Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year celebrations mean dozens of sweets at every turn: a tower of toffee, rivers of chocolate and groaning office-party platters. But not every bite needs to be frosted or fudge-filled this season. A lighter approach to a meal-ending dish can be just as satisfying. So when it’s your turn to make dessert for an upcoming event, consider one of the following five ideas (your waistline will thank you in 2016!)
Cake boss: A store-bought mix is easy peasy, of course, but you can make it even better by nixing the oil and eggs and using applesauce, pumpkin puree or Greek yogurt instead. The texture will be nearly the same and you’ll gain fiber and calcium with these substitutions.
Fruit fix: A little chocolate is fine — especially if you choose the dark variety, which is packed with flavonoids and antioxidants. Coating fruit in this melty goodness means you can enjoy the sweet taste as well as the benefits of vitamin-rich fruits. Try dipping strawberries, pineapple slices, bananas and clementine sections.
A is for apple: Sure, these round beauties are perfect in pie, but the crust is your downfall here, made with white flour and butter or shortening. A better bet? Push away the pastry and bake the apple. Place peeled, cored apples in baking dish and fill with a mixture of raisins, walnuts, brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon. Top with a pat of butter, add 1/2 cup water to the dish and bake at 375 F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender.
Egg-cellent!: Skip the butter and focus on eggs when you’re baking for the holidays. Angel food cake and meringues are made fluffy and light with whipped egg whites — not the fattier yolks. One meringue has just 25 calories, and both of these treats can be flavored with cocoa powder, hazelnuts or any kind of extract (orange, vanilla, lemon). Yum!
Parfait perfection: Trifle is a classic dessert that combines sponge cake, custard and whipped cream. You can riff on this recipe by swapping in lower-calorie yogurt, granola and any kind of fruit. Start by layering fruit (mixed berries are lovely here) at the bottom of a glass dish, then sprinkle on some granola. Cover with an even layer of low-fat yogurt and then repeat this pattern three more times.
Want to look great and feel awesome all year round? Join the UnDiet Project for your body and soul’s sake.
Thank you, Jennifer Kelly Geddes. She is a New York-based writer and editor who has written for Parenting, iVillage.com and Time Out New York Kids. She frequently contributes to Go Vibrant.