Healthier Holiday Desserts for Seniors

December 6, 2023

Healthier Holiday Desserts for Seniors

The dessert table is often packed with options over the holidays, but that doesn't mean you want to overdo it. Some sweet treats pack a ton of flavor and nutrition, making them a smart, healthy and delicious option to bring to or enjoy at any holiday gathering. Once you're retired, you might not want to spend hours putting together holiday meals and worrying about healthy options, and at Royal Oaks, you don't have to. We do the nutrition planning and cooking for you, though you're always welcome to try your hand at a fun recipe for an off-campus event. If you're asked to bring a dessert or you're trying to figure out your holiday menu, try some of these nutrient-dense options this season!

Dark Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

If you're serving chocolate for the holidays — and who doesn't? — consider pairing it with a fresh and nutritious berry. Plus, by opting for dark chocolate, you get the most nutritious chocolate option. Dark chocolate is rich in iron, magnesium, zinc, copper and phosphorus along with antioxidants, so it has plenty of nutrition to offer. The only downside is that it's also rich in fat, sugar and calories, so enjoy it in moderation. Dipped strawberries offer a perfect serving size, so you get a mouthful of chocolate flavor without overindulging. 

Making these is simple. Wash your chosen strawberries, and leave them on the stems. Melt the dark chocolate of your choice (it's best to avoid Hershey's Kisses in dark chocolate since they're just as high in sugar as the milk version) and dip the strawberries into the chocolate to coat. Set the covered strawberries to dry on parchment paper. Once you have a full tray, transfer it to the fridge. Keep your strawberries refrigerated until it's time to serve. 

Healthy Peanut Butter Blossoms

A rich, peanut butter cookie topped with a sweet Hershey Kiss is a classic peanut butter blossom, but you can alter this recipe for a healthy twist without leaving you disappointed when it comes to flavor. Use the peanut butter blossom recipe of your choice, but simply:

  • Swap the standard cane sugar for half the amount of coconut sugar.
  • Use an all-natural, unsweetened peanut butter to get the rich, nutty taste.

If you want a higher protein cookie that's also gluten-free, you can swap out any wheat flour in the cookie recipe for nut flour on a one-to-one ratio. The result is a particularly moist and chewy cookie. 

Perhaps the best part about these cookies is the added nutritional benefit. Every cookie is packed with 2 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber and plenty of potassium, vitamin A and calcium. Since each cookie has just 13 grams of carbohydrates, people with diabetes can usually fit in a cookie for dessert. Plus, you can eliminate a whole bunch of carbs by omitting the Kiss on top and just chowing down on a peanut butter cookie, or swap the traditional Kiss with a sugar-free version to limit the added sugar. It's all up to you, and you can do the baking in your own apartment.

Poached Pears

With all the discussion about super fruits, the pear doesn't get enough attention. This readily available and delicious fruit is a great snack when fully ripe and a fun and tempting dessert when under-ripe fruits are gently poached. Pears have more copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium than apples, 6 grams of fiber per fruit and 7% of your daily vitamin K intake.

To make these poached pears, combine a bottle of wine, a cup of sugar and a cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and add a large piece of lemon or orange zest along with the juice from half of the fruit. Toss in a cinnamon stick, four whole cloves and four whole allspice berries. Finally, add four peeled, halved and cored pears to the liquid, weighing it down to ensure the fruit is completely submerged. Cook on medium-low until the pears are fork tender. It's done! If you want to add some more flavor and a fun finish, you can remove the pears and continue to reduce the poaching liquid to create a sauce or syrup for drizzling. 

The big nutritional punch from poached pears comes from the fruit, but several spices and seasonings in the poaching liquid can also be a big hit. A little Prosecco adds a lot of flavor without much alcohol content since the pears cook for several minutes after the liquid comes to a boil. Moderate amounts of sugar turn these fruits into something sweet without adding a lot of calories to the fruit.

Serve each pear with a side of ice cream or drizzled with caramel sauce to take it up a notch, or use poached pears to add sweetness to your savory dishes. The nice thing about this dish is that it can do double duty as a dessert or appetizer, depending on your menu choices. 

Whether you want to stretch your culinary wings and try some new recipes or sit back and relax and let someone else do the cooking, the friendly staff at Royal Oaks is there to bring your holiday wishes to life. Check out our dining room and culinary delights with a tour of our community, where we offer Independent Living, Assisted Living, Supportive Living and Memory Care. Call 623-208-6621, or fill out our online form to schedule your visit today. 

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