Nothing adds to the sweetness of the holiday season than a table full of warm, freshly baked desserts. While dinner is usually the main event, it is the pies, cookies and cakes that tend to be the hardest to resist. Holiday dessert is the ultimate temptation but you can still keep health in mind and enjoy your favorite decadent treats at the same time.

Here are 3 traditional holiday desserts enjoyed during the holidays, whether it be Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas and creative ways to give them a healthy holiday face lift:

1. Pies: Pumpkin, apple, blueberry, pecan, coconut custard – the list of holiday pies is never ending and it is likely that you will find one of each on your holiday dessert table (and you will want to taste test every one)! A tip for serving healthy versions of these classic pies to your guests is to DIY (Do It Yourself)! Store bought pies are likely to contain a long list of ingredients that you can barely pronounce, especially when it comes to the crust. Only five simple ingredients are needed to make the perfect pie crust: flour, fat, salt, sugar and water. Amp up the nutrition in your pie crust by substituting half of the butter in the recipe for Greek yogurt to reduce the fat and maintain a tender, flaky texture. For fruit pies, use fresh fruits that have a naturally sweet flavor, such as golden delicious apples, peaches, pears and berries. Enhance the flavor by using spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or lemon/orange zest. If you like your pie a la mode, try using a dollop of cool whip or whipped cream to complement the flavor rather than ice cream.

2. Christmas Cookies: Nothing puts you in the holiday spirit more than breaking out your rolling pin and gathering your family in the kitchen to bake up your favorite Christmas cookies. Baking Christmas cookies is a holiday tradition for many families, and after a long day of baking you might find your kitchen overflowing with hundreds of cookies that will be in your house for weeks to come. If you grab a cookie every time you pass through the kitchen you will find yourself packing on the pounds. Try modifying the recipes by substituting some of the butter in your recipe for canola oil thereby reducing the saturated fat. Other fat replacements include fruit purees and reduced fat dairy products like low fat milk or buttermilk. Add some fiber into your cookies by swapping out half of the flour for whole wheat flour and consider making smaller cookies so you can have more variety without going overboard. Decorating your cookies with melted dark chocolate, nuts or jams instead of artificial frostings is another way to boost the health factor. Lastly, keep the cookies out of site so you don’t mindlessly graze.

3. Jelly Donuts: Let’s face it, donuts don’t lend themselves to a healthy makeover and its better if we keep them just the way they are. Jelly donuts are a traditional treat during the Hanukkah holiday. So, don’t deprive yourself. Instead, have your donut and stay healthy too by take half instead of a whole or have just one or two bites to satisfy your jelly donut craving!

Holiday time is a time to relax, regroup and enjoy time with family and friends. Good food plays a role in the celebrations but with a little creativity and forethought, you can enjoy without feeling of guilt. Happy Holidays!

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie R. Giller is a registered dietitian nutritionist and the founder of She helps chronic dieters break free from the pain of dieting and get the healthy body they love by giving them the 3 things they really need to succeed - a healthy mindset, caring support and nutrition education. Get a copy of her free e-book "5 Steps to a Body You Love Without Dieting" at