Healthy Cooking

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar…Whatever Your Dietary Needs Are, These Holiday Recipes Have You Covered

Emily Laurence

Photo: Getty Images/ Miodrag Ignjatovic
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Food is central to the holiday season. This is the time of year when holiday desserts are readily paired with hot cocoa or gifted to friends and family (even if you can’t enjoy them together this year). It’s also a time to linger around the dinner table. Instead of rushed meals with a fork in one hand and your phone in the other, holiday meals are savored and sentimental.

But if you have any dietary restrictions—or someone in your family does—it can be a little frustrating, too. Double-checking to make sure the cookies your aunt sent are nut-free, giving the barista at your favorite cafe the third degree about the seasonal pastries in the case, creating a dinner menu that ensures everyone around the table can dig in—including your grandmother with diabetes…It can get tricky.

If you’re looking for holiday recipes for every dietary need (or almost all of them, that is), look no further. All the recipes rounded up here are made in such a way as to cater to people with a wide range of dietary constraints. Ready to spread some delicious holiday cheer? Keep reading.

10 holiday recipes for practically every dietary need

1. Gluten-free cinnamon rolls

Dietary needs: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free

These cinnamon rolls make the perfect Christmas morning breakfast: You can make them the night before and just warm them up in the a.m., so everyone has something to enjoy with their coffee while opening presents. (Of course, they’re just as delicious anytime they’re enjoyed…) Made with pumpkin puree, alternative milk, and a few other key ingredients, they’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and nut-free. It’s also made with coconut sugar, which means it won’t spike blood sugar as much as table sugar would.

2. Anti-inflammatory salad

Dietary needs: vegan, low-sugar, gluten-free, dairy-free

Okay, so people may not sit down to a holiday meal excited about salad, but it’s always appreciated. This salad comes together quickly and is made with a homemade dressing full of anti-inflammatory benefits. What’s in it you ask? Turmeric, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, ginger, and garlic. It makes for the perfect side dish or main dish if you add your favorite protein.

3. Herb-roasted vegetables

Dietary needs: vegan, low-sugar, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

Roasted vegetables are another delicious way to add more fiber to your holiday meal while using produce that’s in season now. This easy one-pan recipe includes sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and red onion. Bursting with color, everyone around the table will want to taste the rainbow—and since there’s no gluten, nuts, sugar, dairy, or gluten, everyone will be able to.

4. Beet hummus

Dietary needs: vegan, low-sugar, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

Need a festive app you can make quickly? Incorporating beets into your hummus gives it a fun seasonal twist: that red hue will be right on theme when paired with green snap peas for dipping. Chickpeas are still a starring ingredient, so it’s high-protein, and like traditional hummus, there’s no nuts, gluten, dairy, or sugar in it either.

5. Almond shortbread cookies

Dietary needs: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar

Shortbread cookies are a holiday favorite, but finding gluten-free versions can be a wilder goose chase than hunting down that Supreme hoodie on your nephew’s wish list. They’re actually easy to make yourself though: This recipe shows exactly how, using a blend of almond flour, coconut flour, and arrowroot flour. There also isn’t any added sugar in these cookies: cinnamon and cardamom are all you need to add sweetness.

6. Skillet apple crisp

Dietary needs: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar

The combination of baked apples, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon make this apple crisp the quintessential cold-weather dessert. And you don’t need any animal products, dairy, or gluten to make it either. Here’s what you do need (besides the aforementioned apples and spices): oats, coconut sugar, vegan butter, raisins, and crushed pecans. The end result is a low-sugar crisp that can be enjoyed at the beginning of the day just as much as the end of it. Perk: the cinnamon actually helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.

7. Pumpkin bread

Dietary needs: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar

Two types of bread reign supreme during winter: gingerbread and pumpkin bread. If you’re looking for an allergy-friendly of the latter (that will still appeal to everyone), this is it. Made with pumpkin puree, olive oil, gluten-free flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and raisins, there’s no dairy, sugar, or gluten at all. The recipe does include walnuts for texture, but they can easily be omitted to make this recipe nut-free, too.

8. Sweet potato tart

Dietary needs: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar

Made with Japanese sweet potatoes, this tart is a beautiful purple hue that will make it the star of any holiday spread. Combined with coconut cream, dates, vanilla, and cinnamon, the filling is sweet without needing any sugar whatsoever. Besides being low-sugar, this recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

9. Holiday chocolate bark

Dietary needs: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar, nut-free

This rich chocolate bark is perfect for making in a batch and gifting to your friends. Besides cacao butter and cacao powder, it’s sweetened naturally with maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt. It’s also nut-free!

10. Moringa chocolate mousse

Dietary needs: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free

This recipe uses moringa, a plant native to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh that is rich in anti-inflammatory benefits. In this recipe, it’s worked right into a vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free chocolate mousse. This mousse is also 100 percent nut-free.

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