Let’s face it, there are A LOT of health and wellness products out there. Who has the time to go through them to find the best of the best? You’re in luck because we do! In fact, it’s our job to tell you all about the latest and greatest finds. Welcome to THE/THIRTY Rankings, where we’ll test everything out and give you our honest reviews. (And sometimes we’ll have another expert weigh in, too.) Have something you want us to review? Let us know with an Instagram comment or DM, or by tagging #T30ranks.
It's December, and that means holiday music on repeat (Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," anyone?), shopping for everyone on your list, cozy evenings at home by the fireplace (or wrapped in blankets if you don't have said fireplace), and enjoying all the festive foods the season has to offer.
For the last one, we took the liberty of strolling through the aisles of our local Trader Joe's to find the best holiday items for you. Like our fall edition of THE/THIRTY Rankings, we taste-tested the holiday foods in our office and asked two experts, Sarah Rueven, MS, RDN, CDN, founder of Rooted Wellness, and her associate, Claire Virga, MS, RDN, to tell us what they thought of the nutrition labels.
Without giving any of our reviews away, we have to say that if you like peppermint-flavored everything, you're in luck. (Peppermint is to December as pumpkin is to October.) If you don't, well, don't worry. There are still some options for you. Before you read our very official reviews below, just keep in mind that while some of these items might not be home runs in the nutritious-and-healthy department, it's okay to live a little and treat yourself. It's the holidays after all, and one cookie (or two) won't ruin your healthy-eating plan forever.
And now, take a look at our reviews.
Egg nog can be a divisive holiday treat. You either love it or hate it. There seems to be no in-between. If you love egg nog but are staying away from dairy for whatever reason, this one could be a good option for you as it's egg-, lactose-, dairy-, gluten-, and soy-free.
What we thought: "Too sweet." — Stephanie Limiti, Senior Social Media Manager at THE/THIRTY
"Tastes like cereal milk." — Sabrina Paparella, Manager, Search
"Okay, this one pretty much had a group consensus of being terrible. I, however, thought for an almond milk eggnog it tasted exactly as it should. If you're into the holiday drink minus the repercussions of lactose, you'll want to give this a try!" — Schuyler Youngstrom, Manager, Email & Partnerships
"Blah, very watery and clearly almond milk." — Alexandra Flowers, Affiliate Manager
What the nutritionist thought: "Your typical eggnog is made with heavy cream, which is high in saturated fat and calories, so I like that this eggnog is lightened up with almond milk. However, cup per cup, this beverage has about the same amount of added sugar as traditional egg nog (about 8 grams per half-cup serving)." — Sarah Rueven
At just $2, these champagne gummy candies are a lot cheaper than similar ones out there. They're festive to have on hand both for the holidays and New Year's.
What we thought: "Perfect for hosting—seems expensive, like Sugarfina." — Paulina Galoostian, Senior Influencer Marketing Manager
"Not a lot of flavor at all––not worth the sugar and calories." — Anneliese Dominguez, Associate Editor, Branded Content
"Wasn't expecting much, but actually really good—it's champagne-y without being gross." — Paparella
"Shockingly gooey for something posing as a gummy. Tasted fine, though!" — Youngstrom
"Didn't really taste like champagne, but they were still yummy! I'm definitely going to buy these for my movie snack." — Kia Topps, People & Talent Coordinator
"Not a fan. These guys don't taste like anything, except possibly stale alcohol from the night before." — Carly Landig, Senior Brand Manager
What the nutritionist thought: "With 19 grams of sugar in five gummies and 95 grams of sugar (7.5 teaspoons!) for the whole bag, I recommend steering clear of this one. A glass of Brut champagne has about 2 grams of sugar per 5-ounce glass, so celebrating with a flute of the real thing might even be a better option!" — Claire Virga
Trader Joe's says you can serve this seasonal milk alternative chilled or warmed. Like the almond nog, it's gluten-, lactose-, dairy-, and soy-free, not to mention vegan.
What we thought: "It tastes like Silk's chocolate almond milk." — Brandon Chreene, Executive Director, People & Organization
"Choco-water." — Paparella
What the nutritionist thought: "One cup of this beverage contains lots of added sugar and a handful of additives. Try making your own version with whole ingredients like raw cacao powder, unsweetened almond milk, and a touch of maple syrup—all things you can find at TJ's!" — Rueven
We didn't ask for a cinnamon bun in a jar, but Trader Joe's did it anyway—and we're not complaining. This decadent treat is described as "a rich gooey honey butter base spread with cinnamon bun spices." Warning: This one is for the person with the ultimate sweet tooth.
What we thought: "It tastes like a cinnamon bun, but it's too sweet for me!" — Limiti
"Can only describe this one as a sugar explosion." — Youngstrom
"That's a no for me, dawg—way too sweet." — Flowers
"A little too sweet for my liking, but I did think it was tasty. Just not sure what I would spread it on, so I probably wouldn't buy it." — Topps
What the nutritionist thought: "Since this spread is filled with sugar and cream and not much else, reserve this for special occasions (aka Christmas morning). Pair it with a whole-grain bread—the fiber will help to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you full!" — Virga
Like peppermint patties, these come in a nice box, so they make pretty tasty (and super-affordable!) housewarming gifts. The peppermint flavor is super strong, so you've been warned.
What we thought: "It's a Junior Mint on steroids—way too many steroids." — Olivia Cappelletti, Executive Assistant
"Reminds me of Christmas morning and tickles my sinuses." — Chreene
"These are big Junior Mints with candy cane on the top. Great if you like Junior Mints; it's like a Junior Mint pizza you can take multiple bites of." — Paparella
What the nutritionist thought: "Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and your risk for chronic disease! However, with the laundry list of sugar, additives, syrups, and coloring in these cookies, selecting a dark chocolate flavored simply with peppermint oil is always a better option." — Rueven
Joe Joe's are a Trader Joe's classic, and these are all dressed up for the holidays with dark chocolate and candy cane sprinkles.
What we thought: "I could eat a box!" — Angela Longhi, Audience Development Coordinator
"Exactly like an Oreo covered in peppermint bark. Reminds me of eating candy canes while shopping for Christmas trees." — Dominguez
"They are basically a glorified Oreo, BUT if you are not the Martha Stewart type, they would look pretty on a plate for a holiday party." — Landig
What the nutritionist thought: "These are definitely festive, but with 30 grams of sugar per serving and a high saturated-fat content, Joe Joe's are always going to be a no-go from a nutrition perspective." — Virga
These would be the perfect accompaniment to a warm beverage, especially if you've spent the day running errands around town and need a little pick-me-up once you make it home.
What we thought: "Tasty, I would buy." — Longhi
"Usually I feel quite elegant eating biscotti, but these were a little too sweet. I like biscotti to be mild in sweetness so I feel like I'm not eating cookies for breakfast. I would eat this anyway." — Paparella
What the nutritionist thought: "If you are in the mood for biscotti, I'd choose Trader Joe's mini almond biscotti over this seasonal flavor as they have slightly less sugar (9 grams versus 14 grams)." — Rueven
These cute cookies are a fun little treat. Trader Joe's suggests giving a box as a gift, serving as dessert after an everyday dinner, or enjoying them all by yourself.
What we thought: "Really yummy. They taste like Thin Mints, but they are so much cuter." — Galoostian
"Too much dark chocolate, not enough mint." — Caitie Schlisserman, Senior Editor, Branded Content
"I'm not a big fan of dark chocolate, but the peppermint gave the flavor a nice lift." — Paparella
"These are both cute and tasty! The minty chocolate is the perfect subtle combination for these festive cookies." — Youngstrom
"I was into these. They were good and tiny-size so you could have a smaller portion if desired." — Flowers
What the nutritionist thought: "Compared to the other sweet treats on this list, these have a bit less sugar per serving!" — Virga
Gingerbread cookies are a holiday staple. These mini cookies look so adorable, so they'd make a good option for your dessert table.
What we thought: "Zesty cardboard. Might reconsider with milk." — Paparella
"I have always associated gingerbread with the taste of dirt (at least what I assume dirt to taste like), but these were surprisingly good. It's not that hit-you-in-the-face kind of gingerbread, and the white fudge icing sweetens it up a bit." — Youngstrom
"I am a sucker for anything with those classic holiday spices. These have good flavor but are too crunchy for my taste." — Landig
What the nutritionist thought: "For a store-bought dessert, I like that the ingredient list is fairly simple. A serving (three cookies) contains 10 grams of sugar or about 2 teaspoons of sugar, which isn't terrible for a dessert. Try to stick to just one serving!" — Rueven
Meringues are another festive treat that is super light and airy. These, of course, are peppermint flavored because #holidays.
What we thought: "I loved the size and design, plus it's only 80 calories per 11 pieces! The taste was sweet and minty and they had a good crunch." — Jacqueline McLennan Lee, Photo Editor and Licensing Manager
What the nutritionist thought: "These are mostly just sugar and air, so while they are fairly low in calories and fat, they are loaded with sugar. A treat like this won't leave you satisfied, and you'll crave more sugar later on." — Virga
Classic toaster pastries get a holiday update. These are made with wheat flour, cane sugar, and cocoa powder. Some of our taste-testers thought they tasted just right, while others didn't think they were chocolaty enough.
What we thought: "These were good but nothing special." — Schlisserman
"Good! These do taste like hot chocolate." — Limiti
"Rude—not chocolaty." — Paparella
"Whole lotta chocolate in this TJ's Pop-Tart." — Youngstrom
"Pretty solid, reminded me of the chocolate bite in the real Pop-Tart s'mores flavor." — Flowers
What the nutritionist thought: "Studies have shown that foods with an organic label are deemed healthy by shoppers regardless of the quality of the food. Don't let the organic label fool you here! These are a dessert disguised as breakfast." — Rueven
There's nothing like a cup of hot chocolate on a wintry day. This one's good to have on hand for any guests you might have over this holiday season (or just for a solo nighttime treat).
What we thought: "Did not like." — Longhi
"Does exactly what it says, not too powdery either." — Paparella
"Another holiday staple! Delicious, festive, and warm!" — Youngstrom
"Tastes like you'd expect it to taste." — Flowers
"Not a fan. Too chocolaty. It didn't necessarily taste like hot cocoa to me either." — Topps
What the nutritionist thought: "Although this is a beverage, it should absolutely count as a dessert or sweet treat. Indulge in a mug on occasion this holiday season, but don't make it a daily thing." — Virga
These are based on traditional German cookies. According to Trader Joe's, the wintry-spiced desserts were served to be dipped into mulled wine.
What we thought: "I'm looking for more ginger and less ginger than this is giving me. But I like the lumpy little shape." — Michelle Plantan, Executive Director, Creative Strategy
"It's like spiced chai. Good but would not buy." — Longhi
"Pure power. These taste like soft gingerbread cookies with a hard shell around them, but I mean that in a good way." — Paparella
"I'll take my mulled wine sans the Pfeffernüsse, thank you very much." — Youngstrom
What the nutritionist thought: "I like that these cookies are flavored with real spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves instead of 'natural flavors,' a term that can be used to mask artificial ingredients in foods." — Rueven
With milk chocolate, salted honey toffee, almonds, and a hint of coffee, these are a decadent holiday treat that didn't disappoint our staff, but the nutritionists were a bit wary of the amount of sugar and saturated fat in them. We say it's up to you to decide.
What we thought: "Light and crunchy, great chocolate taste, just enough toffee flavor." — Alexander McLaughlin, Director, Data & Analytics
"DELICIOUS. There are a whole lot of flavors going on in this cracker, but consider it Christmas's extra take on a s'more. It's really good." — Youngstrom
What the nutritionist thought: "These are high in saturated fat and sugar and have absolutely no fiber. Do yourself a favor and don't add these to your cart!" — Virga
Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers are already a popular item, and these gummy candies are the same but holiday-inspired (shaped like ornaments, green trees, and stars).
What we thought: "It's like a classic childhood gummy." — Cappelletti
"Delicious! The green was the best, but they do get stuck in your teeth." — Schlisserman
"So good! These were my favorite out of all the items." — Limiti
"They taste like Flintstone gummy vitamins, but I'm not mad at it." — Paparella
"They're festive Scandinavian Swimmers, that's all." — Youngstrom
"I consider myself a gummy connoisseur, and I can get behind these guys. They remind me of Swedish Fish that got wrapped up in the Christmas spirit." — Landig
What the nutritionist thought: "The first three ingredients on the nutrition label are sugar in various forms! These gummies will quickly raise your blood sugar. When your blood sugar inevitably crashes an hour or two later, you will be left craving more sugar. This creates a never-ending cycle of cravings!" — Rueven
This article originally appeared on The Thirty
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