1. Baked Fruit
Even though this dessert is easy to prepare, guests will be pleasantly surprised by the flavor. By baking fruit, it brings out its natural sweetness. Pears are abundant this time of year and just delicious baked. Drizzle halved pears with oil and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream.
2. Lighter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Cookies are always a crowd pleaser around the holidays, but they can often be high in sugar, unhealthy fats and refined flours. When it comes to cookies, there are a few ways to lighten them up without changing the taste all too much. By adding in oats to this traditional recipe, you can boost the fiber content helping you to eat less. For another way to increase fiber, try swapping out half of your regular white flour for whole wheat flour.
3. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Chocolate-covered strawberries are a simple, yet elegant, dessert that would be sure to wow at any holiday party. Use dark chocolate that contains 70 percent cacao for its antioxidant benefits. To make it, melt chocolate in a double broiler and dip each strawberry into the chocolate. Set them out on parchment paper and keep them in refrigerator before serving to help set the chocolate.
4. Layered Fruit and Chocolate Parfaits
This dessert has had many variations, but adding a bit of dark chocolate will provide a unique, indulgent flavor. To assemble, simply layer vanilla yogurt, berries, and crumbled dark chocolate. Finish off the dessert with a dollop of whip cream and serve cold. This dessert can be made in individual cups or as a trifle.
5. Fruit Sorbet
Fruit sorbet is a great alternative for someone that loves ice cream, but not all the calories and fat that comes with it. Fruit sorbet generally has fruit, sugar, water, and lemon juice but feel free to put your own spin on it but adding in mint or other flavoring. Prepare sugar syrup first and simply blend syrup, fruit and juice in a blender. Freeze the mixture and scoop out portions when ready to serve.
6. Pumpkin Yogurt Mousse
What would the holiday season be without pumpkin? Pumpkin is a nutrition allstar that provides a great source of fiber as well as Vitamin A. This version of a pumpkin mousse uses Greek yogurt to provide additional protein. Mix canned pumpkin, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, brown sugar, whipped cream, and cinnamon. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
7. Deconstructed Apple Pie
Apple pie is a traditional holiday dessert, so why not lighten it up by ditching the crust. Since pie crusts are often made with butter or shortening, you are cutting the saturated fat and calories significantly. The apple pie filling can be made in the slow cooker by combining sliced apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and water and cooking on low for about six to seven hours. To serve, scoop the filling into a bowl and top with nuts, granola or whip cream.
8. Fruit Platter
Although we don't often associate holiday parties with fruit (except in cake form), bringing a fruit platter will be sure to get rave reviews from family and friends. Some people prefer the plain and simple things in life and the sweetness of fruit makes it stand out on its own. Feel free to make a cream cheese dip to accompany the fruit for more of a splurge.
Kristen Bourque, RD, LD has been writing health-related articles since 2000. Her nutrition articles and recipes have been featured in "Today's Dietitian" as well as the Canadian magazine "Glow". Kristen combines her love of nutrition with cooking on her personal blog, Swanky Dietitian.