5 Festive Recipe Ideas for the Holidays
America enjoys a rich historical tradition associated with the holiday season—especially Thanksgiving. This highly celebrated holiday was originated by Pilgrims in 1691 after their first harvest in the new world. That legendary first fall harvest was associated with great abundance, bridging the cultural gap between newly arrived European settlers and Native Americans in an ultimate gesture of goodwill.
Time has done nothing to diminish this tradition. In 21st century America, Thanksgiving remains one of the most widely celebrated holidays and busiest travel days of the year. Families and friends come together to rejoice in holiday spirits, partake in culinary delights, and herald the arrival of winter—a season universally renowned for its aromatic pleasures and frosty, festive air.
Although traditional, sugar-laden holiday recipes are known for packing on pounds and inspiring constant cravings, new, vegan and gluten-free options are emerging that offer the same decadence without the excessive calories and guilt. All of the traditionally cherished holiday ingredients like apple, maple syrup, pumpkin, and pecans are available in cookies, pies, bars, and crisps that are as mouth-watering as they are health-conscious. The following recipe ideas are primed for the holiday season and eagerly await your enjoyment:
- Paleo Chocolate Ginger Bars—gingerbread is a warm, spicy flavor synonymous with the holiday season. Not only is gingerbread divinely scented and delicious, it boasts a number of health benefits. Instead of conventional processed ingredients like sugar and white flour, plant-based substitutes like pumpkin puree, apple sauce, flax seeds and almond butter are used as healthy alternatives—and with tongue tantalizing effect. By adding just a handful of chocolate chips, or sprinkling on a few tablespoons of natural sweetener such as raw honey or stevia, paleo chocolate ginger bars are sure to delight your taste buds and please your guests.
- Guilt-Free Snickers Pie—Snicker’s bars are universally prized for their ultra-satisfying texture and delicious flavor. Unfortunately, they are also full of fat and loaded with sugar—ballooning bellies as quickly as they decay teeth. A great alternative to standard Snicker’s pie uses 100 percent whole, natural ingredients including Medjool dates combined with coconut and mixed nuts. Although this vegan-inspired alternative is still calorie-packed, it is much healthier and will not sideline your holiday plans with belly-bloat or a post-holiday-party energy crash.
- Vegan Apple Crisp Delight—apple crisps are great, long-trusted alternatives to fatty, sugary apple pie. Although conventional apple pie has certain health benefits associated with the soft-fruit based filling, the crust itself is extremely unhealthy—a double whammy of sugar and fat devoid of nutritional value. In this increasingly popular option, sliced, slightly sweetened apples are baked to perfection then topped with a hearty mix of oats, coconut, mixed nuts. Depending upon your individual preference, coconut oil and maple syrup add an extra dimension of succulence. For apple pie a-la-mode, simply add a scoop of vanilla or banana ice cream and enjoy. Flavors of the fall don’t come any finer!
- Almond Butter Oatmeal cookies—any Thanksgiving dinner or holiday party is incomplete without the presence of cookies. Within the past decade or two, vegan- inspired, gluten-free cookie options have taken the culinary world by storm, replacing refined white flour and butter-based staples with imaginative, natural alternatives. Almond butter oatmeal cookies maintain the same delicious texture and flavor as traditional recipes, but replace the processed, inflammatory ingredients with natural oats (gluten-free if you prefer), almond flour, and almond butter. The end result is a chewy, semi-sweet delight that will leave your mouth hungry for seconds.
- Crustless Pumpkin Pie Pudding—the majestic, flavor-rich pumpkin is a visual and culinary symbol of fall. Beginning with hand-carved jack-o-lanterns and sprawling pumpkin patches at Halloween, this bulging member of the squash family lends itself to an impressive variety of holiday flavors and decorations. By replacing store-bought pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin with gluten-free alternatives that use natural sweeteners, and skipping the crust, you can enjoy this timeless treat without having to worry about slipping into a sugar-induced coma.