Do I have any healthy dessert options for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Rebekah Pizana
Nutrition & Dietetics

Pies, puddings, cakes, strudels, cookies, candy, so many of our traditional desserts for Thanksgiving and Christmas are high in saturated fats, sugars, and white flour. If you simply want to make a lighter dessert and do not have serious health problems or allergies, consider taking your normal pie recipe and substitute ingredients.

Believe it or not apple pie can be a light dessert. Use organic agave in place of brown sugar, replace your white flour with almond or whole wheat flour, get fresh fruit instead of frozen fruit and only add half the amount of sugar your recipe calls for. Replace butter with olive oil or cut your butter in half, in place of two sticks of butter, use one stick and add 1/2 a cup of unsweetened applesauce. Use chia seeds in place of eggs, two tablespoons of chia with one tablespoon of cold water equals one egg. Also consider using egg whites in place of whole eggs, two egg whites equal one egg.

Cinnamon has many health benefits, so add more. I have found that I can eat just about anything during the holidays if my portions are small, about a 1/4 of the average dessert serving size. I exercise as much as I am able to and consume a good balance of raw foods and green leafy vegetables. Make big salads to go with your turkey and sweet potatoes.

There are varying opinions from health experts on whether you should allow a small amount of cheating in your diet for the holidays. I do not consider small portions cheating, just do not consume more than what your body needs. I do not drink soda, spread butter on my bread, or add more salt to my food, but I do love a good apple pie. Most people will agree, consuming large portions and eating too much of one particular food is the main cause of most of our health problems in America.

In Italy, the average woman is slender, that is because most Italians walk everywhere, even in a country with an abundance of gelato, cheese, salami, wine, and olive oil, most people eat small portions and stay active everyday. So do not be afraid to have your sweets in moderation, but also consider substituting ingredients. You might find that you create the best apple pie you have ever had.

Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics

The Website: has an "Impossible Pumpkin Pie" recipe that can be modified by using evaporated skim milk, Splenda, tub margarine, egg substitute and whole wheat flour (substitute equal amounts). This would make a healthy Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert.

Another substitute: Low-fat cream cheese instead of cream cheese in cheesecake tarts.

Cobblers and Crisps tend to have a lower fat content than a two crust pie so they would be a better option as compared to pie.

Ambrosia can be made with light sour cream.

Applesauce can be substituted for oil in banana and pumpkin breads.



Cindy Gay
Nutrition & Dietetics
Make pumpkin pie in a graham cracker crust (the reduced fat kind). Use evaporated skim milk for the canned milk. Use only a dash of salt and cut the sugar by 1/3. Skip the whipped topping or garnish with 1 or 2 Tbsp.
Manuel Villacorta
Nutrition & Dietetics

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too! Just be aware of what you are consuming.

We often eat out of our home during the holiday season (whether it be at a friend/family members home or a restaurant) and we are not aware of the ingredients in our food. 

Check out this great Eating Free blog, Eat More Not Less: Apple or Pecan Pie?, to view a simple chart of holiday desserts. You will be able to easily navigate the chart to see the amount of calories and freebies that are commonly found in traditional desserts. 

View here:

This chart will allow you to make healthy dessert choices. Enjoy!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.