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Recipe: These superfood-rich holiday treats are nutritionist-approved

When you think about holiday treats, you probably don’t think nutrients — but Christmas cookies, bites, and chocolate balls can be a great opportunity to squeeze in seasonal superfoods! Check out three of my recipes for enjoying a little sweetness bundled with antioxidant-rich, disease-protecting goodness. Each one is plant-based, bite-sized (for built-in portion control), and perfect for sharing. These are all splurges you can feel really good about.

Ginger-Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Balls

Holiday Treats
Image: Courtesy Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Nutrition info: Ginger, cinnamon, and dark chocolate are all potent sources of antioxidants. Ginger and cinnamon are also immune supporters and anti-inflammatory metabolic boosters. Tahini, made from ground sesame seeds, provides copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and thiamin. A two tablespoon portion also packs 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fibre.

2 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp raw or non-Dutched cocoa powder

2 tbsp almond flour

¼ tsp fresh grated ginger

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp chia seeds

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, mixing until evenly distributed. Pinch off small spoonfuls, and then using your palms, roll into round, even balls; coat half of them in chia seeds.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie Bites

Holiday Treats
Image: Courtesy Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Nutrition info: Pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse. One cup of canned pumpkin puree packs 760% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A (which is good for your eyes, bones, and immune system); 20% of the DV for iron; 16% of the DV for vitamin C; and 8% of the DV for calcium; plus 8 grams of filling fibre.

1 can pumpkin puree

¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 tbsp almond flour

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil

1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Spoon mixture into 24 mini paper liners. Bake at 350 F (176 degrees Celsius) for 40 minutes.

Sweet Potato Turmeric No-Bake Cookies

Holiday Treats
Image: Courtesy Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Nutrition info: Like pumpkin, sweet potato is loaded with antioxidants and immune-supporting vitamin A, packing 195% of the DV per quarter cup. Turmeric, a root plant in the same family as ginger, has long been used as an anti-inflammatory compound in both Chinese and Indian medicine. Its active ingredient, called curcurmin, has been shown to lower levels of enzymes that fuel inflammation in the body. Curcumin also shows promise as a protector against cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and obesity.

½ cup old fashioned rolled oats

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

¼ cup almond flour

1 tbsp chia seeds

¼ cup sweet potato puree

¼ cup pure maple syrup

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground turmeric

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly and evenly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using a melon baller or small spoon, place one scoop of batter at a time into the palm of your hand, and flatten with the other hand to shape into flat, round cookies. Place cookies on parchment paper, and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

This story first appeared on

(Main and Feature Image Credit: Karalina S/Unsplash)

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Recipe: These superfood-rich holiday treats are nutritionist-approved

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

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