Hot chocolate, your grandma’s (in)famous sweet potato and marshmallow lasagna, and homemade treats all wreak havoc on your health. Check out these unruly holiday offenders, along with tips on how to best steer clear of them this year.
Fruitcake – The most popular holiday dish that everyone loves to hate, fruit cake is the reason Christmas only comes around once a year. Where is the fruit anyway? Thankfully there’s not much because it’s just a glob of sugar candy-coated dried up mess. It’s mostly just sugar, flour and heaps of butter; a smorgasbord of calories if there ever was one. So how do you get out of consuming this culinary abomination? Keep the fruit and skip the cake. Just make sure you use the good stuff like fresh berries, oranges and pineapple. Fruits like carambola, dragon fruit and persimmon are readily available this time of the year to lend an exotic touch. A fresh fruit platter tastes great, looks good and is an excellent source of fiber.
Eggnog – What would the holidays be without this Christmas staple? A lot healthier, that’s for sure. Get out your calorie counting calculators to find out the total damage all that sugar, cream, milk and whipped egg can cause. It adds up to a lot, even if you use “new” math. A better idea is to substitute the eggnog for some spiced apple cider. Sweet apples, nutmeg and cinnamon are a healthier way to feed your sugar addiction.
Cheese Platter – It’s not a Christmas party unless there’s a cheese platter. All that creamy Camembert goodness is absolutely divine and extremely fattening. That’s why it tastes so yummy. Cheese is definitely one of those things that can ruin your dieting plan. If you must have some, then try sticking to the low-fat and hard cheese varieties.
Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Lasagna – Lasagna is a traditional Italian dish made from noodles, tomatoes and cheese. Sweet potato and marshmallow lasagna is a dish made from poor judgment. Sweet potatoes, only distantly related to the common potato, are tasty by themselves sans marshmallows. Mashed, scalloped or roasted are just some of the healthy ways to enjoy this wonderful vegetable.
Lutefisk – Different ethnic groups have various culinary specialties that they cook during the holiday season. Lutefisk is one such dish comprised of whitefish cured in lye and then cooked. It’s popular among Norwegians and Minnesotans, who apparently have the greatest concentration of Scandinavians in America. Lye is typically used in soap making and biodiesel production among other things, so you can probably guess what this dish tastes like. Bring along a plate of cold smoked salmon if you’re celebrating Christmas in Minnesota this year. It could prove useful should your host turn out to be Scandinavian.
Stollen – Sometimes foreign dishes can sound very appetizing until you find out what they really are. Stollen is the German name for fruitcake. Actually, it’s closer to bread than it is to cake, though it still tastes just as bad. Avoid the dried fruit and sticky syrup taste by baking some fresh bread and serving it alongside a fresh fruit platter. Your guests will be much healthier and happier.
Reindeer Stew – This culinary marvel was created by Chef Danny Costanios, of the Downtown Deli & Café, in Anchorage, Alaska. You might want to avoid consuming anything that resembles stew if you’re in this neck of the woods during Christmas. Eating Santa’s helpers is just plain wrong on so many levels. How are you going to explain this one to the kids?
Haggis – There’s nothing like some minced sheep liver, heart and lung combined with oatmeal, onion and spices boiled inside a sheep’s stomach. You certainly won’t find those ingredients on a list of foods for a healthy heart. Good luck and have a merry Christmas should your host present you with this Scottish specialty during the holiday season. If the word “haggis” ever comes up in conversation ahead of time, politely suggest an alternate dish. Skinless chicken breasts in a wine and lemon marinade barbecued over maple hardwood charcoal sounds great, tastes delicious and is far healthier.
Christmas can be fun, hectic, stressful and hard on our bodies. It’s easier to make healthy and tasty choices when you plan ahead of time.