Bake it Better: Healthier Alternatives to Christmas Treats

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us are already planning delicious meals and tasty Christmas treats, but is there a way we can still indulge without sacrificing our commitment to health? In this article, we’ll discover some of the best (and most delicious) healthy Christmas baking ideas, including recipes for vegan, gluten-free, and paleo diets.

Key takeaways:

Can you have a healthy Christmas?

While traditional Christmas recipes and healthy eating may not seem to go hand-in-hand, it is absolutely possible to have a healthy Christmas without forgoing the enticing flavors of your favorite holiday treats.

However, with so many of us on different diets, it can feel almost impossible to make something tasty, healthy, and diet-friendly that everyone can eat. But, with a sprinkling of creativity and a dash of guidance, you can whip up some festive delights that will have your and everyone else's taste buds tingling—no matter their dietary requirements.

Gluten-free Christmas baking and snack recipes

In this section, you’ll find some of our tried and tested recipes for healthy, sweet and savory, and gluten-free Christmas baking.

Gluten free mince pies

It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without mince pies, and so often, our gluten-free friends and family have to miss out on these classic treats due to the gluten content. These delectable mince pies are made with gluten-free flour, perfect for celiacs or those with an intolerance.

Sweet or savory: Sweet

Serves: 6 mince pies

Time: 45mins

You will need:

  • 200g gf mincemeat
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 210 g gluten-free flour
  • ¾ tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 105 g unsalted butter
  • 1-2 tsp water

Method:

  1. Sift the flour, xanthan gum and sugar into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Grate the chilled butter into the bowl, lightly mix until butter strands are covered in flour.
  3. Mix with your hands until you have a breadcrumb-like texture.
  4. Beat the egg and add it to the mixture and stir.
  5. Add in 1-2 tbsp of water and mix until you have a nice ball of dough.
  6. Press the dough between two pieces of greaseproof paper and refrigerate for 30 mins
  7. Heat the oven to 180°C
  8. Place cling film onto a clean kitchen surface, dust with gf flour, and place dough on the surface
  9. Roll the dough with a rolling pin to around 3mm thick and cut into circles using a 10 cm circle cutter
  10. Grease a muffin tray and place the dough circles into the holes, covering the bottom and sides
  11. Divide the mincemeat into the cases
  12. To make the covers, use the remaining pastry to cut out little stars and place on top of your cases
  13. Bake for 25 mins and once done leave to cool for 10 mins and enjoy!

Gluten-free Christmas grazing board

There is something about Christmas that makes us want to graze and nibble almost constantly, and you shouldn't feel bad about nourishing your body. However, you can be more mindful about your food choices by making a nutritious foods easier to access. Try this healthy, gluten-free Christmas grazing board to keep your need for nibbles satisfied and your health goals intact.

Sweet or savory: Savory

Serves: 10

Time: 20 mins

You will need:

  • A bunch of red and green grapes
  • A selection of rice and oat crackers, home-baked or store-bought
  • 2 avocados
  • 5 large tomatoes
  • 5 stalks of celery
  • 5 large carrots
  • 1 pot of hummus
  • 250 g gouda cheese
  • 250 g goats cheese
  • Optional: sliced ham and salami

Method:

  1. Grab a large wooden serving board or platter
  2. Remove all ingredients from packaging
  3. Divide grapes into four and place at the corners of the board
  4. Create 4 piles of gf oat and rice crackers and place them beside the grapes
  5. Divide the hummus into two smaller serving bowls and place in the middle of the platter
  6. Slice carrots and celery into chunks lengthways
  7. Remove the skin and stones of the avocados and slice lengthways
  8. Cut the cheese into chunks
  9. Slice the tomatoes
  10. Roll up the ham and salami if you have it
  11. Arrange all the ingredients on the platter in an attractive manner
  12. Place the finished arrangement on a side table and invite people to graze!
Top Tip
You can make this dish vegan by substituting the meat and cheese for vegan alternatives.

Paleo-diet friendly Christmas baking ideas

If you or anyone in your friendship or family circle is on a paleo diet, help them feel included in the holiday feasting by preparing these delicious, healthy Christmas recipes that they (and everyone else) can enjoy freely.

Crispy paleo ginger snap biscuits

Sweet and healthy paleo Christmas treats are hard to come by in stores, so you’ll have to get creative and bake your own. These ginger snaps have that festive, spicy flavour and are perfect for post-dinner nibbles while you play Christmas games.

Sweet or savory: Sweet

Serves: 24 cookies

Time: 35 mins

You will need:

  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups almond flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the coconut oil, coconut sugar, and molasses until smooth and creamy.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla until completely smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl mix your almond flour, tapioca, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, and salt.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients bowl and stir until you have a thick dough.
  6. Pop the dough to chill in the refrigerator for 30 mins.
  7. Once chilled, roll one-inch dough balls and place them on your baking tray.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes until they are browned on top.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes then serve and enjoy warm cookies!

Christmas paleo dinner rolls

For your grain-free paleo diet pals or family members, having something similar to a tasty, crusty bread roll at the Christmas table is such a treat. These are perfect for mopping up gravy or filling with leftovers like turkey and cranberry sauce.

Sweet or savory: Savoury

Serves: 8 rolls

Time: 45 mins

You will need:

  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup coconut flour
  • ½ tsp dried sage
  • ½ tsp dried thyme

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix together the tapioca, salt, herbs, and coconut flour.
  3. Add the water, oil, and beaten egg and mix well.
  4. Coat your hands with a little tapioca flour.
  5. Roll the batter into balls and place on a pre-greased baking tray.
  6. Bake for 30 mins until golden.
  7. Serve warm and delicious!
Top Tip
Serve with garlic and parsley butter for an extra dollop of deliciousness.

Healthy vegan Christmas baking recipes

You can make Christmas more inclusive for people following a vegan diet by adding vegan-friendly options to your menu. These foods should be 100% plant-based, with zero dairy or animal by-products such as egg and butter. By serving these options, your vegan friends and family will feel loved and included in your holiday feasting.

Vegan shortbread cookies

These delicious little parcels of sweetness use only four ingredients that you may already have in your pantry, and they are very easy to make. Vegans and non-vegans alike will find these shortbreads highly appetizing, and they are small and pair well with hot tea.

Sweet or savory: Sweet

Serves: 20 cookies

Time: 40 mins

You will need:

  • 1 cup of fine cane sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 cups of room-temperature vegan butter
  • 4 ½ cups of plain flour
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the vegan butter in a large bowl until it’s fluffy.
  3. Add the sugar and keep beating.
  4. Sift in the flour and mix in the vanilla extract by kneading with your hands.
  5. Pop the dough into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Once cooled roll it out to around 4 mm thick and cut into star shapes.
  7. Place on the baking tray and bake for 20 minute until they are lightly browned.
  8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve!

Baked crispy vegan scalloped potatoes

Vegan side dishes on the Christmas dinner table needn't be boring or unhealthy. This delicious and nutritious recipe uses almond milk and nutritional yeast which are both vegan alternatives to dairy milk and parmesan cheese.

Sweet or savory: Savory

Serves: 4-6 side servings

Time: 1 hr 10 mins

You will need:

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt and pepper
  • 2 ½ tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups plain almond milk
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • A small pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 5 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 thinly sliced medium gold potatoes
  • A handful of fresh parsley

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Sauteé the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper until golden brown.
  3. Add cornstarch and whisk into the mix.
  4. Add the almond milk slowly whilst whisking.
  5. Add the vegetable broth while whisking.
  6. Turn down the heat and keep stirring while the mixture thickens.
  7. Once thickened take the pan off the heat and add the sauce to a blender.
  8. Add the nutmeg and nutritional yeast plus a pinch more salt to taste and blend.
  9. Grease a baking dish and lay the potatoes flat in it making layers.
  10. Pour over the sauce making sure all the potatoes are submerged.
  11. Cover with foil and cook for 20 mins then remove foil and bake for another 40 mins.
  12. The potatoes should look brown on top when ready.
  13. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before garnishing with parsley and serving with your main dish.
Top Tip
Add a pinch of smoked paprika to the sauce before pouring onto the potatoes for a more smokey, festive flavour.

Despite Christmas being a traditionally glutinous time, you can, in fact, choose to be healthier by enjoying treats in moderation. Investing time to home-bake your holiday sweet and savory treats means you know exactly what’s in your food, and that can make a world of difference to your aims for a more health-conscious Christmas.



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