Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Treat yourself to these healthy desserts for the holidays

blog healthy holiday treats

The holiday season is here, and with it comes an abundance of desserts full of sugar and fat that can cause us to pack on unwanted pounds. Michell Janah, pastry chef at CTCA in Tulsa, has a few recipes for delicious desserts made with healthy ingredients. Her recipe for hot chocolate is good for the heart and tummy, and her pecan pie recipe has nearly 1,000 fewer calories than traditional pecan pie.


Guilt-free Holiday Hot Chocolate

  • 3 cups skim milk or almond milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 5 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped

Makes 4 servings

In a sauce pan, combine all of the ingredients except for the chocolate. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and stir in finely chopped dark chocolate. Whisk until all of the chocolate is melted and combined thoroughly with the other ingredients. Serve in your favorite holiday mugs. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick for a decorative and festive touch.

Health benefits

  • Almond milk has no saturated fat or cholesterol. One cup of sweetened vanilla almond milk has 90 calories and 2.5 grams of fat compared to 120 calories and 5 grams of fat per cup of 2% milk.
  • Pumpkin is high in fiber with no cholesterol or saturated fat. This helps regulate weight.
  • The spices contain antioxidants which can help boost the immune system. Cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar, and ginger can help fight nausea and is beneficial for digestive health.
  • Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, heart-healthy and helps regulate blood sugar.

Not Your Traditional Pecan Pie


  • 1 recipe of your favorite pie crust or store-bought frozen shell (whole wheat is the best option)


  • ½ cup whole, pitted Medjool dates, finely chopped
  • 2 cups toasted pecans
  • ¾ cup agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup or honey
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup unrefined, unbleached flour
  • 6 tsp. all-natural vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs

Set pie crust in pie pan and crimp or pinch (“flute”) edges. Sprinkle finely chopped dates over the bottom of the crust, followed by chopped pecans.

Combine agave nectar (or brown rice syrup, maple syrup or honey), brown sugar, flour, vanilla, salt and eggs, whisk until combined. Pour mixture over dates and pecans.

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 55 minutes, or until top is set and when knife is inserted, it comes out clean. Cool entirely before slicing.

Health benefits

  • Because this pie is made is made with high-fiber fruit and a healthier, alternative sweetener (agave nectar) rather than high-fructose corn syrup and white sugar, it does not raise blood sugar levels as high as traditional pecan pie.
  • Medjool dates are rich in fiber, potassium and essential nutrients.
  • Pecans are a good source of protein, iron and fiber. They can be beneficial for blood pressure, weight control and your heart.