Healthy Holiday Recipes for Cookies, Candies & Nuts!

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore

What better gift is there than homemade baked goods for the holidays. My mother would start baking on the first of December. She would then freeze what was made in preparation for the gift bags she put together for neighbors, friends & family. I also think she froze them to keep me, my brothers & father from eating them all 🙂

Most people are trying their best to make it through the season without indulging too much. It is difficult when the chemo room has trays of treats brought in for the health care staff & the patients. I have found some healthier versions of holiday cookies, nuts & candies that are vegan, gluten free & don’t use cane sugar. I will share my tried & true favorites & links to others.

Holiday Cookies don’t have to be laden with cane sugar. This is a recipe that I have used a great deal & everyone loves it.

MUESLI BREAKFAST COOKIES  Melissa King at My Whole Foods Life

Yields 24, 5 min Prep Time, 10 min Cook Time, 15 min Total Time


  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Muesli or your favorite.
  • 2 mashed bananas (about medium sized)
  • 3/4 cup nut butter of choice (sunflower butter can also be used)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the mashed banana and nut butter.
  3. Then add the cinnamon and muesli.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, drop cookies onto a lined baking sheet.
  6. The batter will be sticky. Use your palm to press each cookie down slightly.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Let cool completely before removing from the baking sheet and storing in an airtight container.

Notes: These should last at least 2 weeks in the fridge. They can also be frozen up to 6 months. Enjoy!

Here is another of my favorites. You may remember this slide from my nutrition talks. You can add any ingredient you want: nuts, chopped fruit, shredded coconut etc. Be creative! These can be frozen.

Easy Healthy Oatmeal Cookie

Another one you may like to try is from the Minimalist Baker: 5 Ingredient Vegan Gluten Free Cookies  : “Sometimes you want a cookie. But sometimes you want that cookie to be healthy. And  sometimes you don’t want that cookie to annihilate your kitchen with flour and dishes. Guess what, these are those cookies! And they so tassssttttyyyyy.”

Vegan Sugar Free Trailmix Oatmeal Cookies from iFoodReal When I say sugar free I mean no sugar – no maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar. No low glycemic healthier sugars. Just naturally occurring sugars in bananas and dried fruits.” The blogger, Olena, calls her dishes “clean eating recipes”. I was impressed, check it out.

Get your holiday cookie cutters out for this healthier version of the sugar cookie. GLUTEN-FREE VEGAN VANILLA CUT-OUT COOKIES {REFINED SUGAR-FREE} from the Unconventional Baker. “This basic gluten-free vegan vanilla cut-out cookies recipe is super easy to make and is perfect for gifting and holiday cookie swaps. It’s one of my favorite cut-out recipes as it can be made and ready within half an hour {no chilling required} and it’s a very sturdy and easy to work with dough that will get you nicely shaped {and tasty} cookies every time!” 

Ginger Bread Men! Yes, even they can be healthier 🙂 Healthy Ginger Bread Men from Pheebs Foods. “This recipe does not involve any processed sugar which is fantastic as I’m sure we will all be consuming our fair share over the next month! Instead I have used pure maple syrup and molasses to sweeten and flavour these cookies. Molasses are actually the waste product produced when manufacturing white sugar. It has a dark almost caramel like flavour and as long as you are purchasing the correct type, it is low GI and nutrient dense!” She uses Almond meal rather than flour. 

This cut out recipe is from the Unconventional Baker. It is called the Ginger Fox Cookie, but you can use a holiday cookie cutter just as easily.

A gift that I like giving during the holiday season is a bag of spicy mixed nuts. I used to make Praline Pecans but they have a ton of cane sugar in them. I like this recipe because you can omit the sweetener or leave it in depending on what you had in mind taste wise. 


Serves: 5 cups……PREP TIME COOK TIME 10 mins, TOTAL TIME 15 mins


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • ÂĽ cup rosemary
  • ÂĽ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup for vegan version) You could cut the amount to 1 Tbsp or omit. 
  • 5 cups mixed nuts (I bought roasted and salted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat oil on a pan. Add shallots and garlic and cook until golden (about 5 min).
  3. Meanwhile, combine rosemary and spices.
  4. Once shallots are done, add shallots, spices, honey and nuts into a bowl (or on a baking sheet to save yourself a dish). Mix well and bake about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Let cool and serve.

 Notes: You may need to add more salt depending on how salted your nuts are. Mine were reduced salt so I ended up adding a bit more after they were baked. Thanks to my dear friend Lindsey for the inspiration for this recipe

I haven’t tried this one. It looks good though & would be a nice high protein snack food. Paleo Spiced Nuts from Elena’s Pantry….see my note about Elena under resources at the end of the post.


  • â…” cup almonds
  • â…” cup pecans
  • â…” cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • Place nuts in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat
  • Toast until lightly browned
  • While nuts are toasting, prepare spice mixture
  • Combine chili, cumin, black pepper and salt in a small bowl
  • Coat nuts with olive oil, then coat with spice mixture Toss with the olive oil in the pan by shaking it & stirring with a chop stick. It will coat them evenly. I would start with a teaspoon of oil & add the rest as needed. Then toss again with the spices.
  • Serve

Candies that are easy & healthy. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles Recipe from Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine: “Peanut butter and dark chocolate make a delicious pair in this healthy snack. Chopped pretzels give this sweet and salty treat a yummy crunch.” …….Yield: 20 truffles Love making these!


  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter Could also use almond or cashew butter. I like chunky peanut butter.
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pretzels I use Newman’s Own Pretzel Sticks, easy to chop.
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


  • Line a baking sheet with wax paper. I like parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter and pretzels. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.
  • Roll the mixture into 20 balls (about 1 teaspoon each). Place on the baking sheet and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until very firm.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave for 20-second intervals until chocolate is melted. I use a double boiler to melt the chocolate.
  • Roll the peanut butter balls in the melted chocolate and place back on baking sheet. Freeze until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
  • Keep frozen until serving. Truffles can be stored in an airtight container, frozen, for up to 2 weeks.

Dark Chocolate Made with Coconut Oil From Nutritionist, Sara Vance. Homemade dark chocolate is one of the easiest things to make, this recipe has only 5 ingredients and is ready in no time.”  

I omitted the brand names in this recipe. You can go to the original recipe to see them. I have used this recipe many times for pot lucks. I just asked the hostess to leave them in the freezer until it was time to serve the desert. They don’t melt that fast, so they can be put on the table. 

  • 1 cup of cacao powder
  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of raw agave nectar I used honey.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of  sea salt

Melt the coconut oil (I like to use a double boiler on simmer), allow to cool just slightly, then put all ingredients into a bowl – whisk together to combine well. Pour into a mold (I like the Tovolo ice cube molds), and put in freezer. They should be ready in 15 mins!!  When I bake with melted coconut oil, I measure it into an oven safe bowl and place it in the oven as it preheats. Does not take long to melt. Last time I made these I put them into a glass pan to freeze & then cut them into squares. You can add chopped nuts &/or coconut too.

They taste a little like a Mounds candy bar. This recipe has to come with a warning– you will find it hard to buy dark chocolate at the store ever again after trying this! Best kept stored in freezer. She isn’t kidding 🙂

Believe me, the nurses will thank you for these healthier cookies, nuts & candies. Your family & friends will too. Enjoy….Mary 🙂