If you and your children are super excited about holiday baking like my family, it’s time to buckle up! This year’s holiday baking extravaganza is just around the corner. From butter tarts to gingerbread houses and holiday cookie exchanges, there are endless festive recipes out there. It really can be quite a task to narrow down which recipe(s) to choose! Don’t worry—I’ve got you. Here are some of my top kid and dietitian-approved homemade holiday treats that the whole family will love (and come back for seconds)!
A note about how to handle the holiday treat overload
Weeks leading into (and following) the holiday season, we see a wave of festive candies, chocolates, pies, cakes, and cookies at daycare, school, work and home. The abundance of sweets can be overwhelming, particularly for parents concerned about their kids consuming excessive sugar. This anxiety is valid, given the influence of diet culture demonizing sugar and shaping our perception of sweets and treats.
First, if you’ve got a wee one (under the age of two), their tummies aren’t quite ready for lots of foods with added sugar. Their tummy space needs to be filled with nutrient-dense whole foods (without the added sugar) for now.
But for children over the age of two, the truth is, that when food is restricted, the natural human response (for both children and adults) is to start to crave and seek out that food even more. The so-called “forbidden fruit effect” kicks in making that scarce food item (i.e. holiday treats) more enticing and puts it on a pedestal above foods that are not restricted (i.e. regular foods served at mealtimes).
Sound familiar? If your child seems to be obsessed with sugar, especially during the holidays, this could be a sign that they have been overly restricted from being able to enjoy treats. As a dietitian mom, my advice is to make a genuine effort to embrace the holiday treats in your home, taking them off of the “forbidden fruit” pedestal. How? The best way to start doing this is to lean in and offer your child a holiday treat at more meals and snack times. While this may feel very counterintuitive, it does work!
Your child’s interest in treats will begin to diminish as they start to feel less restricted and more trusted to self-regulate their own intake. This concept of introducing food neutrality in your home will also help to support your child along their journey of intuitive eating. P.S. If you haven’t listened to my Audible course called Raising Intuitive Eaters, it’s a must!
Lastly, remember that ALL foods offer nutritional value, including treats. For example, cookies provide carbohydrates for a quick energy source. But above all, these recipes infuse joy, pleasure and an opportunity to create lasting memories around the holidays.
Without further ado, it’s time to dive into the chocolaty holiday treats I guarantee your whole family will love.
1) Holiday Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats
This is one of the easiest no-bake recipe I make for the holidays! It is also one of the fastest to go (courtesy of my 3 kids!). All you need is Rice Krispies, butter, dark chocolate chips, cocoa powder, mini marshmallows, crushed candy canes, and holiday M&Ms. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting the 2 hours for the Rice Krispie treats to firm up before digging in! What I love is that this recipe is a great one to get the kids involved in the kitchen. My kids have a blast helping smash the candy canes to pieces and stirring in the festively colored M&Ms…yumm!
2) Easy Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles
If you are a fan of Oreo cookies and cheesecake, this is the recipe for you. Not only is this recipe super simple, but it is also ready to enjoy in less than an hour from start to finish! All you will need is cream cheese, Oreo cookies, Smarties, semi-sweet baking chocolate, and holiday sprinkles. Another bonus to this recipe is that it can also be made gluten free for individuals with wheat intolerance or celiac disease! Gluten-free Oreo cookies are now available at most grocery stores (Woohoo!).
These delicious no-bake truffles will have your kids (and holiday guests) melting in their seats with delight. Bonus: the cocoa in dark chocolate is not only packed with flavour, but also antioxidants, potassium and a bit of iron as well! (Bonus! Who knew?!)
Chewy Chocolate Mint Dipped Cookies
This chewy and chocolatey cookie recipe is not only easy to make, but also a ton of fun—especially the dipping in melted chocolate part! Buy Bakers white chocolate or a good quality white chocolate bar (that has cocoa butter in the ingredients) for the yummiest and best melting dipping chocolate.
These beautiful cookies make the perfect gift packed in festive baggies or jars to give to friends and family over the holidays. I always cherish the precious time I spend with my daughter carefully crafting these cookies, and it has become a holiday tradition that we look forward to each year!
Which one of these holiday treats will you be making first?