What Foods to Avoid over the Holidays
Sorry for the letdown, but having “fruit” in the name doesn’t make this cake healthy. And in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Made of candied and dried fruits, ginger, flour, butter, eggs, spices and then soaked in alcoholic spirits, a typical slice of this old-time sweet can clock in at more than 400 calories.
MULLED WINE OR CIDER
We know wine is good for us, but not mulled wine. The warming cloves, anise and fruit zest give it a cold-weather appeal, but once you add in honey and fruit juice or apple cider, this drink has become an unnecessarily high-calorie, high-sugar bomb. Some recipes top out at more than 200 calories per serving and 23 grams of sugar. Enjoy a simple glass of wine instead.
GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Just because a green bean is a vegetable doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear with this casserole. This staple holiday dish is calorie-dense and full of sodium, thanks to the condensed cream of mushroom soup and fried onions. One serving contains at least 230 calories and about 500 milligrams of sodium. All of the sodium can lead to bloat, which can kill any party mood.
Plain popcorn is a tasty, high-fiber snack. But mix it with sugar and corn syrup, and the calories and grams of sugar add up. Popcorn balls and caramel popcorn are often served at holiday parties, and you may get a big tin of it as a gift. Better to stick to air-popped popcorn instead. Add a little butter and salt to it, or nix the salt and make your own “sweet” corn by adding a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar to plain popcorn.
SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP
Spinach artichoke dip sounds like it can‘t be all that bad — it contains two vegetables, after all. But this seemingly innocent appetizer packs a high-calorie punch. “A half-cup serving of spinach artichoke dip is almost 300 calories, but most people don’t stop at just half a cup. Add the chips, and you end up with 450 calories or more! If you have the urge to dip, reach for raw veggies and salsa or low-calorie dressings instead. Or, have just one bite of the tempting dip and walk away.
Eggnog is one of the most popular and most calorie drinks of the holiday. One cup of this whipped-cream, egg and bourbon mixture typically contains about 350 calories, 150 milligrams of cholesterol and 20 grams of sugar. Choose apple cider or make your own eggnog using skim milk, pasteurized egg whites and nutmeg to drastically reduce calories and fat. With these healthy substitutions you won’t feel like you’re missing out on a holiday favorite.
Pecan pie drenched in ice cream: It’s a favorite dessert of the holiday season. This popular pie is one of the worst calorie culprits. Holiday season certainly calls for pies, but do your best to stay away from the pecan variety. One slice can pack around 540 calories, 33 grams of sugar and 22 grams of fat. Reach for a sliver of pumpkin pie instead. The pumpkin pie contains less calories, sugar and fat.
Don’t let their looks fool you. These small appetizers look cute and innocent, but one cup of these tiny meatballs — with a creamy sauce — could contain as many as 400 calories. Try to fill up on some veggies instead. Save your calories for something more substantial.
SWEET POTATO PIE
Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients and vitamins. But when you add sweet potatoes to pies and other desserts, these superfoods can turn into a dilemma. One slice of sweet potato pie with marshmallow meringue topping can contain more than 500 calories and loads of sugar and fat. Add ice cream and other delicious additions, and the calories keep piling on. Make a healthier version of this dish by topping sweet potatoes with a small pat of butter and some cinnamon, brown sugar and spices.
Holiday parties would not be the same without these tasty appetizers. This innocent-looking snack is loaded with fat calories and are full of saturated fat, which is OK only in moderation. Instead of cheese balls and crackers, head for the hummus and veggies.
Not exclusive to Thanksgiving anymore, you would be hard pressed to find a holiday dinner table without stuffing. Try to avoid this dish altogether. Loaded with butter and high-fat meats, this savory classic can come in at more than 350 calories and almost 17 grams of fat per serving. Explore one of the many healthier options available, including recipes that use fruit, wild rice, quinoa and mushrooms instead of white bread or meat. You can also use broth instead of added fat to keep the stuffing moist.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Which holiday dishes tempt you the most, and what’s your plan for handling and being able to enjoy food over the holidays? Are any of the foods on this list among your personal favorites? Do you try to prepare them more healthily? I’d love to hear your thoughts …..