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4 Slightly Healthier Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas

By Jaime Palinchak, BA, CPT, IIN Health Coach

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Whether you’re celebrating together or in spirit, there’s just something about getting in the kitchen and making some traditional holiday recipes that bring on some much-needed joy! But, if you’re trying to stick to your healthy eating routine, the mere thought of holiday feasting can bring on some added stress. And, that’s totally normal! But, here’s the thing — there’s a healthy way to celebrate Thanksgiving that includes enjoying your favorite slice of pie, without deprivation or guilt. It’s true! And we’re showing you how with these four healthy Thanksgiving desserts that are easy to prep and so full of Thanksgiving flavor, you would never guess they were made with healthier ingredients! So, get ready to roll up your sleeves and do some holiday baking — these recipes are totally drool-worthy. And, we’re willing to bet your entire guest list will agree. What Makes These Desserts Healthier? But first, let’s talk about what makes these healthier desserts stand apart from the rest. I keep a few things in mind when creating healthier desserts, particularly the sugar content, and the type of oils and fats used. The good news is that these healthier Thanksgiving-inspired recipes are all refined sugar-free as well as: Gluten-free Dairy-free Made with real, whole food Easily made vegan, if not already Delicious! These four recipes may be free from the added sugar but are bursting with all the Thanksgiving flavors we crave.

Coconut Whipped Cream: Make This Recipe First! Most of these Thanksgiving dessert recipes call for coconut whipped cream, and not only does this make for a delicious dairy-free alternative but it’s also easy to make. So, my tip to you is to make a big batch on Thanksgiving that you can use with any of these tasty desserts. Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of full-fat unsweetened coconut cream

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

Directions: Step #1: Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender or using a hand-help mixer, whip for about 3-5 minutes.

Step #2: Finish blending when stiff peaks form. Store chilled until use .

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie Parfait A delicious alternative to pumpkin pie. This dairy-free parfait is loaded with pumpkin flavor but without the added sugar and dairy. Enjoy it as a yummy breakfast or tasty dessert. Serves: 2 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree

  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup gluten-free granola

  • ½ cup coconut whipped cream (see recipe above)

  • Pumpkin pie spice for serving

Directions: Step #1: Start by adding the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and cinnamon to a mixing bowl and mix well. Set aside. Step #2: Using two glass jars, add granola to the base of the jars, followed by a layer of coconut whipped cream, and then the pumpkin puree. Top with another layer of granola and a dollop of coconut whipped cream. Step #3: Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and enjoy! Want to make this tasty recipe even healthier? Swap every other layer of coconut whip for protein-packed Greek yogurt or coconut yogurt. You’ll reduce the sugar and keep the same creamy texture!

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls These make a perfect addition to Thanksgiving breakfast or brunch or can be enjoyed as a yummy, healthier dessert. To reduce the sugar content, skip the maple syrup and serve them with unsweetened vanilla Greek or nut-based yogurt! Finish with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon for a naturally sweet boost. Serves: 8


  • 2½ cups almond flour

  • 3 tbsp coconut flour

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp sea salt

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly

  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract For the filling 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • ⅓ cup pecans, chopped

  • 3 tbsp cinnamon, ground

  • ½ cup warm water

  • 6 medjool dates, pitted To serve ¼ cup pecans, chopped

To serve:

  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped

  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Directions: Step #1: Combine the almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, and sea salt in a medium bowl. Stir well to remove any lumps.

Step #2: In a small bowl, whisk the coconut oil, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla.

Step #3: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well to bind. Place the dough in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

Step #4: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Step #5: While the dough is chilling, soak the pitted dates in the water for 10 minutes. Drain and roughly chop before combing with the rest of the filling ingredients.

Step #6: When the dough has rested, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out between two large sheets of baking paper to a rectangle with a thickness of about 1-1.5 cm. Remove the top sheet of baking paper, the dough is delicate so handle gently.

Step #7: Sprinkle the filling evenly over the flattened dough, then carefully roll up the dough using the baking paper to help you.

Step #8: Cut the roll into eight even-sized rounds using a serrated knife. Place the rounds side by side on a prepared tray.

Step #9: Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through.

Step #10: Remove from the oven and drizzle over the maple syrup while they are still warm.

Step #11: Sprinkle the pecans on top and dust with cinnamon.

Step #12: Enjoy with a dollop of coconut whipped cream if desired!

Mini Date Puddings These make a delicious healthy Thanksgiving dessert and no one will even know these are healthier than the real thing! This seasonal-inspired dessert is made with Medjool dates, aka nature’s candy. While they are deliciously sweet, dates are full of nutrients like fiber, potassium, and B Vitamins. Serves: 2 Ingredients:

  • 3 medjool dates, pitted and chopped

  • ¾ tbsp warm water

  • ½ cup almond flour

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp baking powder