The Sweet Holiday Life

I grew up baking for the holidays alongside my grandmother. We started early, and the freezer was full before December even rolled around. Mostly cookies, lots and lots of cookies. These are some of my fondest memories and remain some of my favorite treats this time of year. I have learned, however, to take a slightly different approach. I have gotten honest with myself about the recipes that are truly my favorite “cannot live without” and added some new recipes to satisfy both my love of baking and my passion for health – because, yes, you can have both. The sweet life does not have to be all about sacrifice nor does it need to be all about indulgence. Feed your body and your heart by starting some new baking traditions that keep your health and wellbeing in mind. I call this holiday baking with a twist. These also make awesome gifts. Get some creative packaging, print out the recipe, and place a few goodies inside of a nice mug or tin box! You will be loved!! Here are a few of my favorite recipes:


Avocado Chocolate Truffle (V, GF, DF)

(makes 24)

2 ripe avocados, mashed
1 ½ cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder
Optional – you can also add orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, curry powder, or another spice or signature item. I would use ~ 1 tsp.

Melt dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.
In a separate bowl or in a food processor, mash avocado with the vanilla. This should be as lump free as possible.
When chocolate is smooth, add the mashed avocado and fold together.
Add any spice.
Refrigerator for about a half hour.
When hardened, scoop into 24 balls and roll until smooth.
Roll each ball in cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder and serve.
Place any remaining truffles in airtight container and store in refrigerator.

Coconut, Oatmeal, and Raspberry Jam Thumbprints

(makes 20 small cookies)

1 cup oats
2/3 cup shredded coconut
¼ cup melted coconut oil or earth balance
6 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup flour (regular or gluten free)
dash of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add coconut and oats into a blender and pulse until a flour forms.
Pour into a bowl and add melted oil, sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, and flour.
Stir until combined.
Roll dough into balls, gently pressing your thumb into the centers.
Place a small spoonful of jam (about a tsp. per cookie) in each imprint.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Orange-Almond Olive Oil Muffins (GF)

1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup fresh orange juice, at room temperature
¼ cup orange zest
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup plain greek yogurt, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup almond flour or almond meal
1 ¼ cups GF all purpose flour (or regular AP flour if gluten is not a concern)
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Using a mixer on medium speed, beat the sugar and eggs together until pale and thick (about 2 minutes).
Beat in the orange juice, olive oil, yogurt, vanilla extract, almond extract, and orange zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
In batches, stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Stir in the almonds.
Bake until golden brown on top (about 20 minutes).
Cool for 20 minutes, dust with powdered sugar.

Sweet Potato Macaroons (GF, DF)

1 baked sweet potato
1 cup unsweetened or sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup raw cane sugar
pinch of salt
4 Tbsp rice flour, buckwheat flour or any GF flour
½ cup ground flaxseed meal
1 Tbsp dark molasses
2 – 4 TBSP water “as needed”
1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Scoop baked sweet potato out of its skin. Set aside.
Place the coconut and walnuts in a food processor. Chop finely. Set aside.
Add baked sweet potato, water, raw sugar, molasses to food processor and
process until lump free.
Combine walnut/coconut mixture salt, rice flour, sweet potato mixture
and flax seed meal in a bowl. Mix to incorporate all of the ingredients.
Spoon about 2 Tbsps. of the batter onto baking sheet for each macaroon.
Bake for 20-30 minutes. These will not spread and should hold their shape in the oven.
Once cool, dip in melted dark chocolate and allow to cool.

Written for Healthy Living by Kimberly Evans MS RD.
Kimberly Evans is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and food enthusiast with over 30 years of experience in helping clients achieve health as a lifestyle. She firmly believes the “good life” should be every day life. Kimberly has a life long love of ballet, running and yoga. Kimberly is passionate about making it easy to connect to multiple sources of nourishment to support your health and vitality.