3 Healthy Holiday Treats

Holidays are filled with cheer and family and… sugar. While I am certainly not planning on cutting out every last piece of pie or skipping peppermint hot cocoa all together, it is good to change things up with some healthy options that still feel festive. These first two ideas are so simple they take the stress out of holiday “cooking.”

1. Watermelon “Cookies”

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Change up your yearly cookie decorating with some cute watermelon cutouts. Decorate liberally with mint for an unbelievably awesome combination of flavor.

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2. Yogurt Desserts

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Make a festive dessert with yogurt as a base. I like plain whole milk yogurt since it doesn’t have added sugar. But feel free to use vanilla yogurt and/or sweeten with a little honey. A cherry and mint topping gives it some holiday flair.

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3. Cranberry Goat Cheese Spring Rolls with Spinach and Sweet Potatoes

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If you want to get a little more invested in a party appetizer, try these Spring Rolls. The combination of sweet cranberries with herbed goat cheese and spinach is rounded out by a hearty sweet potato.

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Pumpkin Spice Mango Yogurt Pudding

My sister, Christine recently sent me a recipe for a pumpkin smoothie with a banana and Greek yogurt base. This reminded me of a mango sweet potato smoothie I used to make with yogurt. I set out to fuse these recipes into a pumpkin spice mango smoothie and the result was so deliciously creamy that I ate it with a spoon and decided to call it pudding. Get your pumpkin spice fill with this rich pudding that is delicious enough to be a dessert and healthy enough to eat for breakfast.

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Ingredients:

makes 2 servings (It is pretty thick, so I do not recommend doubling as it may not blend properly. If you have a crowd, just make it in batches.)

  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt (you can sub in low-fat yogurt, but you will lose some of the richness)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use up to 3 tablespoons if you want it really sweet or go without if you are trying to cut out sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

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Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in Vitamix and blend. You might have better luck starting on a low variable speed and gradually increasing to high speed.

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Strawberry Peach Cheesecake Brownies

Yes, you read that right: strawberry peach cheesecake brownies. I know it’s a lot of calories, but this is a decision you won’t regret. Imagine taking a cheesecake topped with fresh ripe peaches and smashing it into a pan of brownies. Then add strawberries just to make it a little extra pretty. Now imagine it’s still warm from the oven. Now imagine that this recipe isn’t really much harder than whipping up a pan of brownies from scratch. Okay, that is enough temptation. As a side note, this is a great way to use up strawberries that are still edible, but slightly past their prime.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (1 for the cheesecake part, 1 for the brownie mix)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (if you don’t want an intense cocoa flavor, use only 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced (reserve half for topping)
  • 1 fresh peach, sliced thinly (reserve half for topping)

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9 inch pie plate or 8×8 baking dish.
  2. Mix 1 egg, cream cheese, and vanilla together then slowly add powdered sugar until fully mixed and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, melt butter and combine with 1 egg and sugar.
  4. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and salt.
  5. Mix half of strawberries and peaches into chocolate mix and pour into baking dish.
  6. Pour cream cheese mix over chocolate mix and and partially mix with a spoon or knife.
  7. Lay remaining fruit slices on top and bake for about 40 minutes.

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Snickerdoodle Cake with Butter Maple Glaze and Pecans

I have two confessions to make about this snickerdoodle cake recipe. First, I have never make a snickerdoodle cookie and I am not sure how related or unrelated this cake recipe might be to the original. But when I tasted it, my first thought was snickerdoodle! In my brief research before writing this post to make sure I wasn’t too crazy for making a snickerdoodle cake, I saw that coffee creamer and even body wash can labelled snickerdoodle flavor. So cake didn’t seem like such a big stretch. My second confession is that I ate half this recipe in one sitting. I set out to write a romantic post about cake for two and as I added ingredients, it got a little bigger than I had originally planned. I still cooked it in two Pyrex baking dishes, and we still ate it all even though it probably would have more appropriately served 4 people. But if you need a good double date recipe, I’ve got you covered. Or you can follow our example and just eat a really big serving of dessert.

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Ingredients:

serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (I used plain whole milk yogurt, but any kind should work)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (please use real syrup, fake syrup is so disgusting)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • pecans if desired

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease 2 small Pyrex baking dishes or one medium loaf pan.
  2. Melt butter and cream cheese in microwave and mix (cream cheese won’t melt all the way, but stir it up to make sure there are no big chunks.
  3. Add mixture to egg, yogurt, and vanilla and stir together.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon and stir into wet ingredients.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Combine all glaze ingredients and cook in saucepan on medium low, stirring frequently.
  7. Pour glaze over cake and enjoy.

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Coconut Sweet Potato Bake

This sweet potato bake, topped with shredded coconut makes a perfect dessert, but I also eat leftovers for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack. I originally made this simple recipe to bring to a potluck party. I was running low on a lot of things, but had some sweet potatoes to use up and things got creative from there. I have a pretty strict policy about not peeling potatoes because cooking should be fun and peeling potatoes is clearly not my idea of fun. Besides, isn’t the skin good for you anyways? This recipe is pretty flexible if you want to change up the spices or try adding pecans. You could also sub out the honey for maple syrup. Be creative. Have fun. That’s what cooking is all about.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes (about 2 medium or 3 small)
  • juice from 1 orange (or 1/4 cup orange juice)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melt to liquid if needed)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Slice sweet potatoes with mandolin slicer. If you don’t have a mandolin slicer, just make the slices as thin as possible.
  3. In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients except shredded coconut. Add sweet potato slices and coat thoroughly.
  4. Layer slices into a glass pie plate or 8×8 glass baking dish. Pour any remaining liquid over the top.
  5. Bake 25-35 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and top with shredded coconut.

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Basil Coconut Lime Custard

This recipe was inspired by my husband Shawn. If you are skeptical of basil in a dessert, don’t be. It is delicious. We made this on a late night dessert craving and ate all of it in one sitting.

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Ingredients:

makes 2 large servings

  • juice and zest from 2 limes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease small individual sized baking dishes (like an oven safe Pyrex glass dish).
  2. Fill a large baking dish with water and nest smaller baking dish inside (see photo above).
  3. Zest lime (grate the skin) and squeeze for juice.
  4. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into small baking dish(s), transfer carefully to oven and bake 55-75 minutes. Be careful not to spill hot water on yourself or let it get in the custard when checking on it or removing it from the oven.

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Orange Spice Pumpkin Custard

Reminiscent of pumpkin pie, this custard can be served as part of a brunch or as a dessert. Try it warm with honey and goat cheese or chilled with vanilla ice cream.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 orange
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz.)
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • suggested toppings: raspberries, honey goat cheese (you can get this at Aldi or Trader Joe), and honey

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Zest orange (grate skin). Then peel and blend fruit and zest in Vitamix or blender.
  3. Add all other ingredients except toppings including orange zest and blend thoroughly. I use the variable speed to start so it doesn’t splatter everywhere.
  4. Pour into 8×8 glass baking dish or individual serving size baking dishes and cook 30-40 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Top with raspberries, honey and honey goat cheese or chill and serve with vanilla ice cream.

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Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Muffins

Welcome to my first official post on Spicy Pineapple! As much as I like health food, I decided to start with dessert. Because really, why should we always save dessert for last? Besides, this dessert has bananas and old fashioned oats so it is pretty much like breakfast; which is first. Okay, maybe it has a little (or a lot) more honey than my mom would have let me put on my toast for breakfast, but that is why it is so delicious. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and come back for many, many more.

–  Janette

Recipe:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease mini muffin pan or other baking dish.
  2. Mix eggs, coconut oil, peanut butter, honey, and bananas until blended, using mixer or stirring vigorously.
  3. Add oats, salt, and shredded coconut and mix until oats are fully coated with liquid mix.
  4. Fill mini muffin pan to brim and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown.

Here is what it should look like all mixed together.

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Make sure you fill them nearly to the top because they don’t rise very much and no one wants half a muffin.

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