Holiday Apps & Desserts

Healthy Holiday Apps + Desserts

 Kristen DeAngelis, RD, LDNI December 2016

Looking for some HEALTHY holiday appetizers and desserts?  Get over 15 different creative ways to pull in healthy proteins and fats, increasing the fiber and cutting out the high amount of added sugar and saturated fats/butter that most holiday recipes have.  I served these at my cooking demo last week and they ALL were a HIT!! Plus these are practical and realistic suggestions - no more than 5 minutes of prep for most (if not ALL of these recipes).  Enjoy!

Suggested Appetizers

  • ·       Mozzarella – Tomato – Basil (rounds or on stix)

  • ·       Hummus + Veggie Cups
  • ·       Cucumber – Hummus – Kalamata Olive
  • ·       Wonton Spinach Artichoke Cups
  • ·       Roast Beef wrapped Asparagus Spears
  • ·       Pecans/Nut Bowl
  • ·       Garlic Herb Roasted Shrimp or Shrimp Cocktail
  • ·       Roasted Flatbreads – Pesto + Tomato/Red Pepper + Feta
  • ·       Sweet Potato Nachos (SP chips, chicken, guac, olives, lettuce, cheese)
  • ·       Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
  • ·       Guacamole + Red Bell Pepper/Apples
  • ·       Pesto-Turkey-Cuke-Red Pepper Roll Ups (sliced into bite size)
  • ·       Spicy Popcorn (rosemary/cinnamon/paprika/nutritional yeast)


Suggested Desserts

  • ·       Chocolate PB Buckeyes
  • ·       Cookie Dough Dip (
  • ·       Raw Chocolate Brownies – Dates, Nuts, Cocoa
  • ·       N0-bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
  • ·       The “Grinch” Fruit Toothpicks – grape, banana, strawberry, marshmallow
  • ·       Baked Pears with cinnamon/honey
  • ·       Christmas Fruit Trifle – Angel Food Cake, Vanilla Greek Yogurt (option to add green food dye), Strawberries, Graham Crackers


Mozzarella – Tomato – Basil

  • -        Mozzarella Balls
  • -        Cherry Tomatoes
  • -        Fresh Basil
  • -        Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • -        Salt/Pepper ( plus Optional Balsamic Vinegar)

Hummus + Veggie Cups

  • -        Hummus (any variety)
  • -        Pre-chopped celery/Carrot Sticks
  • -        Clear Plastic mini cups

Cucumber – Hummus – Kalamata Olive

  • -        Cucumber
  • -        Hummus
  • -        Kalamata Olives (or regular Black Olives OR roasted red bell pepper for the "green-red" theme)

Chop cucumber in thick slices and spread on a plate in a single layer. Dollop hummus on top of each round.  Top with a piece of chopped olive.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

  • -        Cauliflower Head
  • -        Franks Red Hot Sauce

Chop Cauliflower into florets.  Spread on a baking pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt.  Roast in oven at 350/400 F for 30-45 minutes (until they start to brown on the top and are fork tender).  Remove from oven.  Let cool and toss with franks buffalo sauce.


Grinch Fruit Kabobs

  • -        Green Grapes
  • -        Banana, sliced in rounds
  • -        Strawberries
  • -        Marshmallows

Use a toothpick to layer the following: 1 green grape, 1 slice banana, 1 whole strawberry, 1 marshmallow




Pesto-Turkey-Cuke-Red Pepper Roll Ups (sliced into bite size)

  • -        Pesto
  • -        Turkey (nitate-free deli meat – AppleGate has a great brand!)
  • -        Whole Grain Wrap
  • -        Red Pepper Slices
  • -        Cucumber Slices

Spread pesto on wrap.  Add turkey, pepper and cucumber slices.  Roll and Slice into 1” rounds.

Spicy Popcorn:

  • -        1 bag Lite Popcorn (no butter/salt) OR ½ cup popping corn
  • -        ½ tsp of: garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin
  • -        1 Tbsp butter (more if desired)
  • -        In place of cumin mixture try one of these: Chili Pepper/Paprika OR cinnamon OR Nutritional Yeast OR Franks Red Hot Sauce (no butter)

Once kernels are popped, melt butter, stir in salt, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne and mix well. Remove popcorn from heat and transfer to large bowl.  Slowly drizzle spice mixture onto the popcorn  - shake and serve.

Guacamole (serve with Red Bell Peppers and Crisp Sweet Red Apple Slices)

  • -        2-4 Avocado, chopped
  • -        Small handful Cilantro, chopped
  • -        2-3 Fresh Lime, squeezed
  • -        Salt/Pepper, Garlic Salt/Powder
  • -        *Optional to add Red Onion, Tabasco Sauce, Cinnamon, chopped tomatoes


Raw Cookie Dough Dipper

Trust me – these are AMAZING! Serve as is, or with ritz crackers, or apple slices to dip into. Or put in fridge and wait for it to firm up, roll into balls and serve as cookie dough ball bites. This is the internet famous Chocolate Covered Katie Cookie Dough dip... and it's somewhat healthy - high in fiber!!

  •    1 can (or 1 1/2 cups cooked) chickpeas or white beans
  •    2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  •    1/4 cup almond butter - or allergy-friendly sub
  •    1/2 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
  •    1/4 cup + 1 tbsp quick oats or flaxmeal
  •    scant 1/4 tsp salt
  •    heaping 1/8 tsp baking soda (this gives a cookie dough flavor)
  •    1/3 cup to 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Drain beans, rinse extremely well, and pat dry. Process all ingredients except chips in a strong food processor until completely smooth. Stir in chips. (Some readers say a blender works, but try that at your own risk, as the taste and texture will be much better in a food processor.) Cover leftovers and store in the fridge. Read more at

Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Bars

Yield: 9-12 bars


  •    1/4 cup + 3 tbsp peanut butter (or allergy-friendly sub)
  •    1/4 cup + 3 tbsp pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
  •    1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (48g)
  •    1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  •    1/4 tsp salt
  •    2 cups quick oats (180g)
  •    1/4 cup cocoa powder

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment or wax. Set aside. Stir together the first three ingredients. Gently heat until the oil is melted and peanut butter is easily stir-able. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt, stirring until completely smooth. Stir in the quick oats and cocoa powder until evenly coated. Smooth into the prepared pan, and press down with a spoon as hard as you can. Really pack it in. Freeze until firm enough to cut. Leftovers can stay out a few hours, but I like to keep them in the freezer for optimum freshness. Read more at

Raw Chocolate Brownies (MY FAVORITE!!!)

  • -        2 cup Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans or a mix of various nuts)
  • -        2.5 cup dates (pitted)
  • -        1 cup 100% cacao powder
  • -        sea salt to taste

1) Use a high-powered blender or food processor. First chop nuts/process until finely ground.  2) Add raw cacao and sea salt and continue to pulse a few times.  

3) Add dates (one at a time) while food processor is running.  A clump will start to form.

4) Remove from the processor and roll out in a baking pan or roll into mini balls.  If you’ve rolled them out into a baking pan, put in the freezer and 4 hours later use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to slice into bars.  Eat as is or freeze for later consumption. 

Baked Pears with Cranberries, Honey, Cinnamon

Serves: 8

  • -        Pears
  • -        1 bag cranberries, fresh
  • -        4 tsp honey
  • -        ¼ Tbsp chopped pecans
  • -        ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • -        Greek Yogurt for pairing (optional)

 Preheat oven to 375. Halve the pears and remove core with a cookie scoop or melon baller. Slice a small part off from the back of the pear so it can sit on a baking pan flat.  Place pear halves on large baking sheet cored side up. Place 2 cranberries into the cored part of each pear half. Sprinkle with pecans, cinnamon and drizzle with honey. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until pears are tender.

Chocolate Trail Mix Bites

Simply Taryn

Serves: 8 mini bites

  • -        ¼ cup Trail Mix (Whole Foods Antioxidant Energy Mix, Trader Joes, or Fresh Thyme)
  • -        3 Tbsp Dark Chocolate Chips
  • -        Optional to add candy cane pieces here!

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the dark chocolate by microwaving ifor 20 seconds, stir. If they have not completely melted, microwave additional 10-15 seconds. On a piece of wax paper, make chocolate circles with a spoon (about 8) the size of a quarter.  Place the trail mix on the top of each chocolate drop pressing down slightly. Let the chocolate bites mold (put them in the fridge/freezer for quicker hardening).