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Inspired Holiday Treats

11/24/2014 02:34AM ● Published by Family Features

Cookies, cakes and pies are the typical treats associated with the holidays, but there are other ways to celebrate the sweetness of the season. Flavorful appetizers, beverages and snacks can also carry those richly sweet tastes you crave.

According to registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, healthy swaps can be easy and flavorful with just a little planning. Whether you're eating out or hosting your own holiday bash, there are ways to choose more healthful options for your celebrations.

Healthier holiday tips

To help you enjoy all the sweet dishes of the season, Blatner created the following recipes which feature one of her favorite ingredients - prunes. This versatile ingredient can sweeten up dessert, provide balance to a savory appetizer and add body to a slimmed-down version of hot chocolate, while providing fiber and other nutrients.

  • Small, satisfying bites. Keep portion control in mind and remember that giving into cravings in a small way can minimize the chance of over-indulging later. For a skinny take on a popular holiday dessert, top simple bite-size cheesecake with juicy prunes and tangy ginger. The use of Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese keeps calories down but protein up, and Sunsweet's Plum Amaz!ns top it off for a sweet fruit flavor. In fact, using 1 1/4 cups 2 percent plain Greek yogurt instead of the same amount of regular cream cheese saves more than 700 calories while adding 12 grams of protein per recipe.
  • Sweet starters. Finding the perfect holiday appetizer that is both delicious and healthy is not always easy. Substitute fruit in dishes where veggies are more expected, such as a decadent bruschetta. Dress up toasted baguettes with balsamic-prune relish and goat cheese for a taste that is nothing but a sweet reward, and delight your fellow party-goers with a tasty appetizer they can also feel good about.
  • Delightful drinks. Remember that beverages can pack a big calorie punch, especially with specialty flavors and syrups added in. Ward off the chill in the air with a sweet, new and reduced fat version of hot chocolate. Adding prunes and prune juice is a surprising way to reduce fat and still enjoy the rich and creamy flavor of this classic drink. The prunes act as a fat mimic, providing body and thickness while complementing the chocolate taste. Typical hot chocolate recipes using whole milk can have more than 5 grams of fat per serving, whereas this lightened up version has only 3 grams of fat per serving if made with 2 percent milk.
  • Edible gifts. Looking for a DIY gift idea that is delicious and indulgent without the guilt? Swap out the typical cookie platter for a wholesome alternative in a jar. Tied with a pretty bow or raffia, a Mason jar filled with sweet and crunchy trail mix makes a perfect present from the heart. PlumSweets provide the goodness of real fruit with diced prunes dipped in rich dark chocolate. Combine them with heart friendly nuts and whole grain cereal for a snack that tastes too good to be good for you.

Get started with these delicious recipes created by Dawn Jackson Blatner, and visit www.sunsweet.com for additional recipes.

Gingersnap Prune Cheesecake Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups 2 percent plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 small gingersnap cookies
  • 1/2 cup Plum Amaz!ns
  • 2 tablespoons minced candied ginger

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine yogurt, egg and coconut sugar in medium bowl and stir by hand until smooth. Mist mini-muffin tin with cooking spray. Place gingersnap cookie at base of each mini-muffin mold. Note: If cookie is too large, use fine cheese grater or knife and trim to fit. Fill each muffin tin to top with yogurt mixture. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set. Stir together Plum Amaz!ns and ginger. Top each mini-cheesecake with Plum Amaz!ns mixture.

Balsamic Prune & Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 12 Sunsweet prunes, quartered
  • 12 slices (1/4-inch each) sourdough baguette, toasted
  • 3 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 1 cup arugula (about 36 leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Preparation

  1. Simmer vinegar and onion about 8 minutes, until onion is tender. Add in prunes until warm, about 3 minutes. Top each baguette slice with 1/4 ounce goat cheese, 3 arugula leaves, 1 tablespoon prune mixture and 1/2 teaspoon walnuts.

Plum Mason Jar Trailmix

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup large unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup favorite whole grain cereal (such as puffed brown rice)
  • 1 cup Sunsweet PlumSweets (use PlumSweets dark chocolate or Greek yogurt)

Preparation

  1. Combine all ingredients in bowl. Spoon mixture into Mason jars.

Prune-Spice Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 2 cups reduced fat dairy or plant-based milk
  • 4 Sunsweet prunes
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup Sunsweet Prune Juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch sea salt

Preparation

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and puree until smooth. Heat mixture until almost boiling in pan on stovetop or in mugs using microwave.

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