Pick, Don't Pass Holiday Eats

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The holiday season usually means parties, fatty foods and a relaxed approach to nutrition. While you don't want to miss the fun and goods, being aware of the nutrients you take in is crucial to bringing your A-game to the court. To guide your season's eatings, we asked Boston Celtics nutrition consultant Joan Buchbinder for advice on which common party foods are good options in four categories. Here's the breakdown.

Appetizers

Shrimp
85 calories // 0g carbs // 18g protein // 1g fat
The Goods: Shrimp is great because the fat content is low, which is key. "My philosophy is [pairing] a good carb with a lean protein, [keeping] fat and refined sugars low, which can be really hard to do during the holidays," Buchbinder says.

Salted nuts
170 calories // 5g carbs // 6g protein // 15g fat
The Goods: On the salty side, a quarter-cup of nuts [about a handful], serves up a healthy dose of omega 3s, which are healthy fats that have an antiinflammatory effect. Go for walnuts, almonds and pistachios.

Crackers & cheese cubes
190 calories // 11g carbs // 7g protein // 13g fat
The Goods: This snack can quickly become unhealthy if you're eating full-fat cheeseswith buttery crackers. To avoid packing in the fat, keep this snack healthy by sticking with whole grain crackers and low fat cheeses like Swiss, provolone or part-skim mozzarella.

Beverages

Eggnog
345 calories // 34g carbs // 10g protein // 20g fat
The Goods: You don't necessarily have to forgo this bev. Though it's plenty caloric, it serves well for off season athletes trying to gain weight, Buchbinder says.

Apple cider
120 calories // 30g carbs //0g protein // 0g fat
The Goods: Juice is a great option because "it not only rehydrates the body, the sugars also refuel it," adds Buchbinder.

Hot cocoa w/ nonfat milk
160 calories // 27g carbs // 8.5g protein // 3g fat
The Goods: You can amp up the nutrient value of this drink by making it with a cup of nonfat milk instead of water, for an added eight grams of protein.

Sides

Mashed potatoes made w/ butter
240 calories // 35g carbs // 4g protein // 9g fat
The Goods: Buchbinder says mashed potatoes aren't a bad option. In fact, she notes, athletes often forget that potatoes are a vegetable. She adds the side is fine when prepared with leaner ingredients like low fat milk and low fat sour cream.

Sweet potato casserole
200 calories // 40g carbs // 2g protein // 4g fat
The Goods: Buchbinder makes sweet potatoes her number-one pick. "[You] want the foods you eat to be training-table specific, which [includes] good carbohydrates," Buchbinder says, identifying this sweet starch as a great source. It's also high in vitamin C and beta carotene, which has antioxidant properties.

Green bean casserole
110 calories // 8g carbs // 2g protein // 8g fat
The Goods: Despite the veggie in its name, this dish is actually a no-go, since it's made with a creamy soup and fried onions.

Stuffing
180 calories // 20g carbs // 3g protein // 10g fat
The Goods: The real deal tastes better than instant, but with it comes a hefty nutrient price, like more fat. A half-cup instant mix (e.g., Stove Top) serves up about 100 calories and one gram of fat. You be the judge.

Desserts

Pumpkin pie
320 calories // 46g carbs // 5g protein // 13g fat
The Goods: Reasons to choose pumpkin over pecan pie: it contains nearly half the fat and about 200 fewer calories.

Pecan pie
540 calories // 79g carbs // 6g protein // 22g fat
The Goods: Know why this pie is a lower-rated option? Scope out the nutrition data; you'll see you're practically downing a meal instead of a sweet snackĀ—a high-fat one, with more than 20 grams per serving.

Candy cane
45 calories // 11g carbs // 0g protein // 0g fat
The Goods: Buchbinder points out that this sweet is pure sugar, but at least it's low in calories.

Ginger snaps
120 calories // 23g carbs //1g protein // 2.5g fat
The Goods: When you don't want mint, go for the snaps. After the candy cane, they are second lowest in fat.

Sugar cookie
100 calories // 15g carbs // 1g protein // 5g fat
The Goods: A better option than pecan pie, serving up 400 fewer calories and a less jaw-dropping amount of fat.

*Nutrition totals per serving


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PROTEIN | CALORIES | FOODS | CRACKERS