As a chef who also happens to be a health fanatic, I would say I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays. I love them because the holidays are all about delicious food which I love. Food that’s far more decadent than any other dishes you have during the rest of the year. There are also so many classic holiday dishes that you tell yourself you can’t miss, but this list can be dangerous.
I for one have been working very hard on getting back to my healthy pre-baby weight this year, especially this summer, and I’m sure a lot of us are in the same boat. During the summer time, we tend to be more mindful of what we eat with shorts and bathing suits in our closets and we are also a lot more active.
Then comes fall and winter, when we bundle up and a few pounds here and there can go unnoticed. This year, I told myself that I need to be better. I need to avoid some key dishes that can set back all the hard work I’ve put myself through during the last few months.
Below are the 15 holiday foods I recommend avoiding this season that really aren’t worth all the calories.
- Fruitcake – Loaded with so much sugar it’s intoxicating, and honestly there are better desserts to enjoy during the season that are worth it.
- Candy Canes – They look pretty harmless, easy to grab at the office and small. Avoid these treats at all costs. These suckers are the equivalent of just eating tablespoons of straight sugar with a sprinkle of food coloring and artificial peppermint flavor.
- Chocolates and Confectionaries – During the holidays people love giving out and sharing boxes of mediocre chocolates. I guess it’s a nice gesture, but honestly it’s not doing anyone any favors. These generic subpar boxes of chocolates need to be tossed. Don’t snack on those Godiva Chocolates please! Be it at the office or at a party. And don’t keep the ones you are given to as gifts. Immediately give them away so they don’t tempt you in your cupboard.
- Gingerbread Cookies – Unless they are your grandmother’s family recipe passed down to your family, skip them. Especially the ones you have to decorate with even more sugar, or that you buy in a grocery store. They should really only be for looking at, not eating.
- Cheesecake – During the holidays, I know there’s always going to be lots of pie, especially for Thanksgiving. There’s something about these festive pies that get me every time. The way they look, smell and taste. I can’t resist and I’ll always leave room for a sliver. Cheesecake however always ends up on the dessert table, and it isn’t a holiday tradition for most. I recommend skipping this dessert this year. It’s heavy and full of calories.
- Fruit Jelly – I don’t even know what this is really for? I guess it looks festive, but tastes awful and really serves no true culinary value. Skip the unnecessary sugar and skip this dish.
- Honey Baked Ham – I don’t know what’s worse, the amount of sugar on a honey baked ham, or the amount of sodium. This overly processes slab of salt-ladened meat should not end up on any dinner table. It’s terribly unhealthy and you can easily make a roast that is much healthier.
- Cheese Twists – Stop noshing on these tempting stomach fillers. They are just empty calories you can easily consume before the main meal, like chips. Do your gut a favor and nosh on some crudité, because you know you’ll have some decadent dishes coming your way later in the evening you will want to save room for.
- Bacon Wrapped Dates – They get made ahead of time, they shrivel and look pathetic on a plate, not to mention they are just another dish full of sugar and salt. Skip! Reach out for some shrimp cocktail, light and lean and rich in protein.
- Mushroom Duxelle on Puff Pastry – Why is this such a common holiday appetizer?! I see it all the time at cocktails parties and yet it’s one of the least popular items passed around. Why hasn’t this dish been axed back into history? Again, empty calories with bland flavors and usually processed puff pastry.
- Buche De Noel or Yule Log – Beautiful to look at, just don’t eat it. It’s really heavy and you guessed it, has tons of sugar and fat made with lots of heavy cream and butter. Use it for decoration.
- Popcorn Balls – Popcorn itself is actually a great, healthy snack. Sprinkle it lightly with cinnamon or cocoa powder, just don’t form them into balls with lots of corn syrup. It’s a good way to mess up a healthy snack. Okay for the tree, not okay for the waste line.
- Cheese Balls – These are calorie bombs that are heavy and unnecessary. Choose to nosh on a cheese platter instead with some unique cheeses, crackers and fruits for a better and more enjoyable option.
- Garlic Bread – As if we don’t already have enough carbs like mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn bread, people feel like they have to bring even more to the holiday table. This dish isn’t even festive, but somehow shows up a lot on holiday spreads. It should be vetoed for the holidays and kept on white and red checkered table cloths.
- Canned Pureed Pumpkin – This stuff is not appetizing and full of sugar and other ingredients. Please try to use fresh ingredients, they far better for your health and much tastier.