PART TWO: Drinks & Desserts

Last post, we looked at appetizers and side dishes (if you missed it, click here to check it out) that will take your healthy holidays to new levels of deliciousness. This week? The sweet stuff and non-boozy beverages!


It can be hard to find drinks that taste good and feel celebratory without being equally sugary and/or alcoholic. If you’re staying sober or trying to drink less this holiday season, these alternatives will have you sipping in style–– the only thing you’ll miss out on is the hangover! Even for folks who aren’t doing a dry December, it’s nice to switch things up every now and then. We’ve found that a lot of the time when we reach for a drink, what we crave isn’t actually the alcohol but something special to sip on. Next time, try swapping out eggnog, whiskey, or wine for one of these immune-boosting alternatives. You’ll feel cozy, sophisticated and ready to fight off the next cold your kids bring home. 

Fire Cider Toddy

Feel a cold coming on? Instead of hot whiskey, which can dehydrate you and make you more susceptible to illness, try a Fire Cider Toddy for that burns-your-throat feeling that will kick a cold’s butt! Also great to warm you while caroling* by an open fire or after a day on the slopes. (*This year, please only carol around people you live with!)

Make it by adding hot water, honey and a slice of citrus with cloves to pre-made Fire Cider. If you don’t have any homemade Fire Cider on hand (it takes a month to mature), you can find it for purchase at many health food stores and online. And if you have a bit of time, here’s a recipe that only takes 2 weeks

Golden Milk

Golden milk is full of anti-inflammatory goodness and it’s a beautiful color, not to mention it’s just plain cozy! It’s great in place of spiked hot chocolate after a day of sledding, and makes a soothing and special pre-bedtime ritual for adults and children alike. We think it’s best when made from fresh ingredients but it takes a bit of work (and can stain your kitchen counter) so we also like to keep powered ingredients on hand for those days when we want the creamy comfort without the cleaning. 

Fool Proof Living has recipes for both powdered and fresh versions.

TIP: Turmeric is amazing at soothing inflammation, and the black pepper increases your body to absorb it by up to 2000 percent. So for maximum health benefits, don’t skip the black pepper! We also like to throw in some cardamom as well…

New Year’s Eve Ginger “Champagne” 

This is the perfect beverage for the whole family to welcome in the New Year. Chop or grate fresh ginger root into a small pot of water and bring to a boil. The exact proportions are a matter of taste, but if you want some guidance, check out this recipe for ginger tea. Bring heat down and simmer for 5 minutes (longer if you want a stronger drink). Add honey–– again, whatever amount of sweetness you like––and let cool. Pour into a champagne flute until it is two-thirds full. Top off with seltzer water and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Add a few pomegranate seeds (left over from your salsa) for a festive flourish! Cheers!

TIP: If you want a spicy, SUPER ginger-y version, add a shot of juiced ginger root.


It seems like everything is sweet, baked, and confectionary this time of year. And did we mention sugary? These desserts––longstanding favorites of ours––are super seasonal, will satisfy your sweet tooth, and can be made without refined sugar!

Thumb-Print Cookies

These classic holiday cookies have been a seasonal favorite of ours since childhood! You can make them without any refined sugar by using coconut or date sugar, and making your own chia-seed jam. They also happen to be gluten-free, and are great to make with kids; even the littlest ones will enjoy smushing the dough balls with their thumbs! We like to use two different colored jams–– raspberry and apricot, for instance–– so they are even more decorative on the plate. But they won’t stay on the plate for very long!

Bob’s Red Mill has a wonderful recipe.

Depression Cake (Hear us out!)

Yes, yes, we know! It’s a grim name for a holiday dessert. But don’t let that deter you! The name refers to the era in which this spiced cake was developed, not a struggling mental state.The story goes that this method of baking was popularized during World War I and the Great Depression, when sugar and eggs were scarce. It gets its sweetness from boiled raisins, and spices give it a festive feel. Who doesn’t love a bit of history with their desert? It’s the perfect thing to pair with cup of tea, the Downton Abbey Christmas Special, and a Zoom call with grandma. (If she was around during the depression, it’s the great time to learn a little family history by asking if she remembers similar recipes from childhood!) This is an easy one to adapt for most dietary restrictions, and it’s really delicious!

Here is a very old school spiced cake recipe from A Coal Cracker In the Kitchen. And here’s a great vegan Chocolate Depression Cake recipe from Budget Bytes.

Have a happy, healthy holiday season, everyone!

Trying out a recipe? Let us know how it goes in the comments! We’d love to see pictures or hear what personalized twists you’d recommend.