These Dessert Recipes Offer a Healthier Way to Indulge This Season

young mom and daughter baking in the kitchen

It’s the holiday season – a time to enjoy our favorite seasonal treats.

Watching your sugar or calorie intake this year? We have you covered with these recipes, which offer your sweet tooth a healthier alternative.


This version of the holiday staple has less added sugar.


1 cup trans-fat free tub margarine

1/4 cup stevia sugar blend plus 1 tablespoon stevia sugar blend, divided use

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the margarine, 1/ 4 cup stevia sugar blend, egg, and vanilla until smooth.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Using the electric mixer on medium speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the stevia sugar blend mixture just until moistened but no flour is visible.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon stevia sugar blend and the cinnamon.

Using your hands, shape the dough into 1 and 1/4-inch balls to make 24 cookies. Gently roll in the stevia sugar blend cinnamon mixture, coating lightly. Place about 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet or two small baking sheets. With the palm of your hand or a fork, lightly flatten each ball.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned.

Serving size one cookie, 91 calories per cookie.

Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association.

Mint-Chocolate Meringue Cookies


3 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/4 teaspoon mint extract

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips or finely chopped bittersweet chocolate


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, securing the edges with tape.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add cocoa powder and beat until the mixture becomes glossy. Add mint extract. Gently fold in chips.

Place mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/ 2 or 3/ 4- inch tip. Pipe 1-inch rounds onto the parchment, leaving 1   to 2 inches between cookies. With damp fingertips, press down any peaks.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Place baking sheets on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before peeling cookies off the parchment. 

If a pastry bag isn’t available, spoon mixture into a zip-top bag and snip a ½-inch hole in the bottom corner of the bag. Batter can also be dropped with a tablespoon onto the parchment.

Makes about 60 cookies. Serving size one cookie, 15 calories per cookie.

Recipe courtesy of the American Cancer Society.

Poached Pears with Pomegranate Sauce


1/3 cup pomegranate juice

2 teaspoons sugar

1 medium pears (peeled, halved, cored)

1 teaspoon water

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sliced almonds (dry-roasted, crumbled)

1/4 teaspoon cornstarch


In a small saucepan, stir together the pomegranate juice and sugar. Add the pear halves with the cut side down. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for five minutes, or until tender, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat. Leaving the liquid in the pan, transfer the pear halves with the cut side down to dessert plates.

Put the cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the water, stirring to dissolve. Pour into the same pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and vanilla. Spoon over the pears. Sprinkle with the almonds.

Tip: Be sure to use a ripe pear for peak texture and flavor. Using a firm pear not only will require at least twice as much cooking time but also will not be as tender, sweet, and flavorful.

Serving size one pear half and one tablespoon of sauce, 120 calories per serving.

Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association.