• Paula Present

Your 5 "healthy" Thanksgiving Desserts!

Let’s reminisce about Thanksgiving, LAST YEAR. When we were all around the table, with family or friends who are family. There were no masks, we sat close and next to each other. The coronavirus was just a pipe nightmare to come. For my Thanksgiving last year, we were in a public place at a delicious Thanksgiving buffet surrounded by other families, eating from the same communal buffet. Wow, those were the days, weren’t they? Buffets have become an ancient relic of a time gone by. This year is wildly different, all thanks to a virus. Families are now told to not travel to be together for this year’s Thanksgiving, in a year we all need more togetherness. And if you “must” insist on gathering with loved ones in a year filled with isolation and separation, we need socially distanced tables outside and to wear masks, unless we are eating. Washing your hands never felt so satisfying, and necessary. The numbers are going up in Los Angeles, but that doesn't have to take away the joy of the holiday. We can make the best of it and yes, we can gather safely. And one way to do that is with delicious desserts. I come from a long line of bakers. My grandmother hand mixed everything and had no measurements in her recipes. My mom used to make something like 26 varieties of cookies to give people for Christmas gifts. And me, who can bake for hours and never know the passing of time, and find beauty in mixing dry and wet ingredients. It is a meditative state. But enough about my baking herstory, I am here to give you some ideas for gluten free, dairy free “healthier” but delicious desserts that I have tested in my kitchen and were crowd pleasers in my circles. And you won’t even miss the dairy or the gluten! They do take alternative ingredients so if you are so inspired, you have a good week to find them. I already got my gluten free baking flours and sugars through December as I anticipate holiday and virus shortages.

Nutella Brownies

This recipe has 3 ingredients. Eggs, nutella, and almond flour. It is the easiest recipe on earth to make and so delicious. This recipe is NOT dairy free, but it is gluten free. If you crave some chocolate dessert for your Thanksgiving table, this can be perfect. I mean Nutella, right? How can it go wrong when it is so right? And so delicious, it was embarrassing how easy it was. RECIPE LINK

Key Lime Pie

Key limes may be out of season, but you can find key lime juice (I have found it at Gelson’s) and buy two real limes for zesting and add to the juice for the filling. This recipe is both dairy and gluten free. I recommended adding Native Forest’s coconut milk for the straight up coconut milk needed in the filling portion, but it doesn't seem to be a good option to put in the fridge for a good coconut whipped cream. Putting a can of coconut milk in the fridge helps to separate the cream from the water. With the cream, you can make a whipped dairy free cream that is fantastic. Native Forest’s cream had trouble staying whipped when we made it. You can buy a can of coconut cream also. Whole Foods brand’s, 365, coconut milk is good for the cream topping when you put it in the fridge, but it also comes with a ready can of coconut cream option as well. RECIPE LINK

Chocolate Pudding

You don’t have to tell anyone that the main ingredient of this chocolate pudding is avocados because they will never know. This is another easiest recipe on earth category. You will need a food processor for it, some ripe avocados, cacao powder which is richer and better than cocoa, coconut milk, and maple syrup. The recipe flavor makes a strong, rich chocolate flavor, but you can make it sweeter by adding more maple syrup. I like adding cacao nibs for a crunch, but they are a strong, bitter favor for kids. You can add regular chocolate chips to make the kids happy. They go in individual ramekins and you can top it with nuts and/or kid friendly sprinkles too. This recipe needs some time to chill in the fridge, so if you choose to make this, plan for that time. RECIPE LINK


Yes, while technically not a dessert, it practically is. I made this recipe and my husband made some honey butter as an accompaniment (or necessity) for an almost dessert like experience. Cornbread can be a great complement with your Thanksgiving meal. And it is still in the category of gluten and dairy free. I made this with a can of Native Forest’s coconut milk but if you don’t find dairy bothersome, you can make it with the buttermilk as in the recipe. I use King Arthur’s gluten free measure for measure flour or Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1-to-1 cup baking flour. I currently have Bob’s Red Mill on hand so I used that brand in this recipe. You do not have to add Xanthan gum as it is in both of these flours, so omit. You can add fresh corn and/or jalapenos as well if you like that flavor profile. You won’t believe it is dairy and gluten free. It was moist and tasty. To make the honey butter, Brian used about 2 tablespoons of softened salted butter and about a tablespoon of honey and mixed it up. Again the sweetness factor is up to you. Start with a teaspoon and add more from there. If it is too sweet, add more butter! RECIPE LINK

Purple Sweet Potato Pie Bars

I have not tested this recipe, but I wanted to share my Thanksgiving dessert adventure with you this year. I mean the color alone was an inspiration to me. I have found purple sweet potatoes at Whole Foods and while you are there, you can go to the section where they have seaweed and find agar flakes. It’s a type of seaweed that is a substitute for gelatin. The recipe calls for agar powder, so you will use 1 tablespoon of agar flakes to 1 teaspoon agar powder. Gelatin is collagen protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. So while gelatin is very good for you, it’s not so good for the vegetarians in your family. It also calls for ground flax meal but if you have flax seeds, just grid them in your blender until they are powdered. The flax meal replaces the eggs. I don’t care for agave nectar, so I will use maple syrup instead for the filling. This is a vegan recipe and still gluten free. And although untested in my kitchen, this dessert will hit all your alternate eater’s check marks and we can be on the dessert Thanksgiving adventure together! RECIPE LINK

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