It’s the official start of the holiday season today. And you know what that means. We’ll be gobbling down all our favorite foods until New Year’s arrives and we resolve to start eating better again.
Because, let’s face it, indulging a bit around the holidays is going to happen.
After all, what’s Thanksgiving without a slice of pie at the end of the meal? Or a Christmas party without a cookie or two?
Pass on these “No Thanks Thanksgiving Foods”
But the truth is not all splurges are created equal. In fact, a few foods are likely to show up on the Thanksgiving table today that you should pass on.
I call them “No Thanks Thanksgiving Foods” or NTTFs. And they shouldn’t pass your lips today or any other day of the year.
Pass: Skip the canned cranberry jelly. This Thanksgiving staple is full of a ton of inflammation-triggering sugar. And more often than not, it’s the high fructose corn syrup variety.
Refined sugars are bad news, to begin with, but HFCS may be the worst of the lot. Research shows it’s linked to greater weight gain than table sugar and it leads to abnormal increases in body fat. And let’s not forget the hormone-disrupting BPA from the can.
In other words, the health-harming ingredients overshadow the health benefits you could gain from eating antioxidant-rich cranberries.
Pick: Reach for the homemade cranberry sauce instead. Better yet, make your own so know exactly what’s in it.
To make your own cranberry relish combine whole cranberries, pineapple juice, and unsweetened applesauce in a food processor or blender. For some extra zip cut an unpeeled orange into quarters, deseed it and drop it into the food processor too.
You’ll get the sweet and tart flavor combo you crave without all the unhealthy refined sugars.
Pass: Say no thanks to the sweet potato casserole. All the brown sugar, marshmallows, and caramelized nuts mean this traditional dish is swimming in sugar. Let’s face it, sweet potato casserole isn’t a side dish, it’s a dessert. And an unhealthy one.
Pick: Try mashed sweet potatoes instead. You’ll still get the naturally satisfying sweetness of sweet potatoes, but without all that unhealthy added sugar. You can mash your potatoes alone or add a dollop of butter or a splash of whole milk to smooth them out. For a heartier and healthier version keep the skins on and add some chopped pecans.
Pass: Opt out of the traditional green bean casserole. This dish turns healthy green beans into a chemical quagmire. The label on the BPA-laced canned soup used in the traditional recipe reads more like a chemistry lab than food. And don’t get me started on the palm oil and high fructose corn syrup in the fried “onion topping.”
Pick: Dump all the junk and just serve up plain green beans instead. If plain beans are too, well, plain for your Thanksgiving table toss in some toasted slivered almonds.
Still not thrilled? I propose a new holiday side dish tradition. Brussels sprouts with toasted pecans. One of the healthiest veggies you’ll find in the produce aisle, Brussels are high in fiber, fight inflammation and are loaded with good-for-you nutrients. Add lightly roasted pecans for crunch and a healthy dose of omega-3s.
Pass: Pass on the pecan pie. This Thanksgiving favorite is one of the worst dessert choices you can make. Any health benefit you may get from pecans is erased by the sky-high amounts of sugar, corn syrup, and refined flour. In fact, pecan pie can have more than 500 calories per slice, and most of that comes from refined sugars.
Pick: Say “yes please” to the pumpkin pie instead. Sure, it’s still a sweet dessert, but it comes with far less sugar than you’ll find in pecan pie. Plus the pumpkin used in the traditional recipe, along with the spices, delivers some healthy nutrients to the table.
Make your own with coconut milk, coconut sugar, and stevia for an even healthier version. And if you bake it in individual ramekins or a glass pie pan, you can have delicious pumpkin pie without the crust.
Pass on these “No Thanks Thanksgiving Foods” for a healthier Thanksgiving holiday.