How to Turn a Bag of Candy Canes Into 5 Desserts Under 300 Calories

Get into the holiday spirit with these lower-calorie, peppermint-spiked desserts that start with a bag of candy canes.
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There's no shortage of candy canes come December. They're festive, fun and minty fresh. But after hanging a few as decor, gifting some alongside holiday cards and snacking on others, we're usually left with at least a handful sitting around.

Instead of tossing them in the trash, try these dietitian-approved candy cane desserts that are simple to make, delicious, pretty to look at and use up your leftover candy canes. And because they all clock in under 300 calories, you can enjoy them without wrecking your balanced diet.

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1. Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Serve these decadent cookies alongside a tall glass of milk.
  • 210 calories
  • 17 grams of sugar

The holiday season isn't quite complete without enjoying a cookie or two. These chocolate peppermint ones are soft, chewy and the perfect way to use up extra candy canes. "Choose natural cocoa powder to increase the antioxidant content in these cookies," Nicole Rodriguez, RDN, says. She also suggests choosing dark chocolate labeled as 70 percent cacao or higher because it delivers the most flavanols, an antioxidant known to be anti-inflammatory and potentially anti-carcinogenic.

Get the Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies recipe and nutrition info from Minimalist Baker.

2. Peppermint Brownie in a Mug

This decadent brownie has 12 grams of protein per mug.
Image Credit: Jackie Newgent/LIVESTRONG.com
  • 256 calories
  • 20 grams of sugar

Desserts in a mug are not only convenient, but they're a quick way to enjoy a sweet treat without a lot of fuss. Even though this recipe uses coconut sugar and whole-wheat pastry flour instead of overly-processed options, Rodriguez says the sugar content in this recipe is a bit steep. To reduce it, try using a 1:1 sugar substitute.

Get the Peppermint Brown in a Mug recipe and nutrition info here.

3. Peppermint Cream Cheese Dip

When serving, opt for healthy dipper options like fruit or whole-grain crackers.
Image Credit: Tastes of Lizzy T
  • 140 calories
  • 15 grams of sugar

Dessert dips are a great idea when you're bored of your go-to recipes, but it's easy to consume more than expected once the dipping starts. "Turn this into a portion-controlled dessert by serving it in shot glasses with a single graham cracker," Rodriguez suggests. And if you're looking to reduce the fat and calorie content, choose light cream cheese or swap for Neufchatel cheese.

Get the Peppermint Cream Cheese Dip recipe and nutrition info from Tastes of Lizzy T.

4. Peppermint Hot Chocolate

This drink is rich and sweet on its own, so consider skipping the toppings like whipped cream and chocolate syrup.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com
  • 260 calories
  • 29 grams of sugar

Hot chocolate is a go-to for a winter dessert. It's sweet, warm and easy to serve to the entire family. This recipe melts candy canes into the chocolatey drink, which naturally bumps up the sugar content. To reduce the overall sugar, try using one milk chocolate bar instead of two or swapping both bars for dark chocolate instead.

Get the Peppermint Hot Chocolate recipe and nutrition info here.

5. Peppermint Crunch Ice Cream

This minty ice cream packs over 80 percent of your daily value of calcium.
  • 257 calories
  • 18 grams of sugar

"This homemade ice cream surprisingly has less total fat, saturated fat and sugar per serving than the varieties found in stores," Rodriguez says. But the key to enjoying this recipe is to portion accordingly using a measuring cup. Big bonus: This Peppermint Crunch Ice Cream provides more than a day's worth of vitamin A.

Get the Peppermint Crunch Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info from Homemade Hooplah.