Food Fight

Top 5 Worst Thanksgiving Side Dishes: Please, Please, Do NOT Pass the Ambrosia Salad

Picture it: You're sitting around the Thanksgiving table with your entire extended family, and everyone is dressed nicely, behaving themselves and getting along. It's a Norman Rockwell holiday to the T. The turkey is perfectly browned, the gravy is thick, the biscuits are fluffy, the green beans are crisp and the stuffing is moist and juicy. Everything seems ideal as you pass the serving dishes around the table.

Then suddenly, without warning, you find yourself in possession of the most repugnant bowl of green frothy something you've ever laid eyes upon. There are brown flecks suspended throughout it, and wispy strands that almost resemble ... hair? And what sort of naturally occurring food is that sickly shade of light chartreuse? You move to pass it on, but then...

"Don't forget to take some Jell-O salad," Aunt Edna yells from across the table.

You stop mid-pass, grudgingly lift the serving spoon and scoop a mound of sickeningly sweet goop onto your already full plate, and it splashes ever so slightly onto your turkey and stuffing.

Perfect, you think. This is the worst food ever.

But you're wrong. There are so many Thanksgiving sides more offensive than green Jell-O salad with pecans. You've been warned, friends.

5. Canned cranberry sauce To be perfectly honest, I kind of like canned cranberry sauce. However, I am able to look at this -- the only food I can think of that retains the shape of a tin can even days after it's been slid out of the can -- objectively and determine that it's pretty bad. It's mostly sugar with a little bit of cranberry flavor and then a little more sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. I get that Thanksgiving is a day to throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want, cholesterol be damned, but there is absolutely zero nutritional value in jellied cranberry sauce, whereas cranberries themselves are packed with antioxidants. Do yourselves a favor and look up a cranberry sauce recipe that uses actual cranberries. And, if you must, get a can of the gelatinous stuff for the day after Thanksgiving, since we all know nothing spreads better on a leftover sandwich than a slice of cranberry gel.

4. Wild rice stuffing Generally speaking, I enjoy rice. I also enjoy bready stuffing, especially when it's been cooked inside the turkey. Wild rice stuffing, though? I just can't get behind that. I'm all for healthy options even on a gluttonous holiday, but wild rice stuffing takes it too far. Does rice ever need to be mixed with raisins and celery and nuts and sage? Something about these flavors together just doesn't work. If I'm going to eat stuffing (which of course I am), I want it to be buttery and moist and packed together from the juices of the turkey. I want it to pair well with gravy and not be chewy like wild rice. I want it to be super-fattening. You can keep your spa stuffing. I'll take mine with butter, thanks.

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Kaitlin Steinberg