5 Healthy Sweets You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About

Healthy sweetsWhen you think of the holidays, what comes to mind?

You might think of Hanukkah and dreidels, or reindeer and Santa Claus.

Eating healthy usually isn’t the first phrase within my vocabulary during the holiday season. I think of my grandmother’s baking, with shortbread cookies and gingerbread men, as well as stockings stuffed with several chocolate products, such as Terry’s Chocolate Orange and the world famous Toblerone Swiss chocolate bar.

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The problem with the consumption of chocolate and other sweets is that it’s difficult to eat just one. Next thing you know, the box of chocolates is empty, and there are only crumbs remaining on the plate of cookies. You cheated on your diet. How could you?

I often wonder what are some healthy sweet treats that people won’t feel guilty about consuming? Here are five healthy foods to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Bean Brownies

Brownies are always a fun sweet treat. You can typically find instant chocolate brownies contained in boxed packages at grocery stores, but have you ever considered brownies made from beans?

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Is eating healthy sweets during the holidays possible? Give this bean dessert a try, which also provides many beneficial nutrients. Legumes are full of fiber, potassium, folate, B vitamins, magnesium, and molybdenum. Legumes are known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, while also regulating colon function, and aiding constipation and other bowel problems.

Check out the healthy recipe, featuring Adzuki or black beans, cocoa, and brown sugar, here.

Homemade Fruit and Trail Mix

Nuts and dried fruit can festively satisfy any sweet holiday craving. There are unnecessary additives and preservatives contained in processed trail mixes. Leave those on the shelves and make some homemade trail mix, which is great for party guests to munch on.

Combine your choice of dried fruit with whole almonds, cashews, and walnuts. Also add in sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Get healthy foods like goji berries, dried blueberries, mango, and pineapple chunks from your local health food store to add to this crunchy sweet treat. The abundance of healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruit pack this treat with essential nutrients such as fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

The combination of dark chocolate-covered strawberries is a delicacy. Dark chocolate provides many important nutrients, including fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, and manganese. Strawberries also contain manganese, large amounts of vitamin C, while also consisting of many more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.

If you use quality dark chocolate, (containing 70% cocoa), it shouldn’t have the unhealthy sugar, caffeine, bad fats, and milk ingredients that the average chocolate contains. This recipe is simple, as you put the dark chocolate in a pot of boiling water, melt it down, then it is ready for the strawberries. Place the dark chocolate-covered strawberries on a tray with parchment paper, and insert them in the fridge.

It is one of my favorite healthy foods around the holidays—eating healthy can be sweet after all.

Festive Fruit Salad

When you think about the holidays, red, white and green are popular colors. Mix them all together for a festive holiday fruit salad that will satisfy you need for anything sweet.

Combine healthy foods like two cubed red apples, 400 g of cherries, 250 g of halved strawberries, 125 g of raspberries, two tablespoons of chopped mint, and a quarter chopped watermelon, into a big bowl. Also, have slices of lime on hand for dinner guests. Top your fruit salad with natural maple syrup or honey for some extra sweetness.

The health benefits of this fruit salad combination are endless with many disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamin C, and a ton of fiber in this healthy dessert.

Dried Plum Hot Cocoa

Instead of ingesting hot chocolate from a restaurant, cuddle under the fire with a steaming cup of homemade dried plum cocoa. It is the perfect beverage to sip while watching the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker Christmas special on TV.

Cocoa is known as a Mayan superfood, and with good reason. It has many health benefits, containing many antioxidants, and the darker the cocoa, the more antioxidants. It also has fiber, vitamins, and minerals—talk about healthy foods!

Combine a cup of homemade almond milk, three medium plums, two tablespoons of organic dark cocoa powder, a pinch of sea salt, and a quarter teaspoon of vanilla. Put the ingredients in the blender, and mix until smooth then heat in a pot on the stove on low temperature.

It will definitely be a sweet holiday, and you won’t have to feel guilty, as you will be creating many happy memories with these healthy foods—eating healthy can be fun and enjoyable!

Sources:
“Health Benefits of Beans and Their Healing Power,” Foods-Healing-Power.com web site; http://www.foods-healing-power.com/health-benefits-of-beans.html.
Breyer, M., “5 healthy hot cocoa recipes,” Mother Nature Network web site, Nov. 28, 2012; http://www.mnn.com/food/beverages/stories/5-healthy-hot-cocoa-recipes.
MacPerson, M., “Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries,” Creating Total Wellness web site, Feb. 13, 2013; http://creatingtotalwellness.com/healthy-valentines-day-treats.
Breene, S., “21 Healthier Trail Mix Recipes To Make Yourself,” Greatist web site, Aug. 30, 2013; http://greatist.com/health/21-healthier-trail-mix-ideas.
“Festive Fruit Salad,” Cole Recipes; http://recipes.coles.com.au/recipes/94/festive-fruit-salad/.
“Health Benefits of Hot Cocoa,” Dairy Council of California web site; http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Beverages/Article-Viewer/Article/212/Health-Benefits-of-Hot-Cocoa.aspx.
Gunnars, K., “7 Amazing Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate,” Authority Nutrition web site, June 5, 2013; http://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate/.