6 Christmas Desserts Satisfying Cravings Without Wrecking Diets
Celebrating a healthy holiday doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself, especially on Christmas. Instead, commemorate the special occasion by preparing indulgent desserts that are low in calories, fat, and carbs. You can do this by making smart ingredient substitutions and incorporating nutritious foods, such as whole grains, oats, Greek yogurt, fruit, and nuts, into your treats and sweets. From Frangelico and Toasted Hazelnut Meringues to Pear Ginger Crumble, these six skinny desserts will keep your tastebuds and waistline happy this Christmas!
1. Frangelico and Toasted Hazelnut Meringues
The secret to preparing the perfect meringue is making sure the egg whites are totally yolk free. If you want your hazelnut-flavored treats to rival those of a bakery’s, separate each egg into a small bowl before combining them — it might seem tedious, but it’ll ensure you’re using yolk-free egg whites. Eating Well’s recipe yields 80 cookies; feel free to treat yourself to a few! One cookie contains 14 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 2 grams of carbs.
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
- ½ cup toasted finely chopped hazelnuts
Directions: Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate one egg at a time into a small bowl, letting the white fall into the bowl and discarding the yolk. If there’s any trace of yolk in the white, discard the white and start over. If it’s yolk-free, transfer to a clean medium mixing bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs. Add cream of tartar to the whites and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar has been added. Continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy.
Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds more. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold Frangelico and hazelnuts into the meringue until combined; do not overmix. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a small amount of the meringue under each corner of the paper to secure it to the pan. Fill a 1-quart sealable plastic bag with the meringue. Seal the bag almost completely, leaving a small opening for air to escape from the top as you squeeze.
Snip off one corner of the bag with scissors, making a ¾-inch-wide opening. Fold the top of the bag over a few times, then gently push the meringue down to the snipped corner. Working with the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe the meringue into 1½-inch-diameter cookies, spacing them about ½ inch apart. Bake the cookies until dry and crisp throughout, about 1½ hours. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
2. Butterscotch Bars
These gooey bars consist of a rich butterscotch layer and a crunchy streusel topping. Rather than using common streusel ingredients, such as brown sugar and butter, Cooking Light makes a crumb topping using oats and flour, creating a satisfying bar that isn’t loaded with sugar and fat. The recipe yields 36 servings; each contains 148 calories, 5.1 grams of fat, and 23.4 grams of carbs.
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2½ cups quick-cooking oats
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1¼ cups butterscotch morsels (about 8 ounces)
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl. Stir in vanilla and egg. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, ½ teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Add oat mixture to sugar mixture; stir with a fork until combined. Place 3 cups oat mixture into the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray; press into bottom of pan. Set aside.
Place sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch morsels, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high 1 minute or until butterscotch morsels melt, stirring every 20 seconds. Stir in walnuts. Scrape mixture into pan, spreading evenly over crust. Sprinkle evenly with remaining oat mixture, gently pressing into butterscotch mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Place pan on a cooling rack; run a knife around outside edge. Cool completely.
3. Warm Raspberry-Pistachio Cake
Pistachios and raspberries work together in Pop Sugar’s dish, which was adapted from Everyday Food, to make a heavenly cake that’s filled with nutty and fruity flavors. The recipe uses Greek yogurt instead of butter and egg whites rather than whole eggs, creating a light and low-calorie cake. It yields 6 servings, with each containing 209 calories and 4.3 grams of fat.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- ½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios (or blanched whole almonds)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg and two egg whites
- ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat six 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. In food processor, finely grind nuts with sugar and salt. Add yogurt, vanilla, and whole egg; process until smooth. Add flour; pulse until moistened. Scrape batter in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peak form. Fold into cake batter. Divide batter equally among ramekins; sprinkle with raspberries. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until firm and pulling away from sides, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.
4. Pear Ginger Crumble
Warm ginger and cinnamon flavors work wonderfully with pears in this whole-grain dessert dish. Food Network’s recipe yields 8 servings, with each containing 266 calories and 8 grams of fat.
- ¼ cup oat flour or whole-wheat flour
- ⅔ cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 3 pounds firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups reduced-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen vanilla yogurt, optional
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. For the topping, combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and work together with a fork or with your fingertips until the ingredients are moistened. For the filling, combine the pear slices, lemon juice, and ginger in a large bowl. Add the sugar and flour and toss to blend.
Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer the pear mixture to the dish. Sprinkle the topping over the pears. Bake crumble until the pears are tender and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of ice cream, if desired.
5. Pistachio Biscotti
End your Christmas dinner on a sweet note by making Pistachio Biscotti. Fitness’s recipe calls for a calorie-free sweetener and whole-wheat flour, creating a treat that only contains 59 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 7 grams of carbs.
- 3 ounces butter
- 1 tablespoon Splenda, or other calorie-free sweetener
- 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ tablespoons whole-wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup pistachios, finely ground
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream the butter and Splenda. Add the flours, salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and ground pistachios. Mix thoroughly, then add the eggs and mix until dough comes together. Divide dough into four equal parts, and on a lightly floured surface, roll dough with your palms into four logs approximately 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.
Place logs 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until lightly brown, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then slice each log into ½-inch thick diagonal slices. Place cut side up on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes longer, until crisp.
6. Thin Mint Truffles
All Day I Dream About Food delivers a low-carb and gluten-free dessert. Filled with chocolate and mint flavors, you’ll use healthy ingredients, including almond flour and cocao powder, to prepare these tantalizing truffles. Two truffles, which is one serving, contain 5.6 grams of carbs and 2.8 grams of fiber.
- 1¾ cups almond flour
- ⅓ cup cocao powder
- ⅓ cup granulated erythritol
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 ounce food-grade cocoa butter
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 3 tablespoons powdered Swerve Sweetener or other powdered erythritol, sifted
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon mint extract
Directions: For the cookies, preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cacao powder, erythritol, baking powder, and salt. Add in egg, butter, and mint extract and stir well until dough comes together. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll to about ⅛-inch thick. Lift off top piece of parchment and place on a large baking sheet. Bake until firm, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
Break the big cookie into chunks and place into the bowl of a food processor. Process until it resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to a medium bowl and add cream cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined. Form mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a parchment- or waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least 1 hour. For the coating, melt cocoa butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth.
Stir in sifted powdered erythritol, then stir in cocoa powder, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in mint extract. Drop truffles, one at time, into melted coating and remove with a fork, tapping against the side of the pan to remove excess chocolate. Place on another parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet and chill until firm, about 30 minutes. If you have excess coating, you can let it cool until it’s thicker but not fully solidified. Then pipe over truffles in a decorative fashion.