Unfortunately for those of us trying to watch our weight or simply eat healthier, most of the upcoming holiday traditions surround food, booze and an overindulgence of the two. If you’re going to indulge anyway, knowing which foods are best for you can help you to decide what to give in to and what to stand firm about passing up.
A Guide to the Positives and Negatives of the Traditional Thanksgiving Meal
Without basting it in oil or fatty sauces, turkey is a naturally low- fat meat, rich in B vitamins, zinc and potassium. Of course, the way the turkey is raised plays a big part in whether you’ll actually be getting these benefits or instead be ingesting growth hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals.
Going the organic way can help to ensure that the turkey you’re eating hasn’t been fed animal by-products or other foods that it would not naturally choose – food coops and natural food stores are a good place to look for certified organic meat. Or, better yet, go the vegetarian way and enjoy a faux turkey made from tofu, an excellent source of protein, iron, antioxidants and Omega-3 fats. While it may not taste exactly the same, at least you can be certain about what you’re eating!
The cranberry itself is a very healthy fruit. Eating cranberries regularly has been shown to help prevent urinary tract functions, gum disease and even stomach ulcers. However, pack those cranberries into a syrupy can of fructose, like most canned sauces are, and you’ve practically eliminated all that was good for you. Making cranberry sauce from fresh ingredients can eradicate this problem; if you need a little sweetening, try mixing the cranberries with another, sweeter fruit, such as chopped apples.
If you’re not worried about the high fat content, stuff yourself silly with stuffing. Just remember that to avoid food poisoning, stuffing should really be cooked outside of the turkey, in a separate baking dish. Otherwise, bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses may survive if the stuffing is not cooked to an optimal temperature of at least 165°F. This also means that pre-stuffed turkeys contain the same danger – add shelf-time to the bacteria living within the stuffing inside that turkey and you’re doubling the risk of food contamination.
Believe it or not, sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables that you can eat. High in Vitamins A, C and manganese, the sweet potato has also been touted for its antioxidant properties. One study showed that sweet potatoes contain such high quantities of healing antioxidants that it may in fact have restorative properties on the body. So go ahead and enjoy a few – it may even save you from overdoing it on dessert.
Adrienne writes for special-interest magazines and has worked on the production of women’s lifestyle channels at AOL as well as at E! Entertainment Television. She graduated from CUNY Baruch, where she served as the editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper The Ticker.