cafe mocha pie

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The Sit Down Dinner

What You Already Know to Avoid
- Vegetable side dishes where the veggies are second fiddle: The green beans in that casserole are real, as in a real small part of the dish. The bulk of the flavor and calories come from the cream-of-mushroom soup they're swimming in and the crispy fried onions on top. Be wary of candied yams and creamed spinach, too, where you're eating more sugar and fat, respectively, than vegetables.

- Mac and cheese: "It somehow finds its way onto every holiday menu," says Middleberg. If it's made with full-fat cheese and a lot of butter, it could be several hundred calories per serving.

But Be Careful With These Too
- Cauliflower sides: There's a lot of love for cauliflower dishes these days. Some recipes are healthier than the originals (like this whipped-cauliflower recipe that's lower in fat and calories than the potato version), but many dishes use cream, buttermilk or cheese (case in point: cauliflower gratin), which can be very high-calorie.

- Popovers: Sure, they're hollow, but they're made with nearly the same amount of butter as a standard white dinner roll.

Fair Game
- The main meat course: Prime rib and honey-glazed ham aren't necessarily the healthiest main courses in the world, but you're probably not eating them very often, which makes a holiday indulgence (with a palm-sized portion) just fine, says Middleberg.

- Vegetable side dishes where the main ingredient is actually vegetables.

- Winter-squash soups made with minimal cream. Though people often add cream to butternut squash soup to get velvety texture, it doesn't need the cream if the squash is pureed well, says Topol.