Holiday Treats without the Cheat

Holiday Treats without the Cheat

These seven recipes allow you to enjoy a sweet holiday treat — without murdering your goals. So go on — have your cake, then have some more cake!

The holiday season sneaks up fast, and before you know it, we’ve gone from fruity smoothies to pumpkin spice everything to green-and-red goodies galore. But don’t resign yourself to the inevitable holiday weight gain — instead, use these recipes to stay mostly within your healthy eating program (it is the holidays after all!) and enjoy some reduced-guilt holiday cheer.

Though some recipes contain some less-healthy ingredients (e.g., butter), the quantities are minimal and are overshadowed by benefits from items like nuts, seeds, berries and omegas. What’s more, the grams of sugar per serving is in the single digits, the carbs are less than 16 grams and each recipe is 270 calories or less per serving. So go on — have your cake, then have some more cake!

Pistachio Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Bark

Makes: 8 servings 


  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • ¾ cup pitted dates
  • ¾ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds


  1. Add dates to a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak 10 minutes.
  2. Drain dates and place in a food processor or blender container. Add coconut oil, salt, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and process until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, combine date mixture with nuts and pomegranate seeds.
  4. Spread mixture over a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze to set, about 4 hours. Once set, chop into bite-size pieces. Store in the fridge.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = ¼ cup): calories 270, fat 24 g, protein 2 g, sodium 74 mg, carbs 16 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 9 g

Mixed Berry SorbetOxygen Magazine

Mixed Berry Sorbet

Mixed Berry Sorbet

Makes: 4 servings 


  • 1 (5.3-oz) container plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • 4 tbsp milk of choice (more if needed)
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract


  1. Add yogurt, berries and vanilla to a blender cup.
  2. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing each time until well-combined. Continue until mixture is thick and creamy. Serve immediately or store in the freezer for later.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2/3 cup): calories 93, fat 3 g, protein 6 g, sodium 209 mg, carbs 12 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 9 g

Maple-Walnut Chocolate Truffles

Makes: 15 chocolates*


  • ¼ cup cacao butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp raw walnut pieces


  1. Melt cacao butter over medium heat in a small saucepan.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup and vanilla extract. Then mix in cocoa powder.
  3. Pour mixture into silicon molds or cups. Place a few walnut pieces in the center of each chocolate. Allow to cool, then place in the freezer or fridge to set.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 chocolate): calories 46, fat 4 g, protein 0 g, sodium 1 mg, carbs 3 g, fiber 0 g, sugar 1 g

*Number of candies may vary according to the mold.

Chewy Grain-Free Gingerbread Granola

Makes: 20 servings 


  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup raw pecans
  • ½ cup raw hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed meal
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 275 F.
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse almonds, pecans, coconut and hazelnuts into small pieces. Do not over-blend.
  3. Heat coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses, spices and salt over medium heat in a large saucepan, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Place processed nuts in a large bowl and pour warm coconut oil mixture over top. Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseed meal and stir to combine.
  5. Spread mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool and harden.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 tablespoons): calories 159, fat 14 g, protein 3 g, sodium 33 mg, carbs 9 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 5 g

Apple Walnut CrispOxygen Magazine

Apple-Walnut Crisp

Apple-Walnut Crisp

Makes: 12 servings 


  • 4 cups Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat all-purpose flour (or 1/2 cup almond flour)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp butter diced into small pats
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. To make the crisp topping, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, sugar, melted butter, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Toss apples in cornstarch and spread evenly in baking dish. Top with walnuts and crisp topping. Spread butter pats evenly on the very top.
  4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until apples are fork-tender and topping is lightly browned. Allow to cool before serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1/3 cup): calories 167, fat 12 g, protein 3 g, sodium 87 mg, carbs 15 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 7g

Chocolate-Covered Fudge Brownies

Makes: 15 servings

Brownie Ingredients

  • ½ cup sweet potato, mashed
  • ½ cup chocolate protein powder of choice
  • ½ cup smooth nut butter of choice
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

Topping Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cacao butter nibs or chips
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or coat with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine brownie ingredients until smooth. Should form a thick batter.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Note: The brownies won’t rise much. Allow to cool completely in pan.
  4. Once brownies are cool, combine all topping ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Immediately pour melted chocolate over brownies. Place in the fridge to set, then cut into 9 squares. Store in fridge or freezer.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 brownie): calories 128, fat 8 g, protein 8 g, sodium 31 mg, carbs 6 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 2 g

Smart Swaps

Flip your fave holiday recipe on its head by trading ingredients for more goal-friendly ones.

1. Mix 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons water in place of one whole egg. This makes a recipe vegan-friendly and adds a boost of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Works well in muffins, cakes and breads.

2. Swap regular butter and oil for your favorite nut butter (in the same quantity) to ramp up the healthy fats and dial down the trans and saturated fats. Try this in cookies, cakes, muffins and sweet breads.

3. Use plain, nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream to slash calories and fat while increasing protein. Think: coffee cakes and cupcakes.

4. Try almond flour and coconut flour in place of white or wheat flour to go gluten-free, increase fiber and slash carbs. Great for breads, cookies, pastries and crusts.

5. Blend pitted dates or ripe bananas into batters to add sweetness and fiber without the added sugar. Try this in cakes, cookies, breads and brownies.

Written by Shoshana Pritzker RD Cdn for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine

Holiday Snack/Dessert Replacements

At MariGold, we are all about treating your body well, but we know those cravings for sweet holiday desserts can come on strong, especially this time of year.

One of the best ways to curb those cravings is to fuel up with the right nutrients BEFORE you show up at a holiday event.

Start your day the right way with one of our Protein Coffees. You’ll get a healthy dose of nutrient-rich protein along with an organic coffee flavonoid boost to give you the energy and fuel your body needs so you don’t feel as hungry later in the day.

You can also start your day with a delicious shake or smoothie! Try one of our flavored Whey Protein Isolate Protein Powders for a ready-to-go shake or get creative with your ingredients and use our Unflavored Whey Isolate protein to add that extra protein without changing the flavor of your favorite smoothie combination.

We all probably indulge in a few too many cookies and desserts during the holidays…but why not have a healthy food alternative on hand to curb those cravings?

Our FALL PACK features delicious flavors like German Chocolate CakeGingerbreadPecan Sandie, and our long-time fan favorite, Texas Pecan Praline.

You can enjoy something sweet without the excess sugar or carbs. Cut them into bite-sized pieces and enjoy a delicious and flavorful snack while staying on track and treating your body well… and let others indulge in those not so healthy options.

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