4 Healthier Takes On Our Favorite Holiday Treats

By: Allison Henriques.

The holidays are a time for family, celebration, and perhaps some over-indulgence. From the very first signs of fall to New Year’s day, we are bombarded by tricks and treats, Friendsgiving, family get-togethers, and holiday parties. Needless to say, it can be hard to keep our eyes (and hands) away from all the goodies that the holidays have to offer.

So we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite treats that are devoid of the things that bother us and our bodies the most, making your indulgence that much sweeter. We have something for everyone! Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and vegan recipes are all included. And keep in mind that all the recipes can be modified to fit your dietary needs and restrictions.

Cranberry Orange Bark

(adapted from Food Network)

gluten-free | dairy-free | vegan


  • 3 c vegan dark chocolate chips
  • ½ c slivered almonds, toasted until golden brown
  • ½ c dried cranberries
  • Zest from 1 orange


  1. Line a 13 by 9-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Melt chocolate morsels in a double boiler over low heat. While chocolate is melting, mix almonds, cranberries, and orange zest. Reserve a small portion of the mixture, about ¼ cup.
  3. Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the cranberry mixture, keeping aside the reserved portion. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer. While chocolate is still warm, sprinkle on the remaining mixture and gently press into the chocolate.
  4. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until hard, at least 1 hour. Use a knife to break up the chocolate into jagged, varied sized bars.

Gingerbread Men

© Gluten Free on a Shoestring

(by Gluten Free on a Shoestring)



  • 1 ½ c all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • ¾ t xanthan gum (skip if your blend already contains it)
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 ½ t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • ¼ t kosher salt
  • ½ c packed light brown sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 T molasses (unsulfured)
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 egg, at room temperature, beaten
  • ½ t pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum (if using), baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar and whisk again to combine, working out any lumps. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, molasses, honey, egg, and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will be thick and sticky.
  3. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of unbleached parchment paper, cover with another sheet of parchment and roll into a rectangle about 3/8-inch thick (more than 1/4-inch, less than 1/2-inch). If you are concerned that the dough will be difficult to handle, place it in the refrigerator or freezer after you roll it out to allow it to firm up. Pull back the top sheet of parchment paper, dip a gingerbread man cutter in all-purpose gluten-free flour or cornstarch, and use it to cut out shapes from the cookie dough. With each cut, jiggle the cutter back and forth to create a neat shape. Place the dough on a flat, portable surface like a cutting board and place in the freezer until firm (about 10 minutes).
  4. Once the dough has chilled, peel back the rest of the dough from around the cut-outs and gather the scraps. Then carefully peel off the cut-out shapes and place them, about 1 1/2-inches apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat the process with the remaining dough until you have used it all.
  5. Place the cut-outs on the baking sheets in the refrigerator or freezer until firm (about 20 minutes in the refrigerator, or just 5 minutes in the freezer). This will help them keep their shape during baking. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until just set for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheets. Decorate the completely cooled cookies with royal icing, if desired. Allow the icing to set for 24 hours before stacking the cookies.

Vegan Coconut “Snowball” Cookies

(by Minimalist Baker)

gluten-free | dairy-free | vegan | nut-free


  • 3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 ½ T coconut oil
  • 3 T maple syrup
  • 1 ½ T aquafaba (chickpea liquid) or 1 egg white
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ½ t vanilla extract
  • 1 T cornstarch


    1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Add coconut flakes to a food processor and blend for about 1 minute or a little more, until the coconut flakes start clumping together. When you squeeze some of the coconut in between your fingers, it should stick together like a gritty, loose dough (similar to wet sand).
    3. Add coconut oil, maple syrup, aquafaba, salt, and vanilla and mix for 20 seconds to combine. Add cornstarch and pulse several times to combine until a wet dough has formed.
    4. Scoop out into 1 ½ Tbsp mounds and gently transfer onto your parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving a little room in between each cookie. They can be gentle, so scooping directly from the bowl and placing on the parchment without any additional handling is ideal.
    5. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden brown and bottoms appear golden brown. They should puff up a little while baking, too. Be careful not to burn the undersides.
    6. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes, then gently transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. For an optional kick of flavor, you could also dip or drizzle these in dark chocolate.
    7. These cookies are best enjoyed at room temperature. Cover the leftovers, and store at room temperature for 4-5 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month.

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

© Oh She Glows

(adapted from Oh She Glows)

gluten-free | vegan


  • 1 ⅓ C raw almonds, processed into almond meal (about 1 ½ c almond meal)
  • ¼ c brown rice flour
  • 2 T ground flax
  • ¼ t + ⅛ t fine grain sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ c raw almond butter
  • ¼ c + 3T maple syrup (look for Grade A dark color robust taste)
  • ½ t almond extract
  • 5-6 T raspberry jam
  • Approximately ⅓ c shredded coconut for rolling cookies


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a large baking sheet with oil, line with parchment paper, or use a Silpat mat.
  2. If making almond meal, place raw almonds into a food processor. Process on high speed until fine crumb forms, making sure not to grind too long or the oils will release and make a butter-like substance. Alternatively, you can use store-bought almond meal.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (almond meal, rice flour, ground flax, salt, and baking powder). Use your fingers to break up any clumps of the almond meal. In a smaller bowl, mix the almond butter, maple syrup, and almond extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until fully combined.
  4. Shape dough into balls (about 1.5 tbsp or so). If the dough is too sticky, place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up.
  5. Roll balls in coconut. Place balls of dough about 1.5-2 inches apart on the baking sheet. With your thumb, press into the middle of the ball and shape a small well with your fingers. Add 1 tsp of jam into each well.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, watching closely after 9 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

We hope you enjoy these and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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