Taste of Health Francesca Ballicu | 11 months ago

Healthier Holiday Treats to Make This Year

Move beyond the usual sweets served up throughout the season and try something a little more nutritious.

Making holiday treats with your kids is a fun way to teach your little ones about the importance of proper nutrition and cooking. So, grab the family and get ready to create some kid-friendly treats that aren’t loaded with fat and sugar. “It’s fun to be creative with food, and kids love it,” says Alicia Fogarty, a dietitian with Carolinas HealthCare System. “With all the different fruits and veggies available, you’re limited only by your imagination. You can make a Christmas tree out of cucumbers, dotted with cherry tomatoes and carrots for the trunk; or you can try something sweeter and make a Grinch-like snowman by stacking a green grape, a banana slice, a strawberry and a tiny marshmallow on a toothpick.” When healthy food is within easy reach and presented in a unique way, people are more likely to give it a try. Here are some simple and healthy-ish ideas you and the kids can make, share and enjoy this holiday season.

Spiced Pear Upside-Down Cake

With three grams of fiber and four grams of protein, this dessert combines the flavors of sweet pears, nuts and gingerbread to create a new take on a traditional pineapple upside-down cake. What you need
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large pears, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup warm water
How to make it Pour melted butter into a nine-inch square baking pan, sprinkle with nuts and brown sugar and arrange pears over nuts. In a large bowl, cream softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition. Spread batter over pears. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Recipe: tasteofhome.com 

Quick-and-Easy Snowy Chocolate Pinecones

Curious food-lovers won’t be able to resist these creative, fiber-filled creations. What you need
  • 3 cups chocolate fiber cereal
  • 6 pretzel sticks
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
How to make it Mix the peanut butter, hazelnut spread, butter and powdered sugar. Mold mixture around pretzel stick to form a cone shape, leaving some of the pretzel showing. Add cereal pieces into the peanut butter mixture symmetrically around the cone. Toward the top, use cereal pieces cut into triangles. Cut off the top of the pretzel, add a dollop of the mixture and add a few more triangle pieces of cereal on the top. Add powdered sugar to create a snowy effect. Recipe: handmadecharlotte.com

Whole-Wheat Cookies

This new take on a classic cookie recipe uses a few simple substitutions to cut out fat and sugar without sacrificing flavor. What you need
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
How to make it Whisk the first four ingredients together in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars together separately until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl, add egg white and vanilla and almond extracts; beat until combined. Add flour mixture, and stir until incorporated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill for four hours. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, dust work surface with flour and roll dough out to a ¼-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough and place on baking sheets. Bake 12 minutes, remove from oven and cool. Recipe: Health.com

Fruit and Cheese Tree Tray

Food is more fun when it’s presented in a creative way. Here’s an easy way to make your fruit-and-cheese tray appeal to everyone – even to your kids. What you need
  • 1-2 cups of cubed pepper jack, cheddar, mozzarella and Colby Jack cheese
  • A bunch of red and green grapes
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Celery slices
How to make it Let your kids form the shape of a tree, alternating between cubes of cheeses and the red and green grapes. Put thyme sprigs between the layers and use celery to make the tree trunk. Recipe: RealMomKitchen.com
Avoid the Waiting Room It’s nice to treat yourself around the holidays. And when you’re sick, it’s nice to skip the waiting room at Urgent Care. With online reservations at any of our 28 locations, you can get seen when it’s convenient for you – and you can wait wherever you’d like. It’s our treat to you this holiday season and every day. Learn more about online reservations. Do you wish you had a community to inspire you and support the choices you make to improve your family’s nutrition habits? Now you do. Join the conversation, or start your own, using #TasteOfHealth