Holiday gatherings may be limited in size this year, but we still carry on with our traditions. For many, the approaching holidays can bring feelings of dread and guilt about holiday weight gain. Is it possible to enjoy the holidays without adding another few inches to your waistline? Yes, but it starts with you. You can’t control what others serve, but you can control how much you indulge. In addition, you control the goodies that you prepare and offer to your family members and others. Instead of the usual calorie-packed recipes, go for healthier holiday goodie alternatives.

Just because healthier holiday goodies are better for you than their traditional counterparts doesn’t mean that they can’t be delicious and festive. With a little creativity in the kitchen, you may spark your own new traditions.

Fruit and chocolate

Healthy Holiday Goodies - Dark Chocolate for DippingYou can’t go wrong with fruit as a healthy alternative to candy. Add in some quality dark chocolate and you have a dream come true. Oranges, tangerines, strawberries, cherries, and pears are wonderful fruits that pair well with chocolate. In addition, tangerines, oranges, and pears are traditional fruits this time of the year.

All you need is wax paper, clean dry fruit, and meltable dark chocolate. Make sure the fruit is dry so that the chocolate adheres to it. Melt the chocolate and dip away! Orange slices, whole strawberries, pitted cherries (or maraschino cherries) are delightful and gorgeous when dipped in chocolate. The pears will brown when sliced and are not suited for dipping.

The chocolate will harden though you can speed the process by placing the items in the refrigerator or freezer. For an added touch of festivity, melt some white chocolate, add red or green food coloring, and drizzle across the chocolate dipped fruit.

Fruit and cheese

Healthier Goodies- Fruit and Cheese PlattersSet out a platter of good quality cheese and whole wheat, baked crackers. Instead of serving with sliced sausage, include sliced apples or pears. The combination of these flavors is delicious with a nice texture to boot.

If you want to serve up a classic cheese log rolled in nuts, substitute Neufchatel cheese for the cream cheese, which cuts out much of the fat and calories. Again, serve plenty of fruit alongside. The fruit adds visual appeal, tastes delicious, and helps fill up your guests with a healthier alternative.

Veggies, veggies, and more veggies

Hummus PlattersRaw veggies and dip sound boring, but they don’t need to be. First, start with the dip. Who says you must use a sour cream or mayonnaise-based dip? What about hummus? Make your own and serve with baked pita chips, warm bread, or raw veggies. Simply whirl a can of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), a clove or two of garlic, a teaspoon or two of olive oil, and a little salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. If you’re more adventurous in the kitchen, experiment with seasonings such as cumin or curry powder for different flavors.

Other goodies

Healthier Goodies- Dark Chocolate PretzelsGet a bag of large pretzel rods, meltable chocolate, and candy canes. Crush the candy canes, melt the chocolate, and dip and roll! These chocolate dipped pretzel rods are gorgeous with their candy cane sprinkle – and delicious. Sure, they have a few calories, but far fewer than the average gingerbread boy or sugar cookie.

Drizzle melted chocolate across graham crackers and add a sprinkling of colored sugar crystals while the chocolate is still melted. Not only are these pretty and festive, but they also have fewer calories than home-baked cookies and fudge. Also, substitute graham cracker crusts for shortening-rich traditional pie crusts when baking pies.

For a festive dessert, try a guilt-free parfait by using sugar-free gelatin, loads of sliced fruit, and fat-free whipped cream. No matter what you’re baking, use the lower-calorie, lower-fat alternatives such as low-fat cream cheese, low-fat evaporated milk, and fat-free whipped cream.

Once you start understanding that there are healthier alternatives to the traditional, you’ll be on your way toward dreaming up your own healthier holiday goodies!