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Holiday Treats to Feel Good About

January 1st, 2020. More than 51% of Americans started the year, as they have many others, with the New Year’s Resolution to “eat healthier (Buchholz, 2019). What we know is that in a normal year, fewer than 10% of Americans maintain all or most of the resolutions they made (Satista, 2019)This much is true: 2020 was far from a normal year. With heightened levels of stress and anxiety, it’s not uncommon for folks to turn to food for comfort. It’s also very common for the holiday season to be loaded with sweet, sugary treats as cookies, cakes, and pies begin to join the kitchen table 

However, there is always room for personal growth, to pick up where we left off and get back on track with our desire to eat healthier and live healthier lives. Regardless of what you choose to celebrate, here are some examples of holiday treats to feel good about.  

Decadent Dark Chocolate Oats


Decadent dark chocolate oats and milk

Decadent dark chocolate oats and milk

If molten chocolate lava cakes and warm, freshly baked brownies bring you joy and delight, give these decadent dark chocolate oats a try. This hearty bowl could be served for breakfast or split in two and shared as dessert. Made with 100% whole grain oats and reduced-fat milk, this treat benefits from an extra serving of fiber, protein, and calcium. These nutrients are typically lacking in the other desserts. These decadent dark chocolate oats can be tweaked to your palate: add less sugar, switch to low-fat milk, or enjoy without the walnuts for less sugar or fewer calories and fat. Cut back on the sugar and guilt and dig into 8 grams of fiber & a belly full of yum. 

Servings: 1 breakfast bowl or 2 small desserts 

Ingredients: oats, milk, cocoa, and sugar

Ingredients: oats, milk, cocoa, and sugar

½ cup Old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp 100% cocoa powder, Dutch-processed (I used a Special Dark 100% cacao, Dutched cocoa* powder)
2 tsp packed brown sugar
1 cup 2% milk
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped
Tiny pinch of salt (optional) 

*Dutched cocoa is processed to neutralize the acidity of cocoa, yielding a milder taste and darker color  


In a medium saucepan, whisk together oats, cocoa powder, brown sugar, salt and milk. Bring milk to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Top with chopped walnuts and enjoy! Best served warm. Adjust cooking times based on the directions for your oats.  

Perfect Pumpkin Parfait 

As the seasons change, pumpkin emerges as the Queen or King of lattes, pies, donuts, and every other sweet treat in between. While the pumpkin flavor is there, it hides behind large amounts of sugar. This perfect pumpkin parfait provides the satisfaction of a sweet treat, with all the seasonal flavors minus a large amount of sugar, and it’s easy enough for kids to make! Adjust the pumpkin and spice amounts based on your personal preference. Try with a low-fat, low-sugar vanilla Greek yogurt for added protein. You can keep any extra canned pumpkin in a plastic or glass sealed container in the fridge for 1-4 days.  

Servings: 1 

Perfect pumpkin parfait cups

Pumpkin parfaits to share!


1 tsp canned pumpkin, plain
A dash of pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup of low-fat, reduced-sugar vanilla yogurt   


In a small cup, place vanilla yogurt at the bottom. Top with canned pumpkin, and finish with a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Enjoy when the pumpkin craving strikes! 

The holiday season does not need to derail your plans to eat healthily; you can still indulge in a few treats, share the joy of food with those you love, and feel good about what you’re eating. Give these recipes a try, and feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. 


Buchholz, K. (2019, December 16). America’s top New Year’s resolutions for 2020. Statista.  

Statista Research Department. (2019, January 8). United States – Sticking to New Year’s resolutions in 2018. Statista.