The hectic holiday season is upon us and with it comes the feasting on foods that can be fun, but not necessarily healthy. Give your kids the gift of nutrition this year and serve up some healthy holiday dishes. These dips and desserts are easy solutions for squeezing a few more fruits and vegetables into your holiday feasts.

Cashews and yogurt are a good source of protein. Have your vegetables and fruits go for a dip in these healthy recipes.

Cashew dip for veggies

  • 1 cup cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend cashews in a food processor until they are a fine powder. Mix the nuts and yogurt together with the salt and pepper. Spoon the dip into small bowls and drizzle small amounts of olive oil over dip. Serve with carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli or cauliflower florets. Serves 1.

Yogurt fruit dip

  • 2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 package low-fat plain cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Beat the ingredients with a mixer or a fork until light and fluffy and well-blended. Serve with fruit skewed on a kebab or individual pieces. Try different seasonal fruits such as star fruit, plums, apples, pears and bananas. Serves 2.

To ring in the new year with a little bit of extra luck, turn your black-eyed peas into a healthy hummus great for dipping carrot sticks and pita chips.

Black-eyed pea hummus

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 (15.8-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained
  • 14 (6-inch) pitas, quartered Carrot sticks

Mince garlic, then add lemon juice and next five ingredients into a food processor or blender; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Serve with pita wedges and carrot sticks. Yields 3 1/2 cups.

Desserts are always a magnificent finale to a delicious meal. Desserts can also be a place where you will find the most sugar, fat and calories. This year try floating a pear under a cloud of marshmallows, dipping into a sea of white chocolate snow or serving up a healthy cookie for Santa.

Partridges like to hang out in their tree and the perfect pear can be sweet and juicy. Pears have been a part of our diets for 3,000 years and are a healthy and unique addition to a child friendly dessert. 

Pear cloud

  • 2 Anjou pears, cut in half and cored
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

Place pear halves on serving platter. In a bowl, combine vanilla yogurt, coconut and marshmallows. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toasted and bubbly.

Kids love to dip into their foods and melted snow is a fun way to slosh up fruits and vegetables.

Melted snow fruit and vegetable fondue

  • 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup soy creamer
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Strawberries, carrot sticks, star fruit, Sweet red bell peppers, bananas and marshmallows for dipping.

Combine chocolate and creamer in a heavy saucepan. Warm over low heat, whisking until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a fondue pot, stir in vanilla and serve with fruits and vegetables.

Other ideas: Make a snowman by stacking the marshmallows on the carrot sticks. Make a Santa hat out of the cut-up strawberries dipped into the fondue. 

Santa could benefit from a healthy cookie this year. Consider making these tasty treats to leave under the tree.

Quinoa peanut butter and flax seed cookies

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4  cup honey
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or raisins

Combine all of the ingredients above. Roll small spoonfuls into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cook at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.

Don’t forget to keep moving during the holidays. A nice family walk or bike ride after the big meal is a great way to help the food digest. The gift of nutrition may not be on Santa’s list, but it should be on Mom and Dad’s list. Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean it has to be a slippery sugary slope sliding into the new year. Peace, love and health to all kids this holiday season!


Brandi Thompson RD, LD/N is a nutrition expert (aka Registered Dietitian) with 11 years of experience. When she is not coaching adults and children with their nutrition and wellness needs, she is a stay-at-home mom of two young children. Read more from Brandi Thompson:, or