The holidays are a time for celebration and merriment, but the large meals in which we indulge can be costly in terms of calories and fat. Making healthy selections at the dinner table will make your New Year’s resolution to get in shape easier and keep you from having to loosen your belt or enter a food coma on the couch after the meal.
Here is a list of five favorite holiday foods that you should avoid this season. Are they delicious? Oh, yes. But some substitutions will make an equally delicious meal.
1. Pecan Pie
There’s nothing pretentious about pecan pie: Everything about it is bad for you! Its list of ingredients includes butter, corn syrup, salt, eggs and sugar. The crust of flour, fat and salt certainly doesn’t help the matter. A slice of pecan pie averages 512 calories and 27.3 grams of fat. Enjoy toasted pecan cookies with oatmeal, instead. At 59 calories and 2.9 grams of fat each, they are a great alternative to rich pecan pie.
2. Canned Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is delicious, but a serving of the can-shaped jelly is packed with 105 grams of sugar and 400 calories. It is best to make your own cranberry sauce, using fresh, whole cranberries and orange juice. A typical recipe will cut over 300 calories from each serving. I should mention that fresh, homemade cranberry sauce is much tastier than the canned stuff, too!
3. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
A mashed potato isn’t anything to be worked up over, but most people add salt, butter and milk to their spuds. A single serving of prepared mashed potatoes has 237 calories — and many people eat several servings during a meal. Gravy compounds the matter. At up to 200 calories and 1,373 milligrams of sodium per 1/4-cup serving, this sauce should definitely be skipped. Rather than mashed potatoes, try serving oven-roasted potatoes, which clock in at 116 calories per cup. For gravy, try a recipe made with chickpeas. At 47 calories and only 128 milligrams of sodium per serving, it’s a delicious and healthy alternative.
Ahh, eggnog. This wintery drink is a particular favorite of mine, and I almost hate to tell you not to drink it. An eight-ounce serving has 343 calories, 21 grams of sugar and 150 milligrams of cholesterol, half of the limit suggested by the USDA. Don’t think that eggnog’s competitors, hot buttered rum and mulled wine are superior choices. These should be avoided, as well. Hot buttered rum packs a whopping 300 calories, 40 grams of cholesterol and 13 grams of fat, and the added sugar in mulled wine makes the calorie count soar to 356 calories per serving. Instead, enjoy a spiced cider, which has 86 calories and zero grams of fat.
5. Candied Yams
Even if you skip the marshmallows, candied yams are a dish that turns a super food into a super junkfood. With 400 calories and 38 grams of sugar per serving, these sweetened spuds are no light matter. Sweet potatoes are naturally delicious. Try mashing some with a bit of pure maple syrup, ginger, cumin and chili powder. This delicious alternative only has 113 calories per serving.