Because it’s that time of the year again, precious lists—hoarded like treasures for the most of the year—are coming out in drove, setting off one that most beloved of year end traditions, which starts with dads reaching for their wallets and moms scampering to the malls.
Here’s a Christmas list, loosely based on a list of best American restaurant foods prepared by menshealth.com, to celebrate this year’s twelve days before Christmas.
1st day of Christmas. There’s nothing like starting the day out with one of America’s most-ordered fast-food breakfasts: McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. Sure, it packs 300 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat per serving, but those are small figures as far as breakfast-sandwich standards go. Besides, there are 18 grams of protein in the sandwich to build muscles.
2nd day of Christmas. On the second day, it’s the kids’ turn. Treat them out to McDonald’s 4-Piece McNuggets with Apple Dippers (plus 1 percent milk). Don’t worry, the order’s still on the healthy side for the kids, notwithstanding the 3.5 grams of saturated fat and 490 mg of salt that health authorities in New York might tsk-tsk over.
3rd day of Christmas. Okay, time for a break from McDonald’s indulgence. On the third day, break for salad—that is Chipotle’s Grilled Steak Salad with black beans, guac, and salsa. Lest you worry, Chipotle assures that its greens are mostly organic and its meat, hormone free. Menshealth.com recommends that you beg off the vinaigrette that comes with the salad and get the green salsa instead.
4th day of Christmas. From greens to fruits, should be a superb segue for both breadbasket and health. On the fourth day, try Romano’s delicious Macaroni Grill White Peach Sorbet. It has zero saturated fat because it’s sorbetto, not ice cream. This dessert’s all shaved ice, sugar, and fruits; no dairy ingredients to irritate the lactose intolerant. If you and your family haven’t tried it yet, now’s the time.
5th day of Christmas. While you’re running around doing the last of the holiday shopping, you’ll need an extra energy to keep up with the crowds. Try Skinny Coffee Smoothie Mocha from Smoothie King. Be sure to order it “skinny,” which is just coffee, nonfat milk, and chocolate-flavored protein. Not only will you get the java boost you need, but calcium and amino acids as well.
6th day of Christmas. When you’re in the midst of a holiday season, you’d probably appreciate it if someone was preparing the food for you: the healthier, the better. Well, at Red Lobster, they do that with their Seafood-Stuffed Flounder. The restaurant has dropped the butter from this popular dish in favor of healthy seafood filling. Great for the whole family’s sit-down meal on the sixth day of Christmas.
7th day of Christmas. Something serious before the real food fun begins – a truly good steak sandwich. And when you’re talking steak sandwiches to base your 7th day of Christmas on, you guessed it – Quizno’s Roadhouse Steak Sammie. It’s healthy for starters: 270 calories and just one gram of saturated fat. It’s also small enough to be a snack (one Sammie) and large enough (two Sammies) to be a filling meal.
8th day of Christmas. If you’re still running last minute errands, treat yourself to a healthy drive-through lunch – Wendy’s ¼-Pound Single. It’s a meal in itself, so skip the fries. But don’t worry you’ll get a whopping 27 grams of protein to tide you over while you finish your shopping. Plus, their square patty means you won’t end up with a meatless bite.
9th day of Christmas. Ah, yes, Taco Bell Grilled Steak Soft Tacos, Fresco Style. Big-flavored, nothing-like-it tacos for the small price of 300 calories and just 3 grams of saturated fat. And remember, you get 18 grams of healthy protein as a bonus.
10th day of Christmas. Now the fun starts: Wendy’s Chili on a chilly tenth day. This is a side dish, strictly speaking. But if the President can make a full meal out of chili, you might want to go presidential with your chili, too! Either way, go hot till you drop.
11th day of Christmas. Applebee’s Corn Dog with Applesauce. Now what’s more fun than a corn dog for a child the day before Christmas? No sir, no adult foods from this day on, because Christmas should bring out your younger side!
12th day of Christmas. Christmas Day! Sure there’s cranberry sauce, pumpkin pecan pie, eggnog or, even, a leg of lamb. But there’s nothing more festive than pizza for the kids on Christmas (or any other holiday). Any pizza would do to add pizzazz to your lamb or pecan pie—although if you want you and the kids to stay trim through the season, go lean with Domino’s Thin Crust Ham and Pineapple Pizza.