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Healthy sweets for the holidays

These recipes from Instagram are sure to spice up your winter break
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The holidays are a great time to try your hand at cooking. COURTESY OF KGBO/CC WIKIMEDIA
The holidays are a great time to try your hand at cooking. COURTESY OF KGBO/CC WIKIMEDIA

Now that classes are coming to an end and the winter break is approaching, you might find that you have more free time in your schedule. Whether you’re an experienced chef or a beginner, why not fill that spare time with baking? 

These recipes are fun, simple, and will surely get you in the holiday spirit! Whether you’re a gym-goer hoping to satisfy your sweet tooth or a student who just wants to experiment over the break, The Varsity is here to sweeten your time off.

Gluten-free chocolate protein peppermint oats by @basicswithbails

Whole grain oats are a great source of fiber, phosphorus, and magnesium, and have even been shown to help prevent heart disease. In this recipe, you will also add protein powder to your oats. Protein is an important part of any diet — your immune system requires it, and it keeps your heart and brain in running order. Protein is also useful for athletes looking to build muscle. Thank you to @basicswithbails on Instagram for this healthy holiday recipe! 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • ½ mashed banana
  • ⅓ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ½ scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 3–4 melted tablespoons white chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1–2 crushed candy canes

Directions:

  1. Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. 
  2. Leave the mixture in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
  3. Once it has finished chilling, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil. 
  4. Next, cover the oats with the chocolate mixture, and decorate the top with crushed candy canes. 
  5. Finally, place your dessert in the freezer for 10 minutes to let the chocolate harden. Bon appétit!

Matcha shortbread cookies by @keepupwithliv

Matcha, famous for its bright green colour, is a type of tea. But it can also be used in desserts like these festive cookies. Matcha has a high antioxidant count, which helps protect your body’s cells from damage. It has also been linked to better liver and heart health. This recipe comes from @keepupwithliv on Instagram!

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup cassava flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon matcha
  • Crushed candy canes

Directions:

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl and mix well. 
  2. Next, flour the surface and a rolling pin to ensure that the dough does not stick. 
  3. Carefully roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to shape your cookies. 
  4. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with the crushed candy canes.
  5. Finally, place the baking sheet in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

Gingerbread loaf cake by @sunnysrecipes

Eating too much refined sugar can lead to a variety of health problems. Luckily, there are many alternatives that can be used in its place. Although this recipe does call for some brown sugar, the banana and maple syrup sugar substitutions are critical in reducing the total amount of refined sugar needed. What’s more, maple syrup contains important antioxidants, and bananas are filled with potassium. This recipe comes from @sunnysrecipes on Instagram!

Ingredients:

  • 2 mashed bananas (alternatively, you can use ½ cup of applesauce)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Directions:

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl. 
  2. Pour the dry ingredients into the mixture. Make sure to stir the batter until all the ingredients are mixed, but be wary of overmixing. 
  3. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that the batter does not stick to the pan. Or, to be more environmentally friendly, just butter or oil your pan and avoid single-use papers. 
  4. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly.
  5. Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes. 
  6. To tell if the cake is done, insert a toothpick into the middle of it, and check to see if it comes out dry.
  7. After the loaf is cooked, let it cool, and give it a taste!