The season of good eating has arrived. And with it, the season of overindulgence.
If you’re anything like us, the holiday months start out with a goal to stay strong in the face of endless comfort food and decadent party eats—a promise to stand in the corner with sparkly water, to put only carrots on your plate. Yet every holiday season, those good intentions melt into one meal after another other of too-full tummies and wilted willpower.
Rather than setting unrealistic expectations, we plan to enjoy the holidays this year: we want to serve up all of our favorites while enjoying them in their healthier forms. Grain-free. Naturally sweetened. None of the refined stuff. All of the delicious holiday flavor.
To make this plan work, we’re going to need recipes, of course—healthy recipes that really are as good as the originals. The kind of food grandma would be proud of.
So, we’ve scoured the web and rounded up the best paleo-approved desserts. To make our list, the recipes had to be simple to prepare (no overly fussy ingredients), mouthwateringly craveable (you shouldn’t feel like you’re choking back rabbit food. It’s the holidays!), and clever, too.
Because after all, if you’re going to win at healthy holidays, you might as well win as top chef, as well. Time to dive in! Grab a whisk, bowl and recipe below. Let’s bake up holiday desserts so good, no one would ever guess they’re grain-free, refined-sugar free, and cavegirl-approved, too.
Paleo Pecan Pie Cobbler
Our take on classic pecan pie—no crust required. This recipe starts with a maple-caramel filling which can be quickly puree’d in the blender. Dates and eggs come together to create a caramelly base for this tasty dessert—no high fructose corn syrup required! The streusel topping is made by combining a grain-free pancake mix, coconut oil, and maple syrup with pecan halves. Sprinkle this mixture atop the date filling, and then bake. The streusel topping creates a sweet and crunchy crust for the gooey date base. Such a simple list of ingredients for such a delicious dessert!
Even the pickiest pecan pie lovers will be delighted to dive into this dish. It’s rich and gooey—just like the most proper slices of pecan pie. We love topping ours with coconut milk ice cream. Most health food stores now boast a variety of paleo-friendly ice cream options.
Or, top your slices with a dollop of homemade coconut cream, which can be made by refrigerating a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight, then scooping the top cream layer from the can, placing in a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, and beating until light and fluffy. A drizzle of honey will sweeten the cream, turning it into a paleo-perfect version of whipped topping. It’s dairy-free and ideal for serving atop desserts like this one.
To make this recipe, you’ll need just a few basic kitchen supplies.
A hi-speed blender or food processor makes quick work of mashing the dates. Standard blenders don’t typically have enough horsepower to pulverize even pitted dates, so keep that in mind before giving this recipe a go. Additionally, you’ll need a large mixing bowl and a 9×9″ baking pan.
While this dessert is best enjoyed warm, it can also be covered overnight and reheated in the microwave. Because of the whole food ingredient list, this recipe also makes a lovely coffee cake in the morning. Serve with coffee or a dollop of coconut yogurt for a lovely breakfast or brunch. It pairs nicely with autumn fruits—spiced pears, sliced apples, and a side of ripe plum will all enhance the flavor of this healthy pecan cobbler.
Paleo Pecan Pie Cobbler
YIELD: Serves 8
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup pure maple syrup (or raw honey)
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
- 10.5 oz grain-free pancake mix
- nonstick coconut oil spray
Preheat oven to 375° F. In a hi-speed blender or food processor, puree eggs, 3/4 cup maple syrup, dates, 1/4 cup coconut oil, vanilla and salt. Spray a 9×9″ baking dish with nonstick baking spray. Pour mixture into pan. In a large bowl, mix together 1/4 cup maple syrup, pecan halves, pancake mix, and 1/4 cup coconut oil. Sprinkle atop pecan mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or just until the base is set and the streusel on top turns a light golden around the edges. Serve warm. If desired, top with coconut milk ice cream.
And now, here are six other recipes to fill your tummies, regret free, as the last leaves fall off the trees.
Paleo Chocolate Mousse with Habanero Salted Caramel
If you’re not much of a baker, this dessert is for you. The entire recipe comes together on the stovetop, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. This is the sort of dessert you can serve to guests, and it’s guaranteed to have everyone ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the end of any meal.
Paleo Pumpkin Pie
Grain-free and without a crust. This recipe cooks up the best part of a pie—the filling—and bakes it into brulee-like pumpkin custard. Pecans are mixed in for added autumn flavor. Top with coconut cream whip and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and you’ve got a 100 percent grain free version of the classic.
Paleo Gingerbread Cookies
Believe it or not, a batch of homemade gingerbread doesn’t require a cup or two of flour, and this delicious recipe for grain-free, honey sweetened paleo gingerbread proves it. The perfect mix of almond and coconut flours create a gingerbread that’s sweet enough to eat and sturdy enough to cut into gingerbread house pieces. You can enjoy this traditional favorite, and keep your grain-free goals, too.
Paleo Banana Zucchini Bread
What is the holiday season without a sweet loaf of homemade quickbread? With this recipe, you can have a slice or four. We love topping ours with melted ghee or chia preserves, but a dollop of whipped cream or schmear of almond butter tastes delicious, too. Firmly devoted paleo eaters will want to omit the oat topping, but if you’re going gluten-free and are willing to part with paleo food rules for dessert, the sweet and crunchy oat streusel is absolutely irresistible.
Paleo Pumpkin Almond Butter Bundt
Slices of this bundt cake taste exactly like…well, bundt cake. Which will come as a surprise to anyone who doesn’t know it’s 100 percent grain free. It’s absolutely decadent. The cake slices into moist, forkable pieces that pair great with almond and even better with coffee. Added bonus: surround this bundt with edible flowers and it makes a great table centerpiece, too.
Raw Salted Fudge Brownies
This is filled with fiber, flaxseeds and medjool dates, but no one will wonder about what’s inside. These ooey gooey raw brownies are so full of chocolate perfection, you’ll never notice that they’re made without refined sugar or flour. Quite possibly the best brownies we’ve never baked, for the busy holiday season, this recipe gets the added bonus of requiring no cooking. Just blend, assemble, slice and share.