There’s just no getting out of desserts this time of year. They are EVERYWHERE!
In the spirit of tasty treats AND a desire to keep calorie intakes from going through the roof, I compiled a list of my NEW top 5 favorite nut-free and dairy-free holiday treats. Oh, we’ll still make traditional sugar cookies, but these top 5 are my go-to recipes for toting along to parties and indulging a holiday sweet tooth.
Fruit & Pepita Chocolate Squares
Inspired by this recipe in Nutrition Action (December 2014), I made a nut-free version. These elegant little chocolate squares are delicious!
4-5 ounces nut-free dark chocolate, chopped (I like Enjoy Life dark chocolate bars)
1/4 cup lightly roasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried mixed berries and/or cherries
In a double boiler, heat chocolate over hot water until chocolate melts and is smooth. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin seeds, dried fruit and melted chocolate. Spread onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Allow to cool to room temperature and cut into squares.
This recipe was inspired by dreidel pops in Parents magazine (December/January 2014). You can color these in blue and silver sprinkles for Chanukah (and top with a Hershey’s kiss) or roll in green and red sprinkles for Christmas. For a quicker version, use pre-made icing as the “glue.”
10 large marshmallows
10 pretzel sticks (have extra pretzels on hand because they will break!)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. rice milk
Insert pretzel sticks into one end of marshmallow. Set aside. Mix powdered sugar and milk to make a paste. (You may need to add more powdered sugar or more milk to reach a sticky consistency.) Roll marshmallows in icing “glue” and then roll in sprinkles.
25-30 dried apricots
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Melt chocolate in double boiler until smooth. Using tongs or toothpicks, tip apricots into melted chocolate. Cover 1/2 to 2/3 of apricot. Set on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let cool to room temperature, until chocolate has hardened.
2 Tbsp. dairy-free margarine
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
4 cups air-popped popcorn
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Put popcorn in a medium-sized bowl. Heat margarine and honey until mixture is thinned. Add spices and salt and mix. Slowly drizzle honey-brown sugar mixture on top of popcorn, shaking to evenly distribute sauce. Pour onto baking sheet and cook 5 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool.
My children love yogurt-covered pretzels. But, I’ve found it difficult to find yogurt pretzels made in a nut-free facility. So what’s a mom to do but try to make her own? I adapted this recipe from Stonyfield Organic’s website. These were better the second day. If you use a Greek-style yogurt, the pretzels will have a tangy taste. And while I normally choose nonfat yogurt, I suggest using a 2% or reduced fat yogurt, which makes the yogurt mixture a little thicker.
2 cups mini pretzels
1.5 cups 2% or reduced fat yogurt (choose flavor of your choice)
4 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Using a hand or immersion blender, mix yogurt and powdered sugar. Refrigerate yogurt-sugar mixture for 1 hour. Using tongs, dip pretzels into the yogurt mixture and place onto baking sheet. Place baking sheet into oven and turn off oven. Open oven door and let pretzels sit in oven for 1-2 hours. Remove baking sheet and place pretzels onto wire cooling rack to prevent pretzels from getting too soggy. Place wire cooling rack into oven and leave oven door slightly open. Let pretzels stay in oven for another 2 hours.
PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite modified holiday treats? Please share! I’d love to hear from you.
Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday!