These bars make a fun and healthi-er gift. They are very easy to make – all you have to do is melt chocolate and stir in cereal. They can be made vegan and/or gluten-free if you check the ingredients on the chocolate and cereal. If these need to be made gluten-free, be extra careful to check the cereal as some rice cereal is sweetened with malt syrup, which is made from barley, a gluten-containing grain.
These 2-ingredient candy bars are very easy to make and can be made vegan and gluten-free. They make a great edible gift!
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup crisped brown rice cereal
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring constantly until melted. Alternatively, heat the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 seconds increments, stir, and repeat until melted.
Gently stir in cereal and mix until all of the cereal is coated.
Pour the cereal mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a square in an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
Place the parchment paper and bars on a cutting board. Cut the square in half and then cut into smaller bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
There are many options for ingredients that you may use, but if you’d like to know the exact brands used in these photos, see below.
I used Barbara’s Organic Brown Rice Crisps cereal, which was labelled vegan and gluten free (“Verified to contain less than 20 ppm gluten”) at the time I bought it. It contained 1g sugar per 1 cup serving and was sweetened with organic fruit juice concentrate (pear or apple).
For the chocolate, I used Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate Chips, 55% Cacao, Semi-Sweet. It was “allergen-friendly,” vegan, and gluten-free.
This lower-sugar and vegan version of bananas foster maintains the most satisfying part of the dessert – warm bananas over a creamy and frozen dessert. To make it more authentic, you could use more oil and sugar to make more sauce. A mixture of sugar and molasses could be used in place of brown sugar. Banana liqueur would also be a nice touch – add when you add the rum.
Most recipes call for 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar for the bananas, not to mention the sugar in the ice cream. This recipe has only 1 tablespoon of added sugar total, or 12.5-25% of the sugar of a typical recipe (again, not including the sugar in the ice cream).
If possible, use over-ripe bananas for the “ice cream” and under-ripe bananas to cook.
This recipe is a lower sugar and vegan version of a delicious dessert. Frozen bananas can be kept in your freezer to make this quick recipe anytime.
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other cooking oil)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other milk alternative)
Slice 2 bananas and place in a single layer on a plate. Freeze overnight or until almost frozen solid.
Slice remaining bananas in half lengthwise, then crosswise. Melt coconut oil and sugar in a small nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add bananas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bananas are caramelized and tender. Add rum and let simmer, or flambe by carefully lighting with a long-reach lighter or tilting towards a gas stove flame.
In a small blender, blend frozen bananas with soy milk, starting with 1/4 cup, adding more soy milk 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is well blended and smooth.
Divide frozen banana mixture into two bowls and top with warm banana mixture and serve.
Craving cheesy breadsticks? Although this recipe won’t fool anyone, it is a fun and tasty way to dip something bready and even somewhat cheesy into marinara sauce. It is made with whole, real foods, including vegetables, whole grains or nuts (depending on your choice of flour) and eggs. It is free of refined grains and dairy, and can be made without gluten or grains by using almond meal.
Swap out the flour for summer squash to make cheesy-tasting breadsticks that are much lower in calories and starch. A very tasty way to eat your veggies!
4 yellow crookneck squash or zucchini
4 large eggs
1/2 cup almond meal or whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with olive oil.
Cut the squash into 1 inch chunks, which should yield about 6 cups. Place half the squash into a food processor and pulse until it is finely chopped, but not mushy. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining squash.
Squeeze some of the liquid out of the squash. When finished, it should yield about 4 cups of squash. Whisk eggs and add to squash. Add flour, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder.
Spread squash mixture onto prepared baking sheet and form into an even, thin layer, about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with oregano. Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Move pan to top rack and broil for about 2 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Place a large cutting board on top of the baking sheet and carefully flip it over to move the breadsticks to the cutting board. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch strips. Serve with warm marinara sauce.
Holiday popcorn is a festive yet healthy treat made with whole grains, healthy fats, herbs and spices, and not too much added oil. It’s easy to pop your own popcorn on the stove, and healthier than microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn bags are lined with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are potentially dangerous for our health and the environment – so make it yourself, and save money as well!
Holiday popcorn is a festive yet healthy treat made with whole grains, healthy fats, herbs and spices, and not too much added oil. Microwave popcorn bags are lined with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are potentially dangerous for our health and the environment - so make it yourself, and save money as well!
2 tablespoons canola oil (or other high heat oil)
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
In a large stock pot, heat the oil and 3-4 kernels of popcorn, covered, over
medium heat until all kernels pop.
Pour in the remaining kernels, cover pot and shake to distribute. Remove pot from heat for 30 seconds. Return pan to heat, shaking pan continuously, leaving the lid slightly ajar for crisper popcorn, if possible. To do this, you can wear two oven mitts (ones that cover your wrists or beyond are best), hold the lid slightly ajar while holding onto the pot handles and shaking the pan as pictured. If you have a lid with a vent, you could just open the vent, or use any other preferred popcorn popping method.
When popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops, remove from heat. Pour popcorn into a large bowl, removing any unpopped or partially popped kernels.
Combine the paprika, garlic powder, and salt. These measurements are general and you may want to add more, but the beauty of this recipe is that the quantities don't have to be exact.
Drizzle the olive oil over the popcorn, then sprinkle with the spice mixture. Toss to combine. Add more spices if desired. Garnish with parsley and serve.
If you’re looking for a twist on boring old oatmeal, give this recipe a try. You can make it on the weekend and reheat individual portions for breakfast throughout the week. It is made with whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats, and is completely plant-based and low in added sugar, yet tastes like carrot cake! It’s crispy on the top, tender on the inside, and contains a variety of other textures from the crunchy nuts and chewy raisins.
Each serving has only 1 1/2 teaspoons added sugar, less than most flavored oatmeal packets. The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 10% of calories from added sugar, which is about 12 teaspoons on a 2,000 calorie diet. However, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men.
Recipe adapted from dietitian and cookbook author Ellie Krieger’s recipe.
This is an updated post from last year. There are a few new recipes that were too good not to include this year, so they are shown below with their photo next to the recipe name. It’s now 25 recipes + 6 bonus recipes to share during the big game. For those with special needs or tastes, many recipes are:
This recipe is from Chocolate Covered Katie, a healthier dessert blog. It is very easy to make, and quick because there is no baking involved. It tastes like a rich chocolate cream pie, but is made with a vegetable (pumpkin) instead of cream, making this recipe lower in saturated fat, higher in beneficial nutrients, and can also be made vegan/dairy-free! This recipe can be made gluten-free if you skip the pie crust, making it into more of a mousse, or making your own pie crust with a nut base. I found that the mixture has a stronger pumpkin taste at first, but tastes more just like a chocolate pie after chilling for one day.
If you’re highly motivated, you can make this pie with fresh, homemade pumpkin puree. If not, use canned. You may find that certain brands, especially organic brands, have a different taste from the canned pumpkin with which you are more familiar. That is because canned pumpkin can be made with different blends of pumpkin and other squash. This may be off-putting, but again, this pie seems to lose the strong pumpkin flavor after one day.
You may find pumpkin in an aseptic carton (brand name Tetra Pak) rather than a can. Please note that these cartons are not recyclable in all areas, so check here to find out if these shelf-stable cartons can be recycled where you live.
It tastes like a rich chocolate cream pie, but is made with a vegetable (pumpkin) instead of cream! This makes the pie much lower in saturated fat and higher in nutrients, and also can be made vegan
1 cup dark chocolate chips (look for dairy-free/vegan if making for a crowd with vegans or milk allergies)
1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 can (not pumpkin pie mix))
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
16 drops liquid stevia (or replace with a little extra sugar to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 store-bought pie crust
Melt chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, heating for 30 seconds at a time and stirring, repeating until just melted.
Place pumpkin, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt in food processor and puree. Add melted chocolate and puree until very smooth. You can taste the mixture at this point and add a little more sugar if necessary.
Pour pumpkin mixture into pie crust and use a spatula to smooth it out. Refrigerate until firm, at least 4-6 hours. This pie seems to taste more like a chocolate cream pie and has less pumpkin flavor after being refrigerated for one day, which you may consider a good thing! Serve chilled.
Shown in a whole grain pie crust, which you may be lucky enough to find at your grocery store!
Thanksgiving dinner is a special meal, and the thought of healthy dishes at this meal probably offends some people. So, here are some tasty somewhat traditional recipes that just happen to be healthy, but don’t tell anyone!
Ways to Use Leftovers
If you’re cooking pumpkin or any other kind of winter squash, save the seeds! Clean and dry them, then try one of the two recipes below.
If you have ham at Thanksgiving or other holidays, you can make a hearty soup out of the ham once most of the meat is eaten.
Leftover veggies? Chop them up and use them in an omelet, or an omelet muffin!
You can also toss leftover veggies into cauliflower fried “rice.”
This unbelievably simple ice cream alternative mostly consists of one ingredient – bananas! You can also add a little vanilla extract for even better flavor. It tastes best when whipped up fresh because it will be smooth, creamy, and light. Feel free to add other flavors as desired – peanut butter, chocolate, etc.
Make your own no-sugar-added, vegan, dairy-free "ice cream" with just bananas and vanilla extract.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or to taste)
Peel the bananas and slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Freeze on a plate or cookie sheet in a single layer for at least 1 hour. You can also use parchment paper to prevent sticking.
Allow banana slices to thaw a bit, about 15 minutes at room temperature. Puree in a food processor with vanilla extract, pulsing a few times to start, for several minutes, until smooth and whipped. Serve immediately as "soft serve" or freeze and scoop it out later.