Raise your hand if you've ever had to change into pants with an elastic waistband mid-meal. Sometimes it's worth it, but other times, over-indulging just results in bloating and exhaustion, especially if you've been snacking all day long. This problem presents itself even more during the holidays. It's hard to stay healthy this time of year when rich treats call your name everywhere you look—but it's easier if you have an arsenal of healthy holiday snack recipes.
We gathered 15 recipes for healthy holiday snacks that taste good and make you feel even better. Click through the yummy, seasonally on-point snacks for you and your guests to devour over the holidays.
Smacked Cucumber With Chili Oil
The Recipe: Smacked Cucumber with Chili Oil
The Hero Ingredient: The cucumber. Smacking the vegetable (meaning, you lightly hammer it with the back of a spoon, the flat part of a knife, or even a meat tenderizer) may seem like an odd way to get the bite-sized pieces you're looking for, but we swear it works. Cutting it up in this way lets the tangy chili marinade soak in thoroughly.
Pro Tip: This recipe is super fun to make and might even double as a stress reliever, but be careful because there's a delicate balance when it comes to the art of smacking. Don't do it so hard that you totally obliterate the cucumber.
Carrot and Chickpea Harissa Dip
The Recipe: Roasted Carrot and Harissa Chickpea Dip
The Hero Ingredient: The carrots. And if the vivid orange hue wasn't pretty enough on its own, the parsley and pomegranate seed toppings make it look like a work of art (and add a nice crunch to each bite).
Pro Tip: You can adjust the heat depending on your spice preferences. If the amount of chili seeds that the recipe calls for seems like a lot, definitely don't feel like you need to add them all.
Gluten-Free Peppermint Sugar Cookies
The Recipe: Gluten-Free Peppermint Chewy Sugar Cookies
The Hero Ingredient: Spinach. You won't believe these cookies actually have greens in them, but they totally do. The spinach helps make this healthy alternative recipe extra festive.
Pro Tip: "Bake until they are just set, and the edges just begin to harden and turn light brown, about 12–14 minutes," says recipe creator Taylor of Food Faith Fitness. Let them cool for five minutes before devouring.
Homemade Parmesan Popcorn
The Recipe: Rosemary Parmesan Bacon Popcorn
The Hero Ingredient: Bacon fat. The popcorn kernels are soaked in bacon fat, and the result is insanely delicious.
Pro Tip: This popcorn recipe from Melanie Makes calls for parmesan and bacon, but if you want to keep things lighter, you can opt-out of the latter.
If you sprinkle the cheese on the popcorn while it's still hot, the cheese will melt in all the right ways and make for a truly delicious snack.
Spicy Thai Lime Peanuts
The Recipe: Spicy Thai Lime Peanuts
The Hero Ingredient: Thai lime leaf. Whether you're looking for something to keep the kids satisfied between meals, or you want to create an at-home bar snack for guests that won't ruin their appetite before the main act, this recipe is healthy, fragrant, and so addicting.
Pro Tip: Roast the peanuts until you can smell them, which should be about 20 to 30 minutes. They'll get really fragrant when they're done.
Blueberry Oat Bars
The Recipe: Homemade Blueberry Nutrigrain Bars
The Hero Ingredient: Blueberry jam. If granola bars don't really do it for you, but you want to munch on something convenient and healthy, you'll probably love these fruit-packed snacks.
Pro Tip: If you want them to last a little longer than their typical shelf life, stick a few in the freezer and defrost at your leisure.
Sesame Soy Edamame
The Recipe: Edamame with Soy and Sesame Sauce
The Hero Ingredient: Edamame. High in fiber and protein and super fun to eat, edamame is about to become your healthy go-to snack if it isn't already.
Pro Tip: Some people have qualms about frozen veggies, but you can definitely use frozen edamame for this recipe. The taste and health factor will be the same as if you used fresh edamame.
Chicken and Mushroom Purses
The Recipe: Christmas Party Purses
The Hero Ingredient: Chicken and mushrooms. When it comes to healthy holiday appetizer recipes to impress crowds, look no further.
Pro Tip: Don't stress if you don't have a crepe maker. "You can pour the batter into an oiled pan, one at a time, and make the crepes the same way you would make thin pancakes," says Root and Revel's recipe creator Kate.
Vegan PB&J Oat Bars
The Recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Bars
The Hero Ingredient: Strawberry jam. These bars are made with an oatmeal crust, strawberry jam, and peanut butter, making them sort of like a personal pie, only less dessert-like.
Pro Tip: "Once the crust is slightly golden brown, remove it from oven and immediately add strawberry jam," says the team behind Minimalist Baker. Don't go too heavy on the peanut butter because it will get messy fast. Spoon it on gently and drizzle it if you can.
Chili-Lime Shrimp Ceviche
The Recipe: Sinaloa-Style Chile Lime Marinated Shrimp
The Hero Ingredient: Shrimp. If you feel like getting more ambitious in the kitchen and want to add a healthier appetizer to the holiday party lineup, ceviche is your friend.
Pro Tip: Make sure you serve this recipe from Salt & Wind right away—preferably with tostadas and avocado. If you wait too long to serve, the avocado will start to brown, making it a little less appetizing.
Holiday Veggie Platter
The Recipe: Holiday Veggie Platter
The Hero Ingredient: Raw veggies. When you want vegetables to look more fun than their reputation makes them out to be, it's all about coming up with creative ways to present them. According to Chelsea's Messy Apron, arrange your veggie platters in the shape of holiday items and traditions.
Pro Tip: Raw veggies aren't the most appetizing on their own, so get a few dips together to jazz up this dish a bit.
Grilled and Caramelized Pineapple
The Recipe: Grilled Pineapple with Brown Sugar Orange Glaze
The Hero Ingredient: Fresh pineapple. Though this snack is packed with a lot of sugar, it's a healthier alternative to other decadent desserts. Plus, it looks way too delicious to pass up.
Pro Tip: According to recipe creator Jen of Carlsbad Cravings, grilled pineapple also pairs well with honey, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, teriyaki sauce, and barbecue sauce.
Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies
The Recipe: Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies
The Hero Ingredient: Coconut sugar. If you're looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth but want something healthy, try these whipped gluten-free shortbread cookies from Food Faith Fitness.
Pro Tip: Make sure not to whip a second longer than directed. Whipping the mixture for too long will cause these ultra-soft, airy, buttery cookies to deflate, making them too heavy.
The Recipe: Broccoli Tots
The Hero Ingredient: Broccoli. Instead of using a carb-rich food like potatoes, consider using a different vegetable. Even broccoli-haters will love these tots because there are so many other delicious flavors.
Pro Tip: "After blanching and patting the florets dry, it's super important to chop the broccoli quite finely. If the broccoli has large pieces, the mixture won't stick together when you go to form it into individual tots," says Pickled Plum's recipe creator Caroline.
Lemon Chia Chews
The Recipe: Lemon Chia Chews
The Hero Ingredient: Chia seeds. You can whip up these lemon chia chews from Salt & Wind in just 25 minutes, and they look like festive winter snowballs, making them the quickest and healthiest holiday snack around. They're vegan, gluten-free, and packed with superfoods.
Pro Tip: Make sure your dates are pitted before using!