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Healthy Thanksgiving dessert recipes

What’s a holiday without an impressive selection of sweet-tooth satisfying desserts? The word anticlimactic comes to mind. Even if you’re watching your waistline despite the heaving Thanksgiving buffet of calories, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to forgo the holiday dessert. Simply serve one (or all) of these healthy Thanksgiving desserts at your feast – even your diet-defiant guests will enjoy them.

Bean brownies

Coconut pumpkin pie

Who says you have to stick to the butter-rich pastry crust for pies when you can shave calories and fat by lining your pie plate with buttery graham cracker crumbs? Pumpkin is inherently healthy, and elevating the flavor of the pumpkin filling with warm spices and coconut milk lets you cut down on the sugar without compromising taste.

Serves 10


  • 8 ounces graham crackers, finely crushed
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk, shaken before opening
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground white pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine cracker crumbs and butter in a 9-inch pie dish, tossing to coat. Press crumbs evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Bake for seven to eight minutes to toast the crumbs. Transfer pie dish to a wire rack to cool while you make the pumpkin filling.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the paddle attachment, combine pumpkin, coconut milk, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper and salt. Blend on medium-high speed until well-combined.
  4. Pour pumpkin filling into pie crust. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until filling is set. If graham cracker crust starts to brown, cover with a pie crust protector or strips of aluminum foil.
  5. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool for a few hours before slicing and serving.

Fudgy gluten-free black bean brownies (gluten, dairy & egg free)

For the chocolate lovers – and gluten-free goers – at your Thanksgiving gathering, these amazing brownies are made with a surprise superfood ingredient that turns a common holiday dessert into a high-fiber, protein-rich treat. Rachel Todd, gluten-free baker extraordinaire and founder of the fun food blog Raia’s Recipes, shares this yummy yet healthy brownie recipe that has fast become a hit with her family and friends.

Serves 8 to 10


  • 3 tablespoons flax meal
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1-1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 cups dry black beans soaked overnight, rinsed, drained (you can sprout beans, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 9-inch square baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flax meal and hot water and let stand until gelled.
  3. Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring often, until smooth.
  4. In a food processor, combine flax mixture, melted chocolate, black beans, applesauce, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Process until smooth.
  5. Sprinkle baking powder on top and stir in with a spoon (or pulse lightly until combined). Pour batter into the prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes, until brownies are firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate chips on top and let cool before removing from pan.

Sorbet cookie cups

Makes 12


  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 2 pints Ciao Bella Sorbet (try blood orange, peach ginger or mango)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, use a whisk to beat egg whites, sugar and flour until well-blended. Whisk in butter, almond extract and salt.
  3. Working quickly, drop batter by heaping tablespoons leaving four inches of space, and use a narrow metal spatula to spread batter to form 3- to 4-inch rounds.
  4. Bake for five minutes or until cookies are golden around the edges. While cookies are baking, set out as many glasses as you have cookies. Turn the glasses upside down.
  5. When cookies are done, quickly lift each one up with a spatula and lay it on top of the glass bottom, letting it drape over. Let cookies harden then transfer to a wire rack. They will be shaped like little cups.
  6. Repeat with remaining batter.
  7. To serve, fill cookie cups with a scoop of sorbet or with mini-scoops of different flavors of sorbet.

More Thanksgiving dessert ideas

3 Non-pie Thanksgiving pumpkin desserts
Easy homemade pie crust recipe
Thanksgiving alternatives to can-shaped cranberry sauce

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