk
1⁄2 cup chocolate-hazelnut butter
1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F. Cut a round parchment paper base for the bottom of the cake pan(s). Grease an 8-inch cake pan with coconut oil or olive oil spray, place the parchment paper round inside and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
In a separate large bowl, combine the fully mashed avocado and granulated sugar. Slowly stir in the water, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, stirring until the avocado is completely smooth. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the baking soda and apple cider vinegar and let them fizz. Add to the final cake batter. Batter will be thick.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan, then transfer to a plate or cake stand.
While the cake is baking, make the icing. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the confectioners’ sugar, chocolate-hazelnut butter, and cocoa powder until smooth. Slowly add the almond milk and continue beating until combined.
When the cake is completely cool, spread the icing evenly across the top and sides using an offset spatula.
Eve Lynn Kessner
It’s always so amazing to me how viscerally the holiday charm can come upon you. It evokes so many emotions, sensations, cravings… In my house we celebrate Hannukah, but the spirit of Christmas is unavoidable. When it gets cold, I crave something warm. Around the holidays, I want something festive. On Hannukah I eat too many donuts!
These raw donut holes are the perfect answer to all those visceral needs. The spices create heat, the sweetness balances, the carbs satiate. They are great to make with kids (no bake!), and easy to throw together and keep around (last minute dinner party offering). They’re sugar free, gluten-free (assuming you use gluten-free oat flour), vegan, and raw!
Raw Donut Holes
Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper.
In a bowl combine and whisk:
-1 cup amaranth flour (or other nutty/neutral flour…I had some raw amaranth flour around so I grabbed that)
-1 cup oat flour (you can also grind oats in a food processor if you don’t have flour on hand)
-3/4 cup coconut flour
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-1 Tbsp vanilla
-5 Tbsp raw agave
-1/3 cup room temp coconut oil
And mix until it forms a dough then set aside.
In a food processor (I use my Nutribullet), process until fine:
1/2 cup coconut nectar/sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
Put the cinnamon sugar into a small bowl.
Take about 2 tablespoons of dough in your hand and roll into a ball.
Place the ball into the cinnamon sugar bowl and roll it around until it is totally covered.
Place it on the sheet pan and start over.
Should make 15 balls.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
(You can also roll these in cacao powder for a chocolatey punch, add cayenne for extra spice, and vanilla powder for super extra holiday sweetness).
Jessica Li Phillips
I didn’t grow up eating gingerbread cookies as a holiday tradition, we were more of a pumpkin bread family, and I have many different ways to make this a “healthier” option. But I have always loved the idea of decorating the tree with edibles, and as a child I had a small personal tree for which my sister and I would string popcorn and cranberries garlands. My first holiday season with my now husband, we made gingerbread cookies to hang and to gift friends with. I can’t say we’ve managed to do this every year since, but with the recent addition of our daughter, are hoping to re-install it as a tradition.
As a yogi chef who works mostly with cancer survivors and other inflammatory issues I encourage not only more nutrient dense options, but slowing down, to enjoy our lives together! While these cookies are certainly not in disguise, they are wonderful for inviting your inner child to the table… mix with your hands, breathe deeply the scent of spices, cut into fun shapes… elevate your spirit with a loved one!
Holiday Gingerbread Ornaments
Makes at least 2 dozen medium-sized cookies
Inspired from “My New Roots”
Extras: parchment/baking paper, rolling pin or similar object, fun cookie cutters
1 3/4 c sweet sorgo flour
1/2 c buckwheat
1/4 c almond meal
¼ tsp. fine grain sea salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. ground organic ginger (all spices organic when possible)
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup coconut sugar
5 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
½ cup unsulfured blackstrap molasses
3 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Method for holiday fun:
Pause. With a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly, let your eyes close.
Feel. Come into the feeling of your body for three deep breaths.
Cultivate. Bring to mind someone in your life for whom you are grateful for.
Opening your eyes, moving into the action of your recipe, bring your awareness with you!
1. Measure and whisk the dry ingredients together. Pause to smell the healing spices!
2. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil, whisk in the molasses, applesauce, and vanilla.
3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and fold to combine. Opening your eyes, notice when ingredients just come together.
4. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, make a ball, then flatten into a large disc. Wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove dough from the fridge, unwrap and cut in half. Wrap one half and return it to the fridge. Between two pieces of parchment paper roll out the dough, not too thin. This is a good time to gather a friend/loved one or their presence for the cookie cutter fun!
5. Slide a knife under each shape and place on a lined baking sheet. Ball up the scraps of dough, roll it out between the parchment, and start again. Once the dough becomes too warm, return it to the fridge and repeat the entire process with the other half of the chilled dough.
6. Place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. (Let cool before disturbing otherwise you may have some single winged angels!) Remove from oven and let cool on pan.
I have poked little holes in the top and threaded with string either to gift or to hang!