The holidays mean parties and family gatherings. And it means a buffet of delicious holiday treats. Lots of holiday foods are healthy – filled with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. However, they can also be loaded up with calories.
Don’t assume that foods are healthy just because they are normally low in calories. Many dishes have been modified with additional ingredients, such as added sugar and fats, to create a fun and festive treat. That also means additional calories.
Here are 12 foods that are on the holiday naughty list and healthier options you can enjoy instead:
The skin of turkey and chicken is loaded with saturated fat. Dark meat also have more fat per bite than white meat. Serve yourself turkey or other white meat without the skin.
Stuffing is filled with butter and high-fat meats like sausage. A single scoop of stuffing may have 550 calories. Use low-sodium chicken broth instead of butter, and try low-fat chicken or fruit instead of fatty meats. Or, you can even make stuffing with wild rice instead.
Green Bean Casserole
While green beans are a vegetable rich in vitamins and fiber, the casserole doesn’t offer as many health benefits. The onion toppings, butter and cream that are used to create the dish can contain over 750 calories and over 4,000 milligrams of salt. Stick with plain green beans and skip the rest.
Buttery Mashed Potatoes
Homemade mashed potatoes often contain whole milk, butter and salt. Instead, mash the potatoes with low-fat milk or low sodium, fat-free chicken stock. Then, skip the butter and salt.
Meatballs may be high in protein, but each meatball can have as many as 400 calories with eggs, bread and cream added to make them. Beef broth can also add up to 50% of your daily recommended allowance of sodium. Choose lean meats without the added fattening ingredients.
Cranberries may be a super fruit, filled with antioxidants and fiber, however a serving of cranberry sauce contains around 200 calories and twice as much sugar as homemade pumpkin pie. Stick with the pumpkin pie!
Although pecans are packed with healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, pecan pie is filled with sugar and calories. A slice of pecan pie can have more than 500 calories. Try nibbling on a bowl of mixed nuts or a small slice of pumpkin pie instead.
You may receive a gift of a large tin of carmel popcorn. While popcorn on its own is a healthy, whole-grain snack, adding sugary carmel only packs on calories. Try plain popcorn instead – it’s just as satisfying without the extra fat.
Cakes and Cookies
You may crave carbohydrates in the fall and winter. You want to avoid sweets, but you also know that carbs taste so good and make you feel good. Snack on whole-grain cereals and crackers to satisfy your carb cravings.
Mix together alcohol, heavy cream, eggs and sugar, and you’ve got a recipe with about 340 calories and 19 grams of fat. Make a low calorie eggnog with skim milk, egg substitutes and artificial sweeteners. Or skip the eggnog and have a cup of green tea.
Cocktails can also be surprisingly high in calories. Mix up a wine spritzer by adding a splash of wine and sparkling water to pomegranate or cranberry juice. You cut calories and include fruit in your diet.
Milk chocolate is high in fat and low in nutrients. Go for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, but still eat it in moderation. Even better, choose dark chocolate with heart-healthy nuts.
‘Tis the season for tasty foods. If you know which foods are naughty versus healthy, you can make good choices and enjoy yourself during the holidays!