One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the food, starting with what is served as part of the Thanksgiving spread. It’s easy to get caught up with what people have come to think of as timesavers and convenience versus real, whole and hearty food. In reality, it doesn’t take much more time to make sure that the food you eat on this particular day, or any day really, is fresh, healthy and nutritious.
Let’s start with the vegetables. Many people rely on canned veggies, the most popular of the culprits being yams, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. The problem with canned foods? The canning process takes away a lot of the vitamins and nutrients while adding unwanted chemicals or metals that leach from the can, such as BPA, chromium and nickel.
In addition, the canned cranberry sauces often contain high fructose corn syrup and an insane amount of added sugar via the corn syrup. If you make it at home you eliminate the need for the corn syrup and you have control over the amount of sugar that you add. Plus, it literally takes 10 minutes to make and the aroma is worth taking the ten minutes to make it. See my recipe for simple cranberry sauce to see how easy it is!
Often, people rely on using the microwave to cook their vegetables. Cooking them on the stove or in the oven brings about the flavor of the foods instead of zapping them away as the microwave does. More important is the fact that the microwaving of food actually changes the molecular structure of the food!
Next, the grains. With so many other foods being served, the grains aren’t really necessary, nevertheless, they are most often a traditional part of the meal for many families! Many people turn to Pillsbury for some quick and easy baked biscuits. When going this route, along with the flour and butter, you are getting yellow and red food dyes, artificial flavors, preservatives like TBHQ and hydrogenated fats. This is unless you buy the Pillsbury Simply line, which are the Pillsbury brand biscuits without the added junk found in the Grands! or typical Pillsbury lines. So why do they need to make biscuits with the added chemicals while they make ones without them? Good question, and not one I will delve into answering today. The key is to know that this line does exist and that it is the better choice. I find that not all stores carry this line, though I can always count on my local King Kullen to have it.
Better than the ready to bake Pillsbury biscuits is the already made fresh bread from your local bakery. Bakery bread is great to use in your stuffing too. Stay away from the boxed brands for the same reasons that you should stay away from any time of preserved foods – they are loaded with chemical preservatives and, may times, chemical colorings as well.
And now for the main course – the turkey! As far as poultry goes, go organic.The reasoning is simple – organic means that the turkeys were not fed/administered antibiotics. It also means that they are not preserved or seasoned with any chemicals. It’s actually easy to find organic turkeys; most local butchers provide them, as long as you order one in advance.
Take advantage of it this holiday season, providing your family and guests with the extra special gift of the health and nutrients that go along with it. After all, the first Thanksgiving feast was all about the bountiful fresh food as well!
For more tips, see my full length article in the November 2012 Great South Bay Magazine!